BELEN and FRIENDS: OUR TRIP TO PANAMA.

MATT, REED, RENE AND LUZ ANGELA WERE THE WINNERS OF MY 5DAY TRIP GIVEAWAY TO PAMANA. BUT THERE WERE NOT THE ONLY WINNING SOMETHING…

At the beginning of the year I was presented with the opportunity of becoming a spokesperson for Tourism Panama. The opportunity was very lucrative, and I am not referring to monetary terms. If you are new in following my day to day through social media, you might not know this about me, but I love learning. I am pretty obsessed with history, culture, and the perks of globalism and how its inclusiveness and separatism affect society.

I don’t consider myself and encyclopedia, less alone a know–it–all, but I enjoy reading about it and surround myself with opportunities to experience it first–hand.

Opportunities like the one that Tourism Panama offered to me don’t happen everyday, so I couldn’t let that chance go away. At first, I was a little nervous to accept it because of how people will react to the news. A Spanish professional golfer competing in the US and promoting Panama as the new golf destination travel country. But I chose to look at it in a different way. As much as I adore being Spanish and represent my country with passion everywhere I go, I was diverting into a challenging new adventure. My job was to share Panama through my eyes and personal experiences, nothing different than my reality given the opportunity . I was given the chance to give all of my followers an opportunity to get to know a country that was new to them and at the same time, give Panama the chance to be known by all of you.

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I decided to accept the offer after my first trip. My reaction to my experiences there were so profound and positive that I felt obliged to give all of you that chance. When I first met Panamá, I found a country eager to grow. Recently on their own after years of international invasion, Panama is ready to be recognized as safe, adventurous and multicultural touristic destination. And this year I was given the green light to initiate a process of recognizing the country as a golf destination as well. Panama has tremendous golf resorts that will fit your eye right away, not only to the regular amateur golfer but also to the more dedicated one as well. And the best way to convince you guys is to make you have your own first impressions of the country and its people. That is what I pushed the organization to grant me to opportunity to present you guys with a fun 5 day trip giveaway. I wanted some of you to create your now memories about Panamá, and as we know, the rest is history.

 La Pollera is the national dress in Panama worn during festivals and celebrations. Almost convinced them to swop outfits.

La Pollera is the national dress in Panama worn during festivals and celebrations. Almost convinced them to swop outfits.

The idea of the trip was to give two winners the opportunity to bring a guest to Panama, not only the play 36 holes with me, but to get to know the country for the rest of the trip. I sadly had other commitments and wasn’t able to be with them the rest of their adventure, but after seeing photos they sent me I realized that not only I was able to made friends out of my Instagram followers, but that they also ended up becoming good friends.

They landed Saturday 15th and were picked up and driven to a beautiful beach Resort 2 hours away form the city called Buenaventura.

I was waiting for them there I had traveled a couple of days ahead of them to assist a super cool event to bridge tourism connections between Spain and Panama, called Ilusion Cup. The Ilusion Cup is a set of 4 classificatory events in which the winner comes to play the final Ryder Cup-style confrontation agains the winners in Panama. This finale confrontation is amazing, since they are playing 3 days of golf mixed with festivities and touristic attractions. No wonder, each year they are adding more events and more participants.

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I met Matt, Reed, Rene and Luz Amparo Sunday morning for breakfast and we head over to the golf course. To my surprise, the team joined me on my pre-round warm up routines, so they all gained an extra point before the tee shot!

I met Matt, Reed, Rene and Luz Amparo Sunday morning for breakfast and we head over to the golf course. To my surprise, the team joined me on my pre-round warm up routines, so they all gained an extra point before the tee shot!

We headed to the first tee already cracking jokes to break the ice. The point was to have fun, we didn’t nor we wanted to prove anything to anyone. And I met admit, we had a blast. At least I did!

Buenaventura golf club is a pretty straight forward golf course, where strategy is not the real challenge but distance, on the other had, is. It is perfectly calculated to be endangered when the wind blows, having hazards and bunkers very strategically situated. And the wind does then to pick up! Specially in the months of December - January, which are the best months to go visit Panama.

 Reed showing his style at par-3 2nd hole. Make sure you visit my PANAMA TRIP highlights on my Instagram account to get a feel of how we got along.

Reed showing his style at par-3 2nd hole. Make sure you visit my PANAMA TRIP highlights on my Instagram account to get a feel of how we got along.

After golf, we had lunch and some stayed practicing, some went to the hotel others kept on golfing! Matt and Reed deciding to keep on playing after lunch and I decided to practice a bit after what it happened to be my second 18 holes since my injury in January. ( I was a little bit rusty, but not as much as I thought after nearly 8 months).

Back at the hotel, some took advantage of the beach and pool area at the resort while others went to the gym!

After a considerable rest, we dressed up and met for a wonderful sushi dinner at the resort.

The next day we were picked up early in the morning to drive down to the city and get a chance to experience the difference between the real jungle verse the concrete jungle. Santa Maria Golf Club is a luxury resort and a Jack Nicklaus golf course design that brings you back to the fast-growing Panama City.

Santa Maria, in comparison to Buenaventura, is a more strategic golf course. You are forced to hit different club selections off the tee and the greens are as voluptuous as it can get. There are also a lot of hazard carries off the tee that will make you re-grip your club twice before firing the ball.

After golf we had a quick lunch and I had to call it a day and a trip since I had to fly back home to continue with my hip rehabilitation. However, I do want to share some of the cool attractions they were able to do without me that I got to do on my first trip to Panama.

Were you guys able to follow me live on my InstaStories during my trip to Panama? If not, I have create a highlight of the trip so that you guys have a better understanding of how is hanging out with me! LOL. Click here to get to know me better.

Also I wanted to share a few words from Matt and Rene about their experiences in Panama and participating on my Instagram giveaway.

Matt:

I started following Belen several years ago after attending the Volunteers of America golf tournament in Las Colinas.  At that time, I wasn’t very familiar with many of the players, so I decided to pick a few players at random to follow around the course.  I was immediately in awe of the seemingly “effortless” power behind her swing.  I wondered why I hadn’t been following the LPGA more closely.  Since then, I’ve been a fan of Belen and the rest of the LPGA, and I always tell people they are missing out if they don’t go attend an LPGA event.  People have no idea what they are missing!

I had the same feeling after spending several days in Panama.  How have I never visited Panama before?  I didn’t know how amazing it was until I actually visited!  People don’t know what they are missing!

Winning a trip to Panama to play golf with Belen and explore the country was simply one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had.  Belen was extremely generous with her time.  I still can’t believe how much time she spent with our group over the course of two days.  Not only did she put up with a bunch of crazy dudes’ sub-par golf skills over 18 holes, she was happy to do it AGAIN the next day!  If that wasn’t enough, she made the experience even more personable by joining everyone for meals.

Belen has a superb knack for making everyone around her feel comfortable. By the 2nd hole on the first day of golf, I think all of the jitters were mostly subsided thanks to her ability to make the experience as easy going and relaxed as possible.

The 2nd day of golf was an absolute blast. Belen spent time playing a few holes with each golfer in a best ball format. I truly enjoyed those holes as it gave me a little more insight into how she thinks about each shot, how she looks at a putt, and how I might be able to improve the shots I hit.  I came away from those days feeling a bit more golf savvy even if my game doesn’t show it quite yet.

 

Reed:

I had no expectations other than to have fun and enjoy the moment, but Panama was above and beyond one of the best places I have visited. The people were like instant family. They are friendly and so passionate about where they live. Eric, who hosted us the last few days, was a native Panamanian from the northern part of the Panama. He was a a great example of someone who loves where he lives and wanted to share and show all of the spots in Panama that would be missed by most tourists. He has me sold on coming back to visit Bocas Del Toro on my next trip when it is time to relax and enjoy a beach vacation with crystal blue water, surf and enjoy the beach.

The golf was outstanding. Buenaventura felt like you were playing in the middle of the rainforest. Nice cool breeze and overcast skys, but warm enough that you stay loose through the entire round. […]

My favorite was Santa Maria. You could tell this course was setup with tournament play in mind. The course, hotel and club house were brand new right in the middle of the city. They shaped the entire course to give it the look and feel they wanted to have and it played great. Bermuda greens, tees and fairways, it felt familiar to Texas courses that I grew up playing but still had the tropical feel that you expect in Panama. The course had some great landscaping, every hole is a postcard picture. 

Outside of golf and spending time with you, Panama and everyone that was apart of the trip were amazingly good hearted people. When you come to Dallas, I would love to show you the same hospitality you showed us. You were a great host and a very kind person to welcome and give us so much of your time. Your game is outstanding and work ethic admirable. Keep at it, I want to see you back on the tour and kicking ass. Out hustle them all. Next year will be your year, can wait to watch it. We're all behind you!! 

Aww guys, you will forever have an LPGA fan here!

And for those reading, thank you so much for being patient with me during this uphill battle against my hip. I hope in the meantime, you enjoy some of the other things I also enjoy doing like writing, and posing in a bikini! LOL Just kidding!

Will you guys be interested in something like this for next year as well? What will be the best part of winning a trip like this? The destination, playing with me, having a few vacations days?