What Golf Courses Do We Have On Offer?

Plenty, like about 15. Whoops, here’s a new one, make that 16
BY: TERESA GREEN

Los Cabos today is known for its world class golf courses, but it wasn't always that way.

It all started when Fonatur, the federal agency that jump started us as a tourist destination, built the first golf course in Los Cabos. This was a nine hole rather featureless course, but that was all we had in 1984. Its name was changed a few years ago to the Mayan Golf course when that timeshare bought it, and now it's known as Vidanta Golf course because the Cryin’ Mayan has changed its name to Vidanta. It is still one of the locals’ favorites mainly because it's the cheapest, and one of the few public courses in the area.

Five years later the golf course at Palmilla was opened, an 18 hole course designed by Jack Nicklaus, his first of many in Los Cabos. The man behind this project was Don Koll, a Southern California developer who bought the Palmilla hotel in 1986. This was the starting point for the golf arms race that has defined the area ever since.

In 1994 Los Cabos witnessed the birth of three courses starting with the Cabo del Sol course designed by Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. That course is currently in the process of being totally screwed up by cannibalizing some holes to build rental homes on. Then of course the next several holes are screwed up too, because that’s where they’re trying to cram in the missing holes.

The second course built that year is the Cabo San Lucas Country club, what many people believe is the most difficult course in Los Cabos. The original design was started by Roy Dye and completed by his son Matt after Roy’s death. Only a few years ago we lucked into new owners from Mexico City who started putting big bucks into it, bringing it back to good shape, fixing infrastructure, and even lighting the driving range for night time eating, drinking and driving. A massive and beautiful clubhouse was designed and dirt was being pushed around for it. And then Lydia struck, washing seven holes out to sea. For all last year we got to pay reduced rates to play 18 holes on what was really 11 holes. The path was altered to guide us back around, and some of us less aware players thought some of the later holes looked only vaguely familiar.

But now they’re all fixed, at a cost of $4 million, which includes the holes, the new fairways, and most important, a private wall between the Country Club and the public arroyo.  No matter what the crazy city is going to do again in trying to change the course of the water, the Country Club feels they’ve protected themselves. For now, the clubhouse construction has been put on hold until the investors recover from their recovery. The third course opened that year is the 18 hole Cabo Real, a creation of Robert Trent Jones Jr. that is considered by many to be the first world class course in Los Cabos. This gem has been host to two PGA Senior Slam events (1996, 1999).

Three courses have been possible thanks to the vision and investment of Eduardo Sanchez Navarro, heir to the Corona beer company, and head of Grupo Questro, our largest developer. Grupo Questro golf holdings include Puerto Los Cabos, Club Campestre, and Cabo Real

In 1999 Jack Nicklaus strikes again, this time by designing the course at El Dorado on the corridor. That was public but was bought by the developer of El Dorado which is now a high end hotel and residence. When that went private, the people who had paid for the privilege of playing there screamed bloody murder. They picketed, went to court, banged their clubs on the grass, all to no avail. They were kicked out.

Also in 1999 Nicklaus added 9 holes to the Palmilla course so now it has the rather odd total of 27.

In 2000 Tom Fazio was added to the list of Los Cabos golf course designers. His contribution was the Querencia course, his first design outside the United States.

In 2002 Cabo del Sol added a new 18 hole course to its existing offer, naming this one the desert course, and it was designed by Tom Weiskopf. For many years they held their price at $340 a round and the joke at the taco stand at the turn was we were enjoying a $340 taco while we stood around.

Five years later we got the Club Campestre in San Jose, another 18 holes designed by our old friend Jack Nicklaus, who seems to be working this territory pretty hard.  It sits inside the development by the same name. Nice two story clubhouse, some homes along the course, not a lot, yet.

In 2007 Eduardo Sanchez Navarro was unveiling his golf course in Puerto Los Cabos, a collaboration between Greg Norman and Jack Nicklaus. This one got a little strange, as Norman designed nine holes and Nicklaus designed nine holes and we’ve all been playing this as one regulation 18 hole course ever since. That is until this year when nine holes were added to the Norman. Also added was a very nice club house, replacing the trailer on the gravel lot that’s been servicing us these past 11 years. There are two free food stands on this course but they spring an extra $20 payment for it when you get there. Then it’s free and very generous.

In 2009 a grand design by Davis Love lll was inaugurated on the Pacific side of Cabo San Lucas. This was the world acclaimed Dunes course in Diamante which shot to the top of the charts as the 58th best course in the world according to a golf magazine. They milked that one in their advertising for years and it is pretty cool when the wind isn’t blowing, and they have two great free food stands. We golfers call them soup kitchens because they’re free and they offer great soup. The carts sport tundra tires and the cart path is made of railroad ties. It’s quite cool.

In 2014 Quivira presented the Nicklaus designed 18 hole course with unbelievable views of the Pacific and was voted in 2015 by a golf magazine as the Best International New Golf Course. To play this you need to be staying there or pretending to be interested in a timeshare or know somebody.

Not to be left behind, that same year Diamante presented its new family member: The Tiger Woods designed El Cardonal. It’s actually pretty dull, especially when compared to the Dunes course. Again, you need to be a buyer in Diamante or pretend to want a timeshare there. Don’t bother, it’s not worth sitting through the presentation unless you can get onto the Dunes course. That’s worth the timeshare hustle.

Two years ago, in 2016, Tiger presented his new creation, the 12 hole par 3 Oasis short course, also in Diamante. What can be said about 12 little bitty holes? Ho hum.

And now the new Twin Dolphins’ Todd Eckenrode designed course has opened. It will be available for play to owners within the Twin Dolphin community which is currently under development by Ohana Real Estate Investors. This includes 52 homes in Montage, as well as homesites for sale in the adjoining Maravilla.  Guests at the Montage hotel will also qualify to play.

As you read this, the new Greg Norman course is under construction in Rancho San Lucas, north of the three courses in Diamante, and the one course at Quivira, on the frequently windy Pacific Ocean. They’re promising it will be ready in 2019, but that’s the official word from their official timeshare sales people, so don’t take that info to the bank. It’s a Solmar property and far, far out of town but very, very nice.

There are more courses coming in the near future: The four seasons at Costa Palmas has planned a Robert Trent Jones III course, but that is pretty far out in the future because the water table is going down and there aren’t enough people out there to generate enough waste water for a course.

There are also plans to build a golf course on the East Cape Vidanta project, (used to be called the Cryin’ Mayan), but all we have at the moment is that promise. And finally, Quivira is also planning to add a second course to their catalog, the plan is to start building on 2019.

Is that enough golf for you? It’s all pretty crazy, figuring out which one you qualify to play on, but not as crazy expensive as it used to be.