Spotlight On Robert Birtel
Casa de Campo’s Golf Director
ROBERT, HOW DID YOUR CASA DE CAMPO STORY BEGIN?
The first time I experienced Casa de Campo was actually a day trip. We flew over with Carlos Lopez Lay who is a member at La Romana Country Club. Carlos invited us to play golf, have lunch then come back that same day. We landed at La Romana Airport, drove to his house, had breakfast, then made our way over to the club. This was one of my first times playing with caddies, we played 18 holes, had lunch at the club then went out to play the new nine. We finished up, went back to the house and made our way back to the airport to fly back home. It was and still is one of the best golf experiences I have ever had. A few day’s past and my friend was asking about the trip. He was asking me if I saw any of the other courses or amenities Casa de Campo had to offer. He then told me about Teeth of the Dog, Dye Fore, Minitas Beach, Altos de Chavón, etc. After hearing all this I was eager to return which happened about 10 years later when I came down for my job interview. So this is how my Casa de Campo story began- It took 10 years to really understand how awesome Casa de Campo is!
YOU HAVE BEEN AT CASA DE CAMPO FOR A WHILE, ANY MEMORABLE MOMENTS TO SHARE?
It’s hard to pick just one moment. Really the entire experience of being here is a memorable experience. We enjoy everything that is Casa de Campo. Our family is here, so Emily, Eleanor and I get to meet people from all over the world. Eleanor enjoys art in Altos, riding horses at the Dude Ranch, we enjoy going to Minitas Beach and occasionally going out to Palmilla sandbar/beach and Catalina island on fantastic boats. We have had the opportunity to watch amazing performances at Altos de Chavón, enjoy world class culinary experiences and simply just be in a wonderful place with wonderful people. Leading the Golf Team at Casa de Campo is the highlight for me. I have had the opportunity to be part of world class golf events and play golf with some very interesting people. I know the best moments are yet to come.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE HOLES IN EACH OF THE CASA DE CAMPO COURSES?
Teeth of the Dog- 16- Teeth has 4 amazing par 3’s. Playing 16 in the evening with the setting sun behind you and having to hit a shot from 180 yards into the wind where you have to carry the Caribbean Sea. 16 is hard to beat for me.
Links- Holes 12-16- I love the back nine of links especially the stretch of 12-16. These holes play around three lakes and demand all types of shots. The holes are set very close to each other, so they are so much fun to walk with great friends.
Dye Fore- I love the 17th green on the Chavón nine- This is one of the highest points on the course, you can look over the Chavón River, you can see all the holes on the Chavón nine from here and you have a fantastic view of Altos de Chavón.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT YOUR ROLE AS DIRECTOR OF GOLF?
I have been given the opportunity to work with amazing people, develop a fantastic team, and be part of the team to take Casa de Campo and Casa de Campo Golf to the next level. We get to work to make Casa de Campo better everyday and I love this!
BESIDES PLAYING GOLF, OR COURSE, WHAT OTHER ACTIVITIES DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT CASA DE CAMPO?
Since living here I have been able to ride horses with my daughter Eleanor, I don’t think I had been on a horse since I was 12 or so. I also personally enjoy diving for golf balls off the coast – we also have some amazing snorkeling spots right off our coast. I really enjoy water sports- recently I have been able to teach Eleanor to paddle board, and surf which has been a blast.
WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING RECENT DEVELOPMENT FOR GOLFERS AT CASA DE CAMPO?
Wow, this is a tough one to narrow down. We have done a lot of great improvements around the golf area at Casa de Campo.
To name a few:
We built a new Dye Fore Pro Shop, and enhanced the Dye Fore practice area with a new short game center.
We built a state of the art Golf Learning Center with two Trackman studios. In the Learning Center we do golf lessons, club fittings, but we also let visiting professional use the center with the members they are traveling with while here at Casa. The Center has also given us the opportunity to host golf schools with some amazing guest instructors from all over the world.
We have worked to enhance the playing conditions on our golf courses. We have installed state of the art irrigation systems, we cleared out trees and bushes to open up our courses, which enhance airflow and expose amazing views. We have built and leveled new tee boxes through out the golf courses as well.
We have also been working to enhance our Casa de Campo Tournament series. We have added new events like the Couples Golf & Spa Retreat in October and the Women’s Golf Getaway hosted by the PGA of America President Suzy Whaley. We also keep working to enhance our Winter Pro Am series. This past winter we had the most teams we have ever had for our Pro AM Series.