Golf with a View of Lake Chapala and Volcano Neva

October 28, 2009

For the serious or casual golfer, retirement holds the promise of… more golf. When considering that ideal location to wile away those freedom years, a challenging golf course and a climate that assures frequent play rank as high priorities on the requirement list. During our exploration of retirement locales, my husband and I exercised flexibility with other parameters, but ideal weather and a full service golf course remained etched in stone. Lake Chapala area offers a sure ace on both accounts.

An elevation of 5200 feet, a temperate zone, without extreme humidity, heat or cold, and a rainy season that generally limits itself to night time precipitation, provide delightful golfing weather every day of the year. To partner up with this seductive forecast, Chapala Country Club provides the only United States Golf Association rated course Lakeside. It offers glorious vistas, social and charitable functions, restaurant services, a wide variety of volunteer opportunities and activities for the non-golfer to complete a total, retirement entertainment package.


Founded in 1955, Chapala Country Club originally occupied the terrain of Chapala’s Cristiana Park. In 1967, the membership donated this land to the municipality of Chapala for use as a public park, and constructed the present facility at its current location in Vista del Lago. The new nine hole, 18 tee course, followed design recommendations provided by the USGA. With a slope rating of 126 and par 71, it measures 6,343 yards for men and 5,466 yards for women. “Two sets of tee boxes per hole are positioned in a way that present the golfer with a diverse and challenging golfing experience,” said Ernie Sowers, CCC member and Board Member for 3 years. “I play at least five days per week, and I haven’t been bored yet. Coming from Northeastern US, with unpredictable weather patterns, I love the ’get up and go golf’”, adds Ernie. “The short, five-mile jaunt from Chapala makes the commute for daily fun a breeze. Driving towards  the golf course, a brilliant, pink sunrise over Lake Chapala provides a spectacular start to every day,” he concluded.

Players never tire of the anticipated vista viewed from the course’s signature hole, number 12. The expansiveness of Lake Chapala unfolds from the elevated tee, but in the distance, almost 60 miles away, Volcano Nevado looms, often snow capped in February. Volcano Colima hides directly behind Nevado, barely visible, amazing onlookers who know its location.

A full scale practice/putting green, a 14-bay driving range and a sand trap/chipping practice area round out the golf facility. The pro shop carries a modest selection of CCC logo shirts, hats, shorts and golf towels, all priced well below North American Pro Shop merchandise. Pricey balls, tees and gloves, available for sale as a convenience, reflect high Mexican import taxes. Members restock their supply of these items on return jaunts to the US or Canada.  The Cart Barn, manned by Benny, stores 100 carts. “With increased green fee players, more rental carts will be added to meet the demand,” comments John Campbell, Golf Committee Chairman.

Members personally buy their own carts and store them on site. Benny charges the batteries and keeps the buggies spotless and in good repair. As soon as a member drives onto the parking lot, his cart magically appears, clubs at the ready, loaded from the bag storage area. To quote Ernie again, “Every golfer should have a ‘Benny’ in his life.”  Used carts frequently come up for sale for new members. I’ll always remember my Mother’s Day present last year from my husband. He unveiled an electric, shiny silver golf cart- and I don’t even play golf. What a guy!


CCC remains a semi-private Country Club, governed by a duly elected Board of Directors, and offers several different types of membership. The non-member public sector, can play by paying greens fees. Guadalajara native and current top women’s golfer in the world, Lorena Ochoa has impacted the game of golf in Mexico beyond calculation. Interest in golf continues to mushroom among Mexican nationals and Lorena’s popularity has caused a dramatic increase in greens fee play at CCC.

George Stevenson, Board president sees this golf boom in Mexico as the Club’s greatest immediate challenge. “Lorena Ochoa has managed to stir the inners of Mexicans, showing them that golf does not have to be out of reach for the common people. Four years ago, the Club started the Junior Golf Development Program for aspiring local youth to answer the need,” George relates. “Greens fee play rose 30% last year and another 35% already this year. Coordination of this surge in golfers with member play, especially on weekends, presents a positive challenge.

Lorena, loyal to her roots, selected Chapala Country Club Golf Course as a member of the Lorena Ochoa Golf Academy. Teaching pros, working directly for the Academy, provide private lessons to anyone at competitive rates.  This extra benefit adds to the Club’s attractiveness.

Many opportunities exist for the golfer to join in on a plethora of weekly organized tournaments.  Ladies Day, Men’s Day provide weekly opportunities to golf with other members. The popular Go-Go Tournament of Mixed Couples happens twice a month. Various other tournaments provide competition throughout the year, including the Club Championship, the President’s Cup, the Two-Man Horse Race and the Calcutta.

As a special annual event praised by the entire community, the CCC hosts the Cruz Roja (Red Cross) Charity Golf Tournament every October. Billed as the largest charity golfing event Lakeside, over 100 players participate in this all-day affair yearly. CCC donates the golf play and course use, while all profits, entry fees, etc. benefit the community’s health lifeline, the Cruz Roja.

The CCC´s 12 Board of Directors and members, via voting privilege, direct the operation and employees of the facility. Volunteer opportunities arise as members can run for the board or serve on one of the major action committees- House, Social, Golf, Membership, Greens and Financial. Expatriates use their previous entrepreneurial, management or social skills to assist in current and future planning. The Club’s present charter limits membership to 175 shareholders.  The complete schedule of fees and types of membership appears on the CCC website,  Social memberships, excluding golf privileges are also available. Anyone who belongs to a US Golf Country Club or investigated recent membership will find that the CCC price falls far below any equivalent Club in the US or Canada..

The hacienda style clubhouse provides ample space for social events, ranging from special fiestas with live music and dancing to informal gatherings, weekly, member-only bridge games or private parties in the dining room. The outdoor terrace was just renovated with an extension of the patio for dining under umbrellas at the 18th green’s edge. The general public can now rent the dining room facilities for private parties, organization meetings or events.  The full service bar and restaurant, managed by head chef Marco Bouleau Ramos, offers breakfast, lun

  • Gerry Hopman

    Is Lake Chapala Club membership open to Americans and Canadians? And if one stays in the Chapala area for 2 months, is there a pro-rated membership rate? I look forward to receiving your reply.

    Gerry Hopman

  • Sid Grosvenor

    Hi Gerry, Thanks for your comment. If you mean being a member of (our on line community)there’s no fee to join. Just enter your e mail address in the upper right hand corner of any of the pages of our website… and you’re a member.

    We have members from various parts of the wolrd including folks who live right here at Lake Chapala.

    If you mean the Chapala Country Club then the best way to get answers to your questions is to contact them directly via their website

    Thanks again for your comment. Sid

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