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Top 40 Golf Courses of Mexico 2016

24 March, 2016

Top 100 Golf Courses expands its coverage in Mexico with a new Top 40 chart

We add another ten courses to our Mexican standings in this latest revision

This is the 5th edition of our Mexican listings, having first created a Top 15 for the country eight years ago, As time goes by and more data sources become available, we’ve been able to slowly extend our presentation of courses in this important nation that links North and Central America so we’ve added another ten courses this time around, establishing a new Top 40 chart.

Golf has been played in Mexico for well over a hundred years. It’s known that Scottish professional Willie Smith laid out a course for the Country Club of Mexico City in 1905, six years after he’d won the US Open, and this layout actually replaced one that had been inaugurated a few years earlier for the San Pedro Golf Club. His brother Alex Smith completed another project at Chapultepec in 1921 so golf goes back a long way here.

Course construction on a large scale didn’t occur until the 1950s, with Percy Clifford and Laurence Hughes accounting for more than half of the layouts built during the following three decades. Ironically, the development they’re best remembered for was their very first in 1949 at the iconic Club de Golf Mexico, where Hughes designed the course and Clifford acted as his understudy.

In the more modern era, one man stands head and shoulders above all other architects in the golf design business in this country and it’s Jack Nicklaus, who’s been responsible for laying out literally dozens of courses since his first one opened at Palmilla Golf Club in the early 1990s.

From the Yucatan Peninsula in the east to the Baja Peninsula in the west, with clusters of courses located around Mexico City, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast, the Golden Bear has totally dominated the Mexican golf scene for the last quarter of a century, with many of his productions positioned very high in the national rankings.

Only in the last few years has there been any threat to this supremacy, with designs by Tom Fazio, Greg Norman and Tom Weiskopf making any real impact within the upper reaches of the listings – and to that roll of architects we can now add Davis Love III because his Dunes course at Diamante retains the number 1 slot in our new Mexican Top 40.

Opened in 2010 and currently rated number 52 in our World Top 100, this fabulous layout is universally acclaimed within the golf world as one of the best to have opened anywhere around the globe in the new millennium.

Still, you can’t keep a good man down for too long – just when you might think Jack’s about to bow out with a Mexican wave as he sees his top designs overtaken by a stream of bold newcomers, along comes his latest creation at Quivira, situated only a couple of miles along the coast from Diamante.

Described in a 6-ball review last year as “maybe the most spectacular piece of land on which I have played golf in my entire life,” this course zooms straight into our new chart at number 3, cementing Cabo San Lucas on the tip of the Baja Peninsula as the top golf destination in Mexico.

Another newcomer on our chart is the Tom Fazio layout at Chileno Bay, which lies thirteen miles to the east of Quivira, overlooking the Sea of Cortez. This course has enjoyed rather a long grow-in period (five years, all told) due to the unfavourable economic climate affecting the residential development that it supports. Ready for play in 2010, it’s now looking to make up for lost time and a new entry position at number 6 on our new listings is quite a statement of intent.

Our next new entry is at number 12 and it’ll come as something of a surprise for some when they find out the new El Cardonal course at Diamante makes an appearance at such an elevated position. It could be argued that if the best days in Tiger Woods’ career are behind him now then his focus should shift to designing courses, rather than playing them, so be prepared to see more high end layouts like this one popping up around the golfing world under the Tiger Woods Design banner.

Our fourth new entry, Riviera Maya, arrives at number fifteen and this Robert Trent Jones Jnr track is the architect’s fourth Mexican design, having previously fashioned Palma Real, Cabo Real and Estrella del Mar. Situated less than an hour’s drive south of Cancun, the course was literally carved out of Mayan jungle, with the first golfers teeing it up here in 2010.

The other six new entries in our Top 40 for Mexico appear in the chart, headed by the aforementioned Chapultepec at number 19. Eighteen Mexican Open Championships have been held at this old venue, as well as the Audi Classic event on the PGA Champions Tour in 2002, so it’s a course with a solid championship pedigree that fully deserves recognition in our revised classifications.

Rank Course Move
1 Diamante (Dunes) No change
2 Cabo del Sol (Ocean) No change
3 Quivira New entry
4 Querencia (Fazio) No change
5 Four Seasons Punta Mita (Pacifico) Down 2
6 Chileno Bay New entry
7 El Dorado No change
8 Mayakoba - El Camaleon No change
9 Four Seasons Punta Mita (Bahia) No change
10 Vista Vallarta (Nicklaus) Down 4
11 Mexico Down 6
12 Diamante (El Cardonal) New entry
13 Vista Vallarta (Weiskopf) Down 3
14 Guadalajara Up 1
15 Riviera Maya New entry
16 Cabo del Sol (Desert) Down 4
17 Palmilla (Mountain & Arroyo) No change
18 Moon Palace (Lakes & Dunes) Down 5
19 Chapultepec New entry
20 Puerto Los Cabos Up 2
21 Playa Paraiso Up 4
22 San José Up 7
23 Yucatan Down 3
24 CostaBaja Down 6
25 Cabo Real Down 9
26 Playa Mujeres Down 12
27 El Tigre Down 1
28 El Rio Down 7
29 Bosque Real Down 10
30 Tres Vidas Down 6
31 Isla Navidad (Ocean/Mountain) Down 8
32 El Tamarindo Down 21
33 Las Misiones Down 3
34 Tres Marias (Championship) Down 7
35 Playacar Down 7
36 La Loma New entry
37 Las Parotas New entry
38 Atlas Country Club New entry
39 Club Campestre de Monterrey (Sierra & Silla) New entry
40 Los Encinos New entry

To view further details of our new 2016 Top 40 Golf Courses of Mexico click the link.

We’re always keen to find out what you think when we update our national rankings so let us know your opinion of our new chart for this North American country. Is there a course we’ve missed or do we include one that really shouldn’t be there? Whatever you think, please click the “Respond to this article” link at the top or at the bottom of this page if you’d like to share your thoughts.

If you missed Javier's "Los Cabos Marathon" story, published in January 2015, click the link.

Jim McCann
Top 100 Golf Courses


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