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100 miles S of Puerto Vallarta, via Highway 200
The coastline of Costalegre stretches for over 130 miles along Mexico’s Pacific seaboard from Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco to Manzanillo in Colima, characterized by tropical jungle, mountains, plantations and hidden beaches.
Towards the southern end of this rugged coastline lies the luxury boutique resort of El Tamarindo – named after the only Tamarind tree to be found on an enormous 2,000-acre nature reserve – and its special 18-hole golf course.
The layout was carved out of the natural vegetation by San Diego-based architect David Fleming and it’s one of the most spectacular to be found anywhere in the world. Clusters of palm trees often fringe fairways that rise and fall through tropical terrain, though occasionally they are bounded by nothing other than the sandy beach.
El Tamarindo sensibly allows stray shots to be regarded as playing a lateral hazard, except on tee shots. And when did you last see a local rule on a scorecard declare, “out of bounds and hazards are considered from the beginning of the jungle”? No point going in to find a lost ball then, so just drop another and play again.
The short 9th hole is a spectacular hole, routed partially across an ocean bay with a drop in elevation of over a hundred feet. It’s followed soon after by the gorgeous 157-yard 12th, played from an elevated tee to a raised green that sits yards from the shoreline, surrounded by palm trees and several large bunkers – cameras at the ready for sensational tee box snaps at both these holes.
Architect David Fleming kindly provided the following comments:
The vegetation is spectacular. In the flower season, February to June, the tropical trees break out in massive colour displays and it looks like a mad painter has dumped gallons of paint over the tree tops – you will see brilliant clear yellow flowers of the Premavera trees, pinks of the Rosa Marado and Plumeria and more trees of violets, whites, and blues.
The most challenging part of the design was to capture the beach frontage and we did in two sites where we were able to use the view of the same beach with holes that step down in a manner so as not to be seen from the previous hole. You will see this at holes 8 & 9 and 11 & 12.
The site was blessed with many spectacular old trees that we rerouted the golf holes to protect and maintain them as we found them. The wild life was much like you would see in an Indiana Jones adventure and with a similar style hat which I wore, I quickly picked up the nick name of 'Indy'.
The key to the success of the design and the presentation of the golf course was to not over work the site and we left the land with a soft touch and let it do the talking. You will really enjoy a visit to El Tamarindo.”
What an awesome course! Perfectly manicured. We never saw another golfer on the course, it was like we had the whole place to ourselves. Even had a worker give us some grapefruits off a tree as he was picking them. Spectacular views along the Pacific coast and then back into the jungle!