Last year, I think it was early July, I played Cielo Paraiso (since renamed “Lucero”).
I wrote about it, and none too affectionately. I won’t repeat what I wrote, as you can click on the above link and read it for yourself.
But I was invited to play with lots of other women by the resident golf pro, Elizabeth Archer. She hosted a “Ladies Day” for us all, wanting to show us the improvements that have been made at this newly re-named course “Lucero”.
The day was a gorgeous one. Mid-May, before the rainy season could decided if it was starting or not. Four of us piled in my POSSE (Piece Of Shit Sucky Extrail) and we hauled up the backside of the Jaramillo Mountains, dodging the potholes and shrieking in laughter as we went.
We caught up with the other car of four women coming from the Los Molinos/Montañas de Caldera end of things. It was hilarious….we tried to pass the car in front driven by my friend Susan Kelly. She kept veering left and we thought she was trying to block us. We hysterically screamed “Game on, bee-yatch!” and continued to play dodge ’em car with her, thinking she was playing with us, as well. It turned out she had no idea we were even behind her, and her “veering left” was her trying to dodge her own potholes!
Anyway, we all arrived safely (despite my best efforts to the contrary) and were waived past the Pro Shop, not stopping to pay. We followed an escort in a golf cart down to the first hole. Which is wa-a-a-ay far away from the current Pro Shop. Plans are to turn the Pro Shop into a Guardhouse. The First Tee, next to tennis courts, will be joined by a hotel, new Pro Shop and parking lot. Because I didn’t stop by the Pro Shop to pay, I still don’t know if they accept credit cards now or not. (I’m assuming by now, you’ve read the other story!)
The thing about Cielo Parai……er, sorry! …. Lucero is that no matter what hole you are on, you’ve got some gorgeous views. All the way to the Pacific. You’re either looking at a broad expanse over to the Boca Chica area, or you’re looking west towards Las Olas. Either way, it’s tough to concentrate on golf when the views are just so outstanding. Here’s an example of a friend teeing off. Besides looking at her great form notice the great views out beyond. This is what we saw all day long:
She’s got “great form”. Not only that, she looks good hitting the ball….yuck yuck…
Elizabeth got us going on the first hole. Because we were playing with some lady golfers that, um, prefer to play a scramble (keeping up is their main goal for the day), I asked if I could play my own ball. I kind of wanted to play the course the same way I played it last July. Elizabeth responded: “Of course, Robyn. Just be aware that we are in the process of moving all the ladies tees forward, in an effort to make the course more ‘lady friendly’ “.
Ooooh, put a point in the “plus” column! I always like it when I hear “lady friendly”. It means I have a chance (slight as it is) to getting on the green in regulation. Which I couldn’t do on most of the holes last year.
Moving the ladies tees forward was an understatement. Many of the tees I played made the hole little more than a chip and a putt. Because of arroyos splitting the tee boxes from some fairways or approaches on some of the Par 3s, they HAD to put the new ladies tees really close to the green in order to put it on the green side of the arroyo AND keep it out of the way of the permanent tee box they’re building.
As I played the front nine, I was taking notes (I heard through the golf grapevine that ownership was still smarting from my review last year and were hoping I would have a more favorable impression this time around, hint…hint…). I want to be completely fair and unbiased and was frankly hoping to come out and play when no one knew I was on the course. But that didn’t quite work out.
Anywho, so I’m taking notes and pictures, trying to convey what I saw. The course is in great shape, especially since they are recovering from a fungus that grabbed their greens in March. This is any golf course owner’s nightmare. A fungus can jump up on you overnight and destroy weeks of hard work and will take even more weeks and more work from which to recover. But, I’m pleased to say, overall the greens looked great.
They’ve re-shaped some of the holes, permanently cut down some rough that was hampering play and are really paying attention to putting more amenities on the course. I’m super pleased to report they now have bathrooms on the course! This was our first hint that bathrooms were on the course. I really really hoped they weren’t lying to us:
All I can say is, there BETTER be bathrooms over there to the left!
And, fortunately, there were! Lovely, lovely bathrooms!
Another point in the “plus” column!
Loving it! Bathrooms!
Okay now, let’s stop for just a moment. I know most of the people reading this are guys. By now you’re squirming as if you got trapped into watching a chick flick when you really wanted to watch a hockey game. I’m asking for some empathy here. Guys, we all know what kind of equipment you have. We all know how easy it is for you to stand against a tree and “let ‘er fly”. Yeah, yeah, we get it. And we JUST DO NOT HAVE THAT EQUIPMENT. We are unable to complete that task in as efficient and as quick a manner as you. We are terrified of exposed body parts coming into close contact with grasses, stickly bushes and other things that go bump in the night. We are 100% certain that when our precious little derrieres are bared for the task, a MILLION bugs are communicating the GPS coordinates to a MILLION OTHER bugs, telling them lunch is ready.
Nope, not having it. And, when a facility won’t provide a place for us to do it, we get bitchy. And mean. And sulky. (“Don’t make me angry….you won’t like me when I’m angry….”)
So, yeah, it’s a big deal to me that Lucero put in some bathrooms. It makes me rest easier, knowing there’s relief up ahead. I relax, I play a better game. I love life more, I love my husband more! I go home, feeling great and before you know it, my husband is the beneficiary of Lucero putting in some bathrooms! It’s a “win-win”. But I digress….
If I remember correctly the first set of bathrooms are after the 4th hole (perfect placement, if you ask me) and in addition, a halfway house is at a juncture of about 3 holes. Don’t ask me which ones, but here’s a picture of it:
In the near future, all electrical will be in place and this little spot with the great big views will serve as a great place to grab a beer and something to eat on the go. But today, a superb lunch was laid out for all of us. I didn’t get pictures of the food, but I’ve got photos of all the ladies socializing. I then realized I don’t have permission from them to be put on a blog, so I’ll just post this one of my friend, Susan Kelly. We were getting ready to head back out to the links and she spotted me with my camera pointing in her direction:
The Back Nine awaits!
As we played the back nine, I had a chance to chat with Elizabeth. I still wanted to get pricing from her, as I wasn’t too happy with pricing I saw a year ago. As we chatted, I marvelled in the continuing non-stop gorgeous panoramas:
Hard to focus on golf when these are the vistas….
The rates at Lucero are $75 (including cart) in the dry season and $65 in the wet season. While I still think these are a bit high, I’m a little more appeased because of not only the better course conditions, the added bathrooms and the Halfway House, but also because a fully loaded beverage cart travelled non-stop around that course that day. When you’ve got these types of amenities, the sticker shock can be diminished. In addition, the per-round fees are diminished with a new player package that is basically 10 rounds for $55 per round plus tax. All good news for the wallet, which is good news for golfers.
If you are travelling to Boquete or its surroundings, and you’re a golfer, you definitely want to include a trip to Lucero in your plans. It has come a long way, baby, from the place it was just a short year ago!