Punta Islita Golf Course Review

Texas Outside Rating: 7.7

Golf - Resort Public Course · 9 Holes · Par 27
Islita Beach, Costa Rica

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Punta Islita Golf Course Review

Hotel Punta Islita Golf Course Review

As part of a fun and adventurous 10 day stay in Costa Rica we stayed at the fantastic Hotel Punta Islita and played the executive par 3 golf course just down the mountain from the Hotel.  Punta Islita Golf Course is owned and operated by the Hotel, opened for play in 2006, and was designed by the Hotel's owner. 

The course has 2 sets of tee boxes with yardages of 1156 from the tips and 1039 from the forward tees for a par of 27.  The 133 yard 8th hole has 3 tee boxes to give the short hitters a better opportunity to carry the pond in front of the green.  The longest hole is the 9th hole at 173 yards and the shortest is only 92.  Green fees are for all day and include clubs and a pull cart - no electric carts are available but if you rented a cart from the Hotel as a part of your  hotel package, you can use that cart on the course.  Walking is a little challenging thanks to some slight ups and downs and the heat and humidity!

Carlis is the head pro and what a great guy who is very enthusiastic and proud of his course and he is committed to making sure you have a good round.  For example, he came over and introduced himself one day during our breakfast and said he is excited about us playing and to let him know when we are ready to play and he'll have the clubs out and ready.  And when we arrived, Carlis warmly greeted us by name, had our clubs ready to go, and he seemed genuinely happy to see us.   Better yet, he showed up with cold towels on a wooden tray on three different holes - on a hot humid day the towels were perfect. 

Here's what we liked about playing Punta Islita Golf Course:

  • it's a lush and plush tropical course with a wide variety of colorful fauna and trees of all shapes and sizes
  • the layout is fun with several ups and downs, a little bit of sand, and water on a couple holes
  • the price is right and if you have the energy you can play all day
  • the conditions are good and the course is laid back and casual and suitable for all ages and levels of  play
  • after your round you can walk to the beach with a restaurant, pool and swim up bar, and hammocks for nap overlooking the Pacific Ocean

For such a short course, it throws a lot at you and it's an excellent way to practice your short game.  There are some: uphill shots to the green as well as a couple downhill shots from elevated tee boxes; a couple tight fairways and some trees that need to be avoided to hit the green;  plus water and bunkers to carry to hit the green.

The Punta Islita Golf Course fairways are thick and plush (don't expect much, if any, roll) and they are lined with a wide variety of trees because the course was carved out of a hillside below the Hotel and through a dense tropical forest.

Part of what makes playing the course fun and challenging are the green complexes.  One green is guarded by a pond, a couple have bunkers in front, and several are raised.  The greens are all shapes and sizes and most are very small and challenging to hit!  They were in very good condition, ran true but a tad slow, and were soft and held the ball well.  The fringe around the green was in transition to a new grass and as such was brown.  Most of the greens are flat but 5, 7, and 9 have some minor break.

There are only two bunkers at Punta Islita Golf Course and both are guarding the green - one is hidden from your tee shot and will surprise you if your drive is short.  The sand was thick. 

A couple of the holes that we liked included:

  • #6 is 123 yards with an uphill shot to a small raised green with significant slope off the left and back side and a hidden bunker in front of the hole
  • #7 is fun - an elevated tee shot down to a green with an oblong bunker guarding the front and dense forest off the back
  • #8 is slightly downhill shot over a pond, which is hidden from the back tees except for the water fountain, and there are some trees on the left that you need to carry or draw your shot around the trees to stuff it on the green

Bottom line: if  you're a golfer staying at Punta Islita, this is a must play - good conditions, play all day, fun layout, and you'll love Carlis!

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Course Slope & Ratings

Tee Box Yardage Rating Slope
Black 1,156
Gold 1,039

Course Information

Greens Type:
Greens Condition
Greens Difficulty
Fairway Condition
Bunker Condition
Yes - a little hilly and hot
Beware of water on 2 holes and the 2 sand traps.

Texas Outside Rating

Overall Rating:
7.7 out of 10
Fun to Play:
Front Nine Rating:
Back Nine Rating:


Approximate Weekend
$40.00 to $55.00

Service is very friendly, the pro shop has a patio but no food or snacks, and the rental clubs include a full set and were in good shape.



Here's How Texas Outside Determines the Scorecard Rating

The Texas Outside rating scale ranges from 1 to 10 – a perfect 10 course would be something like this:  links along a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean and bordered by tall trees; lush fairways on rolling hills with lots of natural hazards; water (which is crystal clear) on most of the holes; immaculate greens (but they are undulating and tough); lots of variety and character (each hole is completely different and includes blind shots, elevation changes, doglegs, and significant challenges); perfectly manicured traps with the whitest and prettiest sand you’ve ever seen; a nice club house with great food and a 19th hole; a GPS; plenty of beverage carts or your own cooler and ice; and it only costs $40 bucks! What this means is that you probably won’t find any 10s in Texas – try Cabo San Lucas, Pebble Beach, or some of the Hawaii courses! 
Texas Outside rates courses on the following:

  • Beauty – tall trees, rolling hills, beautiful houses, waterfalls, and similar stuff would score high; a 1 would be flat, bushes or cactus instead of trees, and some grass but mostly weeds
  • Difficulty – a straight, 300 yard par 4 with no traps or hazards, no out of bounds or water would probably get a 1; if it is a 460 yard par 4 over two ravines, with water along one side, natural hazards on the other, strategically placed traps or that dreaded tree right in the middle of the fairway, we are talking a 10. 
  • Variety – what would you give a course where all the holes looked and played exactly the same (“I thought we just played that hole!”); were side-by-side, which is good for finding or dodging other people’s balls, but not much fun; and you can see the flag from every tee box?  That’s right, it gets a 1.
  • Fun Scale – a 10 is where you walk off the course and say “now that was fun” and you can’t wait to get back, or you immediately turn around and play another 18 holes
  • Value – a 5 is $50 to $60, a 10 is $20 to $30, and 1 is $200 or so – of course all of this is dependent upon how you liked the course.  For example, if a run down, boring municipal course, with six players on each hole was only $10; it would still get a value rating of 1.
  • Condition – this one’s pretty easy – what condition are the fairways. A 10 commands very lush perfectly manicured fairways, compared to a 1, which has fire ants, weeds, and more dirt than grass!
  • Condition of Greens and Difficulty – very hard to read greens with lots of undulation and tough pin placement, rate very high on the difficulty scale.  Condition is self-explanatory.  

All of the above determines the overall score for the golf course.  In other words, we like courses that are pretty, fun, very challenging with a lot of variety, and fairways and greens in excellent condition – all for $40.  We also tend to play the courses that are affordable for the masses, which means in the $30 to $80 range. We rate hard and we haven’t found a 10 in Texas yet – don’t worry we haven’t given up and we’re still looking.