Upon deciding to vacation in Colima, Mexico for extended periods in 2007, I started my search for golf courses with good conditions, challenging holes and affordable prices. I had no interest in playing golf once a week at very expensive courses but wanted to find courses that allowed me to play 2-3 times a week within a reasonable budget.
My Roadmap to Great Golf
Colima is a small state and I needed the assistance of a local Colimese who shared my love of golf and Jose (Pepe) Rivas was just the right guy. Pepe was a relative newcomer to golf but his knowledge of his home state proved to be incredibly helpful in identifying all the courses that would allow me to play without a member introduction or presence.
The next logical step I felt was to load my clubs into a rental car just in case a game happened and set off early one morning armed with a carefully labelled map, croissants and hot coffee to visit all the golf courses he had suggested. The plan took me literally around the entire state. I would have sworn two courses were ultra-private as I drove through the gates but they welcomed me. Two looked municipal from the highway but turned out to be gorgeous. Others were resort courses that the public could play with three days booking and each was excellent. I met with two managers, two head professionals, three pro shop attendants, a variety of players, caddies and one beverage cart operator who all provided important insights into golfing in Colima.
I had quite a smile on my face when I rolled back to the apartment after sunset but also had a list of concerns to deal with.
Deciding Where to Play My Mexican Golf
All-inclusive resorts have never been my favourites, even those with manicured golf courses designed by one golfing legend or another. I have admittedly stayed and played resort courses and will admit it’s pretty nice to stroll over to the clubhouse for a pre-arranged tee time and be sent on my way without opening my wallet before the round.
The reality, of course, is that the golf was never free as it was paid within the resort package. When broken down, the green fee stuck somewhere between the complimentary premium alcohol, all-day food and nightly stage entertainment proved to be pretty significant.
But being here in Colima for much longer vacations I wanted a variety of courses, multiple golf games a week and affordable green fees.
The Benefits of Golf outside the Resort
The variety of quality courses here in Colima and within an easy drive to the nearby state, Jalisco is outstanding. Playing this rota on a regular basis provides me with much greater satisfaction than the same course each game. Several are relatively close to where we live but two courses are 75+ minutes drives. We often hire a reliable van driver who provides a round trip to these furthest away for 1200 pesos ($20 per player) + tip and that allows us to enjoy a post-game beer(s) and a few yawns between the laughs and exaggerations on the drive home.
Hazards to Achieving Affordable Golf
The most striking aspect I noted during my trip to courses around the state was that each was virtually empty. The best time of the year for lush green fairways and soft, smooth greens in the midst of the snowbird season and there was no one was playing. I discovered why as soon as I asked about green fee rates!
As a newcomer to Mexican vacationing, I didn’t want to come across as a total jerk so I left my calculator in the car. Fortunately, the exchange was roughly 10 pesos to one Canadian dollar so even I could do the math but I didn’t like the answers I was coming up with.
Other than the two courses that were more municipal ($50-60 Canadian) golf here was going to co$t roughly ($90-160 US and one at $250 US) each round. Plus cart. Plus caddie fees mandatory at some courses. No drinks. No lunch. No Way!
Pitching My Case to Colima Golf Operators
I’ve made and enjoy great relationships here in Colima and having a business here has helped immensely with networking. Through the actions of my great friend Pablo Carvajal, we invited the owners, managers or operators of the clubs that I visited to meet for breakfast to discuss the ever-increasing volume of international tourists to Colima, the utilization of golf courses and the price of play.
Just like WestJet where I was employed and the “seats in the seats” mentality, I used my experience as a Board member at the Calgary Elks GC and encouraged “golfers on the golf course” to these leaders speaking about methods used at Canadian clubs to ramp up players and the bottom line.
The message was well received and most said that they would consider the suggestions. Two said they would not likely change their green fee or booking structures and were satisfied with the numbers of players they welcomed. I, in turn, told them that I would continue to support their courses and would encourage others to do so as well. What I didn’t say was that it would likely only be once a month and the $250 US course once a year!
Welcome Changes to the Golf Scene
Changes on the Colima golf scene slowly started to emerge and have continued to do so. Some innovations include: 1) 2 for 1 special; 2) reduced price for mid-week play; 3) green fee & cart special prices; 4) golf & lunch specials; 5) books of play tokens paid up front at reduced rates; 6) twilight and 9 hole rates and 7) play & stay packages.
Playing golf in Colima is something we now enjoy a few times a week without cashing in an RSP to do so.
I’m very proud when friends visit Colima and enjoy the golf courses and the State!! Thank you Altozano Resort, Las Hadas, Club Santiago, Colima GC, Barcelo Resort, Grand Bay and El Tamarindo “fore” more affordable golf and putting smiles on our faces!!
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