The BlueBay Coronado Golf & Beach Resort sits on the Pacific Ocean, an hour’s drive along the coast from the capital city. For the non-golfer, there are sporting amenities like an Olympic sized pool, tennis courts and equestrian centre. The main leisure attraction though, is reserved for golfers and it takes the shape of an 18-hole, par 72, championship golf course, created by the Fazio design team.
Coronado is one of the leading courses in Panama amongst a small, select group that includes Club de Golf de Panama, Mantarraya, Buenaventura and Ceilo Paraiso. Plans to add to the number of golf courses in the country are well advanced with Red Frog Beach (Bocas del Toro), set to make an appearance in the near future.
Coronado Golf and Beach Resort is one of the oldest courses in Panama. Designed by the legendary George Fazio with some help from his young apprentice, nephew Tom Fazio, this mature layout is as tough as nails. Most of the holes offer a narrow chute from the tee blocks with heavily tree-lined and subtle rolling fairways. In the summer months of January through to April, you can expect to be playing in strong breezes to make it even more difficult. The good news is that under the trees and in the rough is open and definitely playable.
The course starts off with a very tough opening par 4 at 424 yards. You’ll need a driver and a long iron to reach this green in two, especially when the wind is howling. If you get through the first four holes relatively unscathed you'll have a decent score.
One of my personal favourites is the 13th hole, a reachable par 5 with a river running along the right side that eventually crosses the fairway on a diagonal until it passes by the green on the left. If you try and play it safe to avoid the water on your tee shot there are three bunkers on the left that you will need to avoid.
The 16th is probably their signature hole – a long 188 yard par 3 over a pond to a raised green that is surrounded by five bunkers.
There is also an adjacent nine-hole executive par 3 golf course where you can hone your short game.
I found the Bermuda grass fairways and greens to be quite firm and dry on this parkland style design. The conditioning was not as good as others I played in Panama. Dave Finn is our Canadian Correspondent. You can read more of his golf travel articles at www.golftravelandleisure.com