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Golfing in Puerto Vallarta   by Justin Burch


Seemingly overnight, Puerto Vallarta has become a world-class golf destination, boasting seven outstanding golf resorts. Some of the world's greatest golf course architects have designed courses for this tropical paradise in the last decade, including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf and Robert von Hagge, who with 11 courses south of the border has become Mexico's most esteemed golf course designer.

The newest golf resort in Puerto Vallarta is Robert von Hagge's El Tigre at Paradise Village. Enclosed on all sides by the Sierra Madre Mountains, El Tigre is a beautifully constructed 7,239 yard, par 72 golf destination. Originally constructed on a flat piece of land, the layout required extensive earth moving and the creation of nine on-course bodies of water. Just a stone's throw from the Pacific Ocean and Paradise Village Beach Resort and Spa, El Tigre also boasts a luxuriant 45,000-square foot clubhouse equipped with restaurants, lounges, locker rooms, golf shop and a European Spa.
Jack Nicklaus' senior designer, Jim Lipe, devised the 6,700-yard Mayan Palace Golf Club, located next door to El Tigre. Mayan Palace is a fun, less-challenging course with a signature 180-yard par 3 that plays over a lake to an oceanfront green. According to players and locals, the grass and trees have already matured very well at Mayan Palace.

Just three minutes from Mayan Palace is the longtime favorite Los Flamingos Country Club, the oldest course in Puerto Vallarta. Providing a great golfing experience for players of all levels, Los Flamingos also features over 2,500 palm trees and lakes that serve as home to ducks, seagulls, egrets, and flamingos. As it is, technically speaking, the only public golf course in the area, Los Flamingos offers excellent vacation packages to prospective players and provides free shuttle transportation to its Nuevo Vallarta shore location. It has also been said that the grass at Los Flamingos is of a softer variety, similar to British links courses.   

Marina Vallarta Golf Club is Puerto Vallarta golf at its best, complete with jungle foliage, lagoons, iguanas, tropical birds, and a challenging layout designed by Joe Finger. The course winds its way through countless palm trees and a number of holes feature views of Banderas Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Located within walking distance of the marina boardwalk, it integrates the area's beautiful natural landscape with a layout designed to test even the best golfers.
Ten minutes from the Puerto Vallarta marina, tucked in the city's captivating foothills, lay the championship courses of Vista Vallarta. As host to the 2002 Anderson Consulting Match Play Championships and PGA World Cup tournament, the resort has received unanimous accolades since it opened just five years ago.

Tom Weiskopf's 18-hole layout at Vista Vallarta has extensive native jungle growth and a signature par 3 that seems to be carved out of the jungle hillside. The course masterfully blends elevations and natural features into an incredibly playable experience from start to finish. Jack Nicklaus' course measures 7,057 yards and features some incredibly long par-5s. The views of Banderas Bay and the Sierra Madre Mountains experienced here are unrivalled by any other golf resort. Despite proximity to Puerto Vallarta's resorts and hotels, the Vista Vallarta courses feel entirely otherworldly.
Designed by Jack Nicklaus and built on one of the most gorgeous properties on Costa Vallarta, the Four Seasons Punta Mita golf resort features the only green on a natural island in the world. Entry to the green across a sandbar is only possible at low tide, otherwise an amphibious vehicle or boat are necessary for access. Eight spectacular holes border the ocean here with a photo opportunity at every turn.

Though golfing in Puerto Vallarta is not necessarily a cheap hobby (prices for 18-hole rounds generally cost between $60 and $180), many Puerto Vallarta hotels and resorts offer discount or all-inclusive vacation packages that allow interested players affordable access to any of the golf resorts detailed here.

This article was written by Justin Burch. Justin writes select pieces about travel in Mexico for the CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort. - http://marriott.com/property/propertypage/PVRMX

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