Golf in Los Cabos
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Los Cabos has become one of the world's top golf destinations, thanks to Fonatur, Mexico's government tourism development agency. In 1988 it expanded Los Cabos' appeal beyond sportfishing by opening a 9-hole course in San José. Green fairways now appear like oases in the middle of the desert, with breathtaking holes alongside the Sea of Cortez. Many more courses are slated for construction in the next couple of years.
Some courses in Cabo offer memberships, but most allow nonmembers to play. The exceptions are Querencia, designed by Tom Fazio, and El Dorado, designed by Jack Nicklaus. These courses, while said to be spectacular, are only open to members and their guests.
About a million gallons of water a day is required to maintain each course, which partially explains why courses here charge some of the highest greens fees in the world. The cost usually includes access to the driving range, a golf cart, and bottled water. Some courses offer reduced rates for twilight play (after 3 pm). Greens fees are exorbitant—up to $350 in winter and $220 in summer. Rates given here are for high season, approximately November to May. Most hotels near the courses offer packages and reduced fees. Reservations are essential at all courses unless noted otherwise.
San José del Cabo and the Corridor
Cabo del Sol Desert Course. The sister to the Ocean Course, the Desert Course designed by Tom Weiskopf sits on the other side of the Corridor away from the water and features an inland desert motif complete with artistic bunkering. Don't be fooled; the layout here is still very good. In fact, Golf Digest has rated it the #6 Best Resort Course in Mexico, placing it only behind the Ocean Course among its Cabo rivals. The Desert Course is very playable, yet from the back tees it may be even harder than the Ocean Course. The attractive layout includes one of the area's longest par-5 holes at 625 yards. Special rates are available if you play both this and the Cabo del Sol Ocean Course. Hwy. 1, Km 10.3, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/145-8200. www.cabodelsol.com. 18 holes, par 72, 7,049 yards, slope/rating 144/74.3. Greens fees: $190-$230. Facilities: Practice range, putting green, short game area, golf carts, men's & women's lounge with showers, golf shop, beverage cart, snack bar, restaurant, lessons, club storage, rental clubs Taylormade $65.
Cabo Real Golf Course. This visually attractive layout features spectacular views of the mountains and sea, as well as a challenging test. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Cabo Real has straight and narrow fairways, difficult slopes, and strategically placed bunkers. The first six holes are in mountainous terrain, working their way up to 500 feet above sea level. The course then heads back to the water and eventually descends down to the Sea of Cortez by the 14th hole. Recovering from mistakes here can be quite difficult. In 2012, the back nine was redesigned by Jones with a new green on the 14th repositioned closer to the sea and the old 15th removed. Par changed from 72 to 71 and as of this writing a course rating and final yardage is yet to be determined. The course played host to the PGA Senior Slam in 1996 and 1999. Hwy. 1, Km 19.5, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/173-9400 or 877/795-8727. www.questrogolf.com. 18 holes. 6,848 yards. Par 71. Slope/rating 141/72.9. Green fee: $225—includes cart, water, practice balls, and towel; $150 after 1:30 p.m. Walking is not permitted. Lessons available. Facilities: Practice range, putting green, snack bar, restaurant, golf carts, Taylormade rental clubs, $55.
One&Only Palmilla Golf Course. Here you will encounter 27 holes of some of the best resort golf that Mexico has to offer. Crafted by Jack Nicklaus, it was his first work here. The Mountain and Arroyo Nines came first, with the Ocean Nine finished later. Generous target-style fairways wind their way through rugged mountainous desert terrain that is beautifully landscaped. The Ocean Nine drops 600 feet in elevation as you visit the edge of the Sea of Cortez, while the Mountain and Arroyo Nines are positioned higher and further back from the water. Many will remark that the stretch of 6 to 8 holes on the Arroyo Course is one of the best anywhere, while the 3rd through 5th holes really get your attention on the Mountain Course. No matter the combination of Nines, you won't feel cheated and the conditioning is usually excellent though expensive. Hwy. 1, Km 7.5, San José del Cabo, Baja California Sur, 23400. 624/144-5250. www.palmillagc.com. 27 holes. Mountain Nine, 3,602 yards; Ocean Nine, 3,527 yards; Arroyo Nine, 3,337 yards. All nines are par 36. Slope/ratings vary between 140/74.2 and 137/72.9. Green fees: $160-$220. Facilities: Practice range, putting green, lessons, beverage cart, limited restaurant, Callaway rental clubs.
Cabo San Lucas
Cabo San Lucas Country Club. This 18-hole course, designed by Pete Dye's late brother Roy, has lots of length along with seven lakes. It has smallish greens for the approaches, which makes for a real challenge. Routed through avenues of blanco trees, cardon cacti, and bougainvillea, its primary attraction may be the views, which include the famed landmark "the Arch at Land's End." It's the golf course that's most convenient to downtown. Unfortunately it's also adjacent to a sewage treatment plant so the smell can be very unpleasant at times. The conditioning is also spotty at best. Hwy. 1, Km 3.7, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, 23410. 624/143-4653 or 888/239-7951. www.cabosanlucascountryclub.com. 18 holes. Par 72, 7,220 yards. Slope rating 75.4/138, Greens fee: $99-$150. U.S. currency not accepted, but credit cards are. Facilities: Pro shop, practice range, putting green, golf carts, rental clubs, bar, snack bar.
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