Carretera Federal Cancún,
Playa del Carmen Km. 298,
Playa del Carmen Solidaridad,
Riviera Maya 77710,
- +52 984 206 3088
38 miles S of Cancún International airport
Just like the chameleon from which the course takes its name, this Riviera Maya layout winds its way in two large 9-hole loops through an ever-changing landscape of thick tropical jungle and mangrove forest, with a number of man-made lagoons and canals coming into play on all but three of the holes.
Laid out by the design company of golfing legend Greg Norman, the Mayakoba-El Camaleon course has had several natural subterranean caves (called cenotes) incorporated into the design (there’s one of the ancient caverns in middle of the first fairway, for instance) in a highly imaginative routing that brings a couple of par three holes right to the edge of the Caribbean Sea.
These stunning short holes, tucked in alongside natural dune ridges at the 116-yard 7th and the 155-yard 15th, are the real highlights on the scorecard and they’re played right beside the beach where ever-present sea breezes test the mettle of even the very best of golfers as they stand on the tee.
Organized by the Greg Norman Production Company, the Mayakoba Golf Classic has been hosted by the course since 2007 and in the inaugural event, Fred Funk held off the challenge of 131 other professionals to win the title after a playoff, making him the oldest player to win a PGA Tour event since 1975.
Tom Doak made a point of playing El Cameleon in 2017 and awarded the course a rating of six out of ten. He commented as follows in his Christmas 2017 Confidential Guide update:
“With four luxury resort hotels set along a network of waterways created from ancient caverns, Mayakoba is a spectacular example of an eco-resort, and their golf course does a pretty good job of living up to its end of the bargain. Only a couple of holes utilize the waterways as hazards [due to safety considerations]; both nines work their way from the inland clubhouse through the mangroves and out to the beach and back. The course is less intense than Norman’s usual fare, but still pretty tight off the tee, so you’ll want to bring plenty of golf balls.”
Outstanding course that winds through mangroves and cenotes of the Yucatan. Was in excellent shape in July 2021 when I played there. Customer service is top level (lime/orange cold towels after the round, free popsicles). Not every crowded so feels like you have the place to yourself. Bizarre that the range balls an amalgamation of practice balls and "found" balls.
Course is long mostly to make up for three par 3s that are under 150yds. Many par 4's over 400yds from the blues. Somewhat forgiving with room to miss on several though any punches of the coral wastelands are not a great feeling. It's not the beastiest course you'll play. Par 5's can be reachable especially with a helping wind (thinking of the dog leg right par 5 16th where you can be hitting 150 in off the tee with an off shore wind). Great vacation golf course where you can be challenged but not killed. Just don't get caught in a off shore storm cuz saw some poor bros trying to putt the par 3 15th with the wind bending the flag stick and whipping sand in their face.
In my view the best course in Mexico. Long, challenging, but eminently playable, it is extremely well maintained and its a course that will never get old.
Home to the Mayakoba Golf Classic (don't ask the caddies about Matt Kuchar!). A solid test of golf in a beautiful setting, however I found the golf to not be memorable, with a few exceptions. The par 5 opener has the cave (cenote) bunker on the 1st. Of course I managed to hit it in that bunker- it was certainly an interesting shot getting back out of it! There are also a couple of short par 3s right on the beach, although I question if it wasn't for the setting right on the beach, if they would have been that memorable.