Founded in the middle of the 16th century by Pedro de Valdivia, the Spanish conquistador and first royal governor of Chile, La Serena is the nation’s second oldest city, boasting a modern day population of around quarter of a million people.
It’s a popular tourist destination with a dozen beaches along a four-mile stretch of the Avenida del Mar attracting large numbers of visitors during the summer months.
The residential development at La Serena Golf is the biggest real estate project in northern Chile, covering an area of more than eleven hundred acres between Caleta San Pedro and Punta Teatino, at the northern end of the Bay of Coquimbo.
Sporting facilities on site include tennis courts, football pitches and, of course, an 18-hole golf course that was first unveiled as La Serena Norte Golf Club at the start of the new millennium.
The course is the only seaside layout in the country, though most of it is set back from the water’s edge, with only the two closing holes actually overlooking the beach. Fairways are routed in between low-lying dunes that run along the shoreline and they lead to wide, lightly bunkered greens that encourage a bump and run approach shot.
The following quote was kindly supplied by architect Kelly Moran, written when the course was first constructed:
The land set aside for La Serena consists of big, bold sand dunes and isolated pockets in between. The saltwater breezes coming in from the direction of the Pacific Ocean on the property’s western boundary have formed the striking dunes.
The course opened in late 2001 and there are also plans for an exclusive Oceanside community and resort hotels. Using out land-based design techniques, the course was laid out during several days spent walking the land.
The par four 14th and 15th were found amongst the dunes, requiring very little preparation before converting to golf holes. The strategic design required little manmade intervention since the natural characteristics of the land provided the maximum challenge.
The 14th allows a wide berth on the tee shot, but challenges await in the form of dunes, a low bunker, and thick native vegetation. The 15th allows the player to cut off as much of the left dogleg as they are willing to risk for a shorter shot to the green.
Hole 18 allows many avenues to the green when playing the tee shot. The most challenging requires a long tee shot carry over the dunes near the ocean. This risky option leaves an easy approach into the green, giving open access to all the pin areas.Players who stop to take a look back over the course as they walk off the home green will realize they’ve just had one of the supreme golfing adventures in the entire world.