Have you ever shown up late for your tee time and been told by the starter, “sorry we are fully booked, please come back tomorrow?” What’s your reaction? Throw a temper tantrum? Or, go have a coffee with your foursome instead?
Well, imagine having so much money that you decide to build your own course instead. That’s one of the many fascinating tales I learned from my caddy while golfing in Colombia recently where I had the chance to sample some of this South American country’s finest campos de golf.
Ruitoque Golf & Country Club (http://www.ruitoquegolf.com/
) in Bucaramanga was definitely the highlight. Some courses amaze you for their design, some for their views, some for their ambience and overall experience. Ruitoque had all these traits and the vistas of the surrounding green mountains were unlike any I’ve ever seen while golfing. This Jack Nicklaus-designed course, in the province of Santander, is the most spectacular campo de golf I’ve ever played.
|David McPherson with caddie at Ruitoque|
|Ruitoque founder Don Armando Puyana Puyana|
As the story goes, a well-heeled developer, who was a member of the only country club in Bucaramanga – Club Campestre Bucaramanga (where I stayed during my two days in this city), showed up late for his tee time for the annual club championship; he was refused entry into the tournament, so, to spite his former friends and members, he built an exclusive condominium development — locating it up a winding mountain road.
The Ruitoque community includes its own grocery store, spa, and many other amenities. As if this wasn’t enough of flipping the bird to his former club, to add that extra sprinkle of salt to the wound, he hired The Golden Bear to design an 18-hole championship golf course.
Ruitoque is filled with many classic Nicklaus’ design traits — from large fairway bunkers to strategically placed pin placements. The private course, which opened in 1997, is a 6,600 yard, par 71.
The story behind Riotoque’s creation is just one of the many fascinating tales you’ll discover golfing in Colombia. Colombia has more than 50 golf courses, many of which are considered the top tracks in all of Latin America. Famed North American designers past and present – from the aforementioned Nicklaus to Canada’s own Stanley Thompson and American Robert Trent Jones – have all left their marks on Colombia’s campos de golf.
Everywhere you turn, it’s a postcard. Imagine sipping a tinto – Colombian slang for a cup of coffee - before you tee off. The green mountainous landscapes are lush and the towering trees such as the grand eucalyptus look down on you and make you take time to ponder the meaning of life and Mother Nature’s beauty. Thank goodness I purchased an extra memory card for my camera as it was hard not to go snap crazy as I strolled down the fairways with my caddy at my side giving me tips.
But, there is so much more to golf in this South American country. Where else can you golf in the morning and visit salt mines in the afternoon? Or, visit the Chicamocha Canyon after playing 18 holes. In Colombia, you can do all this and much more.
Golf in Colombia - the only risk truly is wanting to stay and play.
Air Canada flies direct from Toronto to Bogotá several times per week.
More articles by David McPherson