Paco Aleman, analyst and legend of golf narration was (again) in the country, this time vacationing in one of his favorite places, Casa de Campo. I went there with camera in hand and interviewed him for our program, from which I reproduce some segments in this column. Enjoy it!
What attracts you to the country and to Casa de Campo that you come here so often? Beyond the excellent golf courses, the weather and the great atmosphere here, what I love the most is the friendliness and the treatment of the Dominicans. And Casa de Campo is a very special place. Altos de Chavón is magical. The gastronomy of this place, combined with the beautiful surrounding landscapes, makes you feel very special. My favorite course is Diente de Perro. Its views are unique, and I really enjoy the challenge it presents every time I play it. Each course here presents different challenges: Links is challenging and makes you think even though it is a short layout, and Dye Fore presents extraordinary scenery on both the Marina and Chavón loops.
What do you think of the development of junior golf after the arrival of the LAAC in 2015? The LAAC changed everything for the better. Today we have a Hideki Matsuyama, who comes from the Asia-Pacific Tour, which preceded the LAAC. And from the fruits of the LAAC we can mention Joaquín Niemann, Mito Pereira, Sebastián Muñoz, and Carlos Ortiz, among others. Definitely the LAAC has caused a huge boost for all of them, and it has become an aspirational tournament for the guys who are coming up.
You bring groups to the country for golf tourism, what attracts you to the Dominican Republic? Felix, this destination is unparalleled. It is a golf paradise. The beaches are beautiful. My friend Ernesto Jerez always tells me that these are the most beautiful beaches in the world, and he’s probably right. The food, the people, the weather, and the golf courses make a combo that is hard to match, and easy to repeat.
What is your opinion about the current moment in world golf with the confrontation between the PGA Tour and the LIV? It’s a complicated issue, and I think the only thing I see with the IVL is money, money and money. Behind these events there is only an economic purpose. I don’t really blame the players for going away to play 8 weeks a year with so much guaranteed money, so I think there are some who have a career made and from them I understand why they do it. I wouldn’t understand if Niemann, Morikawa, or Jon Rahm left, but I do understand the situation of the other top players who decided to take the plunge and go play in the LIV for the money.
Finally, Paco, what advice do you give to the youth of the country? There is nothing nicer in life than working at what you like, and if you get paid for it, then you never worked. You had fun in the process. Do what you love, and if it’s golf, break your hands practicing and learning. The players on the PGA Tour have two arms, two hands, two feet and one face just like
They all started at the bottom, although not all of them make it, but you can be sure that those who are there are there because they put in a lot of work, passion, dedication and love for what they do.
After a sincere thank you we said goodbye, announcing Paco that soon we will see each other’s faces in this land that he says he loves so much.