Los Cabos has become the golf capital of Mexico. The master plan for Los Cabos golf calls for a future total of 207 holes. Fees listed below are for 18 holes, including golf cart, water, club service, and tax. Summer rates are about 25% lower, and many hotels offer golf packages.
The 27-hole course at the Palmilla Golf Club (tel. 624/144-5250; www.palmillagc.com; daily 7am-7pm) was the first Jack Nicklaus Signature layout in Mexico, on 360 hectares (900 acres) of dramatic oceanfront desert. The course offers your choice of two back-9 options, with high-season greens fees of $220 (lower after 1pm), and low-season greens fees running between $130 and $180. Guests at some hotels pay discounted rates.
Just a few kilometers away is another Jack Nicklaus Signature course, the 18-hole Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol, the posh resort development in the Corridor (tel. 866/231-4677 in the U.S., or 624/145-8200; www.cabodelsol.com). Golf Magazine has ranked this course among the world's best. The 7,100-yard Ocean Course is known for its challenging 3 finishing holes; greens fees start at $205 afternoons and range to $355 in the morning. Tom Weiskopf designed the new 18-hole Desert Course, for which greens fees are $99 in the afternoon, $225 in the morning.
The 18-hole, 6,945-yard course at Cabo Real, by the Meliá Cabo Real Hotel in the Corridor (tel. 877/795-8727 in the U.S., or 624/173-9400; www.caboreal.com; daily 6:30am-6pm), was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., and features holes that sit high on mesas overlooking the Sea of Cortez. Fees run $280 for 18 holes high season, $180 in low season. After 3pm, rates drop to $140 in the low season and $180 in the high season. Kids 16 and under play for $92 year-round.
The consensus among avid golfers is that two of the area's best courses are the Fazio-designed Querencia and the recently reopened El Dorado, a Jack Nicklaus design. However, both courses are private and open only to Querencia and El Dorado members and homeowners. As Los Cabos becomes increasingly exclusive, and as more luxury travelers look to own a piece of it, expect to see more private members-only golf clubs within opulent master-planned residential communities. In fact, the trend already is well underway within the new communities of Chileno Bay, Puerto Los Cabos, Cabo Pacífica, and El Dorado.
The Lowdown on golf in Cabo
Los Cabos, one of the world's finest golf destinations, offers an ample and intriguing variety of courses to challenge golfers of all levels.
The reason so many choose to play here is not just the selection, quality, and beauty of the courses, but the reliable weather. The courses highlighted below compare to the great ones in Palm Springs and Scottsdale, with the added beauty of ocean views and a wider variety of desert cacti and flowering plants.
Course fees are high in Cabo -- generally more than $200 per round. But these world-class courses are worth the world-class price. Courses generally offer 20% to 30% off rates if you play after 2 or 2:30pm. This can be a great time because play is generally faster.
The golf offerings in Los Cabos have continued to expand; an untold number of courses are in various phases of construction. At Puerto Los Cabos, a relatively new mega-development northeast of San José del Cabo, two 18-hole courses have recently opened: the public course designed by Jack Nicklaus and a private course by Greg Norman. Club Campestre, in the heart of San José, will have an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus course. The Chileno Bay Project, in the center of the Corridor, has set aside 4km (2 1/2 miles) of coastline for luxury-home sites and two championship courses by Tom Fazio. At the other end of the peninsula, near Cabo San Lucas on the Pacific side, the Quivira Los Cabos development will soon be launching two more championship courses designed by Jack Nicklaus.
The area's premier courses open to the public are listed below in order of location, from north to south.
Palmilla Golf Club
The original Cabo course is now a 27-hole layout. The original 18 holes are known as the Arroyo; the newest holes are the Ocean 9. It's a bit of a misnomer -- although the newer holes lie closer to the water, only one has a true ocean view, with spectacular play directly down to the beach. You must play the Arroyo for your first 9 holes and then choose between Mountain and Ocean for your back 9. If you play this course only once, choose the Mountain, which offers better ocean views. The signature hole is the Mountain 5; you hit over a canyon, and then down to the green below over a forced carry. The 14th hole here is considered one of the world's most beautiful golf holes, a forced carry from the hillside tee boxes to an island. From there, players line up on a green set on the side of a steep arroyo. The hole opens up to spectacular vistas and seems a lot longer than it plays. This is target golf, on a Jack Nicklaus course that was constructed with strategy in mind. A mountaintop clubhouse provides spectacular views. Although it is currently a semiprivate club, most Corridor hotels have membership benefits.
Cabo del Sol
The Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol was the second Jack Nicklaus course constructed in Los Cabos. It is much more difficult than the Palmilla course, with less room for error.
Don't be fooled by the wide, welcoming 1st hole. This is challenging target golf, with numerous forced carries -- even from the red tees. Seven holes are along the water. At the par-3 signature 17th hole, the golfer is faced with a 178-yard shot over sandy beach and rocky outcroppings to a tiny green framed by bunkers on one side and a drop to the ocean on the other. The finishing hole, guarded by desert and cactus on the right and rock cliffs leading to the sea on the left, is modeled after the 18th at Pebble Beach.
Cabo del Sol offers another option, the Desert Course, which is Tom Weiskopf's first course design in Mexico. It is spread out over 56 hectares (140 acres) of gently rolling desert terrain and provides sweeping ocean views.
This Robert Trent Jones, Jr., design is known for its holes along the Sea of Cortez; exceptional among these is the frequently photographed 12th hole, which sits high on a mesa facing the sea. Jones designed the course to test low handicappers, but multiple tees make it enjoyable for average players as well. While the first 6 holes are in mountainous terrain, others skirt the shore. Rolling greens and strategically placed bunkers on narrow terrain work their way up to the 6th tee, 138m (460 ft.) above sea level. The most celebrated holes, the 15th and 16th, sit right on the beach between the Meliá Cabo Real Golf & Beach Resort and Las Ventanas al Paraíso.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.