Agustín Pizá has designed a new multi-purpose practice facility for El Cortés Golf Club at the Puerta Cortés Resort near La Paz, Mexico.
Known as CostaBaja Golf Club when it originally opened with a Gary Player Design course in 2011, Pizá Golf assisted Player’s senior designer Steven McFarlane with project management and design coordination.
“Ten years and two ownerships later, with the golf course abandoned, we were brought back by the new ownership to consult at the rebranded Puerta Cortés Resort,” said Pizá. “Here again, we had the opportunity to work alongside The Player Group to bring back the golf course to the top quality it was intended for. This effort was conducted with up-and-coming superintendent Dency Baloyes.”
That project saw the ninth hole relocated to make way for a new hotel development, recovering the course from one year of abandonment, and restructuring the abandoned driving range.
“The client knew about our out-of-the-box design philosophy and our tendency for creating multi-purpose golf, so he commissioned us to do something original and different for the driving range limits,” said Pizá.
Construction on the new facility began in summer 2019 and finished later in the year with grow-in included.
“Driving ranges are usually overlooked in the design process and sometimes finish as a large four-hectare piece of land to maintain with no excitement,” said Pizá. “In such cases, it’s always a unique opportunity to create something interesting, with less investment, that not only serves the purpose but is aesthetically beautiful, easier to maintain and fun for all categories of play.
“We proposed to our client to design a space that could work as a golf academy, pitch-and-putt and a driving range, whilst creating a desert-style area with less turf to irrigate and maintain.”
Puerta Cortés now has a multi-purpose facility that includes a 10-hole pitch-and-putt course (with holes varying between 30 and 130 yards) and a golf academy. The new facility has also become a First Tee Mexico project.
“The uniqueness about enjoying the pitch-and-putt course is the distinct holes and ambience you encounter during play,” said Pizá. “Players don’t notice until they walk the circuit. Holes have distinct strategy of approach, heights and atmosphere. There are 360-degree visuals to the Sea of Cortez; this place is stunning and deserving of a visit sometime soon. El Cortés is a must play in Mexico and per Gary Player, one of his top golf courses as a designer.
“This design helps to ‘grow the game’, reduces maintenance costs and produces extra income for our clients. Prior to this design, the use of the driving range was included with the green fee. Now the client charges a fee when used for pitch and putt and academy purposes. A win-win with better return on investment. As I like to describe it: burning the candle from both ends.”