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La Cima Golf Course, Colombia – 10,000 feet above sea level in the Andes Mountains – Put this one on your golf bucket list

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
Categories: Course ReviewsGolfGolf CoursesGolf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourReviewsTravel

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 – 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

Tee

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.

Fairway

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.

Green

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.

Golf Colombia Bogota

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.

Conclusion

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.

Related Links

La Cima website (Spanish)

La Cima Club de Golf photo gallery


Golf Travel Review: Inn At The Quay, BC, Canada

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, October 10th, 2012
Categories: Golf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourReviewsTravel
Tags:

Last month I had a great HOG World Tour leg up to the American northwest.  I stopped by the great new Salish Cliffs Golf Club and Chambers Bay Golf Club as well as staying at Little Creek Resort in Shelton, Washington.  After tooling around in the Seattle area I headed up north across the border for my first ever time in Canada, aye?  What’s that all aboot?  I stayed in one of the coolest hotels ever in Vancouver called Inn At The Quay.  Technically the location is in “New West Minister” but it is essentially a suburb of Vancouver as I understand it.

Inn At The Quay – New Westminister (Vancouver), BC, Canada

Location

30 minutes from the heart of metro Vancouver, Inn At The Quay calls itself a “chic boutique” full service hotel.  The hotel is located on the Fraser River boardwalk in New Westminister.  From my room’s balcony I watched the waterfront activity of boats and ships coming and going.  Sitting out on the balcony at night and watching that activity with a nice glass of vino is very relaxing. (more…)


Golf Travel Review: Little Creek Resort, Shelton, Washington – Home of Salish Cliffs Golf Club

Written by: Tony Korologos | Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012
Categories: Golf For WomenGolf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourLifeReviewsTravel
Little Creek Casino Resort

Little Creek Resort – Click to zoom

I had the pleasure of taking a trip up to the northwest last month.  I toured around the fine city of Seattle, Washington as well as going up into Vancouver, BC, Canada.  I’d heard of a cool new course up there called Salish Cliffs and made arrangements to play the course.  Very happy I did.  You can read my review of Salish Cliffs here.  While there I stayed at Little Creek Resort in Shelton, Washington.  This is a resort/casino owned by the Squaxin Island Tribe, the native people of South Puget Sound.  Today I’m reviewing the resort.  Let’s go.

Location

Little Creek Resort is located about 1.5 hours southwest of Seattle in the town of Shelton, Washington, just off of highway 101.  The resort is a short drive northwest of Olympia, Washington.

The area is mountainous, with very dense forest and beautiful pines.  The air is fresh and the area is very quiet.  No traffic, noises or pollution.  This is a great place to get away from the concrete jungle.

Little Creek Resort, Washington

Standard Deluxe Room – Click to zoom

Lodging

The resort is impressive.  One of the nicest and largest indian reservation casino resorts I’ve seen.  The rooms are new and clean, and very spacious.

There are four types of lodging options at Little Creek:

  • Standard Deluxe Room (where I stayed) – California king or two queen beds, coffee maker, flat screen TV
  • Deluxe Spa Room – California king bed, jetted jacuzzi tub, flat screen TV, stereo, coffee maker
  • Two-Room Spa Suite – California king bed, queen size sleeper sofa, refrigerator, stereo, flat screen TV (2), leather chair
  • Super Suite – Full king bed, full bathroom with jacuzzi tub, private bathroom, furnished living area, stainless steel appliances, full service for 8, executive office area with PC, CD player/stereo, 42″ plasma TV with surround sound

General Property

The resort’s construction, architecture and interior design is quite impressive, much more on the inside than the outside.  The hotel lobby area is beautiful, with a large atrium going up five floors. (more…)


Review: Salish Cliffs Golf Club, Shelton, Washington

Written by: Tony Korologos | Monday, September 24th, 2012
Categories: Course ReviewsGolf CoursesGolf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourReviewsTravel
Tags:

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

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…)


Golf Travel Review: Otsego Club & Resort – Gaylord, Michigan

Written by: Tony Korologos | Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
Categories: Golf LifeGolf LifestyleHOG World TourReviewsTravel
Tags:
Otsego Club

Otsego Club & Resort, Gaylord, Michigan – click to zoom

Welcome to the final in a long series of reviews from my recent HOG World Tour stop to northern Michigan and the golf mecca town of Gaylord.  Today’s piece is a quick review covering Otsego Club & Resort, a resort which I stayed in for a couple of days during my trip, and which has one course I posted a review on yesterday, the very fun Otsego Tribute course.

Otseto Club & Resort Overview

Otsego Club & Resort is a facility which features many winter and summer activities including two golf courses, skiing and snowboarding, dining, swimming, bar, meetings, weddings and more.

Lodging

The resort has 117 guest rooms on site, in various buildings and condos, some dating back to the mid-1800’s.   But don’t make a mistake about the rooms, they’re clean and modernized inside without losing that rustic flare.

Lodges at Otsego include the Tyrol Lodge, Hilltop Lodge, Blue Spruce Lodge, Loft Lodge, White Birch Lodge and the Chalets.  Prices for the lodges and condos varies from $69 for the most basic lodge to $529 for a Chalet. (more…)


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