The Republic of Costa Rica, to give it its full name, is a small country in Central America with a population of less than five million, some forty percent of whom inhabit the metropolitan area in and around the capital San Jose.
It is a largely Spanish-speaking democracy abutting the Pacific Ocean and boasting gorgeous views and exotic wildlife enjoying the country’s all-year tropical climate, a place to take your dream vacation – especially if you play golf. With at least a dozen top tier courses available, golf in Costa Rica is to be taken seriously. As it most certainly is throughout the golf world.
When you play on Costa Rica golf courses you combine quality sport with breath-taking views of the Pacific Ocean, as well as beautiful beaches and glorious sunshine.
A Brief History of Golf in Costa Rica
Costa Rica enjoyed its first taste of golf in the 1940s with the establishment of the Costa Rican Country Club on the western outskirts of San Jose, an exclusive 9-hole golf course, which remained the only course in the country for many years. The first 18-hole championship course was built at the Cariari Country Club in Heredia in the 1970s.
But the nation was not generally recognized as a major golfing hub until the tourism boom of the 1990s brought in its wake many a top quality hotel and resort. This attracted some of the biggest names in golf, who left their mark by designing courses which would be enjoyed by other golfers from across the world.
Costa Rica’s Top Courses
Costa Rica hosts a number of courses which are the equal of some of the best in the world. Let’s take a look at some of them:
- Cariari Country Club – Costa Rica’s first eighteen-hole golf course, the Cariari is conveniently located just five minutes from the country’s main international airport and ten minutes from San Jose. Designed by George Fazio, it boasts splendid views of the Central Valley mountains.
- Four Seasons Costa Rica Golf Club – A club for players of all abilities at the Peninsula Papagayo, this Arnold Palmer designed course has the added advantage of some breathtaking ocean views across the Bahia de Culebra from several holes. Once exclusive to guests staying at the exclusive Four Seasons resort, this course is now open to the wider public.
- Hacienda Pinilla Golf Course – Designed by Mike Young, this course is situated along the North Pacific Guanacaste coast on the Langosta Beach. Not only is it one of the most challenging courses there is, its design also makes it one of the most environmentally sound.
- La Iguana Golf Course – Sited within the embrace of the Pacific tropical rain forest, this scenic course at Los Suenos was designed by Ted Robinson Jnr. As well as the stunning scenery this venue is a great location for observing some of Costa Rica’s most exotic wildlife.
- Los Delfines Golf and Country Club – A small and delightful course located on the southern seaboard of the Nicoya Peninsula, Los Delfines incorporates a magnificent panoramic view of Whale Bay.
- Monteran Golf Club – Boasting one of the most exclusive golfing experiences in the whole of Costa Rica, Monteran is surrounded by some of the country’s most glorious countryside.
- Reserva Conchal Golf Club – The brainchild of legendary golfing architect Robert Trent Jones II, this superb 1996 creation is reckoned by many to offer the finest golf in Costa Rica, with its famous “Lion’s Paw” providing some of the most splendid ocean views as well as deceptively challenging play.
- Valle del Sol Golf Club – Surrounded by luscious gardens in the Central Valley of Costa Rica, the Valle del Sol is situated close to the town of Santa Ana, a suburb of San Jose. Beautiful views with lakes and rivers are to be enjoyed, as well as the unique sight of no fewer than three volcanoes.
This is a phrase unique to Costa Rica which means, essentially, that “everything is cool”. But it is used in everyday conversation in a variety of ways – as a greeting, or simply as a way of saying “no problems” or “that’s fine”. Legend has it that it gained popularity after first having been used in a 1956 Mexican movie.
Whether or not this is true, it sums up perfectly the carefree attitude which abounds on the golf courses of Costa Rica, where players enjoy good sport alongside the liberating experience of being in the tropics soaking up the sun and the scenery, as well as the flora and the wildlife.
Playing golf in Costa Rica is as good a reason as ever there was to be alive.