Club de Golf de Panama was formed by American workers involved in the construction of the Panama Canal in 1922 and founding members played on a 9-hole course before moving to a new 18-hole layout a decade later.
Many Panama Open championships were held at this course down the years – winners of the event during the 1950s include Roberto de Vicenzo, Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer –but, in order to progress, a move to a larger venue was necessary and so the club reconvened at its present 310-acre site in 1977.Since 2004, the Nationwide Tour has been visiting the course for the Panama Claro Championship where it’s said that “grainy greens, strong winds and very hot temperatures make this a demanding week” on a layout that’s statistically amongst the most challenging on the Tour schedule.
“Mature and stately” would be the best way to describe Panama GC because of the towering trees that line the fairways and the dramatic elevation changes. It appears to be carved out of the jungle with water evident on 12 holes however I did find the fairways to be wide and receptive. This Bermuda grass course was in good shape but not pristine since it hasn’t rained here for the last three months. The 17th is a 142-yard par three and definitely one my favourites - a beautiful downhiller with three bunkers guarding the front right, left and back of the green. The toughest hole has to be the 18th, a long par 4 with a blind uphill tee shot over a knoll and a large pond that will come into play on the right side for your approach shot. I did not get the opportunity to play the front nine since it is currently under reconstruction in preparation for the third annual Latin America Amateur Championship to be held here from January 12-15, 2017. The winner will earn an invitation to The Masters as well as exemptions into the final stages of qualifying for The Open and the U.S. Open. Additionally the champion will qualify for both, the U.S. and British Amateurs plus all other USGA amateur championships for which the winner is eligible. Even though this is a private course I understand guests are allowed to play here for a $125 green fee. This was my second favorite course in all of Panama but will definitely be worthy of the best once all the renovations are completed. You can read more of Dave Finn's golf travel articles at www.golftravelandleisure.com