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Golf around the Gulf

10 years ago, golf courses did not exist in Guanacaste or the Gulf of Papagayo. Today there are various, at a world-class levels. Golf as a sport has experienced strong growth, and in this area of northern Costa Rica it has been received like a guest of honor.
Golf was born somewhere on the east coast of Scotland at the beginning of the 15th century, where shepherds used to entertain themselves by hitting little round pebbles with sticks until they were able to make them arrive at an improvised goal. With time those shepherds and others that followed them continued perfecting the game and introduced the first basic rules.

The first written document which makes reference to golf is an act decreed in 1457 by King James II of Scotland, which set hours for the practicing of golf so that people would not be  playing during times that they should be dedicated to other more important tasks.
Years later, golf became all the rage among the London aristocracy and upper middle class. At first, ladies and gentlemen played in full dress at the very heart of the city, but given that the glass in doors and windows, and even passers-by became frequent target of wayward balls, the authorities had to intervene, forcing enthusiasts to play only in open fields. Suddenly, the first golf course arose and more precise rules for the game were established. They improved the balls and the clubs by adding different metal bases to the clubs in order to be able to hit the balls at a greater or lesser distance and improve the trajectories. The goal became a hole, in which the ball had to enter after a fixed number of hits.


Already by the mid-18th century, golf was professionalizing as a sport with the birth of the first associations such as the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers (1744), the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews (1754), and the Royal Blackheath (1766), Through these associations, the practice organized itself and the first official rules became established.

palos_315In those years, golf was considered a sport of the aristocracy and its practice was almost exclusively reserved for a select elite until the beginning of the 20th century. 

Today it continues to be considered as a sport with class, but with mass acceptance, suitable for all ages and social groups, and is practiced by millions around the world. It has a strong media presence with dozens of magazines, web sites, video games and even television channels dedicated 100% to golf. It is an industry that moves millions of dollars annually and its popularity is continuing to rise. In 2005, there were close to 32,000 golf courses in the world. Only two years later the number is close to 34,500. Personalities such as the United States golfer Tiger Woods and the Mexican Lorena Ochoa, are equal in popularity to the most famous football or tennis players.

In the last few years, golf has begun to occupy a fundamental role in the stability and prosperity of the tourist industry at a global level. Golf courses act as a starting point in the development of luxurious complexes that include hotels, spas, residences and all the infrastructure and services that come with them.

Golf in Guanacaste
Guanacaste and the Gulf of Papagayo in particular, is experiencing first hand this development associated with golf. There are now four golf courses in the region (and there are plans for more) and all of them have been accompanied by new hotel and residential infrastructure. The golf clubs of the Fours Seasons, Hacienda Pinilla and Reserva Conchal are for the exclusive use of their guests, while the Papagayo Golf & Country Club is the only course open to the general public.

Although the country’s oldest golf course, the Costa Rica Country Club, founded in the 40s, is found in the central valley, Guanacaste is currently the province with the most golf courses in all of Costa Rica.

The modern courses of Guanacaste, are all less than 10 years old and have been designed to minimize the environmental impact and subjected to the strict current regulations for these types of projects. The result has been world class courses in incredible natural surroundings. The Four Seasons Resort and its golf course, has recently received a certification of sustainability from the ICT (Costa Rican Institute of Tourism) making it the best-ranked five-star hotel in the country. This is plain to see as each part of the complex is subtly and harmonically integrated into its surroundings. For its part, the Papagayo Golf & Country Club has received an ecological distinction from the Out of Bounds Society in recognition of its wildlife-friendly design.

rscn5930_200  Ten years ago, the area in which the Papagayo Golf Club is located, was used for grazing cattle introduced after a sustained deforestation. The first step taken to restore this zone was the reforestation of the area with more than 5,000 native trees. They developed mechanisms to take advantage of rain water and chose grass with lower water needs while the residences of the complex were planned with high environmental standards. Today it is common to find yourself face to face in the middle of the fairway with howler monkeys, coatis or raccoons that have returned to make this their home. This is exactly what is happening in a similar manner on other courses in the area.

The abundant nature, combined with world-class surroundings and services have made these courses a unique experience.  This is one of the things that makes each game of golf in this area unique and unrepeatable; something different to what we find on any other course in the world. This is exactly what has attracted professionals such as Fred Couples or Jesper Parnevik, as well as various international stars of the screen, music and sport, who frequently choose Guanacaste as a place to treat themselves to a special game. The two courses in the Gulf of Papagayo are found less than 30 minutes from the airport and are only a  couple of hours flight from Miami.

If you are already and expert golfer or if you want to start learning, this is the right place for you.  The Papagayo Golf & Country Club offers personalized classes for beginners or for those looking to perfect their shots, and as part of their plan to integrate with the local community, they offer free teaching for local children up to the age of 14 on Saturdays. 

As a famous golfer once said,
”Great golf starts with a great grip”


So, grab your clubs and come to play!

We’ll see you at the 18t.


cuadro_canchas_de_golf_en_guanacaste_748Of these 4, Papagayo Golf Club is the only one open for public.


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Transportation guide 

Humpback Whales 


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