Top 50 Golf Courses of Mexico 2020
This is the latest revision of a chart that was first published in 2008 with a modest complement of fifteen courses. Since then, we’ve gradually extended our Mexican coverage to a Top 50. In this edition of the rankings, only four courses remain in the same position, twelve make an upward move, thirty-one head in the opposite direction, and three make an appearance as new entries.
One high profile new course narrowly misses out, having literally just opened its doors in the last few months, and it’s Rancho San Lucas, which is Greg Norman’s seventh Mexican design. Located on the sandy southern tip of the Baja California peninsula and featuring the first set of revetted bunkers in the country, it’s sure to make a big impression on our listings next time around.
Rancho San Lucas
Golf course architecture in Mexico has come a long way since 1894, when the first club was established by Scottish jute workers who formed a 6-hole course for the Club de Golf Santa Gertrudis in Orizaba, Veracruz. The design market is now dominated by a handful of American firms, with courses from Jack Nicklaus (18), Robert von Hagge (6), Robert Trent Jones Jr. (4), Tom Fazio (2) and Tom Weiskopf (2) occupying two out of every three places in our national chart.
Despite the presence of so many high-profile architects in the country, our No. 1 course in Mexico, the Dunes at Diamante Cabo San Lucas, is a collaboration from PGA Tour player Davis Love III of Love Golf Design and architect Paul Cowley, a member of the American Golf Society of Golf Course Architects since 2006. This fabulous co-production reached the top of the table four years ago and it’s stayed there since, even after the very recent introduction of several replacement holes to accommodate new developments at the resort.
Diamante Dunes course
Comments from reviewers last year included: “this is an unbelievable course that should be played if you have the chance… links style with a great deal of exaggerated mounding… I gave it high marks for strategy, use of terrain, playability, and memorability… amazing design, condition and views… without question spectacularly beautiful and the natural dunes is simply riveting… there is no question [the] dunes land is very, very special… in all the world how many such natural sites can possibly exist?”
The runner-up spot in our listings belongs to ex-national #1, the Cove Club at Cabo del Sol, which retains its old chart position. This course has also just been remodelled because of new resort developments, resulting in the loss of two beachside par three holes for the construction of a hotel and a beach club. Formerly known as the Ocean course, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Cove Club course will soon become a private facility, serving members of a new luxury residential community, but the nearby Desert course at Cabo Del Sol (scheduled for a Dana Fry renovation) will remain a public-access venue.
Cabot del Sol Cove Club
M. James Ward, one of our regular contributors, is a big fan of the original Ocean layout, stating in his course review at the end of 2018 that it was easily in his top five of nearly a hundred Golden Bear designs he had played worldwide. Only last month he responded to another post, reminding the reviewer “the renowned Ocean course is no longer in existence – replaced with a major modification and now called the Cove Club”. Effectively, real estate development has created a fresh product that will have to stand up to new scrutiny from those who now play the upgraded layout.
No. 3 in our revised chart is also a non-mover and it’s another high-end layout situated in close proximity to Cabo San Lucas on the Baja California Peninsula. The Fazio course at Querencia Private Golf & Beach Club doesn’t enjoy the same sort of coastal location as the Dunes at Diamante or the Cove Club because it’s situated high up on a hill, a couple of kilometres inland from the Sea of Cortez, where impeccably conditioned fairways are routed around a beautifully landscaped property.
Querencia Fazio course
Regular reviewer Peter Wood, founder of The Travelling Golfer, described this track four weeks ago as “a typical Fazio design in that the course is pretty – and the visuals appear a priority. Bougainvillea add colour to the variety of brush and cactus, and with white sand bunkers a feature throughout the course, it really is built for the camera. But the substance is there as well with well-constructed golf holes and strategy rather than power.”
Two courses make significant upward moves in the new standings.
The course at Club de Golf Chapultepec (up six to #13) dates back almost exactly a hundred years to 1921, when the Smith brothers, Alex and Willie from Scotland, were responsible for its creation. It was revised in the early 1970s by Percy Clifford, who designed more than forty Mexican courses during his career, so it’s hard to gauge how much of the original layout has been retained. Venue for more than a dozen Mexican Opens since that competition began in 1944, Chapultepec has also enhanced its international profile by hosting the last four editions of the WGC-Mexico Championship.
Club de Golf Chapultepec
The 18-hole layout at Puerta Cortés Club (up six to #25) is a Gary Player design near La Paz which has endured some rather troubled times since it was first unveiled in 2010 as the Costa Baja Golf Club. It’s had two new owners since then and its latest incarnation inside the Puerta Cortés Resort began last year with relocating the 9th hole for a new hotel, recovering the course from a year of neglect, and repurposing the driving range as a 10-hole pitch-and-putt course and a golf academy. Local architect Agustín Pizá has been heavily involved in the refurbishment and he thinks the new configuration “helps to ‘grow the game’, reduces maintenance costs and produces extra income for our clients”.
Puerta Cortés Club
Three courses enter the chart for the first time.
The 18-hole layout at Costa Palmas Golf Club (new at #14) is a new Robert Trent Jones Jr. production located close to the small town of La Ribera on the East Cape of Los Cabos, where fairways are laid out within a 1,000-acre resort development by a Los-Angeles-based real estate company. It’s been marketed as “a golf symphony composed of three movements and two transitions,” with the opening six “dunescape” holes leading to six “upland” holes before concluding along the coastal coves and channels next to the marina.
Costa Palmas Golf Club
The course at Twin Dolphin Club (new at #26) debuted in 2018 and it’s the end product of an association between California-based Todd Eckenrode of Origins Golf Design and professional golfer turned signature designer Fred Couples. Set out on high terraced terrain outside Cabo San Lucas, the fairways move across a rugged desert landscape of arroyos bounded by native vegetation and rock formations, with wonderful views out to the Sea of Cortez from almost every hole. A fair amount of soil was shifted during the build, all the holes were sandcapped, with trees and other vegetation that was moved during construction replanted to add instant maturity to the layout.
Twin Dolphin Club
Finally, the course at Club Las Lomas (new at#46) is a Mark Hollinger of JMP Golf Design Group arrangement that first opened its doors for custom in 2004. Set at the heart of an urban residential golf community on the outskirts of Guadalajara, the course extends to 6,724 yards from the back markers, playing to a par of 71. The city ring road cuts straight through the course, forcing golfers to play half a dozen of the holes on the other side of this main highway, away from the clubhouse. Incredibly, the road is hidden from inside the development and motorists drive by without ever realizing there’s a golf course and residences within.
Club Las Lomas
|1||Diamante (Dunes)||No change|
|2||Cabo del Sol (Cove Club)||No change|
|3||Querencia (Fazio)||No change|
|4||Chileno Bay||Up 1|
|5||Four Seasons Punta Mita (Pacifico).||Up 1|
|6||Mayakoba - El Camaleon||Up 1|
|7||Four Seasons Punta Mita (Bahia)||Up 1|
|9||El Dorado||No change|
|12||Diamante (El Cardonal)||Down 1|
|14||Costa Palmas||New entry|
|15||Vista Vallarta (Nicklaus)||Down 2|
|16||Cabo del Sol (Desert)||Down 1|
|17||TPC Danzante Bay||Down 5|
|18||Palmilla (Mountain & Arroyo)||Down 2|
|19||Vidanta Puerto Peñasco (Nicklaus)||Down 1|
|20||Vista Vallarta (Weiskopf)||Down 3|
|21||Cabo Real||Up 1|
|22||Puerto Los Cabos||Down 2|
|23||Playa Paraiso||Down 2|
|24||Moon Palace (Lakes & Dunes)||Down 1|
|25||Puerta Cortés||Up 6|
|26||Twin Dolphin||New entry|
|27||Riviera Maya||Down 2|
|29||Playa Mujeres||Down 2|
|30||The Links at Las Palomas||Down 4|
|31||Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta (Norman)||Up 1|
|32||Riviera Cancun||Down 4|
|33||El Rio||Down 4|
|34||Isla Navidad (Ocean/Mountain)||Down 1|
|36||Cancun (El Tinto)||Down 1|
|37||El Tigre||Down 3|
|38||San José||Down 2|
|39||Bosque Real||Down 1|
|40||Estrella del Mar||Down 3|
|41||Hard Rock - Riviera Maya||Down 2|
|42||Tres Vidas||Down 2|
|43||La Loma||Up 2|
|44||Las Misiones||Down 2|
|45||Tres Marias (Championship)||Down 4|
|46||Las Lomas||New entry|
|47||Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta (Nicklaus)||Down 4|
|49||Las Parotas||Down 5|
|50||Atlas Country Club||Down 4|
To view the complete detailed list of the Top 50 Golf Courses of Mexico click the link.
Top 100 Golf Courses