Get ready for a series of posts about Colombia, because I’ve been there for the last week and there’s a lot to tell. I didn’t have much time to actually write while in Bogota because I was too busy enjoying the fine landscape, golf, people and food. Colombian women? I’m a fan.
La Cima Club de Golf – Click to enlarge
La Cima Club de Golf – Golf Bucket List
I can’t wait to express how special the golf experience I had at La Cima Club de Golf. This is one I’d definitely add to the golf bucket list. La Cima is located in the Andes Mountains, about 45-60 minutes east of Bogota, Colombia. The golf course is set amongst Colombian potato farms and cattle ranches. The track flows with the natural landscape. It is part of the landscape. Normally I mention the course designer in my reviews, but in this case I have no idea who it is. There wasn’t much earth moving involved in building this course, just flattening out a few teeing areas and shaping some greens. The rest was done by mother nature. I love tracks that flow with the landscape and are not artificially created.
La Cima Golf Course, Colombia – #1 Tee – Click to enlarge
La Cima sits at around 10,000 feet above sea level. The locals call golfing at La Cima “golfing above the clouds.” In the case of my round there I did just that. I golfed IN the clouds as well. The tee shot (pictured right) on the first hole was shot a little after 6:00am. To get the best golf above the clouds experience, get an early tee time. My tee shot disappeared into the clouds below the first tee, which is extremely elevated. I’m guessing the altitude of hole #1 tee to be around 9800 feet above sea level. The elevation change from the tee to the fairway his huge. The drop from the fairway to the green is even more severe. My best guess is that this hole drops some 300-400 feet in elevation from tee to green. Nothing like hitting a 5-iron 240 yards to pin high.
Hole #2 starts just above the level of #1 green and turns right back around up the steep hill hole #1 came down. After climbing to fairway level one may unfortunately realize the air at this altitude is quite thin. Luckily for me I live at a fairly high altitude and didn’t have a problem. I’ve read many accounts of altitude sickness in the area so make sure you’re ready for some steep hills and thin air. There are NO golf carts. I did find myself needing to take a few deep breaths, party because of the altitude and partly because the place is so severely hilly.
#6 Tee from about 9,950 feet above sea level – click to zoom
The tee shots at La Cima are quite dramatic. Many very large elevation changes make judging distance tough while the tightness of the tree lined fairways makes accuracy extremely important. On this course distance off the tee is not the most important and at this altitude, the ball flies very far so driver isn’t always the club to pull on par-4’s and par-5’s. In fact, quite often the hole design requires a much more conservative iron-off-the-tee approach for the best placement.
The fairways at La Cima can be tight. If one manages to place a ball on the fairway there can be many challenging lies due to the hilly Andes mountain terrain. I’m right at home on this kind of track having learned golf on mountain courses. There is not a straight hole on the course. Most of the par-4’s and 5’s have some sort of dogleg and many of them feature double doglegs.
La Cima Club de Golf – 17 approach is very tight – click to enlarge
Just like the tee shots, in many cases conservative shot selections are best. Some cases, like the par-5 17th hole, only one play will really work, safe.
Approaching the greens is perhaps the most challenging part of golf above the clouds. The steep Colombian terrain all but guarantees that one side of the green will have a hill above and the other a large drop off. Missing the green to the side of the drop off is death. I know. I did it a few times. In fact, hitting a green in the wrong place can be just as penalizing as missing the green flat out. On two occasions I hit the green but the spin of the ball took it off the edge where it ran away some 20 yards down a slope. 20 yards combined with 30 feet of elevation makes for a tough ask. I managed to channel my inner Phil Mickelson on one great up-and-down by hitting a mega-flop shot. Unfortunately I failed on that same shot a few holes later, three times. Having missed the green and run down a huge slope, one must get the ball on the green. If not, the ball will roll right back to your feet like it did for me, three times. I’d channeled my inner me on that one.
Me on the 5th green at exactly 10,000 feet above sea level. Notice how nice the green is? Click to zoom…
The surfaces themselves were surprisingly good. I was led to expect that they would be bumpy and slow. Led to believe they’d be poorly taken care of. In fact the putting surfaces were quite nice, rolled true and held shots like the best country clubs I’ve played. I backed a gap wedge up about 20 feet on the 16th hole.
I can’t begin to express how special and fantastic playing at La Cima really is. I kept telling my playing partner Daniel, a local, how great it was. Hard to put into words, especially with my limited vocabulary, what the experience golfing in the Andes Mountains is like.
La Cima isn’t a country club. Not a resort. There are no golf carts. No hotel. No pool. No condos. No gourmet restaurant. If that’s your fancy then fine, have fun with it. For me it is about the golf and the experience. I’ve played golf on some of the world’s most famous courses from all over the USA to St. Andrews. This was an experience like no other. I’ll always remember golf above the clouds and will do my best to get back to La Cima Club de Golf as soon as possible.
La Cima website (Spanish)
La Cima Club de Golf photo gallery
Hello from my current office, Bogota, Colombia. I’ve just finished uploading some photos of the beautiful Country Club De Bogota, the nicest country club in Bogota. Click the photo below or the link in the previous sentence to browse the images. You can also click the individual images to see larger versions…
Country Club De Bogota – click to see more
Country Club De Bogota is also the home of the Web.com Tour’s Colombia Championship.
At the end of each year I like to go through the previous year’s posts and do a summary of all the interesting news nuggets, happenings and such. Needless to say 2012 was amazing, from going to the Masters to shooting my lowest score EVER. Let’s look at the first third of the year. Not all of the posts are mentioned, just a few select ones. You can click the links in the descriptions or click the date headings to go to the archive of that month.
January 2012 – 56 Posts
My usual January features the yearly trip to golf’s biggest worldwide trade show, the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida. During the week of the show I did many interviews with top golf companies and their staff as well as showing all the new gear, apparel and accessories in the golf world.
I also got to tour Golf Channel’s facilities, and even get a shot of myself behind the Golf Central desk. Fun stuff.
January was also when Hank Haney released his book about is six year relationship with Tiger Woods.
I set some goals for my golf game in 2012, some of which I achieved and some which I did not.
Sadly, the great golf announcer Jim Huber died. I met Jim once and he was very nice and friendly to me.
February 2012 – 59 Posts
I posted a review of Kingsbarns Golf Links, one of the best courses I’ve ever played. Location: St. Andrews, Scotland.
I’m not a big fan of very many “made for golf network TV shows” on Golf Channel, but Feherty won me over. Feherty debuted in February 2012. I even talked with Feherty and Hank Haney on a conference call. Fun stuff.
Nike Golf once again provided the grand prize for HOG Space fantasy golf, a $1200 set of VR_S Forged Irons.
A golfer was stabbed on a golf course over a slow-play argument.
March 2012 – 45 Posts
After the LPGA updated their web site, no more barf bags were needed.
I picked up a Nikon D7000 camera for better golf photography.
TaylorMade bought Adams Golf.
I posted my first review of a deserted miniature golf course in the middle of the desert. “Free High Speed Wireless Internet Mini Golf” was a hell of a track.
My 2nd and 3rd article were published in Utah’s Fairways Magazine. Cool.
After withdrawing from the WGC Cadillac, Tiger Woods’s vehicle was eerily slow-chased by a blimp. Anything for ratings I suppose.
Golf architect Gil Hanse was named the designer for the Rio 2016 golf course.
The Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour traveled to Mesquite, Nevada.
Rory McIlory moved up to #1 in the world golf rankings.
April 2012 – 56 Posts
Luke Donald knocked Rory McIlory out of the #1 spot in the world golf rankings.
I posted my Nike Golf VR_S Forged Irons review.
I upgraded the Hooked On Golf Blog theme, hopefully improving the site…haha.
100’s of websites selling counterfeit golf clubs were shut down. GOOD.
A drunk “patron” was arrested for attempting to steal sand from Augusta National Golf Club at the Masters Tournament. Think they revoked his badges? 🙂
I attended two practice rounds of the 2012 Masters Tournament. My comments and some photos of the 2012 Masters can be found here.
Speaking of the Masters, here is a selection of some unique images from the Masters. Not stuff you see every day.
Speaking of speaking of the Masters. I spent a couple of hours walking Augusta National’s par-3 course with my new Nikon D-7000. I know of NO better and more complete image gallery of Augusta National’s par-3 course than my own. Cool.
END OF PART ONE – PART TWO POSTED TOMORROW!
17th Road Hole Changes Underway – click to see more
I keep close tabs on happenings at the Home of Golf, the Old Course in St. Andrews, Scotland. Having gone there in 2011, I feel I have a close tie to the course and the town of St. Andrews. I’ve got a couple of friends there, including my good friend John Boyne who is a caddie there as well as a St. Andrews tour operator with his company Caddie Golf Tours, helping folks just like me arrange their dream golf trip of a lifetime.
John has provided HOG readers with fantastic photographs of the Old Course, now undergoing some changes this winter as part of “improving” the course in preparation for the 2015 (British) Open Championship. I’ve quoted the news release text from the Open Championship website below. Click read more link below to see it.
In a nutshell, the plan is to “enhance the challenge for elite players without unduly affecting club and visiting golfers while remaining true to the special character of the Old Course.” Changes are detailed below, with the most debate regarding the 11th hole, where the green is to be altered to add a new pin position.
What’s your take?
As would be expected, there’s a large debate between those who think the course is sacred ground and should not be changed, and those who think that it is fine for the course to change over time to accommodate changes in technology. That argument is one which has been going around for a long time now, still with no resolution. They’re not going to “roll the ball back.”
I’d like to hear your opinions on this. There’s a fairly heated discussion going on over on Geoff Shackelford’s blog. I have a few questions to start it up:
Is tweaking the Old Course “repainting the Mona Lisa” as some have said?
Can we really expect golfers and golf manufacturers to buy into rolling back equipment, thus “saving” classic courses?
Do courses really need to make these tweaks to challenge pros who play there four days a year or in the case of the Old Course every five years?
The vibe I gathered when in St. Andrews is that the locals don’t like it when low scores are dropped on the Old. Is the R&A Championship committee doing this to keep the Old Course respectable and prevent it from giving up low scores, 59’s or even 58’s? If so, why care if the best in the world shoot super low scores? Why does the course have to be changed because of that? In talks on Twitter with Robert Thompson, I liked his quote, “Or we can just stop worrying about some guy shooting 60. Why the need to protect par at the expense of courses?”
And perhaps the best question to ask is, “what would Old Tom Morris do?”
On my recent Hooked On Golf Blog World Tour stop in Washington (state) and Vancouver, Canada, I had the chance to play a new course called Salish Cliffs. Salish Cliffs is located in Shelton, Washington, about 1.5 hours southwest of Seattle. The course opened in September 2011 as part of the Squaxin Island Tribe’s Little Creek Casino/Resort. I’ll be posting my golf travel review of Little Creek’s resort soon.
Salish Cliffs Golf Club #2 Tee – click for more
Salish Cliffs Golf Club Overview
Gene Bates is the course architect for Salish Cliffs. I’ve played many Bates designs, and I can honestly say this is the best one I’ve played so far. The previous Bates designs I’ve experienced don’t have the dense forest and interesting terrain that Salish does. Bates did a fantastic job utilizing the terrain to make a fun, challenging and beautiful track. (more…)