Hotel Punta Islita Golf Course Review
As part of a fun and adventurous 10 day stay in Costa Rica we stayed at the fantastic Hotel Punta Islita and played the executive par 3 golf course just down the mountain from the Hotel. Punta Islita Golf Course is owned and operated by the Hotel, opened for play in 2006, and was designed by the Hotel's owner.
The course has 2 sets of tee boxes with yardages of 1156 from the tips and 1039 from the forward tees for a par of 27. The 133 yard 8th hole has 3 tee boxes to give the short hitters a better opportunity to carry the pond in front of the green. The longest hole is the 9th hole at 173 yards and the shortest is only 92. Green fees are for all day and include clubs and a pull cart – no electric carts are available but if you rented a cart from the Hotel as a part of your hotel package, you can use that cart on the course. Walking is a little challenging thanks to some slight ups and downs and the heat and humidity!
Carlis is the head pro and what a great guy who is very enthusiastic and proud of his course and he is committed to making sure you have a good round. For example, he came over and introduced himself one day during our breakfast and said he is excited about us playing and to let him know when we are ready to play and he'll have the clubs out and ready. And when we arrived, Carlis warmly greeted us by name, had our clubs ready to go, and he seemed genuinely happy to see us. Better yet, he showed up with cold towels on a wooden tray on three different holes – on a hot humid day the towels were perfect.
Here's what we liked about playing Punta Islita Golf Course:
- it's a lush and plush tropical course with a wide variety of colorful fauna and trees of all shapes and sizes
- the layout is fun with several ups and downs, a little bit of sand, and water on a couple holes
- the price is right and if you have the energy you can play all day
- the conditions are good and the course is laid back and casual and suitable for all ages and levels of play
- after your round you can walk to the beach with a restaurant, pool and swim up bar, and hammocks for nap overlooking the Pacific Ocean
For such a short course, it throws a lot at you and it's an excellent way to practice your short game. There are some: uphill shots to the green as well as a couple downhill shots from elevated tee boxes; a couple tight fairways and some trees that need to be avoided to hit the green; plus water and bunkers to carry to hit the green.
The Punta Islita Golf Course fairways are thick and plush (don't expect much, if any, roll) and they are lined with a wide variety of trees because the course was carved out of a hillside below the Hotel and through a dense tropical forest.
Part of what makes playing the course fun and challenging are the green complexes. One green is guarded by a pond, a couple have bunkers in front, and several are raised. The greens are all shapes and sizes and most are very small and challenging to hit! They were in very good condition, ran true but a tad slow, and were soft and held the ball well. The fringe around the green was in transition to a new grass and as such was brown. Most of the greens are flat but 5, 7, and 9 have some minor break.
There are only two bunkers at Punta Islita Golf Course and both are guarding the green – one is hidden from your tee shot and will surprise you if your drive is short. The sand was thick.
A couple of the holes that we liked included:
- #6 is 123 yards with an uphill shot to a small raised green with significant slope off the left and back side and a hidden bunker in front of the hole
- #7 is fun – an elevated tee shot down to a green with an oblong bunker guarding the front and dense forest off the back
- #8 is slightly downhill shot over a pond, which is hidden from the back tees except for the water fountain, and there are some trees on the left that you need to carry or draw your shot around the trees to stuff it on the green
Bottom line: if you're a golfer staying at Punta Islita, this is a must play – good conditions, play all day, fun layout, and you'll love Carlis!
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Service is very friendly, the pro shop has a patio but no food or snacks, and the rental clubs include a full set and were in good shape.