Mike Young to Design New Golf Course in Costa Rica

Following his oceanfront Hacienda Pinilla Golf Club near Santa Cruz, Athens, Ga.-based golf course architect Mike Young has been hired to design another course in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica.

The Jormar Corporation, a company based in the capital city of San Jose that has developed residential and commercial real estate throughout Costa Rica, has contracted Young to design the Country Club of Liberia as part of a 1,100-acre project located just three miles from that city's international airport. Along with the 7,000-yard, par-72 golf course, the project will include some 1,400 homes, as well as a hotel and other commercial development.

"I am really excited about the Country Club of Liberia project because golf was literally given first priority," Young said. "I was allowed to route the golf course before any of the housing was planned so it's going to be a course where players who want to walk can do so with ease. There will not be any long green-to-tee distances. You'll be able to walk off of one green and walk directly to the next tee."

While the course will have associated housing development, Young called the layout a "semi-core routing." No holes will have development on both sides of the fairway, he explained.

The colonial city of Liberia is the provincial capital of the Guanacaste region. Though one of the older cities in Costa Rica, Liberia today is a bustling, vibrant city of more than 35,000 people. Its Daniel Oduber Quiros International Airport offers excellent connections to the United States and Canada, as well as a number of European and South American countries.

Built in 1995, the facility is served by 29 different international airlines, including American, Continental, Delta, Northwest and US Airways. Direct flights are available from a number of U.S. cities, with flight times from Atlanta, Miami, Dallas and Houston all less than four hours.

"When the Country Club of Liberia opens, you can get off the plane and be on the golf course in 30 minutes," said Young. "That's attractive to a lot of multinationals - Americans, Canadians, Europeans or whatever - who want to retire to or have a vacation home in an area like Costa Rica. And because we're 8-10 miles from the beach, they will find this much more affordable than a million-dollar lot on the ocean."

Young expects construction of the Country Club of Liberia to begin immediately after this fall's "rainy season," which usually ends in late October to early November. He said the course, which will feature 419 hybrid Bermudagrass fairways and tees and ultra-dwarf Bermudagreens, should be ready to play "when the rain stops" in the fall of 2009.

Young described the Country Club of Liberia site as rolling land with several creeks cutting through the property. A former cattle ranch, the property is blessed with a number of specimen trees that the architect has incorporated into the golf course layout.

"The great thing about this project is that it will be the first golf course that I've been able to do in Central America that will not be tied into the quote-unquote resort atmosphere," Young said. "This will be a true golf club, in the most traditional sense. Instead of tourists and resort guests coming in and playing the course once or twice, the Country Club of Liberia will give players that true 'club experience.'

"For that reason, we are designing a very traditional, old-style golf course, with traditional shaping. It's what I call classic risk-reward architecture. It's the kind of golf I grew up playing and the kind of golf I've built my entire design career around."

Since entering the design business in 1986, Young has designed more than 40 courses in five different countries. His Cateechee Golf Club in Hartwell, Ga., opened in 1999, earned a spot in Golf Digest's "Best New Courses" in America that year. And though it is still less than a year old, his Long Shadow Golf Club, located near Lake Oconee in Madison, Ga., was just named as the fourth best public-access course in the state by Golfweek Magazine (March 8, 2008 issue), ahead of more celebrated area courses at Reynolds Plantation and the Harbor Club.