I have made four different trips to Zihua and each time I checked the trusty Tripadvisor site for the recommendation to either play Marina or Palma Real. Each time the reviews have applauded Marina and slammed Palma Real. So I had always played only Marina but always thought what I could see of Palma Real from the street looked far superior. This trip I took the time to play both.
I am fully convinced that the positive reviews on this site for Marina Golf have to be coming from folks with a financial stake in the Marina course.
Let's start with the Marina course:
"Goat pasture minus the goats" pretty much sums it up. There are barren patches in the middle of most fairways, weeds thick in the "sand" traps, more like rock traps, the greens are very coarse and slow. The carts are likely third generation hand me downs. It is still a viable golf course though. It has 18 full size golf holes but they are crammed in behind and across the street from the hotels on the beach. You are actually playing along the mangroves and stinky ditches that hold brackish water and alligators (those I don't mind, they add local flavor).
If you are lucky enough to find someone in the golf shop, they will likely make you feel like you have just been taken advantage of by the time you walk out. They quote you in US dollars but then convert everything in to Pesos using a ridiculous exchange rate then MAKE YOU pay in Pesos. Nevermind if you wish to purchase a souvenir. Nothing, NADA, ZILCH is for sale in the Pro shop.
If you play Marina, you are basically getting in 18 holes and paying for the longitude and lattitude.
Like I said, I played Palma Real as well on this trip. It was in very good, not exceptional shape. A local told me later that it had recently been mowed or we would not have been able to find our balls outside of the fairway. This was not the case when we played. It was beautiful. It was challenging. The carts were well maintaned. The caddies were very helpful. The beer cart came around on a regular basis and even ran a tab for us rather than demand payment for each round of drinks. Lots of alligators. Let the caddy look for your ball! The Pro shop did not have any merchandise either but the staff was actually helpful in trying to save us money by proactively demonstrating that we could pay less if we combine our rounds in to a package and pay up front. This proved to save us quite a bit and coming back 2 days later even without our proof of purchase was not an issue.
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