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.
Palmilla GC has 27 holes of golf designed by Jack Nicklaus and is located near San Jose del Cabo. The three nines are named: Mountain, Arroyo, and Ocean- and the club has cards printed for each combination. My understanding is that the Mountain/Arroyo combo is the local favourite, perhaps because the ocean nine plays a little harder.
The Mountain and Arroyo nines were completed in 1991, and the Ocean nine a little later The Ocean course has also endured some changes since inception, but I thought it was an interesting and challenging set of holes
The Mountain course starts well with an elevated tee shot to a solid desert hole- however the first thing that struck me about the initial holes was that they were predominantly flat!
The par 5 fourth hole around a lake was nice, but that was forgotten when we arrived at the fifth tee and realised we had to hit diagonally across a deep canyon twice to get to the hole...
It is certainly a unique and challenging hole, and memorable... But the fun was only beginnning- the par 3 sixth hole also had a long canyon carry to a green on a ledge
The Arroyo nine continued the drama, albeit intermiitently, using the desert landscpae to advantage. I liked the par 3 fifth hole which again used a canyon well. The par 5 seventh hole also required a long canyon carry off the tee.
The Ocean course includes some cracking holes: The long par 4 third hole is certainly a challenge- and looks great with the green right on the beachfront. And the par 3 holes at holes four and six also impressed.
Palmilla is not far from the San Jose airport and an ideal starting or finishing point for a dream week of golf at Cabo del Sol where you will likely get warm weather, blue skies, and little wind Perfect!
Peter Wood is the founder of The Travelling Golfer – click the link to read his full review.
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.