In a life that has afforded me the opportunity to play golf on five continents and in some of the most dramatic settings imaginable, the Fuego Maya course at the La Reunion Golf Resort in Guatemala has always stood out to me.
That is because the track was laid out on the side of an active stratovolcano from which wisps of smoke rose during the round I played there in the spring of 2009. That was a first for me, and I could not stop gawking at that mountain from which the course took its name while I played, or at the other two volcanoes that loomed nearby.
Neither could my playing partner, Pete Dye, who happened to have designed that course with his eldest son, Perry (and who only added to my amazement that day by shooting his age, which was then 82, even as he insisted on walking a course so hilly and full of gaping canyons that several of the cart paths should have been built with guardrails). We also kept gazing to the south, past the verdant forests and flatlands that lie beyond and all the way to the Pacific coastline of this Central American land just 36 miles away.
My fond memories of that place, however, turned to despair earlier this month when I learned that on June 3 Fuego Maya erupted, sending a fast-moving pyroclastic flow consisting of hot gas and volcanic rock that quickly engulfed nearby villages, coffee plantations and the golf resort, which since 2014 had hosted an annual PGA Tour Latinoamerica event.
A recent e-mail from Perry Dye and his wife, Ann, informed me that La Reunion “has been all but destroyed,” adding that the resort employed more than 200 people and decrying that many of those men and women have lost family members, their homes and their livelihoods. It is, as they describe it, a tragedy, for La Reunion and also for Guatemala, with the death toll now exceeding 100. Dozens more are said to be missing.
Gracious and caring as always, the Dyes have set up a secure donation page at: lareunionrelief.com. Contributions are no doubt appreciated, no matter how big or small. So are your thoughts and prayers.