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Are You a Golf Lover? Get to Know the Three Main Courses in Río Grande 

This northern municipality hosts the Puerto Rico Open, the most important tournament on the island. 

May 23, 2024 - 11:00 PM

The Ocean Course at the Wyndham Rio Mar. (Isabel Ferré Sadurní)

Lee la historia en español aquí.

Besides the lush and majestic El Yunque National Forest, which attracts thousands of visitors to the town each year, Río Grande is also home to stunningly beautiful land that has been converted into golf courses.

Somos Puerto Rico toured the three golf courses treasured by this municipality. Here is a look at each one.

Grand Reserve Golf Club

Its exclusive ocean view, proximity to El Yunque forest and the refreshing breeze that envelops the green golf courses at the Grand Reserve Golf Club in Río Grande, make this the ideal setting for important international events that bring together the most distinguished golfers from Puerto Rico, the United States, and the world.

Due to its spectacular scenery, major tournaments are held in this tourist resort, including the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open, the Puerto Rico Island Championship, and soon the eighth edition of the Latin America Amateur Championship (LAAC).

Heist Hendrich, director of the exclusive golf course, assured us that the most attractive features of his 7,500-yard clubhouse are the ocean views and the beautiful scenery that surrounds it. “Our courses are very close to the sea. Other courses have ocean views, but not as close to the sea as ours. This attracts events and big tournaments like the PGA Tour. Plus, we’re the best driving range in this area. Each course has different designs to attract its members. The designer of this course is Tom Kite,” commented the experienced golfer.

The course, which blends nature, wildlife, and recreational sports in the same setting, has been a platform for world-class golfers to showcase their talents on the island since 2008, attracting hundreds of followers to Río Grande. “This course is for championships… It’s already considered the premier course in the Caribbean. We recently had the tournament in April with international participation, about 144 representatives from different countries were here,” said Hendrich, who has been leading the transformation efforts of this golf course for just over six months.

Featuring 27 holes, the Grand Reserve Golf Club course receives dozens of amateur golfers every week; 80% of these golfers are residents of the metropolitan area who like to practice this sport mostly on weekends. However, during the week, the golf courses are visited by local citizens or tourists; beginner golfers who want to try their luck with the renowned sport.

“You don’t have to be a member to come and enjoy the countryside; you don’t have to know how to play. We have a beginner’s course here and we also offer lessons. Jesús Rodríguez offers individual or group lessons for beginners,” he mentioned.

Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort

Walking around the golf courses at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Puerto Rico Golf & Beach Resort provokes a feeling of relaxation thanks to the design that highlights the water and the impeccable care of the land that attracts golfers.

The area designated for sporting activity exceeds 12,000 yards, as the fields in this area are divided into two parts. The 6,900-yard River Course was designed by Australian professional golfer Greg Norman and is located amidst the Mameyes River. The course boasts an extraordinary view of the mountains of El Yunque forest. The Ocean Course, designed by course architects Tom and George Fazio, is the second part of the course. The space extends over 6,700 yards and draws the golfer’s gaze towards the Atlantic Ocean.

“We have 537 members and growing... We have members from all over the island; 80% are from the island and 20% are from other countries who come seasonally, almost always between November and March. We work together with the hotel. Hotel stays provide members with credits that they can use on the golf course,” said Seth Henrich, director of the Rio Mar Golf Club.

The executive alluded that, due to the pandemic, remote work has allowed many citizens to have more free time to invest in hobbies or innovate in other diverse activities. As a result, Rio Mar Golf Club developed a cyber platform where prospective or bona fide members of the organization can make reservations either for the golf course or for other amenities such as the tennis courts or the swimming pool. “We have many members who come with their families. We have a practice area for beginners. We offer golf lessons for everyone —beginners, men, women, children. Currently there are more men than women, but since Covid there has been an increase in participation from women. The app helps people decide at what time they want to come and practice,” he said.

The serenity that this golf course elicits, and the social commitment sought by its administrators, have made it worthy of multiple national events aimed at raising funds for nonprofit organizations. “The organization, along with the company or the organizers of the events, gather here and we help with the course while the organizers do the rest,” said Henrich, an avid golfer who has overseen operating different golf courses around the world for more than 16 years.

These golf courses are available six days a week. The River Course does not operate on Tuesdays and the Ocean Course does not operate on Mondays, as these are maintenance days.

Bahía Resort Golf Club

Since 2007, after renovating its design prioritizing the conservation of what they call a “natural sanctuary”, Bahía Golf Resort has been pursuing to combine the practice of golf with a protected and healthy ecosystem.

Robert Trent Jones Jr., an experienced golf course architect, oversaw the design of the space, taking into consideration–primarily– environmental conservation.

“Here at Bahía, because the course was designed around its natural surroundings, you feel like you’re one with nature. The field may be crowded, but you feel at peace and in tranquility,” said Alberto Ríos, general manager of this resort’s clubhouse at Río Grande.

“This kind of course attracts any player of any kind of game; whether it’s a beginner or a professional player or someone who has been playing for a long time and is playing at a good level. This course was made so that anyone could enjoy it. The design was developed with nature in mind. The golf holes run through nature,” he highlighted.

With its privileged environmental location, the golf courses have 18 holes surrounded by lush native plants, mangroves, and lakes that make up part of the ecosystem. “The lakes are monitored and, to comply with international certification, we can’t use just any product. Organic fertilizers used are less impactful for the ecosystem we have,” said the manager.

“I think it’s the style of the course [what appeals]. Many courses everywhere have one hole next to the other. The focus is on nature, which is called the routing of the holes. Since the holes run through a lot of vegetation, the overall initial plan for the entire resort is to ensure that everything we do impacts or affects nature as little as possible,” Ríos added.

The venue also holds fundraising events for nonprofit organizations. In fact, these tournaments are what help attract new participants to the clubhouse, which includes the tennis court, inflatables for the lake, and golf courses in its membership. “We have memberships, we are a private club, but at the same time those who are not members can come. We have local players who live here on the island, tourists who stay at the hotel, and around 343 members including residents and non-residents. We provide lessons with coaches who are part of the golf club,” said Ríos.

One of the clubhouse’s projections is to increase women’s participation, which, according to Ríos, has been growing in recent months. “Women’s participation has increased; they play more or show more interest in Casa Bahía... We offer clinics twice a month for women members. At first, we had two or three participants, but now we have eight or nine participants in the clinics,” he concluded.

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