Marlin fishing first put Los Cabos on the map but today it’s better know as Mexico’s premier golfing destination and the country’s finest course is set most dramatically on the southernmost tip of the craggy Baja California peninsula alongside the sparkling Sea of Cortés.
Cabo del Sol is an intoxicating mixture of seaside and desert golf. It’s a dream location for a golf course and the design responsibility fell to Jack Nicklaus. The Ocean course opened for play in 1994. “The best piece of golf property in the world” was how Jack described Cabo del Sol and the Ocean course is a Jack Nicklaus “signature” layout and perhaps it’s his finest creation after the fabulous Muirfield Village in Ohio. The finest element of this course is that it is not obviously a Nicklaus layout. The course flows gracefully, following the natural curvature of the land.
The Ocean course is also routed intelligently in two nine-hole loops with the sea in play on a number of holes holes. It’s a nicely balanced layout and, in typical Nicklaus fashion, there are some strong par fives which will tempt the big hitters to have a go in two.
The Ocean course at Cabo del Sol was a great layout from its inception but it was given a facelift in 2002 by the Golden Bear garnering the accolade "The Pebble Beach of Baja”.
In December 2019 a reincarnation of the Ocean course emerged as the re-branded Cove Club following extensive renovations by Nicklaus Design. The work included routing changes, a handful of new holes and restyled bunkers.
“We were given the challenge to redesign the golf course to meet their needs, but at the same time maintain the global status the Ocean course has enjoyed for over 25 years,” said Jack Nicklaus. “The developers needed to take a couple of holes off the ocean, and my responsibility was to preserve the quality of the golf course. I think we have done that in a very satisfactory way. We still have great ocean views, and we still have four holes on the ocean.”
The Cove Club opened for unaccompanied play but it will close for green fee paying visitors at a future date and reopen as a private club. It remains to be seen whether the abbreviated Ocean course can realistically hold on to its global status.
Jack Nicklaus designed Cabo de Sol's Ocean Course which opened in 1994 as part of a significant development on the Baja Peninsula near Cabo San Lucas. The project included hotels, and real estate- as well as eventually two quality golf courses with Tom Weiskopf's Desert Course opening in 2001.
Nicklaus has used the natural terrain very well on the Ocean Course, and the result may well be my favourite Jack course anywhere- other than Muirfield Village.
I certainly thought that the course fitted the land very well and offered plenty of variety- not as stereotyped as some of his other courses. The Ocean Course front nine starts and ends with two good solid resort type golf holes in desert settings at holes 1 & 9. But other than that the variety of holes and settings constantly exceeds expectations!
There are some ripping short par 4's- which I always like. They demand a decision from the tee- and it is a multiple choice question! Holes 3 and 11 are the holes I refer to and they are beauties...
There are some beautifully strategic par 5’s - holes 4, 12 & 15 There are some magnificent ocean front holes- 5, 6, 7, 16, 17 & 18 There are back to back par 3’ s on the ocean- holes 6 & 7 are a delight! The par 3 13th is a strong hole. The par 3 17th hole is world famous- its’a fantastic golf hole! And hole 18 is one of the great finishing holes in golf with ocean in play all the way…
I loved the Ocean Course- it was strategic, varied, at times dramatic, and always kept your interest.
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
It's important to point out that the renowned Ocean Course is no longer in existence -- replaced with a major modification and now called the Cove Club. The Jack Nicklaus team did the updated work.
Clearly, I was a big time fan of the original Ocean Course (see me review posted) and I have opined it was the finest in the Cabo area -- notwithstanding the latest addition to the golf scene although I am quick to state I have not played the new Greg Norman layout at Rancho San Lucas.
From what I can glean the former par-3 17th and par-4 18th were eliminated because of a need from the resort to use those locations for real estate development. Those who weigh in about the facility need to do with respect to what is now a new product. One which will ultimately become a private club.
I played the Ocean course at Cabo del Sol twice, once with a friend at 6340 yards and then again from 6815 yards. The second round I was a single and stood on the 7110 tees on each hole to get a feel for those tees and sometimes to wait for the groundskeeping crews to clear as I was first off in the morning.
I played here in February, 2018 and the putt on 18 on the second round completed a “bucket list” goal for me as I finished playing on every calendar day of the year at least once in my life. I did not experience slow play on the first round and obviously not on the second round where I took my time to study the course a bit more.
I regret not going on to play the Weiskopf course as I was told it was pretty good. I was left with a typical lament; “so much golf, so little time.”
A lot of people are very negative with regards to a golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus. Yet I feel I have played several good ones such as Mayacama, Kinloch in New Zealand, Muirfield Village, Pronghorn, Desert Highlands, Old Corkscrew, The Challenge at Manalee, Shoal Creek, The Concession, The Bear’s Club, and Cabo Del Sol Ocean. Yes, Mr. Nicklaus or his “team” designed some courses I do not care for such as Applecross in Pennsylvania, Quivira, Hanbury Manor, Harbor Shores, etc. In a sense, one could argue Jack Nicklaus is the “modern” version of Donald Ross, although perhaps with not as many great courses. Both are prolific designers and both are good at creating risk:reward golf holes with interesting green complexes. However, generally I believe Donald Ross, like many of the architects of golf’s golden age, got better land to build on. The other difference is that many of the Nicklaus designs were built to sell housing developments, and sometimes when playing them one can see how the land was a bit cramped or how there was much better land nearby but was reserved for housing. Mr. Nicklaus moves land and some of his holes can feel contrived. His golf courses rarely feel “natural” given the housing/condominiums/resort hotels surrounding them. Even Muirfield Village, generally acknowledged as his greatest design, is diminished by the many holes that parallel housing. Kinloch is an exception. That is not his fault and we should not hold it against him. Harbor Shores was built for a civic purpose, to reclaim hazardous and abandoned waste sites and to provide charity income to the local First Tee and Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor, a small town that had fallen into serious decline and poverty. Mr. Nicklaus partnered with the CEO at the time (Jeff Fettig) of Whirlpool to build this course which is unwalkable and feels like it is in 4-5 different courses. I applaud both of their efforts.
So now to the golf course itself. As of writing this I have played 706 different golf courses, many of them on a “top” list at one time or another. The Ocean course at Cabo del Sol has appeared on Golf Magazine’s Top 100 in the World many times. I do not put it in that high of a category. On my personal rating system, it is #214 with high marks for playability and the par 4’s. On my 13 criteria it receives above average marks, but I do not find many things to be superlative about the course. What I did like about the golf course is that you feel like you are playing in the desert with the exception of 17/18. Three other holes are on the water but not as good. I like desert courses because it is different for me versus a parkland course, a heathland course, or a links course. But I generally don’t rate the surroundings unless they are an integral part of the golf course.
It is a really fun course to play although high handicappers would really struggle here and possibly not enjoy it because several holes are difficult. Difficult holes for high handicappers are often the source of slow play much like the fourteenth hole at Streamsong Black. I thought the two par 3’s on the front as well as the par 5’s were a bit too easy and not very strategic. The back nine is stronger than the front nine. For me the better holes are 2, 5, 6, 10, 11, 13, and 14. 17 and 18 are very good. On many holes the fairways are wide and too generous. On other fairways I thought they were a little too tight and ruled out options.
The first hole is a fairly easy par 4 of 436/419 yards requiring the tee shot to get to the top of a slight ridge to see the hole that is slightly right. The green has a bunker front center and back center and is slightly raised with multiple tiers but there is a lot of room if you miss the green providing a very good chance of recovery.
Two is a par five of 574/558 yards with a dogleg left. You have to carry a lengthy wash area of stone. The hole has 10 bunkers to navigate with three greenside and two in front. For the second shot there is another wash area/bunker complex on the right side as well as trees on the right that will catch a ball trying to cut the dogleg. The green is slightly raised with some nice undulations with a bunker to the rear. You can miss behind the green but the slant of the grass makes the recovery chip a little tougher. The front middle bunker is to be avoided as it is reasonably deep.
The short par 4 of 327/320 comes next. The hole is bunkered left and right along the fairway but it is wide enough that they are easily avoided. The green has a swale on both sides with the right side bleeding into a bunker with a wash area behind it. The green is longer and narrower but pretty easy to hit given the length of the hole. The swale on the left could result in a ball making it all the way to the back left bunker set away from the green which would make for a difficult recovery shot. However, that swale left also rises in the middle sending a ball hit to far left likely back down to the bottom of the swale.
The second par five comes next at 555/542 yards. This is the first dogleg left with a very wide fairway. Only the longest hitters will go for the green in two as the green complex is separated with a wash/rock area of about 50 yards from the end of the fairway to the green. The green has three bunkers front and right and one bunker to the rear. Some people might love this hole but I found it to be lacking in danger due to the width of the fairway and the third shot is not that difficult.
The hardest hole on the front nine comes next, a longer par 4 of 490/469/447 so no matter whether you are playing black, gold or blue tees it is a long par 4. The fairway also feels very narrow from the tee even though there actually is adequate room in the fairway for all but the longest hitters. The tee shot requires a long carry to the left side of the fairway to clear a lengthy rock/wash area. But by going to the left, you lengthen the shot into the green which is raised with a severe run-off area both front and to the right. There is a bunker left of the green. In looking at the hole, it offers a lot of strategy for players of all abilities. It is a stellar hole.
Following this difficult hole are back-to-back par 3’s. The first is longer at 184/177 and the second is a short hole of 139/132. Both have views of the ocean with the first requiring hitting over a corner of the “bay” with a large bunker to the left side of the green. Should you go left of that bunker, there are sand and rocks awaiting on the left side of the green as the rocks spill down into the water. The right side has a bailout area. The green is placed sort of what you would expect from a “redan” hole and has a tier to it. It is one of the better greens. I liked the hole but felt it was not quite dramatic enough and wished the tee shot was from a point a little farther left. The second par 3 is right on the beach. You simply cannot miss to the left or you are in the rocks or down below on the beach. I suspect the hole is this length due to pace of play considerations, but for me it was too short for the dramatic setting.
I did not like the eighth hole, a par 4 of 450/418 yards that requires a tee shot over the wash area and then a second shot that seems even longer over a second wash area for the direct line to the green. The second waste area ends right at the green. This forces the weaker or shorter hitter to play out to the left which lengthens the hole to perhaps 485 yards. Well then, why not just design a par five here? For the longer hitter, the length is not quite long enough to challenge them on the straight line for those two required “carries.” There is a bailout area left of the green which is fronted by a bunker center and three bunkers back of the green. The green did have a nice slant to it, but I walked away from the hole feeling it was a missed opportunity despite a decent green
The ninth hole is standard, a par 4 of 469/450 yards with another long tee shot to carry a wash area of rocks/sand. There is a bunker right and a single bunker left of the green. The green is raised a bit on the left side and is tilted right to left.
After passing the halfway house for a lengthy drive to the tenth tee, there is a 436/404 yard par 4 waiting where the green sits on a bit of an island to the left with a wash area just in front of it. Your approach shot has to go over a wash area and there is a bunker fronting this green that is going away from you. Miss the green and you are in the sand and rocks. It is a well constructed hole.
The eleventh hole is a short par 4 of 352/344 yards with the green once again sitting to the left. The difference to the previous hole is that there is a bailout area left of this green with two bunkers left to either benefit those who don’t quite make the green or stop them from finding the rocks for those attempting to drive the green. There are two bunkers fronting the green. The fairway narrows and a shot that is hit too straight down the left side will also find the rocks/sand. For me as a medium length hitter I found the hole to not offer a decision for me. For longer hitters I wonder whether they felt frustrated by their option. This hole was straight forward for me but I liked the risk:reward element to it.
The twelfth hole is a par five of 515/500 yards that has a tee shot requiring a long carry over the sand/rock. The green is raised and surrounded by eight bunkers, six to the left and a fall-off behind the green. I found this to be the “easy” hole on the back nine.
The thirteenth is the longest par 3 on the golf course at 213/208 yards that plays slightly downhill to a green that looks like an island in the distance as it is green and no real bailout area. The tee shot is all carry to the green. Down below there is a small creek that can catch balls. The green is long and narrow with two bunkers left and the green slants right to left. It is a challenging golf hole.
Fourteen is a shorter par 4 of 366/351 yards, where the small creek from the previous hole comes into play twice. This is a downhill tee shot to a narrow fairway. Pull the tee shot left and you are in the creek, push it to the right and you are on a hill. The creek crosses before the green and runs along the right side. I found this hole to be both strategic and fun. You simply must pull the right club both times. There is a bail out area left of the green but getting up and down to recover par is not simple given the pitch of the green which sits at the bottom of the valley.
You come out of the valley to play a relatively flat final par 5 of 550/515 yards that is straight. There are bunkers right and two bunkers left to catch you on your tee shot or for a short hitter’s second if they go left. One of the bunkers on the left is more center of the fairway. The green has three bunkers beginning about 50 yards out on the right, one very large bunker left and two bunkers behind the green which is built at an right to left angle for the approach shot. It is a good green complex but I found the first two shots to be routine. This is a better hole for the longer hitter.
With the sixteenth you are returning to an ocean view, playing first uphill then downhill to the green. The tee shot requires another carry over the waste area and one must avoid by either clearing or going left of the two large bunkers on the right. The second shot plays downhill into the green. Perhaps the wind usually blows against you, but it did not for me even though I played the two rounds three days apart so I found trying to stop a ball on this green to be nearly impossible. There are three small bunkers right of the green and one behind the green. There is a bailout area left of the green due to the run-off from the green. While the green has a bit of an infinity look to it, I found the hole to be uninteresting due to the lack of bunkers on the left side of the fairway and a green that I thought was unfair for non-windy days.
The most famous hole at the Cabo Del Sol Ocean course is the seventeenth, a par 3 of 178/162 yards that plays over the bend in the water/beach. There is no meaningful bailout area short of the green, really only rocks and beach. The same goes for the right side of the green. If the wind is in your face you will likely end up on the beach. The green is tilted back to front. There are two bunkers right to try to save a weak fade shot into the green as well as a bunker left. The only acceptable “miss” is the front left and it is relatively small. It is a great all-or-nothing par 3 with outstanding views.
The final hole, a par 4 of 430/419 has the back tee playing right off the right back of the seventeenth green. It is a long carry over the beach with the fairway left of the ocean. A big hitter needs to hit the ball to a fairway that is slightly left, taking off as much of the beach as they dare. For the next set of tees, although only 11 yards ahead, there is a similar carry but not quite as visually daunting. From the blue tees it is 385 yards and plays as a straight hole. The beach line cuts into the fairway for the second shot although the fairway widens back as the green is situated as close as possible to the beach on the right. It is sort of a “fish hook” green. There is a bunker on the left well short of the green and two others on the left designed to capture the ball of someone who lacks courage to try to attack the pin or green. Getting up and down from these left bunkers is devilish as you are aiming right at the beach behind the green. The green itself is slanted back to front and slightly left to right. It is a fine finishing hole.
Five, seventeen and eighteen are outstanding golf holes. But does a golf course deserve to be in the top 100 due to three outstanding holes?
This is an excellent resort course, in a similar vein to Kauri Cliffs or Cape Kidnappers but without the difficulty and strategy those two courses have. If travelling to Cabo, one should definitely play it.
A scenic round of golf anchored by a brief trip to the ocean on back to back front side par 3's (6 and 7) and a return trip for a phenomenal 16-18 finish. This course was played pre the 2019 changes removing a lot of the ocean side holes.
This is the best course in Mexico. Better than Diamanté. Dare I say-I would put it on par with Pebble Beach. It combines elements of two of my favorite styles of golf. Desert courses and ocean courses. The holes that are alongside the ocean are the closest to the water of any I have played in at seaside course. At times I felt I should have been playing in my swimsuit. I am generally more a traditionalist when it comes to golf courses and not always a fan of Nicklaus’ work. Cabo Del Sol Ocean is a notable exception. This is an absolute must wait!
Even though the greens were still recovering from a punch a few weeks prior they still rolled pure and close to a 10. The course is beautiful with plenty of memorable holes. And once you have the street tacos on the turn you will never forget the place. If your in Cabo this is a must play
This course certainly has many "wow" holes along the ocean and is a stern test of golf elsewise as the amount of sand that flanks the fairways means that you are having a frustrating day by hole #6 if you're not hitting it in the correct places. Still I find it difficult that this course lands in the top 100 on some lists as it is a wonderful course but is overshadowed by Dunes at Diamante and Quivera (along with growing competition from the other new courses in the area). As has been mentioned pace of play can be a problem but it's not hard to admire the views as you wait. Worth playing but I'd play some other courses in the area if I have the access prior to returning.
One man is responsible for creating the growth for golf in the Cabo area and he just happens to be the game's greatest player -- Jack Nicklaus. In years past the Cabo area was where such Hollywood titans such as Bing Crosby and John Wayne, to name just two, would escape the glare of prying media eyes and head to Mexico for some serious world class fishing -- among other activities.
The golf side really took hold when Nicklaus created a series of clubs in the early 1990's. I have played nearly 100 of the Golden Bear's designs worldwide and can easily say that the Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol is easily among my personal top five and a very good case can be made that it's Jack's best effort.
Part of the success is clearly attributed to the sensational topography that lies at the core of Cabo. The juxtaposition between the Sea of Cortez, the desert, the nearby mountains and the verdant green areas that make up the layouts is truly an eyeful to absorb.
The Ocean Course earns its plaudits beyond the incredible finish at holes 16-18. It starts with a well thought out routing that takes you on a marvelous adventure and does so without the intrusion of real estate as has happened at other Cabo located courses.
The 1st is fairly straightforward and there's sufficient room to be found in the fairway but a series of bunkers on the right side must be avoided at all costs. Even when hitting the fairway Nicklaus mandates an aerial approach to avoid a foreboding frontal bunker. The 2nd through the 4th provide your best birdie opportunities as two par-5's are in the mix along with a short par-4 that tests you appetite for risk.
When you reach the world class part-4 5th the game is on. The 490-yard par-4 is played once you cross an interior roadway when completing the 4th. The solo back tee pad provides just enough room for a foursome to stand shoulder-to-shoulder. It's also angled a bit more to the right and you must a find fairway that slides more to the right the longer you hit the tee shot. Making matters more demanding is the gorgeous intersection with the Sea of Cortex in the nearby background.
Pull the tee shot and you are blocked from seeing the green. Push a bit too far and you'll be playing your approach from a desert wasteland. The green has no bunkers around it but there are fall-offs for shots that simply fail to find the mark.
As you make your way to the beach area Nicklaus smartly added back-to-back par-3's. The key in doing this was to have two clearly differentiated holes. To be fair -- the holes are not in the same league as what one sees at Cypress Point's 15th and 16th -- but they are a solid contrast. The 6th playing parallel to the Sea of Cortez and at 184 yards is subject to varying wind velocities. The 7th plays far shorter at just under 140 yards and plays away from the water to a smallish target protected by several bunkers.
Now after you have not played a driver for a bit of time you're forced to hit your very best at the uphill par-4 8th. The key is finding the island fairway which is engulfed by sand. There are internal bunkers within the grass area and they too must be avoided. In many ways the tee shot at the 8th reminded me of the target golf requirements you face at Pine Valley. The green is located on the far side and like so many of the Nicklaus greens is angled so your distance to the target must be calculated correctly. There's no doubt some will frankly detest the hole but often those doing so had best realize the strategic calculations that start at the tee. Playing the hole smartly is an absolute must because those doing otherwise will definitely feel some serious scorecard pain.
The long par-9th concludes the outward side and it plays uphill on the tee shot and downhill to the green. Nothing extraordinary but like many Nicklaus long par-4's nothing is given away.
The 10th on first glance appears benign but Nicklaus wisely tapers the fairway for those who wish to get as far down into the fairway as possible.
At the short par-4 11th you must decide how to play the split fairway. Go right and be safe -- go left for the green and it's the equivalent of landing a 747 on a community airport runway. The 12th reverses direction and once again you have a tapered fairway immediately after going past the right side bunkers. The par-5 is also well defended by a series of greenside bunkers. Getting home in two is doable but the reward is only provided for those who take on the considerable risk.
Among all the Nicklaus par-3's I've played the 13th at The Ocean Course is among the very best. The hole can usually play into the wind and the angle for the green -- plus its narrow waist landing area -- makes for the most exacting of shots. A frontal pin can be scary but a back left one is extremely brutal for the severity encountered. Walk off with a par here and you can certainly take a bow.
Nicklaus doesn't often get credit for his two-shot holes under 400 yards but the uphill 14th is a great change of pace hole. Just 366 yards you play to a separated fairway. The landing area is quite wide but the favored side is the left. A desert wash hugs that side and the approach is played to the far side to a second area of fairway grass with the green shaped like a "T."
At the par-5 15th and par-4 16th you work your way back to the beach area. The 15th provides a good birdie possibility but the key is the drive because several bunkers lurk -- especially one small pesky one that is located in the ideal position. The 16th is the quintessential Nicklaus hole -- for right hander's a slight fade works marvelously. But don't rest on your laurels because the approach is a target that appears smaller than it is.
When you reach the par-3 17th you are level with the Sea of Cortez. The 178-yard hole features a fairly large receptive green -- the key is focusing on the task at-hand because the distractions are certainly there.
The 18th at 430 yards is arguably the most demanding of tee shots on The Ocean Course. The championship tee is angled to the right located just behind the 17th green. The key is trusting your site line -- staying away from the right is a must but I have seen many a player attempt that line of play thinking a shorter and easier approach awaits. The likely outcome that way -- a major shipwreck to end the day. Actually, the smart play is to go as far left as the fairway allows -- this bolsters your success rate with a far easier angle into the green which is positioned alongside the beach area. If you should play the 18th with the pin cut in the deepest left corner be sure to simply aim for the center of the green unless your name happens to be Brooks Koepka or Justin Rose.
In assessing The Ocean Course one has to remember it's a resort and the range of players is far, far different than any private club -- such as what you find at nearby Querencia. One of the issues at The Ocean Course is the paralyzing slow play that routinely develops. If you are intent in playing be sure to grab the earliest of tee times.
Far too many golfers fail to heed the famed Clint Eastwood expression from one of his Dirty Harry movies -- "A man's got to know his limitations." Nicklaus did a superb job incorporating the natural washes inland and the flow of the holes and the different shot requirements that are tested provide for both an enjoyable and memorable round. There's plenty of other good golf in Cabo -- but there's just one Ocean Course.
M. James Ward
How good is Cabo del Sol Ocean? As good as you can ask and for sure top 5 in the Caribbean and well deserved Top 100 in the world. I had played it in December 2014 and it was one of those course I really wanted to go back when I went to Los Cabos in April, together with Quivira and an unexpected invite to Diamante to play the Dunes Course by David Love III.
But lets go back to the Ocean Course and some new things I experienced a couple of months ago. When I travelled in 2014 it was during a TTOOs Fam Trip just a couple of months after the Hurricane made quite a disaster in the area (Palmilla and Cabo Real courses had to be closed for several months to recover) and this time it was at the end of the high season with every course in awesome maintenance shape, so really could play them at their top.
In 2014 we played tougher tees, this time it was with customers and we just played middle tees but in a very windy day which was quite a challenge for the entire group including so low handicappers.
The first thing to tell is how well they work with big groups (we were 40 golfers), everything was set at the driving range, carts signaled with 2 yardage books on it, water in the cooler (not the hotests season but it is hot) and starter and marshalls monitoring everything was going fine. It is good to show it as everybody willing to travel could find helpful knowing that big groups aren't an issue here.
About the course ... it is not new that the 6 ocean holes (5-6-7-16-17-18) are the best ones, specially the three par 3s (6-7-17) with amazing views of the ocean and also some nice forced carries although with a middle iron. Short par 3 7th could be seen as too easy but go play it with 30km/h wind from left to right and you will find scoring par was extremely good.
Hole 18th might be one of the best finishing holes in America (From Alaska to Usuhaia in Argentina, because America is NOT a single country) with a demanding tee shot and a nice carrye with a middle iron over the beach/ocean.
And there are some great holes in the "inside" part as both par 5s 4th and 12th, the first one with a forced carry over a tough wate area and an even tougher green to hold the approach shot.
As the Desert Course, they still mantain bermuda grass coast to coast which is tough to keep healthy in the Caribbean and they do an excellent job here as well, keeping with no doubt the Top 100 Status for the Course.
And again it is not bad to repeat how nice the setting of the elevated Club House is, where a nice lunch watching the ocean is one of the trademarks of the resort. And also one of the biggest proshops, with a lot of memorabilia to take home.
If you travel to Los Cabos, this one is a "must play" and even consider playing it twice as first timers will find some unexpected difficulties when they play.
A trip to Cabo is in no way complete without a game at Cabo del Sol. The Ocean course has a strong figure 8 routing and is very walkable as opposed to some of the others here. It works its way out to the ocean for a run of visually spectacular holes before heading back to the clubhouse to start over on the back 9 to mirror the routing on the front 9. It’s definitely and rightly so been laid out to maximize ocean front spectacle and those holes really do provide some amazing views and wow moments. Waves breaking all around and even right in front of you, also architecturally some solid holes. I think this is one of Jack’s strongest efforts and that says a lot for a resort course. Pretty much since it opened Cabo de Sol has been a regular in most of the Top 100 World Ranking lists.
There are many excellent holes so picking favorites is tough but I’ll admit to falling for the eye candy and breaking surf of the par 3 17th which when played from the back tees is awe inspiring – ultimate thrill in an all or nothing challenging par 3. Speaking very critically there are always holes that don’t quite suit my eye or that I simply like less. One of these is the par 5 4th hole. My main issue with it is around the green complex as there is a dry wash area before the green but it is filled with native rock formations and cactus with no way for average players that might have difficulty with the shot to the relatively small green to finish the hole unless they pull off what I consider a challenging shot. To me it’s just a touch on the extreme side – Jack designing something for Jack.
In the end Cabo del Sol is a solid world ranked course, a fun challenge in a spectacular setting with perfect weather and excellent margaritas awaiting you in the clubhouse. What more could you ask for?
The summary of the landscape at Cabo del Sol is: The desert meets the ocean. The summary of the golf course is: Jack Nicklaus-style forced carry shots and fast greens.
The first tee shot of the day is typical of what you face all day at Cabo Del Sol: a forced carry over the desert.
Often times, shots to the green at Cabo del Sol also require a forced carry over desert as well.
The course starts away from the water on a desert plateau and then gradually plays downhill until it reaches the water at the par three sixth hole. The par three sixth is one of the prettiest of its kind anywhere in the world and for my money rivals Pebble Beach's seventh for scenic beauty.
The dramatic par three sixth is followed by another par three, the seventh, which is a 137-yard hole that plays at a ninety-degree angle to the sixth and is parallel to the water. The sixth and seventh are the only holes along the water on the front nine. You don't return to the water until holes sixteen through eighteen, which finish along the sea. At this point, the course is routed back inland and plays up the plateau and then back down it again for the closing stretch of holes.
John Sabino is the author of How to Play the World’s Most Exclusive Golf Clubs