Golf Vacations in Mexico – Golf in Puerto Vallarta

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White sandy beaches, unending vistas of mountain-ringed coastlines and an old-worldly charm that comes alive in white stucco buildings, paved cobblestone streets and flower-fringed balconies – that is Puerto Vallarta or Vallarta or PVR for you. Puerto Vallarta is a bustling tourist destination – a haven for water sport enthusiasts and the place to be if you love golf.

“Not a single bad mango in the bunch” is how a golf enthusiast described the courses in Vallarta. Most visitors tend to agree. With more than half a dozen world class golf courses designed by stalwarts like Tom Weiskopf, Robert Van Hegge and Jack Nicklaus, Vallarta is undoubtedly one of the best golfing destinations in Mexico. Excellent service including professional lessons, great putting greens, clubhouses, pro shops and clinics is another admirable facet of the golfing experience in Puerto Vallarta.

El Tigre at the magnificent Paradise Village Hotel in Nuevo Vallarta is the newest course in the area. It is also perhaps the best. This Jack Nicklaus design is a 7,239 yard, par 72 course consisting of 12 water bodies. El Tigre is the only natural island green in these parts. It is busy throughout the year and advance reservations are a must. The course is a wee bit expensive at $130 (15% tax extra) for a shared cart and practice balls. Non-guests are not exactly welcome. The course takes its mascot very seriously, so don’t be surprised if you see a truck with tigers chugging past you!

Golf Vacations in Mexico   Golf in Puerto Vallarta

The Mayan Palace course, situated at Nuevo Vallarta was once a boring, flat course. But the greens have now matured wonderfully with a variety of strategically placed trees, bunkers and lakes adding to the excitement of the game. The course is long and requires some forceful smacks and this caters nicely to players of all levels. The proximity to the ocean means that the direction of the wind can change the nature of your game. You will come across a number of scenic holes like the 180-yard par 3, which offers a wonderful oceanfront view of the Pacific. Well-maintained greens are an outstanding feature of this course and special care is taken to fill every divot with sand and seed mixture. The place is not inordinately expensive and some excellent side offers, like complimentary coffee with croissants for early birds and free club storage, make it a good deal all round. The service staff is courteaous and fastidious attention is paid to every small detail.

The two championship courses at Vista Vallarta are the local favorites. The first is a Jack Nicklaus course where the 2002 PGA tournament was held. Majestic mountains lace the far boundaries of the course, which is built on rolling land filled with dense palm forests, sloping hills and giant ficus trees. One game here and you will agree that this place calls for smart play. The greens here are unusually fast and several small streams crisscross their placid faces. Of course, a place like this screams money and prices are indeed steep. Club storage is charged, so are non-playing partners. Drinks and cigarettes can burn a hole through your pocket.

The Weiskopf course is the second of the Vista Vallarta Championship Courses and it is built on rougher terrain than the former. While the views are not as spectacular as the first, the game certainly is. Well-protected bunkers make good use of different elevations and deep ravines lace the greens to make the game challenging enough. This is again a place for smart golf and a small mistake you make may be the last you see of your ball.

The Flamingos, which has the distinction of being the first golf course ever to be built in Puerto Vallarta, is situated just before Bucerias. During its early days, the course had a reputation of being easy. That changed when it was remodeled in 2002. Today, the fairways average 40 yards in width and the chipping areas that surround the greens demand good short-game skills. The course offers good value for money. Lakes, jungles and the countless birds flock the area and this gives you the feeling of playing in a tropical forest.

The Marina located near the Marriott Hotel is a stiff challenge to golfers of all levels. One of the toughest courses in the area, ten of the holes hold water and it is very easy to lose a couple of balls. While playing your shots if you are observant enough, you will notice the yellow eyes of an alligator following you across the course. Pricey but classy, well worth a visit. Beware, the place gets really busy during the season.

The Four Seasons Punta Mita Resort is one of the world’s finest resorts and only a half-hour drive from downtown. This course has the honor of bagging top places in three categories of the Conde Nast Traveler’s Annual Reader’s Choice Survey on the World’s Top Golf Resorts. Named as the World’s #1 for both accommodation and service, this signature course is a spectacular 19-hole Jack Nicklaus Course. This 1,000-acre resort is as lavish as it is spectacular with a wonderful spa and two busy restaurants.

December through April is the best time to travel to Vallarta because the rains that start in June continue well into the month of October. The number of courses has drastically gone up in the last 12 years (from two to seven) which makes it possible for you to enjoy world-class golf experience.