12 Absolute Must-Play Resort Courses in Mexico

With more than 160 courses, some that embrace mountain and jungle settings, others that take in ocean and desert landscapes, golf in Mexico is all about variety. What the majority of the country’s greatest courses share, however, is their accessibility to resort guests. Not every top Mexican course is open to outside play, but many are.

Here are Mexico’s 12 absolute must-play resort courses.

Diamante (Dunes)—Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur

Davis Love III and Paul Cowley crafted a one-of-a-kind seaside gem in 2009 that is universally ranked as Mexico’s top course and among the world’s top 100. Gigantic dunes cocoon half the holes, while others enjoy Pacific Ocean panoramas. Memorable holes spice up the play, notably the 2nd, 4th, 12th, and 18th, which feature approach shots that must scale massive dune ridges. Though technically a private club, its accommodations are often available on a rental basis, which provide access to the golf.

Quivira—Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur

Cabo’s ultimate dazzler is the Jack Nicklaus-designed Quivira, high atop the edge of the Pacific. Ranked by one authority as among the world’s Top 100 courses, Quivira features cliff-top holes that straddle rock-encrusted dune ridges which leave you dizzy—and that’s just from the cart ride. The 6th and 13th holes, both par threes, stagger the senses. If you’re prone to vertigo, tee it up elsewhere. To play Quivira, you must be a resident or a guest at one of the Pueblo Bonito Resorts in Los Cabos.

Punta Mita (Pacifico)—Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco (Riviera Nayarit)

The elder of the two Jack Nicklaus-designed siblings dates to 1999 and is justifiably famous for its alternate, island-green, par-three 3rd hole. Known as 3B, it’s called “Tail of the Whale” due to its distinctive shape. When the ocean surf rolls in, an amphibious vehicle ushers you to the green. Typical of a Nicklaus coastal course, the other holes are strong and scenic as well. The on-site Four Seasons Resort complements the courses perfectly.

Solmar Golf Links—Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur

Known until recently as Rancho San Lucas, this 2019 design is a unique layout no matter what it’s called. The rollicking, lay-of-the-land journey is characterized by glorious Pacific Ocean vistas, desert accents, prominent dunes, and a plethora of ground game options. One hole where an aerial approach is required is the par-three 17th, which plays to Cabo’s only island green. Solmar Hotels & Resorts guests have priority tee times, though currently all outside play is welcome.

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Solmar Golf Links, 17th hole (photo by Brian Oar)

TPC Danzante Bay—Loreto, Baja Sur

Located at Loreto’s Villa del Palmar Resort on the eastern coast of Baja California, Rees Jones’s first original design in Mexico sports dunes, desert, canyons, sea views, and massive mountains that cloak the layout “like we’re in Colorado,” says Jones. Variety and playability go hand-in-glove with the overwhelming aesthetics, yet one hole alone makes the trip worthwhile, the 178-yard, par-three 17th. Sitting 250 feet above the Sea of Cortez, the hole plunges downhill 60 feet from tee to green. “It’s the most spectacular natural hole I’ve ever designed,” Jones says.

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TPC Danzante Bay, 17th hole (photo by L.C. Lambrecht)

El Camaleon Golf Course at Mayakoba—Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo

This distinctive Greg Norman design has played host to the PGA Tour since 2007 and past champions include Fred Funk, Graeme McDowell, and two-time defending champ Viktor Hovland. Situated 45 minutes south of the Cancun Airport, El Camaleon impresses with limestone-lined canals that bisect the fairways, jungle-like mangrove swamps, natural underwater caves (called “cenotes”), and two par-threes that edge the Caribbean Sea. Hotels within the development include a Fairmont, a Banyan Tree, a Rosewood, and an Andaz.

Twin Dolphin—Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur

Conveniently situated midway between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, Twin Dolphin is named nostalgically for a revered beachfront hotel that existed on the site from 1977–2006. The four-year-old, 7,156-yard course honors its namesake beautifully. Fred Couples collaborated with Todd Eckenrode of Origins Golf Design to create a low-profile layout that melds seamlessly to the natural rolling terrain. It’s a true hillside desert course, framed by cactus and other spiny trees and shrubs, studded with strategically placed bunkers, slashed by desert washes, and backdropped by rock outcroppings and long view ocean panoramas. The exclusive private club is accessible via a stay at the Montage Residences or Montage Los Cabos hotel.

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Twin Dolphin (photo by Evan Schiller)

Vista Vallarta (Nicklaus)—Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco

Phil Mickelson and David Toms teamed to lead the U.S. at the 2002 World Cup contested over this handsome Jack Nicklaus design, but were edged by Japan, despite Lefty’s third-round 62. The layout traverses high ground in the foothills of the Sierra Madres, and affords handsome views of Puerto Vallarta and the Bay of Banderas. Giant Ficus trees, mature palms, arroyos, and creeks further distinguish the course, which is located on an upcountry site, 15 minutes from the hotel zone.

Vidanta Puerto Penasco (Nicklaus)—Puerto Penasco, Sonora

Created by Jack Nicklaus and Jack Nicklaus II in 2006, the Vidanta Puerto Penasco is located 60 miles south of the Arizona border in the town the gringos call, “Rocky Point.” Home to the Mayan Palace Resort, the golf course stretches 7,210 yards in a spectacular setting, as it resides on a peninsula bracketed by a tidal estuary and the Sea of Cortez. Of the layout’s nine seaside holes, the standout is the par-three 6th, which features a tidal lake and a quartet of bunkers ringing the putting surface.

Diamante (El Cardonal)—Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur

Tiger Woods’s first completed course design (in 2014) utilizes the rolling, arroyo-laced terrain to maximum effect, with uphill holes backdropped by mountains and stately Cardon cacti and downhill holes looking at the sea. Influenced by the “Old California” design style, El Cardonal’s bunkering is big and bold, but in homage to the Old Course at St. Andrews and Pinehurst No. 2, Woods built in ways to avoid them, providing for run-up options into almost every green.

Chileno Bay, Los Cabos, Baja Sur

Located midway between San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, this 2009 Tom Fazio creation didn’t actually open until 2013 due to the challenging economy. The course tumbles through desert-laced hills and canyons and affords Sea of Cortez views at every turn. The par fives are noteworthy for their rugged, risk/reward shot values. Since 2017, guests of the Chileno Bay Resort and Residences, part of the exclusive Auberge Resorts collection, can tee it up at this otherwise private club.
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Chileno Bay (photo courtesy Chileno Bay Club Golf Course)

Puerto Los Cabos—San Jose del Cabo, Baja Sur

The closest championship layout you can play near the charming town of San Jose del Cabo is the 27-hole Puerto Los Cabos. A Jack Nicklaus nine and a Greg Norman nine debuted in 2010; Nicklaus added a third nine in 2017. The old Nicklaus nine forms the back nine of the completed Nicklaus course and it eases past the Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf & Spa Resort. It also touches the sea at the par-three 15th, its green nestled into the dunes. The Norman nine soars at the par-four 5th, its elevated green backdropped by the Sea of Cortez, followed by a 10-story downhill plunge at the par-three 6th.

What is your favorite golf course in Mexico?

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