Sea, Surf and Sand Fleas

Tom Velarde
Golf Professional
Black Mesa Golf Club
La Mesilla, AZ

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My bride and I just returned from a wonderful seven days at Puerto Vallarta. We went with two other couples and this just made the entire trip so memorable. 

Arriving at the Mexican airport in Puerto Vallarta was quite a shock, well I guess I really did not know what to expect, but after the obligatory traversing of a maze we emerged to the main processing area. It was full of tourists, most coming from colder climates and all sweating up a storm in the summer heat of Mexico present during February.

Processing took next to no time, which was nice as I could see no water anywhere in site. My last trip to Mexico included stomach problems so when our driver had cold bottled water it was a hit. I sat at the back of the large van and was glad I chose this seat, as any cab driver in New York could hold no candle to our lane changing with one inch of clearance guy. An all pro running back does not have moves executed by our driver who could zip in and out of heavy traffic, point at things we should see and look me in the eye while driving. All of this while traveling at 180 KM/second, I wish I had brought the barf bag from the plane.

The golf courses were very, very good. One was a Jack Nicklaus design and the second was a Norman under construction with only nine open. I found the Nicklaus course fairly wide and easy to drive the ball with a premium on second shot control. Water came into play on a handful of second shots but a generous bail out area always existed.  The chipping areas were well groomed and my club of choice for chipping originated in Texas (for those of you flatlanders…that would be my putter).

Both courses suited my bride’s straight ball and she was most tickled with the ground run which allowed her to reach many greens in regulation. 

The Norman course was medium length with generous fairways and very fast greens (this is a norm I find on new courses), reminded me of Scottish links as once again the putter was the only choice for us from off the green. Play on this course was very fast, even with only nine holes open…round under 4 hours.

Now the bad…I have encountered a vile little creature that cannot be seen and attacks without warning. If you google sand fleas, the information is that they can only jump 20 centimeters and therefore only present a problem to your lower legs. Mine must have been the fleas on steroids as I looked as if the measles had once again found a home. My bride, for some reason, did not get bit! She insists it’s because she “properly” applied repellant. I tend to think it’s because she had the name brand and I had the one bought at the Dollar Store with the expiration date blacked out. The only known remedy is to get a bucket of Coronas so you have limes to apply to the bites. Naturally, the only way to get the juice of the lime is to squeeze the lime slice into a Corona and then use what is left as a natural remedy. I had to have about 6 applications and found the pain relief to be quite nice.

If you ever get to Mexico while I am there, look for a guy with legs that have the measles, applying the remains of a lime while holding a very chilled bottle of Corona. Down south of the border…down Mexico way.

Tom Velarde is the Manager at Black Mesa Golf Club in Espanola, New Mexico, just northwest of Santa Fe. For more information or to reach Tom, email