Country Club Cochabamba – February 2017 Edwin and I were invited to golf with the golf pro of Country Club Cochabamba Macario Mérida when I met him at the junior golf tournament at Las Palmas last weekend.
Edwin knows Macario, who was the first golf pro in Bolivia, from when he was at Maipazo Golf Club which is outside the city of Santa Cruz.
We arrived at 1pm and chatted with the starters. Edwin greeted Kevin Muriel who is one of the top golfers in Bolivia, when he stepped up to the tee behind us. I chatted to him in my slowly improving Spanish as Macario arrived. It was decided we would all play together as a bit of a match play although Macario had to head off and finish work and would meet us after a few holes.
The day prior, I had changed my driving (thanks to help from Roger) and decided I would try and implement the changes this round. A note to self – one day of practice does not improve upon 2 1/2 years of play. I duffed my first drive and we were off.
It was very nice watching Kevin play. Birdie, birdie, then a lazy par while I shot more than double that.
Macario joined us on the 3rd and was using a mix of clubs from all our bags but decided he liked mine and then caddied for me too. It was a little odd as I am used to shouldering my own bag. After landing my ball in the middle of a cactus (I have said my golf was pretty poor) I popped it out with my 7 iron and looked around for Macario who was quite a distance away so I continued with my 7 iron until I was greenside.
We chatted about Fairways and how Edwin and I are working to make golf more accessible to juniors across all of Bolivia.
Country Club Cochabamba has a beautiful course with multiple changes in elevation. It is surrounded by a ring of mountains and a river traverses a few of the holes on the back nine.
The greens were really quick and if I two putted, I was happy. I had a few three putts and did drop some great one putts but the majority of those followed a multitude of terrible golf shots to get to the green.
Originally the club was just a golf course then in the late 60’s early 70’s the golf course was redesigned and a pool and tennis course and other sporting facilities were added to the country club.
After watching Kevin play an awesome seven holes of golf he left us and the three of us continued until Macario left to work while Edwin and I continued to play.
As we were waiting to tee off the 10th, Macario scooted in on a moto doubling Bernado Ardaya who is the Director of Golf Instruction at Cochabamba. We had a ten minute chat and decided we should all have dinner together to continue talking all things junior golf.
As they left, Edwin and I were carried on our match play that had been going for a few weeks now. I had started the round one hole up. My terrible golf saw me five holes down by the end of the round but we will be playing at La Paz, the highest golf course in the world, on Tuesday where I plan to bring it.
When I returned to my normal driving I smashed balls down the middle of the fairway and then thought I would try my new drive again next hole, only to laugh as I sliced it into the trees.
I do believe a little more practice is necessary before I implement a new stoke into my game.
One thing I was terrible at was small chip shots from behind bunkers. That is what I will work on next week. My putter never really goes to wrong – I might miss shots but I am confident my putter in my hands and my 3w has become a good friend. There is nothing more satisfying than watching a ball glide through the air exactly where you were aiming.
I very nearly took myself out on the 18th after a short 5w had me off to the left on a patch of dirt at the bottom of a hill. I had a practice shot with my sand wedge and when I let fly I miss hit the ball which ricocheted off a brick path in front of me right back at my head. I barely had time to react and as I pulled my head back slightly, I felt the breeze from the ball tickle my chin.
I don’t want that to happen again ever!!!!!!
Post round we saw Kevin as we were about to hail a cab so he dropped us to the bus station while Edwin and Kevin talked golf in Bolivia. I listened as I can understand a lot more than I can say but slowly I am learning.
After dropping off our luggage and buying our overnight ticket to La Paz we headed to meet Macario and Bernando.
They asked what I wanted for dinner and my answer is always plato tipico so that is exactly what we had, getting a big selection of Bolivian food and all sharing. Bernando asked where I learnt Spanish saying I spoke it well and I told him I am trying to learn. I told him they can continue the conversation in Spanish as I understand quite a bit.
After dinner Edwin and I went to Bernando’s house to further talk all things junior golf in a mix of Spanish and English. Bernando then dropped us to the bus stop with minutes to spare for our overnight bus to La Paz.
Golf in Bolivia is fantastic. The people I have met are unbelievable and I have made a lot of new golfing friends.
It was a pleasure golfing at such a beautiful course and I am very glad we decided to stop off in Cochabamba.