Review: El Conquistador

Conquering the Puerto Rican hillside
Puerto Rico’s east coast is very unique.  It has some of the best beaches on the island along with soaring vistas from the hills/mountains just barely inland.  The Waldorf Astoria El Conquistador is set in the hillside near Fajardo and overlooks the ocean from a number of hilltop vistas.  It is part of one of the biggest and best resorts on the island that offers every imaginable amenity, even its own private island.
Even just driving in you know you are in for a hilly experience as you are shuttle to the club house up this hillside which overlooks much of the course.  After a quick stop at the pro shop you can check out the huge downhill range.  It is in between holes 1 and 9.  Everything is top notch, carts, range, putting green, service, and conditions.  It is what you would expect at a place like this.
The course is going to take some solid play to conquer many of the holes.  Starting out is one of the most difficult, intimidating starting holes I can think of.  The tee box is high on the hill with the fairway below in front of you.  Problem is, anything even a little right is gone in the range, and anything a little left is gone in the trees, on top of that it is a dog leg right hole, so a baby fade is perfect, since it is not short either, it is not like you can just bunt one out there and get the round going.  Follow that tough tee shot up with a possibly blind second shot this hole is tough.  It actually feels much easier after hole one.  The up and down nature of this course is really fun.  Many elevated tees into valleys and then back up to greens.  The second hole is one that you see driving in, another great hole with 2short and left on the approach of this par 5.  The 6th hole was one of my favorites.  It is a short drivable par 4 with all kinds of bunkers guarding the green.  The 7th hole is another great hole as you play it up over a slight mound down to the green, it is a long but not too tough par 4.  The 9th hole is a great little par 3 with water left of the green.  You are right up by the clubhouse when you finish 9.

The back 9 begins with an incredible vista.  You can see most of the course from this tee box.  You can just bomb it on this one and leave a little wedge into the green.  Another short par 4 that is great is the 13th hole.  It plays almost entirely uphill.  Best play is a 3-wood up the fairway avoiding the right side which is a grass ravine.  The 14th is a solid par 3 that you need to keep your ball straight on to find the green.  The 17th is another great par 3 as it plays from an elevated tee to an elevated green with a huge grass valley in between.  Finishing on 18 is no simple task either.  It plays uphill toward the clubhouse.  You don’t necessarily want to hit driver here, unless you can hit a 10 yard wide fairway strip, it was easier to play 3-wood or even hybrid to the fairway and cut over the pond (same one from 9) to the green.

After all the ups and downs it kind of felt like you were on a roller coaster, but if you can conquer this course, your game is good.  For the most part it played fair, but just tough to adjust to all the contours and hills.  It might not be your typical tropical golf course, but man rolling through the hillside course of El Conquistador was a fun, wild ride that we conquered.

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Quick Hits
+Amazing hillside property
+Great conditions
+Awesome vistas
+Variety of holes