Somewhere New to Play
Golfers! Are you looking for some place new to play the game?
Panama has everything you could wish for.
Panama has the ideal climate for golfing year round. Imagine 18 holes through a rainforest setting, with lush, green landscapes, with ocean views on either side or swinging a 9 iron in the mountains though a coffee plantation! With new turf technologies like the hybrid Seashore Paspalum and all the best architects putting their focus on Central America, I’m sure you can see why the game is growing so much in popularity in Panama.
There’s a wide array of styles and layouts of the courses in Panama, with a few of them being completed as we speak. Let’s start with a brief history on how it came to be...
Panama Golf Club
This was the first Golf Course in Panama. Shortly after the signing of the Armistice, a few officers of the Army and Navy who were looking for what to do in their free time began to think about how they played golf in the United States, and they yearned for the pleasure of playing their favorite sport again.
Admiral Marbury Johnston, Colonel Morrel and Thorny Raul were walking their horses by Savannahs when one of them jokingly suggested that this place would be ideal to make a Golf Course. These gentlemen spoke with other friends to meet with all those who were interested in introducing this Royal and Ancient game in Panama, and sixteen of the faithful attended the meeting which took place in the Hotel Tivoli.
On Christmas Eve 1918, the clever “sixteen apostles of golf”, as they were called later, were determined to start a golf club in Panama. How well they triumphed, using all their “shenanigans” as written in the annals of the Panama Golf Club, and the club has been a success since its inception.
The Nationwide tour (formally the Senior tour) kicked off their season here in January 2008 with the Movistar Panama Championship. Scott Dunlap won the $108,000 prize for finishing first at 3 under in this luscious green, 7,102 yd, par 70, course.
Coronado Golf Course
This 18-hole, par-72, 7,092-yard championship golf course in Panama City was designed and created by George and Tom Fazio. In the past, it was considered by many as the “jewel” courses in all of Latin America, with its studded mature tropical trees; including palms, rubber, teak, acacia, and 50 mango trees that line the fairways. The Coronado had been the host of the European Challenge Tour’s Panasonic Panama Open.
Mantaraya Golf Club
This Mantaraya Golf Club in Decameron is located about 1 1/2 hours from Panama City along the Pan-American Highway in Playa Blanca, Farallon, about a 90 minute drive from the Tocumen International Airport. The 18-hole, par-72 course was designed by noted architect Randy Thompson.
Randy is one of the most highly respected architects and is President of American Golf Course Design, LTDA based out of Santiago, Chile.
In a recent interview, he was asked what his most favorite hole was out of the over 100 courses he’s been involved with and what he likes about it. Here is what he had to say:
“Number sixteen in Panama, Mantaraya Golf Club at the Decameron Resort. A slight dogleg right of four hundred and forty yards, playing up hill and usually into the wind. The tee shot only has a slight elevation up hill but the landing area is only about seventy yards long and fifty yards wide between two natural creeks. To carry the first creek you have to hit at least one hundred and ninety from the back tees and the second creek is situated about 260 and is about fifteen yards wide. One lone cross bunker sits on the left outside of the landing areas at about 245 yards from the back to help turn this ever so slight dogleg. Oh I forgot, the landing areas is also a little crowned and not real receiving and some say I went to far. My answer to that is, 'Most good holes are controversial'. Wind is always a factor and most of the time coming at you so few try to drive the second creek and even fewer do it successfully. So if you’re smart you hit a well placed three wood but that leaves you with around 200 yards to the green uphill. The green setting is spectacular with natural vegetation and trees in the background for perception.
We added some gentle mounding behind the green to enhance the framing process. There are no greenside sand bunkers but large grass hollows or fairway extensions because the green was elevated about five feet. Both sides of these fairway extensions are mowed at fairway height to give the player more options of just hitting a sand wedge out of long rough.
The green has good movement from back to front in order to receive a well struck low iron or fairway wood but also at the same time making for interesting putting. It’s a tester and a bogey hole for most players. Take the bogey; accept it because if you get mad about the bogey or mad at me then chances are seventeen and eighteen will get you also, so shake it off, life goes on!”
As you can see by the picture, this course has beautiful panoramic views with lush greens and tailored fairways. If you went out surfing or fishing all day, and still have the desire for a little golf, 6 of the holes are lit up for night-time golf at Mantaraya Golf Club.
Summit Golf &Resort
Summit Golf & Resort Summit Golf & Resort has a long history, originally opened in 1930's for Americans working in the Panama Canal Zone. The course has been completely renovated to world class standards. The win combinations of a superior redesign by Jeffrey Myers with the ultimate in construction by Gregori International have created a championship course of the highest caliber.
This world class championship golf facility is located in the east bank of the Panama Canal. This 18 hole, 6,626 yard, par 72 championship course is set on rolling hills over looking the famous Gaillard Cut of the Panama Canal in the "Camino de Cruces" National Park about a 20 minute drive from Panama City.
Its semi-private and you never have to worry where your lie is in relationship to the hole: every cart comes with my favorite feature - GPS positioning! I love knowing where the water is, the slopes of the green and distance, especially when I first play a new course.
Summit opened in the 1930’s and was frequented by US citizens working in the Canal Zone.
In addition to its well-maintained, beautiful layout, and soft greens of Tifdwarf Bermuda grass, the Summit also features a full service practice and a six-hole par three course for kids.
Tucan Country Club
On the opposite side of the Canal, Mr. Myers and Gregori International teamed up again to produce Tucan Country club and Resort. The stunning 18-hole, par-72 championship course is set among lush forests, rolling hills, creeks and lakes, teaming with rare wildlife and vegetation. Tucán treats golfers to spectacular views of the Panama City skyline and luxury cruise ships as they make their way through the Panama Canal.
In addition to the colorful toucan bird (spelled “tucán” in Spanish, hence the name of the resort), there are howler monkeys, macaws, coati mundi, sloths and many other jungle creatures harbored by Tucán.
The front nine holes border the rain forests famous to Panama while the back nine offers panoramic views of the Panama Canal. The course will reveal a par-72 layout that stretches 6,540 yards from the back tees.
Quebrada Grande - Valle Escondido
Located in beautiful Boquete, Panama about 1/2 hour drive from David, you’ll find The Quebrada Grande (Big Creek) 9 hole executive course. The course plays through Valle Escondido, crossing the beautiful river four times. This is one of the only courses in the world that plays through a working coffee plantation. The spring weather keeps it cool, fresh and green year round. With at least two tee boxes on each hole you can play 18 holes and find it very challenging and enjoyable.
Cielo Paraiso Golf Course
Wow! A gorgeous pananoramic view of 2 oceans, a rainforest, and a view of the mountains surrounding an 11,000 ft Volcano!
In Boquete, Panama, this 18-hole Championship course will be the first in this province and has been carefully designed by J. Michael Poellot Designs of Saratoga, California. Mr. Poellot was selected as the course architect for several reasons amongst which are over 30 years of design experience in the United States, Mexico, Central and South America, Asia and the Pacific Rim. Mr. Poellot has applied his vast knowledge to deliver a unique architectural design for Cielo Paraiso Golf Course.
While exploring the friendly yet challenging course, players can enjoy spectacular views to the Baru Volcano, the Jaramillo and Talamanca Mountain ranges and the Pacific Ocean dotted with islands. Conservation of all the nature is key considerations for the design and development. As part of his mandate, Mr. Poellot has successfully preserved extensive green corridors and wildlife habitat.
The plans for Cielo Paraiso Course are calling for it to bea private Golf Course with the first 9 holes expected to open by January 2009 and the entire course will open for play by July 2009. More on this later…
Vista Mar Resort
The soon to be completed Vista Mar resort is just an hour away from Panama City on the Pasific coast. It offers a world class 72 par course with 18 holes. The resort also offers beach club with swimming pools as well as ocean front dining and bar.
The Bijao Pasific Coast Cummunity's construction with its 9 hole 36 par golf course is set to be complete by 2012. The couse is just beyond the small beach town of Santa Clara and is designed by Ron Garl who is famous for his environmentally conscious course designs. The couse will include a driving range and all new home owners will be offered free membership to the club.
Stretching for miles along the Pasific Ocean the Las Olas resort at La Barqueta in the province in Chiriqui is also another course under construction. Just minutes away from the town of David and its Domestic and International Airport the resort will offer 27 holes of spectacular championship golf designed by J. Michael Poellot Golf Designs of Saratoga, California. They intend it to be one of the finest venues for golf in all of Central America.
This will be one of the most exclusive beach communities in Panama with a Nicklaus Design championship course. Its signature hole will cut into the Pasific coastline with stunning vires of Buenaventura's white sandy beach. The course is scheduled to be comppleted in 2010. The club house will be luxurious and from caddy concierge to specialised golf instructors, members can be assured that all their needs will be met.
New Golf Courses Planned
More courses are planned for Panama including one at Penonome and another at Tole in Chiriqui.
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