Situated around a two-hour drive to the southwest of Panama City, the course at Buenaventura is an 18-hole Nicklaus Design layout that’s set within a large residential development on the Pacific coast of Panama, in the province of Coclé.
The course measures a massive 7,324 yards from the back markers and it’s been turfed with Paspalum Platinum grass, known for its tolerance to salt water irrigation, which is a major factor for the club’s eco credentials.
More than three hundred trees were transplanted during construction, which ticks another conservation box, as does the use of large waste bunkers areas on almost half the holes, greatly reducing the acreage of irrigation on the fairways.
Water comes into play on more than half the holes, most significantly at the par four 1st (setting the tone for the round), at the par fives on holes 5 and 12, and to the left of the right doglegged 18th.The club first hosted the Lexus Panama Classic professional tournament on the PGA Tour Latinoamérica in 2014, an event won by Argentinian Julian Etulain with a seventeen under par total of 271, two strokes better than his compatriot Gato Zarlenga.
J.W. Marriott took over this 122 room resort about four years ago and has completed a number of significant upgrades to an already magnificent property. Troon Golf is now managing the course and has kept the layout in superb condition. Even though the topography is relatively flat, this Nicklaus Design seems to embrace the natural landscape by adding well-placed bunkers and stunning water features on twelve of the holes. There are few trees to protect you from the elements so the prevailing winds will definitely be a factor here. In fact I found that the wind always seemed to push my ball towards the water hazards but I’m told in the winter time the winds actually change directions. The 11th hole is a great little par 4, only 333 yards but water comes into play down the entire left side on this big dog leg left. 12 is a great par 5 with water running down the left side and plenty of bunkers protecting the fairway and green. 16th is a “bear” of a hole. At 528 yards, straight into the teeth of the wind, you are faced with waste bunkers on the right and water down the left. This course is always green thanks to the heat resistant and salt water tolerant Paspalum Platinum grass. There are lots of deep faced bunker that are strategically placed off the tee and on your approach shots with plenty of dead pan bunkering throughout. You will find that this course is rarely busy because it is private and reserved for members and guests of the hotel, although they do allow eight rounds per day to other players that want to enjoy this magnificent golf course. Green fee for hotel guests range from $115 to $130USD. Inquire for non-guests. You can read more of Dave Finn's golf travel articles at www.golftravelandleisure.com