It may surprise some, but Panama now has some really fun golf – an activity worth pursuing when you schedule a visit there. The majority of the courses are clustered just west of Panama City and easy to get to. Here is my rating of the country’s best golf courses. Be forewarned, I really have a 3-way tie for first and would have no qualms with anyone who might switch those layouts.
6. Coronado Golf & Beach Resort – This wooded layout is truly a shot-maker’s course as the smallish, push-up greens are a challenge to hit, but not too difficult to putt. A George Fazio design, its gently sloped, narrow treelined fairways and core layout design are reminiscent of those mature courses in Central Florida, and you must hit them if you hope to score well.
6. Coronado Golf & Beach Resort – Photo by Robert S. Fagan
5. Santa Maria Golf & Country Club – Exclusivity, and excellent service and conditioning complement this private Nicklaus Design in this conveniently located residential urban oasis.
5. Santa Maria Golf & Country Club – Photo by Robert S. Fagan
4. Vista Mar Golf & Beach Resort – As it’s name would suggest, this is the only Panamanian golf course where you can see the ocean (Pacific) and it is visible from most of the holes. Bold bunkering and elevation changes make for an exciting layout, which should only get better as the course and its conditioning mature.
4. Vista Mar Golf & Beach Resort – Photo by Robert S. Fagan
3. Mantarrya Golf Club – Lovely routing, scenic landscaping, engaging use of trees, and an excellent set of par-threes make this the people’s choice as the “Best Course In Panama For The Money That Anyone Can Play!”
3. Mantarraya Golf Club – Photo by Robert S. Fagan
2. Buenaventura Golf Club – Spectacular trees, special ambiance, and a special artistic, yet somewhat understated Nicklaus Design features all the elements of luxury golf and service.
2. Buenaventura Golf Club – Photo by Robert S. Fagan
1. The Club de Golf de Panama. This venerable, classic private wooded parkland layout truly qualifies for that often overused term of a shot-maker’s course. It has long been the standard upon which others are judged and is quite walkable though over engagingly rolling terrain.
1. Club de Golf de Panama – Photo by Robert S. Fagan
Honorable Mention: Tucan Country Club & Resort is the “Diamond In The Rough,” featuring a fun routing and wonderful vistas of the Panama Canal cranes and the Panama City skyline to the east.
Honorable Mention: Tucan Country Club & Resort – Photo by Robert S. Fagan