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Ecogolf in Costa Rica

Though Punta Islita is not ever likely to have golf beyond its driving range, the most memorable moment of my trip occurred here on the beach. Crossing the curving stretch of sand and an area of cliff-side tidal pools filled with all sorts of mysterious creatures, I came to land's end, where I discovered a sea cave running into the tall cliff protecting the bay. Looking closer, I saw the rays of the afternoon sun coming through the opening and realized it was not a cave, but a natural tunnel, four feet high and maybe fifty feet long.

Even at low tide, the surge of the waves and the slick, wet rocks made the journey potentially dangerous, but I knew already that I had to go through that tunnel, had to see what was on the other side. Timing my jump with the ebb of the waves, I scrambled down the slick rocks and made my way into the chamber. All around me, inches from my arms and face, thousands of fat crabs crawled up the sides of the tunnel to escape my progress. I pressed on, climbing the incline and emerging on miles of deserted beach with the last rays of a glorious sunset. I only had a few minutes of this splendor before the rising tide would block my return. But a few moments was enough, and I headed back into the tunnel, where the crabs again surrounded me by the thousands.

Pura vida they call it. And now I know why.

Tip From The Pro - Playing the Hills

At Garrade Leon and other courses in Costa Rica, the terrain is quite hilly, and a golfer is often faced with a sidehill lie. Here is my advice on how to play a shot with the ball above your feet:

Choke down on the club and play the ball back in your stance.Stand more erect than usual, with less knee flex and more distance between you and the ball. Put more weight on your toes because gravity will tend to force your weight to your heels. Take a flatter, baseball-type swing and don't use your legs as much because you might lose your balance. I prefer to take more club and use a three-quarter swing to keep my balance. Others might just take a slower full swing. Aim to the right of the target, as the normal flight is lower and right to left.
James McAfee, Director of Golf, Garra de León

Travel Agent - In Pursuit of Pura Vida

The unspoiled beauty of Costa Rica extends beyond the rain forests and volcanoes to the virtual nonexistence of addresses. Directions often sound something like, "The restaurant is three hundred meters south of the church that burned down five years ago." How to proceed?You can work with your hotel's concierge or call ahead. A better bet: Enlist a tour operator, such as Costa Rica Golf Adventures (www.golfcr.com). CRGA will arrange all accommodations, golf itineraries and activities. Contact CRGA at 888-261-6645, or by e-mail, golf@centralamerica.com.

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