Many of the courses, planned and built as integral parts of resort
hotels, make outstanding golf possible near all of Mexico's beach resorts.
Designers have incorporated seashore vistas, jungle edges, forested
mountains, deserts, pre-Columbian ruins, even a water hazard or two with
This is true of the two magnificent courses in Acapulco at the Princess
and Pierre Marques Hotels, regarded by many as two of the finest resort
courses in Mexico. The first, a 6,355-yard par 72 Percy Clifford design,
features water on 12 of its 18 holes, while the second, designed by Ted
Robinson, features water on 13 holes and is extremely well bunkered.
Others, such as the Club de Golf Pok-Ta-Pok in Cancun, were part of the
master plan for this modern pre-planned resort. Designed by Robert Trent
Jones, Jr. with 18 holes jutting out into the lagoon, it's the only course
with an actual Mayan ruin on the 12th hole. Laid out between the beach and
the lagoon on a stretch of flat sand, it's a pleasant rolling course.
However, winds can kick up during the winter months, making it difficult to
stay on target.
Even Cancun now has some good courses. The Hilton Resort's 18-hole
6,800-yard par 71 course, while beautifully set on landfill next to the
lagoon, is somewhat forgiving on the front eleven holes, but offers more of
a challenge on the back seven. Fairways are slow due to the special grass
needed to cover them. An alligator lives in the water hazard on the 15th
hole. Another, the Melia Cancun's 18-hole course, isn't much more than an
elaborate chip and put course.
Ixtapa's spectacular Palma Real course, on the other hand, was also
designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr. with fairways and greens butting right
up against the beach. This course tests golfers with rolling expanses of
fairways and greens rimmed with tall coconut palms and dotted with water
holes and three blue lakes. It's also a game preserve with many varieties of
gorgeous birds and more than a dozen alligators in the lakes. The final
greens hug the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
The new 18-hole Ixtapa Marina Club de Golf, designed by Robert Von Hagge,
is one of two links-style courses in Mexico. From the balcony of the
clubhouse, it looks like a series of green bumps devoid of trees with canals
running through them. But from the course level, it's a challenging maze of
hills and water hazards. Tightly guarded greens and expansive fairways
between the "dunes" force golfers to use all the skills they
For golfers headed to Puerto Vallarta, the Los Flamingos Golf Club offers
a chance to follow through on a movie star or two. This 18-hole par 72
course is located eight miles north of the airport near some fine hotels. A
newer 6,500-yard resort course, designed by Joe Finger, crowns the Marina
Vallarta megadevelopment. It's open undulating fairways offer even the
novice golfer a wide berth for those wayward shots and a challenging layout
for better players.
Another spectacular course is the Club de Golf Tangolunda in Huatulco,
Mexico's newest resort area. Located below Acapulco in a lush coastal area,
designerís carved this course out of the jungle, making it flow from the
ocean inland between rolling hills of chaparal along the shore of Huatulco's
seven gorgeous bays.
But the new light on golf in Mexico shines on Los Cabos where a trio of
skillfully designed courses attracts the best of the best. The international
televising of the Senior Grand Slam tournament on the 7,051-yard par 72 Cabo
del Sol, or Cape of the Sun, course is sure to draw attention to this Jack
Nicklaus-designed gem. Indeed, Los Cabos has set new standards in
integrating spectacular settings with challenging golf.
Cabo del Sol features seven oceanside holes, more than any other course
in Mexico. Like Pebble Beach, the look is natural, unforced. Earthworks are
kept to a minimum. From the pro tees there are several death-or-glory shots
to be played across Bahia de Ballena (Whale Bay), though staggered tees put
the holes within reach of the average golfer. Inland holes provide a
strategic counterpoint to chasing the ball along the bluffs 40 feet above
the sea. The best is the short par-four 11th, its split fairway divided by a
massive bowl of sand.
Two finishing holes, in Nicklaus' own words, "the two best finishing
holes in the world," put Cabo del Sol at the top of Latin American
courses. The 17th measures a mere 160 yards but is as thrilling as any
mid-length par three in the world. From a clifftop tee, golfers fly their
shots over a sandy beach to a pulpit green nestled among sea-blackened
rocks. The par-four 18th, a grand left-to right dogleg, traces the curve of
the shore to a large well-protected green, providing a climax to any round.
Palmilla, 10 miles down the road, a 6,939-yard par 72 27-hole
target-style desert layout, Nicklaus' first Mexican venture, was instantly
the best course in Mexico when it opened in 1992. Consisting of three sets
of nine--Arroyo, Mountain, and Ocean--the course sits beautifully in the
mountains, its rough areas dotted with 400-year-old cardon cacti, and every
hole has a view of the Sea of Cortez. Nicklaus designed so many signature
holes at Palmilla that it plays like an autograph book.
The 7th hole of the Arroyo course has scared many a golfer. With a
560-yard carry from the back tees over a 200-foot-deep canyon to a long
fairway with the sea looming over the horizon, it plays head games on
golfers. The 5th Hole of the Mountain stretches 440 yards to the green, with
a trick drive over a yawning chasm to the fairway, which turns right and
crosses another larger chasm to the green. With five sets of tees on every
hole, often set out like box seats at the opera, Nickalus gives every golfer
options. Even not-so-polished players can have a fine day on this course.
The greens are kept crisp, swift and true.
Two dramatic seaside holes, and three outstanding mountain holes are the
signature holes of the 6945-yard par 72 Cabo Real Resort Golf Course,
designed by Robert Trent Jones. It promises to be a centerpiece of Los Cabos
resort golf. Situated midway between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose at the
Melia Cabo Real Hotel, it features a flower-bedecked rolling green course,
in contrast to Nicklaus' desert ones. The par three 14th Hole plays down to
where the surf laps the shore, followed by a par three across a natural
beach, and up on a mountain, Holes 4, 5, and 8, are humbling in their
grandeur of view and skill requirements.
Campo de Golf Los Cabos, the original local course is already a sporty
little stroke eater. Plans call for extending this to 18 holes on the
opposite side of the highway. Campestre Cabo San Lucas, designed by Roy Dye,
offers splendid views of the sea, though in area isn't as large as the other
are more than 180 holes of golf along the
meandering strip of Highway 1 between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas
known as The Corridor.