Testing The Waters

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Most people usually like water – thirst-quenching, hydrating and all that good stuff.

Golfers, however, to a large extent are not big fans of bodies of water staring them straight in the face as they prepare for a shot.

It makes them nervous. It makes them wary. It makes them jittery. Most importantly, it makes their swings go from nice and smooth to pretzel-like.

How do you handle water as it menacingly looms in front of you on a course?

A good place to find out is Costa Del Sol, a nifty little course tucked into a residential area of Doral that makes you hit over water on its first five holes and then four more times on the back nine. Add in water to the sides of many of the fairways and that adds up to a lot of golf balls and golfers ending up with what can accurately be called a sinking feeling.

Call the water-filled, short-and-narrow course devious, but also call it fun.

Rafael Mendez, Edgar Mayora and Manuel Flores give Costa Del Sol a thumbs up.

Rafael Mendez, Edgar Mayora and Manuel Flores give Costa Del Sol a thumbs up.

We ran into some regulars playing at Costa Del Sol and asked the logical question: How many balls do you lose during a round?

Manuel Flores, age 42, sheepishly admitted: “I lose about 12 balls a round.” By giving that honest answer, Flores had to endure the guffaws and laughter of his playing partners.

One of those partners would be Rafael Mendez, 23. He proudly noted, “I only lose five or so to the water per round.”

The driest golfer of the group was Edgar Mayora, 43. “I lose about three each round.”

Despite the water on the course and sometimes the water coming from the eyes of the golfers as they say goodbye to yet another ball, the three are infatuated by the unique Costa Del Sol trek.

“The course is super-fun to play,” Mayora said. “There’s the water, the greens are small and the fairways are narrow and tight. It really requires precise shots most of the time.”

Don’t get the wrong idea about the difficulty of playing Costa Del Sol. Good scores can be had. The 18-hole course is not long (6,011 yards from the blue tees, 5,551 from the white and 4,856 from the red).

Also, much of the water comes into play right in front of the greens. If you can ignore the water and are capable of hitting a wedge or 9-iron high into the air and have it carry 100 to 130 yards and plunk down next to the pin, this course is made to be your best friend.

For the most part, you are not asked to hit a 3-wood some 200 yards to clear the water.

Another golfer familiar with Costa Del Sol is Alec Valenzuela.

“First time I played here, I lost nearly three sleeves – but I am doing better these days,” the 21-year-old said. Like most golfers, Valenzuela has persisted in playing, saying, “I love the challenge.”

Valenzuela could compare his early non-success at Costa Del Sol followed by improvement to his start in golf as a 12-year-old. Learning the game came with some pain followed by enjoyment.

“When I first took swings at a golf ball and I missed it, I just forgot about that part,” he said. “But when I made my first good swing, I was immediately addicted.”

One person who knows the Costa Del Sol course arguably better than anybody is Richard Metz. The 82-year-old teaching pro there proudly revealed he once played a round with Jack Nicklaus.

“I played Costa Del Sol in 1974 when it opened,” he said. “There were virtually no houses here back then. The golf shop was a little home near where the 17th green is now.”

Five years ago, the course and its buildings were refurbished and remodeled. The course, owned by the Costa Del Sol community, is open to the public and has greens fees of $30 to $45, depending on time of year.

Asked about what he likes about golf in general and Costa Del Sol in particular, Metz said, “I like everything about the game and also about this course.

“Golf courses are some of the most beautiful places on earth.”

Then, with a laugh, he added, “On this course, despite all the lost golf balls, even the lakes are beautiful.”

Finally, there is one other special thing about the Costa Del Sol Golf Club.

When your round is finished, you and your playing partners can frequent a picturesque restaurant and bar that boasts an outdoor patio.

Of course, as you might guess, that patio overlooks a lake.

Only fitting.

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