Playa Paraiso Golf Club is located at the Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, around 30 miles south of Cancun. The golf course opened for play in 2005 and was designed by P.B. (Paul Burke) Dye, the youngest son of Pete and Alice Dye, and it’s gradually climbing the rankings.
The all-inclusive Iberostar Playa Paraiso competes with many luxury resorts along this coastline but the recent addition of this golf course, along with the Greg Norman-designed El Camaleón at the Fairmont Mayakoba, means that the intrepid travelling golfer can kill two top-notch Mexican courses with one stone.
Measuring 6,800 yards from the back tees, Playa Paraiso is not going to beat you up too badly for length but it’s a technically challenging course that has hosted the Canadian Tour Riviera Maya Open, so don’t expect an easy walk in the Mayan jungle.With a number of holes routed through thick forest, the going can be rather tight at times and the smallish, undulating and well-bunkered greens place a premium on accuracy. At times the rough can be brutal so use the driver with care and hope there’s not too much wind blowing from the east.
Playa Paraiso is classic resort golf. Your scoring oppties are early. Not very long, but plenty of opportunities to create challenges. The first hole is a welcoming par four. Well positioned fairway and greenside bunkers. The first par three is a mid-length and just about all carry over a waste bunker. The 3rd is a sweeping dogleg right. There are plenty of bunkers on the inside right elbow and half a dozen more on the left. This is not the leg to munch on, favor the right side and hit an attack wedge to the green. The 4th is a straightaway par four with a wide fairway. However, the fairway runs out about 80 yards out. The first par five is definitely reachable in two. It is one of the tighter holes, but a definite birdie oppty. The 6rth is the shortest hole and a classic Florida par three. The 7th is the second longest par five, but I do not think it warrants being the number one handicap hole. Fairway bunkers left and right with a large front left greenside bunker, but three average shots and you are putting for birdie. The 8th is the longest par four. Starightaway with the fairway narrowing as you get closer to the green. My triple attests that it is a much harder hole than 7. The 9th felt like a throwaway hole, parallels the 8th but is 40 yards shorter.
The back starts of with a long par four that leans right. Favor left of center off the tee. The 11th is a tough golf hole. A long par four dogleg left with water on the inside elbow. Do not muck with it, aim at the cleavage of the two center fairway bunkers that are thru the fairway. In this case, there is a very good reason why it is the number two handicap hole. The 12th is another Florida par three and it is also the longest par three. I cannot recall the last course that I played where the longest par three was less than 200 yards. This brings us to my favorite hole, or it should have been my favorite hole. A short left leaning par four that is driveable. Yes, there is the requisite trouble, bunkers, jungle, alligators. Turns out the biggest challenge would be my #$%&* putter. The good news is that I was able to redeem myself on the short dogleg left par five 14th. Aim at the straight ahead fairway bunker off the tee and then hit a power draw to the green. The 15th leans right and has over a dozen small bunkers sprinkled about to cause golfer anxiety. Don’t fall for it, favor the left side of the fairway and you will have an attack iron in. The 16th is opposite hand, favor the left side of the right fairway bunker to set up your wedge. The 17th is a forgettable par three, unless you ace it, which I didn’t. It does end with a bang, the longest par five that is tight and has more than a boatload of bunkers.
Playa Paraiso met expectations, but I would not pay to play it again.