Routed through a landscape peppered with giant cardon cacti, the stunningly beautiful Palmilla was Jack Nicklaus’s first foray into golf design in Latin America in the early 1990s. Two decades later, it still stands up very well against the many top-end layouts that have sprung up along the coastline between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
The layout has been enhanced since it was initially formed, with the 9-hole Ocean course added in 1999 to complement the original Arroyo and Mountain nines. The new loop features a drop in elevation of over 500 feet between holes 1 and 6 and those from the 3rd to 7th are never more than a pitching wedge in distance from the beach.
Holes 6 and 7 on the Arroyo are particularly challenging. The former is a tough, right doglegged par four (designated the lowest stroke index for the nine) and it’s followed by a par five that runs alongside a deep, treacherous arroyo.Several of the Mountain holes are played round four man-made lakes, with the 401-yard 5th regarded by many as the finest hole on the property as the tee shot must carry a long way from an elevated tee position to an island fairway before an approach can be played to a green that lies on the slope of an arroyo.
In 2014 I visited Los Cabos but couldn't play it as the course and hotel were devastated by Hurricane Odille. This year leading a 42 golfers group I had the chance to finally visit the facility, although we played Ocean and Arroyo, which is said to be the nicest and most competitive combination.
The course is managed by Troon Golf and in every detail you can feel the course is operated by professional staff who really know what they are doing. Everything related to Tournament and details for the group was perfectly organized by the very helpful Head Pro Jason Bollog.
Although the course is part of the luxurius One & Only Hotel, the course has not have a big Club House, just a nice palapa where half way bar and proshop work, but it is more than enough.
Course is bermuda coast to coast (in the future Paspalum will be their grass for sure) and it was kept in pristine condition.
Front 9 Ocean were certainly more scenic than Arroyo, but the second half was more challenging, specially ferocious par 5 16th and par 3 17th with a forced carry of almost 190yds from the second tee!
Similar to Cabo Real in how they go towards the Ocean and come back, this may not be the main course of the destination but a real must in a 6 courses tour to Los Cabos.
Hole #3 getting to the Ocean is one of the best holes of the Peninsula.