Located fifteen minutes from downtown San José near the town of Santa Ana, the golf course at Valle del Sol was originally developed as a private facility in the late 1970s but was never completed by its North American owner.
More than a decade later, Brazilian company Habitasul acquired the site, commissioning architect Tracy May to redesign the course. May, shaper Bob Zanko and on-site construction supervisor Mark Dinan rebuilt the layout in two stages, with the first nine opening in 1997 and the second nine following four years later.Water, in the form of small ponds or meandering streams, comes into play at almost every hole on the card. Mindful of the potential damage that such aquatic hazards can inflict on a good score, golfers are strongly advised to avert their eyes from the distracting views of the nearby Irazu, Barva and Poas volcanoes and just concentrate on the job in hand.
This Audubon International certified course is set on a plateau almost 3,000 feet above sea level with outstanding views of the surrounding Cordillera Central mountain range that form the Continental Divide. Open for public play, Valle del Sol offers moderate climate all year round with temperatures that range from a high of 28 degrees C to a low of 17 with average humidity levels of 81%. Perfect weather for golf. There are two main seasons in Costa Rica - the ‘dry season’ and the ‘green season’ which starts in mid May and lasts until mid November. Either way you can always get you’re round in during the mornings as it only rains like clockwork in the afternoon.
There are six sets of tee blocks ranging from 4088 to 6945 yards giving you a legitimate opportunity to score well here if can temper your bravado.
The topography is rather flat with some fairway mounding but beware water comes into play on almost every hole and the big undulations on these over-sized Bermuda greens can make for some dastardly pin placements.
The first hole sets the standard for the entire layout. This short but delicate dogleg left par-4 demands a tee shot to land between the bunker on the right yet clear the huge trees on the left to have any chance at this green. There is an ominous bunker protecting short right on your approach and anything left will funnel down to the river that runs along the entire length of the hole.
Architect Tracy May designed a layout that offers relatively open fairways with a few tight holes thrown in. The 4th hole is another fine example. This short but challenging par-4 offers a narrow landing area on a well tree-lined fairway. Water runs down the entire left side to another well-guarded green. Follow that up with a short but picturesque jab over a waterway that runs diagonally in front of the green makes for a well executed one-two punch.
The 18th hole is the longest in the country and one of the best finishing holes you will find anywhere. This dog-leg right par-5 requires a straight drive to narrow fairway. You then need to layup or fade your second shot but not too much as water runs along the entire right side. From there you are left will an approach shot that you need to hit high enough or with a little fade to clear the huge tree on front-side.
My only negative was the fairways were a little arid, but we played in late April at the very end of the dry-season. I could play this course on a regular basis.
Green fees range for US$45 weekdays and $60 on weekends. $17 extra for shared cart.
New TaylorMade M2 rentals for $45.
Dave Finn in our Canadian Correspondent. To read more about golf in Costa Rica visit his website at http://golftravelandleisure.com/category/mexico-ca...