The renovation of the back nine at Peninsula Papagayo is in full swing, including a robust expansion of fairways and greens, gaining and recapturing grand vistas through selective vegetation clearing, the introduction of low-input native grasses in conjunction with a new irrigation system, and repositioning of natural bunkers in a variety of shapes, sizes, depths, and locations.
By Francesca Poddie | September 13, 2022 | Guanacaste

For the past several months, Arnold Palmer Design Company has been at Peninsula Papagayo leading the redesign and reshaping of our golf course, guiding us through the first phase of a major two-year renovation. With Palmer’s design work on the back nine nearing completion, and turf grow-in already well advanced, we are excited to share this general update and hole-by-hole narrative from Thad Layton, Senior Golf Course Architect, as we look forward to reopening and play in November.

10th Hole
Previous tee boxes on the tenth hole were narrow and cramped from regimented mowing patterns and overgrown vegetation, while the fairway bunker was largely hidden from view. In the revised edition, you’ll appreciate an expanded view of the hole and a fairway bunker reshaped for maximum visibility. Further down, vegetation was cleared from the ravine to reveal the green. Greenside bunkers were reworked to add variety and a bailout area on the right, while new pin locations were gained with green expansion to the right rear.

11th Hole
Native grasses were added to lend more texture and color while reducing irrigation demand. The front left bunker was lifted approximately 3’ for more manageable entry and exit while the rear bunker was reduced in size and brought closer to the green to guard back pin locations.

12th Hole
Right off the bat you’ll notice the classic S-shape built into this long uphill par 5. By combining the trio of fairway bunkers on the right into a larger bunker and adding a new grouping of bunkers short of the second landing area, vitality and interest has been added. Several new edge pin locations were recaptured on the green and the front right bunker was eliminated to prevent a blind penalty area. The remaining greenside bunkers were rebuilt in the new style and nudged closer to the green.

The quality of the bunker work and vibrant collection of new bunkers on the back will go a long way to refresh the golf experience. The lower sand lines and solid construction has already proven to hold up better to heavy rainfall compared to the old bunkers.

Thad Layton, Senior Golf Course Architect
The Arnold Palmer Design Company

13th Hole: Bunkering was shifted 50 yards further down the fairway, putting the hazard in the correct location relative to modern driving distances with the byproduct of more fairway area for the less aggressive golfer. Views of Santa Rosa National Park were gained to the North through some significant vegetation management. The greenside bunkers were rebuilt to provide visibility from the fairway and better engagement with the green. Green size was expanded by over 2000 sf…expect many exciting new pin locations.

14th Hole: All of tee boxes were expanded and the overgrown vegetation was cleared for a more complete view of the target area. The left fairway bunker was deconstructed into a challenging cluster of pot bunkers to protect the inside of the dogleg while the right fairway bunker was eliminated to provide more shape to the hole and plenty of bail area for the conservative golfer. A new fairway bunker was added well down the hole to accent the second shot and keep the longest of hitters honest. For players out of position off the tee, this bunker will factor into the second shot. To differentiate this hole from the next two short two-shotters, the left front bunker was converted to a cavernous hollow of closely mown turf. Avoiding the issue off the tee will bring this new bunker into view and play on one’s second shot.

15th Hole: Fairway bunkers on the right were combined to provide a more impactful hazard from the tee. Greenside bunkers were re-worked to better engage the green and provide a layered effect and more striking visuals.

16th Hole: The greenside bunkers were shifted left to tempt golfers with a reasonable chance of driving the green with more ground approach while the small right-side bunker was nudged left to constrict the approach to the green from the right side.

17th Hole: The deep back left bunker was converted to a shallow grass collection area while the greenside bunkers were reworked into a series of five bunkers to set off the green with more contrast and drama to pair better with the epic setting.

18th Hole: In concert with the road realignment, the tee shot on 18 was infused with drama and visual contrast with the addition of a diagonal waste area that doubles as cart circulation. Once cresting the hill, you’ll clap eyes on the biggest change on the course- a completely reimagined green complex with a mammoth new bunker encircling the lake and a larger, more receptive green with a prominent ridge feature that divides the green into two distinct sections.