Want to Golf All Winter?
Are you tired of shoveling snow, scraping windshields, and wading through
slush throughout the winter? Would you prefer having the ability to play
golf everyday this winter? If so, you should consider Puerto Vallarta,
Mexico, otherwise known as Vallarta or PV by the locals. Being the same
latitude as Hawaii and located on the Mexican Riviera, Vallarta has an
average daily temperature of 73°F for seven months from November through
May. The average high during those months is 82°F while the average
low is 64°F. During those months, there is an average of one wet day
per month with .6 inch of rain, which if it exists, will occur during
the evening. The weather is absolutely ideal for golfing every single
day during that seven month period.
When we moved to PV in 1997, there were only two golf courses in the area.
One was a decent tract, at least good enough to get some practice and
keep the swing in tact. The other was a cow pasture and really not worth
playing at any price. Ten years ago, you never saw visitors arriving at
the airport with their clubs.
Today, there are seven very fine courses in PV with at least three more
in the planning stage or currently under construction. As an example,
the Nicklaus course at Vista Vallarta was the setting for the 2002 World
Cup Tournament, the 2006 Blue Agave Seniors Tour, the Annual TaylorMade
Tournament, the 2001 NCAA Tournament, and numerous others. The Weiskoph
course at Vista Vallarta is probably favored by most of the locals because
of its beautiful layout and risk-reward holes. Both courses are built
in the foothills of the Sierra Madres with elevation changes and an abundance
of bougainvilleas and other natural vegetation. These two courses at Vista
Vallarta are what you would expect in Paradise, but only four miles from
the PV Airport. The Nicklaus course at Four Seasons in Punta Mita stretches
along the ocean side and has what is believed to be, the only natural
island green in golf. In fact, hole #3 has two greens, 3a and 3b. The
natural island green, 3a, can only be played while the tide is out because
there is no access to it when the tide is in! There are two fine courses
in the Nuevo Vallarta area with El Tigre, designed by Von Hagge being
preferred by the locals. Marina Vallarta, a Joe Finger course, is a real
test of skill requiring accurate iron shots. This course is located on
Banderas Bay near the marina and has lakes and water that comes into play
on at least half the holes. Bring plenty of balls, and oh yes, watch out
for the crocodiles! The Flamingo course designed by Percy Clifford and
located about five miles north of the airport, was the original course
in PV. Ten years ago, it was rated a notch above a cow pasture, however,
five years ago, millions of dollars were invested in the course upgrading
it to a masterpiece that is thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.
Traveling 80 miles south of PV, there are a couple of the best kept secrets
in the world of golf. Barre de Navidad, by Von Hagge and El Tamarindo,
a Robert Trent Jones masterpiece, are two truly magnificent courses, rarely
visited by anyone. They are manicured to perfection, lightly played, located
on the Pacific Ocean, and ready for any avid golfer willing to drive the
scenic highway south of Vallarta.
All courses in the area are available to the public, offering memberships
to residents or packages to visitors. Guests of most local hotels receive
discounted daily rates. With virtually no chance of rain and absolutely
ideal temperatures, everyday throughout the winter is perfect for golfing.
During the ten years we’ve lived in PV, we’ve spent only four
entire summers, June through October, here. They are tough with temperatures
and humidity similar to Houston. Highs are near 90°F and it rains
almost every other evening, usually between 4:00PM and 9:00PM. During
those four “off season” summers, we were unable to play golf
only twice and those two times were due to residual water from the prior
night’s rain. It seldom rains in the daytime during the summer months
and the courses are virtually wide open for play.
For those of
you that worry about the water, the food cleanliness, the safety, or the
language barrier in Mexico, don’t! Forget about the myths “don’t
drink the water” and “be careful what and where you eat”.
The water system throughout PV has been purified for about seven years,
equal to that in the US. There are hundreds of fabulous restaurants in
Vallarta with every kind of cuisine imaginable. The grocery stores are
on a par with Safeway and Kroger in the States and with Sam´s Club
and a mega Walmart, everything is available in Vallarta. The majority
of the younger locals are now speaking English, as do all taxi drivers,
waiters, and of course, caddies. Safety and cleanliness are of high priority
to the native Mexicans, assuring return visits by all tourists.
In summarizing, next winter when you’ve had enough cold and blizzards,
consider Vallarta for a golfing vacation. You will not find a more hospitable
climate or people in the world.