The Pundits Have Spoken…
I needed to use my professional tripod yesterday to shoot some golf photos and video. I hadn’t used this particular tripod since my recent trip to Bogota, Colombia a couple of months ago. Unfortunately I found out that my tripod joined the list of my property that had been damaged or destroyed by Delta Airlines. The clamp which extends the top section of the tripod was broken off. Add this to the list of three golf bags, two golf travel bags, broken head covers and trashed luggage courtesy of Delta. Hell, on one trip, they trashed two separate bags! Fortunately that time they paid for the damage.
I’ve had a poll buried in the bottom of the HOG pages here, slowly gathering some votes. Based on my latest item trashed by an airline, I thought it a good time to post these poll results:
What is the WORST airline for golf travel?
- British Airways (7%)
- United Airlines (10%)
- US Airways (13%)
- Southwest Airlines(12%)
- Continental Airlines(8%)
- JetBlue Airways (9%)
- American Airlines (14%)
- Delta Airlines (27%)
The pundits have spoken. Delta Airlines is the worst airline for golf travelers according to HOG readers and I’d have to agree. I can’t believe they actually charge me extra money in the form of baggage fees to trash my gear too! Such a privilege. What’s even more crazy is that I pay that money just so I can rack up frequent flyer miles so I can presumably have my bags trashed for free on my next skymile redemption…
Next poll: What is the BEST airline for golf travel? Vote in the left column!
Muisca’s Golden Raft – click for full size
My golf travels have brought me to see some of the coolest places on this planet, from St. Andrews to Seattle. Recently I traveled to Bogota, Colombia on a recent HOG World Tour stop. Of course I sampled the local golf offerings in the fantastic La Cima Club de Golf and Country Club de Bogota.
Poporo Quimbaya – click to enlarge
Museo Del Oro – Museum Of Gold
While in Bogota I did manage to check out some non-golf related attractions in the area. I visited “Museo Del Oro” or the “Gold Museum.” Inside the museum are over 50,000 pieces from indigenous cultures in Bogota’s pre-Hispanic era, before any contact with Europe. This is the biggest collection of its kind in the world.
The artifacts in the museum are stunning. I strongly recommend adding Museo Del Oro to your life bucket list.
The famous “Golden Raft” is an unbelievable artifact. As part of the El Dorado ceremony, the heir to the chieftaincy offered this piece to the gods. It is said that when the Spanish discovered this piece, the first of many thousands, they began to believe in a lost city of gold.
I could go on about the history, but honestly I’m not an expert on it. I was there a short time and absorbed as much as my limited cranium could hold. Be sure to add this magnificent display of art and gold to your must-see list. For now, enjoy the HOG Gold Museum Photo Gallery.
Gold Museum Website
Museo Del Oro Images
La Cima Club de Golf Review
Country Club de Bogota Review
In my previous life I made my living as a drummer in a rock and roll band. I played 1000’s of shows all over the place. I’ve picked up the tour gig with Hooked On Golf Blog. For almost 10 years now I’ve been doing the “HOG World Tour,” the coolest golf tour anywhere. From St. Andrews to TPC Sawgrass to Augusta, I’ve been there. I can’t say how fun it has been.
I jumped at the chance to log the first HOG World Tour stop in South America. I spent a whole week in Bogota, Colombia in concert with the Web.com Tour’s Colombia Championship. While there I played two fine golf tracks: La Cima Club de Golf in the Andes Mountains, and Country Club de Bogota. Today’s review is of the gem that is Country Club de Bogota.
Country Club De Bogota – click to see more
Country Club de Bogota Overview
Country Club de Bogota is located in the heart of Bogota, a large city of 8,000,000 people. The course is a 36 hole private club with great supporting facilities, restaurants, swimming pool etc. The course is the home of the Web.com Tour’s Colombia Championship.
The layout of the course is what I’d call a traditional treelined parkland track. The course is TIGHT. A shot-maker’s course for sure.
Despite the tightness of the track, there is plenty of distance to go around. The course sits between 8,600-9,000 feet above sea level. The ball really flies. If you struggle with your distance and want to see what it feels like to hit it really far, come to Bogota and play. You’ll gain 1-2 clubs in distance.
Tee shots are tight! Click tozoom…
Tee shots are extremely important on this course. As I found out in my round, driver is not necessarily the correct play off the tee on all the par-4’s and par-5’s. The doglegs can be sharp and if one can’t work the tee shot a driver can go through the fairway. This happened to me a couple of times. Unless you are deadly accurate with the driver, a more strategic approach of irons, hybrids or fairway woods off many of the tees is likely the best plan.
The Andes Mountains overlook the course. Click to zoom
If you’ve placed your tee shot in the fairway, a fairly tough task, the approaches aren’t extremely difficult. There is no elevation change on the course to speak of, barring a couple of feet from tee to fairway or fairway to green.
There are many places where the overhanging trees on the fairway can force one to have to hit a curveball around them, or a punch shot under them. Once again, a shot-maker’s course.
Greens at Country Club de Bogota are smooth and fast. click to zoom
The greens at Country Club de Bogota are tour quality. They hold shots perfectly, yet roll fast and true. If you have any control over your approach shots, keep them below the hole. Downhill putts on this track are very difficult.
The undulations of the greens are not extreme though there are a few with double tiers. The speed of the greens makes two-putting difficult if putting from one tier to another.
I had a blast putting on these great surfaces. I made four birdies once I got used to the speed.
There’s a large practice facility a short walk from the 1st tee.
The clubhouse is very large and spacious with two restaurants, a swimming pool, locker rooms and banquet/tournament facilities.
Bogota, Colombia may not be the first place that comes to one’s mind when thinking of golf travel. Perhaps that should change. Golf in this region of the world is a blast. With the temperate conditions and tons of rainfall each year, the courses are plush and healthy. The altitude makes playing a blast.
10 Tee – click for more pictures
The conditioning of Country Club de Bogota is fantastic and the course is a very good test of one’s complete golf game, from tee to green.
Review: La Cima Club de Golf, Colombia
Country Club de Bogota website
Country Club de Bogota photo gallery
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
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
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…)