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.”
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.