The Punta Mita resort sits in the shadow of the Sierra Madre Mountains to the north of Bahía de Banderas, one of the largest bays on Mexico’s Pacific coastline and the development is spread over an enormous 2,700 acres, encompassing white sandy beaches and clear blue waters that are ideal for sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving.
Water sports enthusiasts are certainly well catered for but so too are golfers now that there are two championship courses to play here and, make no mistake, this is a world class place to golf, with Conde Nast Traveler magazine listing it as number one in its Top 100 Golf Resorts chart compiled in 2008.
Jack Nicklaus designed the two courses at Punta Mita (the Pacifico course opening in 1999, some ten years before the Bahia layout) and both sets of lush, rolling fairways are set out on a stretch of natural rock outcropping renowned as a prime site for whale watching.
The Pacifico routing brings eight of the holes into close proximity with the ocean and Jack incorporated even more water into the design when he created the first 19th hole in Mexico, an optional par three called “Tail of the Whale,” which plays to a natural island green 200 yards from the mainland tee.
Punta Mita Pacifico is a Nicklaus design north of Puerto Vallarta. The first hole has a waste bunker left that runs just about the entire length of the hole. There are also fairway bunkers left and right, as well as, four greenside. The 2nd is a short reachable par five that heads out towards the ocean. The 3rd hole is a mid-length par three with the ocean as the backdrop. Do not get ahead of yourself as the infamous Whales Tale is next. It appears that most folks are calling this the 19th hole. It has been about 5 years since I played there, but I thought it was identified as 3b. Regardless, an eye candy par three with the green an island in the Pacific Ocean. It will play close to two hundred yards and the green is only accessible at low tide. It was not quite low tide when we went through and the causeway was about four inches under water. We all hit shots towards the green and I was fortunate enough to have a birdie putt. My buddies were already moving onto the 4th, but I said, not so fast. I took off my shoes and socks and headed out to the island. I do not recommend trying to walk on the causeway barefoot as it hurts your feet, add in waves and it can be problematic. You gotta finish what you started so I plugged on. When I finally arrived at the green, there were at least 100 balls on and around it. I was amazed at the quantity of Pro V1s. Of course, there were also the inevitable Top Flites and Maxflis as well. I had to move a dozen or so balls to clear the path for my birdie putt, which I then Thurmaned (dead yank). I then rushed back across the causeway to sync up with my mates. The 4th is the shortest par four on the front and bends left. The fairway runs out about 80 yards from the green. The 5th is the longest par four on the front and bends right. The fairway is dissected about 170 yards out at an angle with more room left. It is deservedly the number one handicap hole. The 6th is a long par three with three bunkers surrounding the green. The 7th is a wonderful par five with the ocean as a backdrop to the green. There are a handful of fairway bunkers and another half a dozen protecting the green. The 8th is a long par three with ocean left. The front ends with a par five with the ocean left. Three average shots and you are putting for birdie. It should not be the number 3 handicap hole.
The back starts with a par four that bends right. A few fairway bunkers and greenside bunkers with a large waste bunker right. The 11th is a long par three with lots of sand, but is rated the third easiest hole on the course. The 12th is the shortest par four and number 18 handicap. Large waste bunker down the right side that also provides some protection of the green. There are a few fairway bunkers and a couple greenside. Favor the left side and attack the pin. The 13th is the longest par five with water all the way down the right side. Play it as a 3 shotter and favor the left side. The 14, 15 and 16 utilize large waste bunkers to provide defense. The 15th is a par five and the waste bunker dominates the left side. The 16th is the longest par four and warrants the number two handicap status with the waste bunker running down the left. The last par three is long and memorable with the ocean as a backdrop. The closing hole is also memorable. A long par four with the ocean right and then wrapping behind the green.
I enjoyed Pacifico. It is pricey, scenic and memorable, but I would not pay to play it again. A true eye candy course.