Golfing in Paradise

Best scenery for playing golf is in Cabo San Lucas, MexicoWhispers of cerulean blue skies framing emerald fairways against a backdrop of azure waters are luring golf enthusiasts to the tip of the 1,000-mile long Baja California Peninsula to discover why Golf Digest magazine touted Los Cabos as one of the world's top 15 destinations in 2000.

"With a combination of ocean, desert and mountain landscapes, the golf in Los Cabos is unlike that in any other destination,” says Robert Martinez, the CEO of Trilogy Golf, a travel management company based in Austin , Texas that provides golf vacations in Los Cabos. “There are plans to build several courses in the near future, which would do nothing but add to the great golfing opportunities Los Cabos offers to travelers,” Martinez continues.

The stunning surroundings, perfect year-round weather, and juxtaposition of desert, mountains and sea certainly add elements of distraction to the already challenging game. Six 18-hole, one 27-hole and one 9-hole courses boast designs from the most recognized names in golf and are spread along a narrow 25-mile stretch of the tourist corridor bordering the spectacular Sea of Cortez . And four new courses are on the drawing board as Los Cabos welcomes in some new tourist developments and seals the area's fate as a premier golf getaway.

Golf in Cabo has made great strides ever since the opening of the area's original true resort course, back then the 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus-designed Palmilla, in 1992. Palmilla has since expanded to a 27-hole course and Nicklaus has gone on to craft other world-class courses in Cabo del Sol's Ocean course, easily the most sought-after, premium golf experience in Cabo (with its trio of famed finishing holes) and a fixture among the world's top 100 since its debut in 1994, and El Dorado private course that adjoins the original Cabo Real green. It is here that the fairway rolls down a steep hillside like a jade carpet into the aquamarine Sea of Cortez , and during winter months golfers can expect to spot California grey whales frolicking on the horizon.

Couples playing golf in Los Cabos

It did not take long for the secret Cabo golf haven to attract other notable golf designers including Tom Weiskopf, Robert Trent Jones Jr. and Tom Fazio. Fazio built the private Querencia course (with its 26,000 square foot club house overlooking the Sea of Cortez ) over an incredible elevation change of 400 feet and looped corridors around deep gullies filled with local vegetation, scrub and cactus.

Jones' careful design on the 18-hole Cabo Real is one of the most challenging in Baja with the outward nine holes elevated jungle tee offs over ribbon fairways flanked by impenetrable desert. The most celebrated hole, the 15th, sits right on the beach between the Melia Cabo Real Golf & Beach Resort and Las Ventanas al Paraiso.

Cabo Golf Courses

Mayan Palace resort's 9-hole course was originally the San Jose Municipal course built by FONATUR, the government tourism development agency, and is a great place for intermediate and beginner golfers with views of the ocean and mountains.

Raven's 18-hole golf course actually sits on an elevated parcel overlooking the Los Cabos landmark, the Arch, and the Pacific Ocean in Cabo San Lucas. It features the Dye brother's signature flair for the dramatic with the fifth hole surrounded by sand traps and positioned just to the left of a lake, the short yet challenging 384 yard 15 th , and legendary par five 16 th hole with a sharp left to right dogleg on an elevated green.

Weiskopf's 18-hole Desert course at Cabo del Sol – his first in Mexico – debuted in 2002 and is more forgiving, pairing breathtaking scenery with holes requiring skilled precision. Cabo del Sol itself is master planned to feature four courses: Nicklaus's Ocean course and Weiskopf's Desert course are already complete. Mark Parsinen, designer of Kingsbarns links in St. Andrews, together with Tom Doak is set to design the third, the Vista course.

Sunset golferOther new Cabo courses are already in the pipeline. The mega development, Puerto Los Cabos outside of San Jose del Cabo towards East Cape began construction on the first of two 18-hole courses, one designed by Nicklaus and the other by Greg Norman, in late 2004. At the other end of the peninsula north of Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific side, the Cabo Pacifica development will soon be launching two more championship courses dramatically increasing the total golf yards in Los Cabos, which at last count was 56,034 with 144 challenging holes.

Predicts Martinez , who has his finger on the pulse of current golf trends: “Los Cabos is quickly becoming one of the most popular golf destinations in the world."

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Cabo San Lucas oceanview golf course


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