Playing Golf at Extreme Altitudes in Colombia – A Guide


Last updated on November 12th, 2023 at 10:52 pm

Dear readers,
My name is Frank and I run a travel agency in Bogota, Colombia. Have fun while reading!

What are the altitudes like in Colombia?

Altitudes in Colombia are defined by the “thermal floors” that exist in relation to temperature and meters above sea level (masl). These thermal floors are classified into 5 categories:

  • Tropical
    Temperature: over 24 °C or 75.2 °F
    Altitude: below 1000 masl or 3280 feet asl.
  • Temperate
    Temperature: 17 °C to 24 °C or 62.6 °F to 75.2 °F
    Altitude: 1000 masl or 3280 feet asl.
  • Cold
    Temperature: 12 °C to 17 °C or 53.6 °F to 62.6 °F
    Altitude: 2000 masl or 6561 feet asl.
  • Paramo
    Temperature: 6 °C to 12 °C or 42.8 °F to 53.6 °F
    Altitude: 3000 masl or 9842 feet asl.
  • Glacial
    Temperature: below 6 °C or 42.8 °F
    Altitude: over 4000 masl or 13123 feet asl.

Each of these thermal floors is found at different altitudes, meaning that as you ascend into the mountains, temperatures become lower. They determine the ecosystems and climatic conditions of each region.

Colombia boasts various golf courses throughout the country, each with its specific climate and altitude.

  • For instance, Cartagena is located on the tropical thermal floor at an altitude of only 2 meters (6.5 feet) asl. The city is home to Club Karibana and Club Campestre de Cartagena, where golf is played at an average temperature of 24 °C to 31 °C (75 °F to 88 °F).
  • In cities like Medellín, the thermal floor is temperate at an altitude of 2000 meters (6561 feet) asl. Golf clubs like CC de Medellín can be found here, with an average temperature ranging from 13 °C to 23 °C (55.4 °F to 73.4 °F).
  • In Bogotá, the thermal floor is cold, starting at 2600 meters (8530 feet) asl, where most of the country’s clubs are located, offering a colder climate. An example is Club Los Lagartos, where the lowest temperature is 8 °C (46.4 °F).
  • In neighboring municipalities like La Calera and Sopó, you can practice the sport in golf clubs. However, they are located on the paramo thermal floor at an altitude of 3000 meters (9842 feet) asl, and temperatures there can drop below 8 °C (below 46.4 °F), as seen in Club La Cima and Club La Pradera de Potosí.

What risks can there be when playing golf at high altitudes?

Being at a high-altitude location, such as mountainous regions or high plateaus, can have several consequences and effects on the human body due to the fact that, with increasing altitude, atmospheric pressure and oxygen concentration decrease. Some of the most common consequences of being at a high altitude include:

  • Hypoxia: Hypoxia is a condition in which there is an insufficient amount of oxygen in the body due to low atmospheric pressure at high altitudes. This can lead to symptoms such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, fatigue, and dizziness.
  • Altitude Sickness: Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is a set of symptoms that can include headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, insomnia, and loss of appetite. It often occurs in individuals who ascend to high altitudes quickly without giving their bodies time to adapt.
  • Increased Heart Rate: The body may increase heart rate to compensate for the reduced oxygen in the air. This can make the heart work harder and may be a risk factor for individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.
  • Disorientation: Some individuals may experience disorientation and changes in the perception of time and space due to hypoxia.

Golf Courses in Colombia at Higher Altitudes

Most of these high-altitude courses are located in the central region of Colombia, along the Eastern Cordillera, and are primarily found in the cities of Bogotá and Medellín. The main courses with these conditions include:

  • Club La Cima – La Calera:
    • Location: Kilometer 13 on the road to Bogotá.
    • Altitude: Nearly 3000 m (9842 ft) asl.
    • Temperature: Ranges between 10 °C and 15 °C (50 °F to 59 °F), but can drop to 5 °C (41 °F) and rarely 1 °C (33.8 °F) due to the high-altitude mountainous terrain.
    • Par: 18 holes, par 70.
    • This is Colombia’s highest golf course, situated in a high mountainous area with native forest, paramo vegetation, and unstable terrain, creating natural obstacles for play.
  • Club La Pradera de Potosí – La Calera:
    • Location: Kilometer 5, La Calera-Sopó road, Cundinamarca.
    • Altitude: 2650 m (8694 ft) asl.
    • Temperature: Ranges between 5 °C and 19 °C (41 °F to 66.2 °F).
    • Size: 7716 yards.
    • 18 holes, par 72.
    • The course design features some dunes and low-lying areas and is situated in a rural residential setting.
  • Carmel Club – Bogotá:
    • Location: Diagonal 154 N. 43-02.
    • Altitude: 2600 m (8530 ft) asl.
    • Temperature: Ranges between 9 °C and 20 °C (48.2 °F to 68 °F).
    • Size: 6379 yards.
    • 18 holes, par 70.
    • The terrain is flat with native vegetation interspersed throughout the club.
  • Club Campestre Los Arrayanes – Bogotá:
    • Location: Bogotá, kilometer 14 on the Autopista Norte.
    • Altitude: 2600 m (8530 ft) asl.
    • Temperature: Ranges between 7 °C and 21 °C (44.6 °F to 69.8 °F).
    • Size: 7002 yards.
    • 18 holes, par 72.
    • The course is characterized by its flat and spacious layout, large lakes, and abundant, towering trees.
  • Club Campestre Hato Grande – Bogotá:
    • Location: Km. 27 on the Carretera Central del Norte.
    • Altitude: 2600 m (8530 ft) asl.
    • Temperature: Ranges between 9 °C and 23 °C (48.2 °F to 73.4 °F).
    • Size: 7003 yards.
    • 18 holes, par 72.
    • This course is clear and unobstructed, with some lakes and gardens adding to its landscape.
  • Club Militar de Golf – Sopó:
    • Location: Autopista Norte Km. 30, Sopó Municipality.
    • Altitude: 2558 m (8393 ft) asl.
    • Temperature: Ranges between 6 °C and 20 °C.
    • Size: 6676 yards.
    • 18 holes, par 72.
    • The majority of this course is flat, but it features certain undulations.
  • Club El Rincón de Cajicá – Bogotá:
    • Location: Carretera Central del Norte Km 26.
    • Altitude: 2600 m (8530 ft) asl.
    • Temperature: Ranges between 8 °C and 21 °C (46.4 °F to 69.8 °F).
    • Size: 7150 yards.
    • 18 holes, par 72.
    • This club is characterized by its length, undulations, valleys, and some high walls.
  • Club Los Lagartos – Bogotá:
    • Location: Diagonal 103 N. 61-80.
    • Altitude: 2600 m (8530 ft) asl.
    • Temperature: Ranges between 8 °C and 20 °C (46.4 °F to 68 °F).
    • Size: 7127 yards.
    • 18 holes, par 71.
    • This club is divided into two courses: David Gutiérrez, located on a hillside with varied holes, some undulating, and Corea, a shorter and flatter course.
  • Club Guaymaral – Bogotá:
    • Location: CCarretera Central del Norte  Km. 18.
    • Altitude: 2600 m (8530 ft) asl.
    • Temperature: Ranges between 8 °C and 20 °C (46.4 °F to 68 °F).
    • Size: 6924 yards.
    • 18 holes, par 72.
    • It is divided into two courses: Course #1 is designed like a traditional golf course with large trees, and abundant water hazards. Course #2 has a natural links-style layout with undulating greens.
  • Club El Rodeo – Medellín:
    • Location: Calle 41 #33-595, Rionegro.
    • Altitude: 2120 m (6955 ft) asl.
    • Temperature: 17 °C (62.6 °F).
    • Size: 6792 yards.
    • 18 holes, par 72.
    • While it is designed as a classic club, it can challenge players due to its varied topography, featuring gullies, narrow fairways, and wide flat areas.
  • Club Campestre de Medellín:
    • Location: Vereda Cabeceras, Rionegro.
    • Altitude: 2150 m (7054 ft) asl.
    • Temperature: 17 °C (62.6 °F).
    • 18 holes, par 72.
    • This is a flat and long course, adapting to the characteristics of flat terrain with small, spaced-out trees.

Climatic Factors When Playing Golf at High Altitudes

Altitude vs. Ball Flight Distance

When playing golf, the distance the ball travels when struck is significantly influenced by the density of the air in the playing space, which, in turn, depends on the altitude of that space. At higher altitudes, where air density is lower, there is less resistance, resulting in longer ball flight distances. Conversely, playing at sea level where air density is higher can limit ball flight.

In Colombia, altitudes range from 0 masl to 3000 masl. Understanding this, we can quantify how much distance can increase based on percentages. The following table illustrates the distance increase at various golf courses in Colombia with different altitudes:

Golf Course Altitude (in feet) Percentage Distance Increase
Wyndham Garden 1532 feet 1.77%
Club Campestre Bucaramanga 3149 feet 3.65%
Club Campestre de Cali 3280 feet 3.8%
Club Campestre de Medellín 7053 feet 8.18%
Club el Rincón 8392 feet 9.73%
Country Club Bogotá 8530 feet 9.89%
Club La Cima 9842 feet 14.17%

UV Radiation

At higher altitudes, ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is more intense, especially in places near the equator where the atmosphere is thinner. This means that sun exposure can be more harmful to the skin and eyes. Consequences of prolonged exposure can include sunburn, premature skin aging, an increased risk of skin cancer, and eye damage, such as cataracts and macular degeneration.

To protect against UV rays, it is recommended to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF, UV-blocking sunglasses, and clothing that covers exposed skin. Additionally, it’s advisable to avoid playing golf during peak UV radiation hours.

Colder Temperatures

Colombia is home to some of the world’s highest golf courses, which can present challenges due to extremely cold climates in the highest mountain regions, with temperatures dropping below freezing for much of the year. Negative effects can include skin damage, such as dry, cracked, and irritated skin, limited mobility, hypothermia, and frostbite.

To mitigate these risks, warm-up exercises to prepare muscles and joints are recommended. Protecting against the wind, limiting outdoor exposure time, and wearing appropriate clothing are essential.

Recommendations for Playing Golf at High Altitude in Colombia:

Playing golf at high altitudes can be a unique experience due to reduced air density and specific climatic conditions. Here are some recommendations for a great golfing experience at high altitudes:

  • Acclimatization: If you are not used to the altitude, it is important to take some time to acclimatize before playing. Altitude can affect your physical ability and performance. Try to spend at least a day adapting before playing seriously.
  • Hydration: Altitude can lead to dehydration more quickly, so be sure to drink enough water before, during and after your game.
  • Sun protection: At higher altitudes, UV radiation is more intense. Use sunscreen, sunglasses and appropriate clothing to protect yourself from the sun.
  • Appropriate clothing: Depending on the altitude, temperatures may be cooler. Wear appropriate clothing for the climate and be aware of the possibility of changes in weather conditions.
  • Clarify doubts: If you have questions about playing at high altitudes, don’t hesitate to ask the course staff or other local golfers who have experience playing at that specific altitude.
  • Safety: If you feel symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headache, dizziness or nausea, rest and do not strain your body. Safety first. In Colombia, it is common to drink coca tea to manage the symptoms of altitude sickness.

More about Golf in Colombia

Find out everything you need to know about golf in Colombia in our blogs.

How, When And Where To Play Golf In Colombia?

Colombia’s 22 Greatest Golf Courses

The History of Golf in Colombia

Golf Associations in Colombia

Everything About Senior Golf in Colombia

Women’s Golf in Colombia and Around the World

The 13 best Colombian Golfers of all time

9 Golf Tournaments You Can Play in Colombia

Everything You Need to Know About Golf Carts in Colombia

How to Dress Appropriately for Playing Golf in Colombia

Playing Golf at Extreme Altitudes in Colombia – A Guide

Playing Golf in Bogota, Colombia – A Guide

Playing Golf in Medellin, Colombia – A Guide

Playing Golf in Cali, Colombia – A Guide

Playing Golf in Cartagena – A Guide

Related Posts

On our Blog you will find information about our past experiences as well as useful tips for planning your trip to Colombia.