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Costa Rica Teeing Up for a Golf Boom

by Landy Blank

The golf scene in Costa Rica continues to move forward, putting the country well on it's way to becoming the world's newest golf travel destination. In response to the increased popularity of golf in Costa Rica, the existing clubs are upgrading their facilities and improving their courses. The following is a summary of some of the best courses you'll find.

Rancho las Colinas Golf and Country Club has an 18-hole course designed by Ron Garl, expanded from nine holes. This course is a lot of fun to play—challenging but fair.

Meliá Conchal Golf Club, the Robert Trent Jones, II course, at the Meliá Playa Conchal Beach and Golf Resort has beautiful vistas, sweeping fairways, undulating greens, lots of water—simply put, a big golf course. This may be one of Jones' best efforts to date. No expense was spared to create a course on par with the spectacular resort it surrounds.

In the San José area, Parque Valle del Sol, is located near the Juan Santamaria International Airport and is a big plus for both vacationers and residents alike. Nestled in the Central Valley, the course has a very interesting layout. Look for lots of water—lagoons and wetlands—and many different treatments surrounding the greens.

If you are headed to Nicaragua via the Pan American Highway, you will pass Resort Rancho Mary. Situated just south of the border, near La Cruz. This course is the dream of owner Irwin Wilhite. Originally from North Dakota, Wilhite purchased this huge tract of land along the northern Pacific coast 20 years ago. He later donated 4,000 acres to become part of the protected lands surrounding Orosi Volcano and used a portion of the remainder to develop his golf course and resort. Resort Rancho Mary is a gem in the wilds—an ocean view course with Nicaraguan and Costa Rican volcanoes for a backdrop.

Costa Rica's premier golf course, the Cariari Country Club was built in 1972 by George Fazio. This is a challenging championship golf course and the site of two former PGA events. The course record of 66 is held jointly by Raymond Floyd and Costa Rican Alvaro Ortiz. The Cariari is located in the San José area and is a definite "must play" course when visiting Costa Rica.

The 10-hole executive course at Tango Mar Beach Resort is a tough little course measuring 2,000 yards and it is part of the intimate and beautiful Tango Mar resort.

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