Golf in Costa Rica

By Landy Blank

Hawaii...Cabo San Lucas...Pebble Beach...Myrtle Beach...
Imagine a golf vacation at these popular golf destinations before they were discovered by the golf traveler. This will give you an idea of the golf vacation that awaits you in Costa Rica. You will re-discover "no-hassle" tee times and the enjoyment of playing unhurried rounds of golf on courses designed by well known golf architects George Fazio, Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Ted Robinson, Jr., Mike Young and Tracy May. Here you will find all the ingredients for a great golf vacation and the added bonus of experiencing the scenic beauty and natural attractions of Costa Rica.


My guess is that like all golfers you have a hard time choosing the destination for your upcoming golf adventure. There are dozens of great golf destinations and picking the right one is never an easy decision. While many destinations have much to offer, I believe few can match Costa Rica for overall quality, cost, and safety. The Costa Rica experience combines great golf, new and exciting non-golfing adventures, and the chance to meet and interact with the warm and friendly people of this charming country. What is truly remarkable is that all of this is set in one of the world’s most beautiful and ecologically diverse locations.

Following is a brief description of the most popular 18 hole courses in Costa Rica. The courses offer all types of terrain and playing conditions but all are a fair test of golf.

Cariari Country Club
San Jose
Course Architect: George Fazio
Par 71
Call: 877-258-2688

Cariari Country Club is where George Fazio routed a typically thoughtful and challenging Fazio layout. Mature, it opened in 1974, and elegantly traditional, the par 71 Cariari course plays longer than its 6,590 yards. Heavily treed, with amazing cacti and exotic native plants and stately palms as accents, the premium is on accuracy off the tee. The par fours are especially strong; the fives reachable only with precise shots. One of the full staff of caddies will help, especially on the greens.

Helpful Hint
- Local golfers are very friendly and enjoy meeting and playing with visitors. Many lasting friendships have originated from a starter joining a single with a local threesome; so don’t worry about going solo. The hospitality and friendliness of the Costa Rican people is well documented, and this is especially true with golfers.

Garra de Léon
Playa Conchal, Guanacaste
Course Architect: Robert Trent Jones II
Par 72
Call: 877-258-2688

The golf flagship in the west is the Paradisus Playa Conchal Beach & Golf Resort. Designed by Robert Trent Jones II, Conchal stretches to a mighty 7,033 yards from the back markers. Not only does Conchal challenge golfers with its length, it also confronts them with constant elevation changes. Sometimes subtle and sometimes dramatic (e.g., the 100-foot drop from the tee box to the fairway on the 435-yard, par-4 12th hole), the elevation shifts play an integral part of every club selection you make.

Architect’s Comment
- "It was great fun to work in an ecological wonderland," Jones says. "The feeling is that you come into that valley, and you're in a sanctuary."

Hacienda Pinilla
Playa Langosta, Guanacaste
Course Architect: Mike Young
Par 72
Call: 877-258-2688

The Hacienda Pinilla golf course is a 7,500-yard Mike Young design. This golf course is groomed to perfection with head-high grasses rustling in the wind or with the movement of unseen animals, so that playing here has the feel of an African safari.

Architect’s Comment - “While we haven’t sacrificed any pleasures or challenges for you, every effort has been made to keep human impact on the land to a minimum. I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed creating it”

La Iguana
Playa Herradura
Course Architect: Ted Robinson Jr.
Par 72
Call: 877-258-2688

La iguana is a 6,700-yard Ted Robinson Jr. design with a unique and dramatic setting at the Los Suenos Marriott. The front nine plunges into the shadow of the rainforest along a narrow river valley. From the hills there is an occasional chorus of howler monkeys and mature trees near the stream are perversely placed. For instance, the second hole requires a long iron shot either over or under two trees guarding the green.

"It makes you think, it makes you play, it makes you drive the ball, it makes you position the ball. It's a shot makers test of golf. It's a beautiful site and the type of course I'd enjoy experiencing every day of my life."
Philip Krick,Jr.
PGA, Director of Golf

Helpful Hint - The saying “trees are 90% air” does not apply to dense tropical rainforest trees. The “woods” here take the expression tree lined fairways to another level. Keeping it in play and in the fairway will certainly reward your score and lost ball percentage.

Parque Valle del Sol
San Jose
Course Architect: Tracey May
Par 72
Call: 877-258-2688

In 1994 Parque Valle del Sol brought in golf course architect Tracy May to re-design and build a new course. The results achieved by May are an outstanding 18-hole championship golf course. May, with the assistance of the on-site construction supervisor Mark Dinan, has designed the layout to be challenging and fair under most conditions, and downright tough when the winds come swirling down from the surrounding mountains. The layout is diverse and requires the use of all the clubs in your bag. The rolling hills, mature trees that were part of the original course and the surrounding mountains create a great setting for golf.

Don’t miss the opportunity to discover golf in Costa Rica before the rest of the golfing world. When you do decide to visit Costa Rica take advantage of a local golf tour operator who is familiar with local tournaments and course conditions.

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Also of Interest: Golf Courses of Costa Rica
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