ORLANDO, Florida – Golfweek’s Ultimate Guide to Great Escapes has been released, and once again Los Cabos excels on the magazine’s roster of the Top Caribbean, Mexico and Central American courses. Thirteen golf facilities in Los Cabos, the dazzling Land End’s destination at the top of the Baja Peninsula, appear on the list, with three venues in the Top 10 and seven in the Top 20. In addition, Baja Resort & Spa in nearby La Paz, the capital of Baja California Sur, was voted to the list.
According to the publication, “Rater scores based on 10 criteria are averaged to identify the best courses for 2021.” Golfweek’s rankings are further proof that Los Cabos has established itself as ‘the unrivaled Golf Capital of Latin America.’ No other destination boasts as many courses on the elite list.
In addition to its world-class golf, Los Cabos brought 2020 to a close with a nearly 80% recovery of all travel activity due to its swift response to control the spread of covid-19. As part of Los Cabos with Care–A Safer Way to Get Away system, strict safety guidelines and health protocols are in place at all courses, hotels, restaurants and activity centers to ensure the well-being of all travelers visiting Los Cabos.
Commanding the #1 position in the rating is the Dunes Course at Diamante, the flagship of the 1,500-acre private resort community on the west coast. Opened in 2009, the Dunes is a 7,022-yard behemoth carved by Davis Love III into massive rolling dunes set back from the Pacific Ocean. This windswept, topsy-turvy links offers great diversity and spectacular views and rambles past huge blowout bunkers and tufted sandhills on its journey to and from the sea. Among the many featured holes is the 590-yard, par 5 finishing hole, which offers multiple landing areas and plays to a shelf-like green perched 50 feet above the fairway. Guests of the Nobu and Hard Rock Hotels have exclusive access to the course.
Ranked #4 and formerly known as the Ocean Course, Cabo del Sol’s Cove Club is the epic layout that put Los Cabos on the international golf map when it opened in 1994. Intent on producing the ‘Pebble Beach of the Baja’ on what he described as “the best piece of golf property I’ve seen,” designer Jack Nicklaus charted grand scale holes across gently sloping terrain to create a handful of new holes at the renamed and now private Cove Club. The revised layout, which brings players to the sea on both nines, has upgraded playing surfaces, restyled bunkers and new landscaping.
Chileno Bay at #10 is a splendid Tom Fazio designed masterpiece marked by graceful, flowing landforms intended to simulate rolling ocean waves, benefitted by a makeover by Discovery Land Company that introduced colorful vegetation and bright white sand in its formal bunkers. The immaculately-groomed course, framed by desert foothills and interlaced with sandy arroyos, features interior mountain vistas and a sea view from every hole. The back nine builds to a crescendo at the par 4, 18th which tumbles downhill to an infinity-edged green. The otherwise private club is accessible to guests of Chileno Bay Resort & Residences.
Rancho San Lucas, the Greg Norman-designed golf course that plays nip and tuck with the Pacific Ocean, makes an auspicious debut on Golfweek’s list at #12. Unveiled in 2020, the layout spans three different ecosystems, rambling through huge windswept dunes at the start, climbing through a thick cactus forest creased by arroyos, and returning to the beach on the back nine. Known for his ‘least disturbance approach, Norman kept earthmoving to a minimum to retain the site’s contours. Forty steep-walled pot bunkers constructed from recycled artificial turf dot the links-style course. Rancho San Lucas is a private club with access available to guests of Solmar Group hotels, including the on-site Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas.
Tied with Rancho San Lucas at #12 is Querencia, a marvelous Tom Fazio creation and the centerpiece of a private 1,800-acre golf community set in the rugged desert foothills high above the Sea of Cortes. Loosely translated as ‘sanctuary’, Querencia, known for its slick multi-tiered greens, takes players on a roller-coaster ride across steep hills and bluffs, with several holes set along the edges of deep canyons and rocky arroyos. Fazio’s attention to detail is evident at every turn, with palm trees and lush vegetation artfully blended with the native desert border. Broad contoured fairways and harmonious transitions mark this challenging yet playable course.
The prime amenity at the 1,400-acre master-planned community Twin Dolphin, #15, occupies a superb location along the corridor linking the town of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Opened in 2018, the golf course, built by Fred Couples and Todd Eckenrode of Origins Golf Design, sprawls across a broad sloping plateau bisected by three major arroyos. Perched 180 meters above sea level and known for its fast-running fairways, dramatic rock outcroppings and stark mountain backdrop, the layout features a sweeping ocean view from every hole. Twin Dolphin is a private club accessible to guests of Montage Los Cabos, a resort hotel on Santa Maria Bay, and the Montage Residences. I had the opportunity to meet with Freddie and Todd at Twin Dolphin 2 years ago where Fred owns a home.
Originally built as a resort course in 1999, El Dorado Golf & Beach Club comes in at #16 and is now a private resort community under the aegis of Discovery land Co. The Jack Nicklaus designed layout, featuring rolling saddled fairways, huge bunker complexes, and picturesque greens meanders through a pair of stark canyons divided by a rocky hill. Bristling desert vegetation, dramatic rock formations and four interior lakes flank the fairways, with water in play on several holes. El Dorado’s signature hole is the short par 3 16th, its pledged green set directly above the beach and swept by onshore sea breezes.
Wait! There is more: In the top 50 there is El Cardinal at Diamante(#24), Quivera(#25), Cabo del Sol-Desert(#29), Cabo Real(#37), Costa Palmas(#39), and Puerto Los Cabos-Norman/Nicklaus(#41). Costa Baja Resort & Spa-El Cortes in La Paz is ranked(#43).
Situated at the tip of the 1,000-mile-long Baja Peninsula, Los Cabos is home to award-winning hotels, resorts, championship golf courses, rejuvenating spas and world-class sport fishing. With a unique landscape of dramatic desert and dazzling beaches, Los Cabos is an exotic escape within reach of most U.S. and Canadian cities.