Golf Course Architecture - Issue 70, October 2022

29 TEE BOX Peninsula Papagayo to reopen back nine in November Thad Layton of Arnold Palmer Design Company has worked in tandem with Central American-based golf contractor Steve Watkins to complete the back nine portion of an eventual 18-hole remodel at The Four Seasons Peninsula Papagayo Resort, located in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. The project scope included a full bunker remodel, tee expansions, recapturing fairway and green areas, and the removal of overgrown tropical vegetation to restore width and regain dramatic ocean views. In line with the client’s emphasis on sustainability, ten acres of maintained rough was exchanged for drought tolerant native grasses. A new Rain Bird IC system was also installed for more precise application of water. “We started with a very solid foundation,” said Layton. “The existing course unfolds one of the most beautiful natural landscapes you could hope for. In many cases, our task was only to peel back the layers of jungle that had obscured views and throttled down playing corridors.” The tenth hole is a prime example of that treatment, where treetops and vegetation in a ravine short of the green were pruned, revealing the putting surface from the left half of the fairway. Selective clearing has also opened vistas of the nearby Santa Rosa National Park archipelago and the Pacific Ocean, making it evident to golfers that they’re playing golf in Central America. Bunker work has also been a big part of the remodel. Every hole on the back nine has had changes to its bunkering, whether it has been the addition of new ones, removing existing bunkers or relocations. Layton says that combining a trio of small fairway bunkers into a much more imposing hazard on the twelfth, while adding a cluster of bunkers further afield has injected strategy and vitality, lending a classic S-shape to this previously straightaway, uphill par five. Green surfaces, which had contracted in size since the course was originally built, have been expanded to restore old hole locations. “Cresting the ridge in the middle of the eighteenth fairway, you’ll clap eyes on the biggest improvement,” said Layton. “A completely reimagined green with a mammoth bunker encircling the lake and a larger, more receptive green with a prominent ridge feature that divides the green into two distinct sections.” Work on the front nine and practice area will begin in spring 2023. Photo: Peninsula Papagayo