El Dorado Golf Club – January – March 2017 I have just spent two months with Edwin Fernandez, Roger Quisbert (the Pro at the course) and a multitude of young Bolivians at El Dorado Golf Club.
I was in Bolivia to assist with their junior program and Fairways hope to help with golf in Bolivia in general.
El Dorado is a nine hole course close to the airport in Santa Cruz.
If you didn’t know it was there, I think it could be difficult to find and in fact I met a gentleman playing there when I had been in the country a week and he asked how I new it was there as he had been in the country 12 years and only had found out that week it actually existed.
I have watched the course conditions improve greatly during the time I have been there however you will never get rid of the ants. I came to live with the fact that a round of golf meant ant bites but I did learn to always look down to ensure I wasn’t actually standing on a writhing mass of angry ants.
I actually believe that Bolivia means anthill.
If it is windy you can get into trouble with balls flying out of bounds but once you have played a couple of times you know where to aim to stay out of trouble. Some of the rough can be sticky and you can lose a ball in plain sight even after you know exactly where it should have gone.
This was annoying as I only had a limited amount of balls with me and they were difficult and expensive to get in Bolivia.
The greens can sometimes have little ant hills and it was common for me to smooth the line of my ball before putting.
There are water hazards that make some holes challenging and I seemed to often find the one on the 2nd.
I managed to wear through my cleats on my golf shoes even though I would sometimes just play in joggers.
Mostly we spent time at the driving range and the putting greens as we worked on skills with the children.
One of my favourite memories was running to collect the balls with Elias as we happened to be the only ones there early. We wrestled and giggled as we tried to fill our baskets with more balls running all over the place even though we both knew we would share our balls once we got back to the range to practice.
Over the months, Edwin and I had a continual match play going on. I left the country Champion of Bolivia – until we meet again that is.
It might have only been one hole up but that is all you need.
I have so many wonderful memories of laughing my way around the course with the children in various competitions.
El Dorado will always be special and be a Bolivian favourite because of the friendships I made and while I have been out of the country for a couple of days the children are already missing me.
I look forward to returning and seeing everyone again.