Wednesday, February 7, 2018

2018 Panama Golf Tour

In January, I traveled to Panama for two weeks and visited four regions of the country on my trip. My initial stop was in Panama City, arriving on the 16th and spending 5 nights.There are 10 championship courses in Panama and the goal was to play and photograph each of those, that are listed below in order of when played:
   Panama City region- Summit GC, Club de Golf Panama, Santa Maria GCC, Tucan CC
   Resort region- Vista Mar GC, Buenaventura GC, Mantarrya GC, Coronado GC, Bijao CC
   Boquete region- Lucero GCC
   Bocas del Toro region- no golf available but great sight seeing the last three days of trip.

1.Summit GC almost every hole was interesting and well designed by Jeff Myers. Very undulating property with nicely contoured FW and green complexes. Conditioning could be improved but a nice variety of holes.
2.Club de Golf Panama, the CC you would want to be a member of in Panama City. Nice amenities for their members that you would see in an upscale private USA club.Web.com pro tour plays here annually. Had a wonderful member play with us to make it a more  enjoyable day.
3.Santa Maria GCC, a recent Nicklaus design that has some really nice green complexes, with great pin positions. Resort FW design with a billion$$ commercial/residential development taking place around them. Currently public until membership reaches 500. Beautiful clubhouse under construction. 
4.Tucan CC, another Jeff Myers design with a few holes getting some redesign work done which detracted from the flow of the round. Routing was disjointed with only one par 4 on the back 9. Will be interested in the final product but this was my least favorite course of the trip and the only one I rated White.

5.Vista Mar GC (9). Only the F9 holes were available for play due to poor conditioning issues on the B9. Overlooking the poor condition this Poellot layout still received a Gold due to it's bunkering, aesthetics, and variety of design.
6.Buenaventura GC. Another recent Nicklaus design at the resort we stayed for the next 5 nights of the trip. Very upscale facilities. Lots of Puma attire throughout Panama but especially nice selection here. The tastiest and largest club sandwich I have ever eaten. Excellent set of par 5's, rest of the course resortsy but nicely conditioned.
7.Mantarrya GC. Really liked this Randy Thompson design, except the short 4's. Great finishing string of holes starting at #13 with #16 maybe my favorite hole of the trip. This par 4 is #1 handicap hole with risk/reward off the tee to an elevated green awaiting your long second shot.
8.Coronado GC. George Fasio design with a very different feel from one nine to the other. F9 much more wide open off the tee.You must now stay a night at the hotel to play here if not a member. Lots of play from local ex-pats.
9.Bijao CC (9). This Ron Garl 9 hole design was the big surprise of the trip. One of the best conditioned courses I have ever played. Fairways were like hitting off your living room carpet. Like ANGC, I never saw one weed on the premises. If this would have been 18 holes it would have been the top course of our trip. Note:Bijao hired the supt away from Vista Mar(see above) a few years ago.

10.Lucero GCC, a Poellot design at 4500' elevation outside of Boquete. Nice cool, less humid climate has drawn my foreigners to this region. By far the most challenging course of the trip. Mens slope=153 at 76.9 from tips of 7294 yds.This is the only course I played twice and probably needed to play a couple more times to figure out where to hit it. Reminds me very much of Greywalls in the U.P. of Michigan. #12 off the tee I hit it on the line I wanted three times and went thru the FW every time into the jungle 270 yds away with a D, 3W, and hybrid. The ball does travel a bit longer at this elevation. I would have given this a BLACK if not for the conditioning from holes 4-12 and the fact I hate to hit a hybrid off the tee of any par 5 let alone two here. This is my favorite course and location to live in Panama.Two of the worst conditioned courses of the trip were designed by Poellot.

My Panama- Top 10
761 -Lucero GCC, Boquete- 2018 B
758 -Mantarrya GC, Rio Hato- 2018 B
753 -Club de Golf de Panama, Panama City- 2018 B
760 -Bijao (9), Rio Hato- 2018 B
757 -Buenaventura GC, Cocle- 2018 B
754 -Santa Maria GCC, Panama City- 2018 B
752 -Summit GC, Panama City- 2018 G
756 -Vista Mar GC (9), San Carlos- 2018 G
759 -Coronado GC, Coronado- 2018 G
755 -Tucan CC, Panama City- 2018 W
I found the quality of golf was above par and very reasonable in Panama. Anywhere from $85 -110 for 18 holes. The people that you do business with are very friendly and helpful, the rest of the Panamanians tolerate Americans but that's about it. A special thank you to Kelly De Caro, at Wanderlust Travel and the Buena Vista restaurant in Bocas del Toro, who put all the pieces together to make this a wonderful experience.

NOTE: after the 2nd round my camera died and I had to use my IPhone. Google has now totally unsupported Picassa which is where all my photo's reside. 3 months later l have bought a new camera and figured out how to transfer and edit photo's on my Iphone. Editing now is not nearly as brilliant as on Piccasa.


Friday, February 2, 2018

Albatross

Noun/ (al-ba-tross) A hole played in three strokes under par. (2 on a par 5 or holing out a drive on a par 4.)

A couple of the things still on my bucket list are shooting my age and making an albatross. I have come close a few times on the albatross. For those who followed my Down Under trip I came within one revolution at Chisholm Links in Dunedin, NZ. Now that I am getting close to 70 yrs old I could move up to the White tees and lower my odds in achieving both of these. What do you think, should someone who hits it around 260 yds move up a tee so they have a better chance?? There are no guarantees in life.