The Jurassic Park Of Golf? The World's Best Holes You Didn’t Know About

Monty McPhee Travelled to Mexico where he played the Jurassic Park of golf courses at El Tamarindo

El Tamarindo par 3 with the Pacific Ocean beyond
(Image credit: Four Seasons)

Mexico is a popular tourist destination, but should It be on your golf trip bucket list of places to go? I certainly think so. 

I was fortunate enough to head over to Mexico and experience a course like no other - El Tamarindo. The 'Jurassic Park'-like course has to be up there with some of the world's most incredible courses with thick jungle and breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

It's part of the Four Seasons Tamarindo resort and is located just north of Manzanillo on the west coast of the country. 

El Tamarindo

Just a short golf cart ride from the lobby of the Four Seasons resort and you find yourself at the clubhouse of the golf course – in the middle of the jungle.

The course itself was opened in 1995 and designed by golf architect, David Fleming. The design of the course guides you through the lush jungle and along the Pacific coast.

It plays as a par 72 at 6,682 yards and whilst it's tricky, there are definitely some opportunities out there to make some low scores.

When you play the course you will notice two types of grass are used, Zoysia grass for the fairways and Bermuda grass for the greens. If you are not used to Bermuda greens, you have to take into account the direction in which the grass has been cut, aka the 'grain', as this can have an effect on your putt. 

The advice from the course professionals is to take a cart, so this is what I did and riding around the layout you can understand why, from the vast changes in elevation to the distance between greens and tee boxes, you would be out there for a while if you braved walking it.

The golf management team make sure to get you teeing off with no one pressuring you from behind or slowing you down from in front to make it truly feel like it is your own private course. 

Putting for birdie on hole 3

(Image credit: Monty McPhee)

From the moment you arrive at the Four Seasons Tamarindo, the staff will offer to take your clubs and drop them off at the clubhouse for you where they can remain until your round.

If you plan on playing multiple rounds you can even leave them there for the duration of your stay. I played two rounds and this is what I opted to do, it’s something less to think about.

If you fancy a round but don’t have your own clubs with you, do not worry, El Tamarindo have 40 sets of the Taylormade Stealth clubs for you to choose from. 

Before you tee off you do have the opportunity to warm up on the driving range or dial in your putting on the practice green that neighbours the 18th hole.

Playing the course left me in absolute awe, the fairways were in impeccable condition and the greens to match, freshly rolled every morning.

The first few holes take you out around the Four Seasons resort and towards the Pacific Ocean before heading back in to play amongst the jungle.

With tight, treelined fairways the course doesn’t make it easy for you off the tee and it is important to know where to play your tee shot in order to set you up for the finding the green.

I would highly recommend getting at least two rounds in during your stay as it's a course that needs to be experienced a couple of times.

Hole 8 & 9

Monty Standing at the half way hut looking over the 9th green

Monty in front of the stunning 9th green

(Image credit: Monty McPhee)

To close out the front nine you come close up and personal with the Pacific Ocean so make sure you have plenty of golf balls in the bag.

The 8th hole is a drivable par 4 playing straight out towards the ocean. You would be foolish to step up onto that tee box and not hit the big stick, what have you got to lose, besides all your golf balls!

The steep drop-off from the tee box masks the fairway and all you can see is the green pressed up against an amazing backdrop. If you can miss the trouble off the tee you are in with a good chance for birdie.

The view from the 8th tee box towards the green

The 8th hole

(Image credit: Monty McPhee)

However, if you do find yourself in a spot of bother you would do well to walk away with a bogey.

The first time I played this hole I was very nervous, I just wanted to keep my tee shot in play, which I did but I missed the green left which short sided myself and brought bunkers into play.

My second round was a new opportunity, I stepped up and hit one of my best drives, it pitched on the green about ten foot short of the flag and would have just missed the hole rolling past to seven-foot. Easy birdie. 

Once you have finished on the 8th hole it is time to round off the first nine on the par 3 ninth hole. One of the most spectacular holes in golf.

It plays right alongside ethe Pacific Ocean with the water cutting in just in front of the green so if you under club you will be reloading.

You are also teeing off from a great height above the green and hitting a wedge and therefore you'll likely generate a lot spin, so even if you do carry the ocean there is still a risk of your ball zipping back and trundling into the big blue. 

Hole 12 – The Signature Hole

Hole 12

(Image credit: Monty McPhee)

As if 8 and 9 weren't good enough, the signature hole at El Tamarindo actually comes later at the par 3 12th. Again, it is nothing more than a wedge off the tee as you play out towards a gorgeous stretch of beach that is off limits to members of the public.

There is not much trouble on this hole, a bunker short of the green which you can find yourself in if you apply to much back spin with your tee shot, something I did.

Over clubbing is not an option, if you do that you will find yourself on the beach and with a mighty bunker shot back up onto the green which you won’t be able to see from down in the sand. It is another gorgeous hole, and it's lined with native palm trees to really enhance the tropical and 'jungle' feel of the course. 

I would have to say El Tamarindo is probably the golfing world's best kept secret.

All 18 holes could be deemed as signature holes. If you don’t believe me you will just have to play it to find out. The layout and views are absolutely breathtaking. You would never get tired of playing there.

There is more to do than just golf

Infinity Pool shot from above

(Image credit: Arabella Jones)

After your round of golf the Four Seasons offers spa treatments so you can go and loosen off before enjoying lunch at one of the onsite restaurants.

If relaxing is what you want to do you can do so at one of the many infinity pools the resort has to offer or if you’ve not had enough exposure to sand on the golf course then you can take yourself down to the beach where you can kick back and enjoy fresh coconut water. 

The Four Seasons resort has plenty of activities to fill up your days from water sports like paddle boarding or a sunrise kayak to going on safaris through the jungle where you get the chance to see the wildlife that reside within the nature reserve. There is also an onsite gym for those who want to get involved in Pilates or spin classes. 

If you are after incredible golf in a quiet, secluded location, El Tamarindo Four Seasons is a must visit. 

Monty McPhee

Monty is an upcoming golf journalist having completed his Multimedia Journalism degree at Bournemouth University; where he was also apart of the University’s well renowned golf team. He has had a passion for golf ever since he picked up a club at 12 years old and this love for the sport only grew stronger over time as his game developed and he pursued golf through different avenues. His game took him over to the United States on a golf scholarship and has had him travelling the UK to take part in competitions like the Nick Faldo series and general club scratch matches. Monty worked on ‘The Open’ radio team when it was hosted at Royal St George’s getting to walk inside the ropes with some of the top players like Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy and of course that year's winner - Collin Morikawa. Monty has been lucky enough to have three holes-in-one in his short golfing career and he looks to continue growing that number. Monty believes the ability to continue playing golf well lies in his dedication to keeping fit through his other passion, which is CrossFit.

What’s in the bag:

Driver: Srixon Z 765

3 wood: Taylormade AreoBurner

2 iron: Srixon Z U65

Irons: Srixon Z765

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM6 (50°,54°,58°)

Putter: Odyssey White Hot Nano 7