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The peninsula's unmatched eco-golf walk in the park is getting a substantial makeover designed by Arnold Palmer Design Company to create more excitement and improve playability.
By Francesca Poddie | July 14, 2022 | Peninsula Papagayo
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Since its debut nearly 20 years ago, Peninsula Papagayo’s award-winning par-72 golf course has been ranked among the “Top 100 Courses Outside the United States” by Golf Digest magazine. Players have traveled from far and wide to experience the Audubon-certified course’s unique setting, which is known for its diverse wildlife, dramatic elevation changes and panoramic ocean vistas.

“The site itself is one of the most extraordinary pieces of property I’ve ever seen,” said Thad Layton, Senior Golf Architect at Arnold Palmer Design who’s spearheading the course’s renovation. “The course takes you on a journey across ridgelines with 360-degree water views and through lush tropical flora and fauna. It’s like a beautiful walk through the woods with the added benefit of a golf club in your hand.”

To avoid a complete closure of the golf course, the renovation will be completed in two phases:

Front Nine Renovation/Closure: June 2022-Nov 2022
Back Nine Renovation/Closure: June 2023-Nov 2023

Improvements will include more teeing area and native vegetation with less bunkering. “We’re reworking all of the bunkers to improve playability and enhance aesthetics that will make the course more interesting, strategic and beautiful,” says Layton.

There are also plans for a new putting green, chipping green and practice area, while a complete overhaul is proposed for the green complexes on the par-4 6th hole and par-5 18th hole.

Arnold Palmer Design’s aim is to modernize the course with a less-is-more approach when it comes to bunkers, as well as adding new angles of play and creating more varied terrain for recovery shots around the greens. “We also plan on clearing overgrown vegetation to strengthen the visual connection of the golf course to the ocean,” Layton adds.

As an Audubon-certified course, sustainability is key. The renovation will include a new state-of-the-art precision irrigation system and the replacement of fifteen acres of maintained Bermuda grass with drought-tolerant native plant species like feather, purple fountain and weeping love grasses. “The updates will conserve a significant amount of water while adding beauty, color and texture to the landscape mosaic,” explains Layton.

Golfers aren’t the only ones who have the opportunity to enjoy the splendor of the golf course. Residents and resort guests can take the guided Trail of Giants tour offered daily on the course. Riding on golf carts under a shady canopy of centuries-old Guanacaste, Panama and Ceiba trees, visitors can spot such endemic wildlife as chatty howler and white-faced monkeys, exotic butterflies, iguanas and colorful birds while taking in breathtaking views of the Peninsula.

The renovation will also include the addition of a new golfer’s lounge in late 2023 where players can relax and enjoy refreshments. It will be a fun and information spot to take a break and socialize with other players.