Pacific golfing

A few years back we posted an article on golf courses in Costa Rica and what experienced players can expect in this small country better known for jungles and nature. We realize it’s not the first activity most people think of for this eco-friendly destination, but there are some very good reasons for golfers to put Costa Rica on their list.

The courses and the places to stay near them change over time of course, so our original golf writer James McAfee updated his earlier article based on a new visit and a new round of hitting the links. This coincides with some new recognition. “Now it has achieved another important milestone, receiving the 2014 Golf Destination of the Year Award for Latin America and the Caribbean from the prestigious Association of Golf Tour Operators.”

Three of the best courses are within an hour of the northern international airport in Liberia. From here you can arrive quickly to the best luxury hotel and the best golf course, at the Four Seasons Costa Rica. This is not necessarily the most challenging course for experts, but it is gorgeous throughout, with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean on most of holes, framed by thick vegetation.

In the same region but a bit further south is the is the Reserva Conchal Golf Club at the Westin, as well as the Hacienda Pinella, near Tamarindo Beach. It would be possible to play all three on one holiday weekend trip.

If flying into the main airport near San Jose, expect more lush greenery, but more chance of rain if it’s the “green season.” The two courses near the capital are Cariari Country Club and Valle del Sol, more modest and with lower greens fees. At the former though, you’ll have a mandatory caddy along for guidance.

Golf course near Jaco

On the central Pacific Coast, La Iguana at the Los Suenos complex is the 18-hole championship course designed by Ted Robinson. With a forecaddy and a cart GPS system, first-time visitors aren’t flying blind with their approach shots. The last option is Los Delfines, a 9-hole course on the Nicoya Peninsula.

For those who think golf courses and sustainability are mutually exclusive, keep in mind that these are some of the most environmentally friendly courses in the world. The ones by the ocean often use desalinization technology, grasses that need less water than most, and native plants for landscaping.

See our updated report on the best golf experiences in Costa Rica.