Perfect Golf in Cartagena

 Photographs by Nicholas Hegel McClelland


It’s easy to fall in love with TPC Cartagena at Karibana. The two-year-old golf course boasts ocean views, pristine-jungle-lined holes, and sun-drenched fairways, all with an exotic, 582-year-old city just a few miles away. But with plenty of opportunities to lose your ball in the water and more sand-traps than you can shake a seven iron at, that love will go unrequited.

Created by Jack Nicklaus Design, the track tantalizes players over the first nine holes with the excitement of playing along the sea. But don’t lose focus dreaming of the ocean. The opening nine holes wind through the jungle, and a few will test any player’s mettle, including the reachable par-five second hole or the cleverly-bunkered fifth. After the tee shot at the 10th the waiting pays off with enticing views of spectacular seaside holes and an equally inviting and reachable par-four 15th. The last three holes are the track’s most fun, but be careful; when winds are up or your fade has exaggerated into a slice, you may find yourself playing from a rather sandy lie on the beach.

(A player takes a crack at the par-three 17th hole.)

While Cartagena has become a hot spot for well-heeled travelers in search of a destination with cultural cache, warm weather year-round, and luxurious accommodations, the golf course itself should be the destination — at least this year, before it is overrun with tourists. In 2016, the TPC Cartagena at Karibana resort, which recently rebranded under the famed TPC Network and already includes a stunning thatched roof beach club, will open a 270-room Conrad luxury hotel with a pool, opulent spa, rooftop bar, and all the amenities that will let word get out that this course is a world-class destination.

The rise of this course and resort’s appeal will only be compounded by the fact that the course will play host to the Web.com Tour’s Karibana Championship on March 5-8, where players will compete for a $700,00 purse.

(A view of one of Cartagena’s old city’s many narrow streets.)

Of course, there’s more to Cartagena than golf. This is a stunning colonial town with a half-a-millennia of patina and boasts numerous boutique hotels as well as a plethora of fine dining. The rich history of the old city along with its dazzling colonial architecture make Cartagena an easy sell for any traveler.

(Patrons dance to live music at Baluarte San Francisco Javier)

Spend a few hours taking in the old city’s color, shopping and historic churches. Afterwards, enjoy a spectacular dinner and listen to live music a top the old city wall at Baluarte San Francisco Javier. Later if you aren’t to worn out, you can salsa the night away with locals on the packed dance floor of Café Havana while some sipping fabulously-delectable mojito.

(A bird flies over the old city near San Pedro Claver Cathedral.)