In less than three decades, Los Cabos has become one of the most popular golf tourism destinations in Mexico, attracting hundreds of thousands of golfers from all over the world, especially from the United States. Nestled in the extreme south of the Baja California peninsula, in the north-west of the country, Los Cabos is one of Mexico’s key destinations with the greatest development and tourist potential, thanks in large part to its top-quality golf courses.
With such greats as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Greg Norman, Tom Weiskopf, Pete Dye, Davis Love and Robert Trent Jones Jr designing championship golf courses, it is no surprise why this sport has grown so much in the state of Baja California Sur, whose attractions include exceptional landscapes and a particularly mild climate for golf. Los Cabos has also been the scene of the Senior PGA Grand Slam since 1995, attracting top players including Raymond Floyd, Dave Stockman and Hale Irwin.
The existence of more than a dozen golf courses of the highest category might sound slightly intimidating, but nothing is further from reality: playing all of them is an enriching and almost always fun experience. Experienced golfers will face various challenges, while less experienced players will be rewarded with a good day of golf and incredible scenery.
A comparable land landscape can be found, for example, in Arizona, but what makes golf different in Los Cabos is the Cortéz Sea and Pacific Ocean on the horizon. There is nothing comparable to striking a ball on a golf course designed by a golf legend while enjoying watching a whale emerge in the distance. This scene is repeated more frequently than players would imagine, especially from December to April.
The average price of playing at a leading Los Cabos course that admits visitors is around $250, with discounted rates starting at two in the afternoon.
And what is even better, visitors have golf at their disposal almost 365 days a year, because it rarely rains in Los Cabos, a tourist destination that receives about three million tourists annually. Those who have a second residence in the area include such celebrities as Leonardo di Caprio and George Clooney.
Los Cabos is located on the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, west of the rest of the Mexican republic. The geographical region is a dynamic mix of desert landscapes, beaches and mountainous areas. "El Arco" is the most prominent geographical point and is located where the Cortéz Sea meets the Pacific Ocean.
Three Main Areas
Los Cabos is made up of three main areas. To the east is the peaceful San Jose del Cabo, which maintains the appearance and air of an authentic Mexican town, and has a pleasant art district in the historic centre and a new marina in the Puerto Los Cabos area.
Connecting San José del Cabo with Cabo San Lucas is the “Tourist Corridor”, a 33-kilometre four-lane highway surrounded by stunning views of the desert and the Cortéz Sea coast. It is along this coastal strip where luxury resorts and world-class golf courses are located.
Here, for example, is Palmilla Resort, the pioneer hotel in Los Cabos (1956), where celebrities such as John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Bing Crosby, Lucille Ball and Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed. Los Cabos soon became one of the favourite choices of celebrities due to the beautiful beaches, luxury and privacy of the resorts, allowing them to feel disconnected from the world. On the other hand, the Tourist Corridor is considered a paradise for golfers, with seven superb courses created by some of the best designers in the world. The pioneering course in Los Cabos, Palmilla Golf Club, by Jack Nicklaus, opened in 1992.
The Tourist Corridor connects the west end with the attractive Cabo San Lucas. With lively bars and elegant shopping centres near the marina, Cabo San Lucas is known worldwide for its pleasant bay where you can enjoy all kinds of water activities.
Following is a comprehensive directory of golf courses available in the area, ordered from Cabo San Lucas to San José del Cabo along the Trans-Peninsular Highway (Tourist Corridor).
Cabo San Lucas Country Club
Cabo San Lucas Country Club, on a 745-hectare plot, is one one of designer Roy Dye’s masterpieces. The resort is less than a mile from Cabo San Lucas. It is the only golf course in the area with views of the famous Cabo Arch, an interesting rock formation that marks the union of the Cortéz Sea with the Pacific Ocean. The course is located on a slope of land facing the Cortéz Sea, with stunning views of Finisterra and San Lucas Bay from each hole, and it offers options for players of all levels. At 540 metres, the seventh hole is the longest in all of Mexico. The par-72 layout measures 7,220 yards, and the resort facilities include a modern practice centre and one of the best clubhouses in Los Cabos.
Cabo del Sol
Located about 14 kilometres from Cabo San Lucas, in the Tourist Corridor, Cabo del Sol is the jewel in the crown of Koll Partners’ Cabo del Sol Resort. It is one of the best courses in Los Cabos and Golf Digest magazine rated it as one of the 10 best courses in the world. The complex offers two 18-hole courses.
The first is the Ocean Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, which extends more than a mile along the coast between areas of steep rocks and sunny beaches. Nicklaus says of it that it has the "best three final holes in the world of golf". The fifth and signature 17th are classified, according to Golf Magazine (January 2000), among the 500 best holes in the world. In 2013, Golf Magazine ranked it 97th among the 100 best golf courses in the world.
The Desert Course is a masterful design by Tom Weiskopf, with 180-degree views of the sea from almost every hole, and it offers stunning views of the Cortéz Sea from its 18 holes, which have been sculpted into the natural environment. It was opened in December 2001.
The design of the course, extending 7,100 metres, takes advantage of the natural courses of the rivers, and includes subtle changes of elevation and prodigious bunkers.
Cabo Real Golf Club
Cabo Real Golf Club presents different landscapes of cactus, desert, bermuda grass and sea views. This par-72 extends over more than 7,000 metres. The first six holes run on somewhat mountainous terrain, while the others are along the beach and the coast.
Some of the challenges have been carved into two canyons surrounded by trees, cacti and impressive rock formations that will leave players breathless on each tee. Undoubtedly, one of the best golf courses in Mexico.
Built and designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr in 1993, with three holes facing the sea, it has hosted two Senior PGA Grand Slam events and other prestigious tournaments. The first nine holes are considered the most difficult in Los Cabos.
Its three spectacular holes facing the sea put Cabo Real on the world map of golf in 1996, when several whales offered a spectacular show, jumping a few meters from the coast during the Senior Slam tournament. For a long time it has been considered a favourite for many professionals, with Jack Nicklaus one star who plays there occasionally.
The course is also known as the “Pebble Beach of Mexico”.
El Dorado Golf and Beach Club
El Dorado is another impressive course designed by Jack Nicklaus, who spent many hours walking along the coast, hills and canyons of the area to create this layout that blends with the surroundings, enhancing the beauty of the original landscape. This impressive course, not open to the public, has several holes on the seashore and more than a mile of coastline.
Palmilla Golf Club
"It's one of the most spectacular golf courses I've seen," said its designer Jack Nicklaus, about his “baby”, opened in 1992. Palmilla Golf is a 27-hole par-72 championship course in all permutations of its three nine-hole layouts.
Now known as One & Only Palmilla, it is the area’s classic resort, the one that started it all, with the golf course adding diversity and colour to this already superb tourist area in the Los Cabos Corridor.
Majestic desert terrain with breathtaking views inspired Nicklaus to create one of the most spectacular courses in the world.
The 27-hole One & Only Palmilla course is divided into three magnificent layouts, each of which offers an original and exceptional landscape. The options are the Mountain Nine, the Ocean Nine and the Nine Stream, and none of the three should be missed. Each hole offers stunning views of the Cortéz Sea in the distance. The most recent is the Ocean course, and Nicklaus recalls that it was like designing a mountain golf course along the seashore. He highlights the fifth of the Mountain layout, considering it the best in Palmilla, with a high tee and a shot to an island fairway.
Querencia Golf Club
Listed as the best golf course in Mexico by Golf Week Magazine in 2010, Querencia offers 18 holes surrounded by cactus and palm trees, and impressive visas to the sea. Tom Fazio's first project in Mexico is a real gem, a celebration of nature in a relaxed and private club atmosphere.
Country Club San José
Opened in 2007, this creation by Nicklaus Design offers beautiful greens in undulating hills that are part of the mountains of Sierra de La Laguna. Each hole on the course offers beautiful panoramic views. There are elevation variations and the undulating championship greens also make it a challenge for experienced golfers. The numerous bunkers test the skills of any golfer. The seventh hole offers a fabulous view that emphasises the stunning contrast of desert and sea.
Punta Sur Golf Course Los Cabos
This nine-hole par-35 course located in San José del Cabo is more difficult than many would think at first sight. It has views of the sea, numerous bunkers and lakes, and is surrounded by one of the most peaceful spots in the entire area. This course was originally built by the Mexican government and then sold to a private investment group in 2004.
Puerto Los Cabos Golf Club
Puerto Los Cabos has a 27-hole course. With 18 holes recently completed by Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf (Marina Course) and an additional nine holes by Greg Norman Signature Golf (Mission Course), this club offers one of the most exclusive golf experiences.
The three nine-hole combinable layouts are championship designs, located on Cortéz Sea and engraved in the desert hills - with a backdrop of the Sierra de la Laguna mountains. The views from this course are incomparable, with a rare combination of desert and coast.
Diamond Cabo San Lucas
On the shores of one of the most beautiful beaches on the Pacific Ocean American continent coastline, Cabo San Lucas Diamond resort has two spectacular 18-hole courses: the Dunes Course, a Davis Love III design, and El Cardonal, the work of Tiger Woods - in fact, his first golf course design. The Dunes Course is reminiscent of Scottish links and has been one of the most highly awarded in Mexico, having been ranked 36th in the world top 100 by Golf Magazine. For its part, El Cardonal recalls the classic courses of Florida, where Tiger grew up playing golf.
Twin Dolphin Golf Club
The most recent addition to the Los Cabos golfing family is Twin Dolphin Golf Club, designed by Todd Eckenrode and Fred Couples. The course, a par-72 of 6,400 metres, overlooking the sea from most of its holes, is located within Twin Dolphin, a 500-hectare-plus urbanisation.