Four leading resorts in Los Cabos, the ‘Golf Capital of Latin America,’ have received a 2021 Editors’ Choice Award from Golf Digest in the ‘Best Golf Resorts in Mexico & Central America’ category. Cabo del Sol, Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas, One&Only Palmilla, and Quivira win accolades
“This is Year 6 of our annual Editors’ Choice Awards package, offering once again an assortment of products that can help golfers play better, smarter and healthier in 2021,” said Ryan Herrington, the magazine’s deputy digital editor. “Additionally, we also recognize top destinations and travel-related services in hopes that golf trips will be something we can all enjoy again in the not-to-distant future.”
“Golfers dream big,” the awards report stated. ”We all want to play the greatest courses and stay in the most luxurious hotels and inns, and when our thoughts drift to where we might travel, we often settle on the legendary destinations.”
That includes Los Cabos, the glamorous getaway at the tip of the Baja Peninsula that claimed four of the eight spots in its bracket, more than any other destination in the region.
Heading the winner’s list is Cabo del Sol, the 36-hole facility credited with putting Los Cabos on the international golf map when its Ocean Course debuted in 1994. Renamed the Cove Club and reopened in 2019 with new holes, rebuilt bunkers, improved playing surfaces and a new landscape scheme, the layout occupies what course designer Jack Nicklaus once described as “the best golf property I’ve ever seen.” Holes stretch across a stunning desert landscape touched by the Sea of Cortes and framed by rugged mountains. Tall cardon cacti and tawny granite outcrops stake out the fairways and greens. Comfort stations on both nines offer Mexican specialties and ice-cold refreshments. The Cove Club was conceived as a members-only facility but is accepting limited tee time reservations through the fall.
Cabo del Sol’s second venue is the Desert Course, Tom Weiskopf’s first design effort in Mexico. Shoehorning holes into craggy desert terrain crisscrossed by canyon-like arroyos, Weiskopf produced a brilliant design, weaving holes around rock outcrops and through a thick cactus forest. To defend the greens, which feature long slopes and subtle rolls, Weiskopf built large bunkers with distinctive capes and bays. Featuring an enticing blend of long and short holes, numerous risk-reward options and panoramic ocean views, the Desert Course presents a classic test and ranks among Cabo’s finest golf experiences.
Cabo del Sol is graced by a hacienda-style clubhouse, its open-air verandas and terraces offering picturesque ocean and fairway views. On-site beachfront hotels include Hacienda del Mar Los Cabos, its architecture inspired by a traditional Mexican village; and Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos, an all-inclusive golf and spa hotel perched on a sea cliff.
Also receiving a 2021 Editors’ Choice Award is newcomer Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas. Centerpiece of an 834-acre resort and residential community set in rolling desert foothills that tumble down to the Pacific Ocean, the development’s airy beachfront hotel is walking distance from a Greg Norman Signature course opened last year. Known for his ‘least-disturbance’ design approach, Norman created a low-profile layout at Rancho San Lucas with ocean views from every hole. Earthmoving was kept to a minimum: the site’s contours and topography were ideal for the routing of a world-class course. Spanning three different ecosystems, the sturdy 7,210-yard layout rambles through huge windswept dunes at the start, climbs through groves of giant Cardon cacti creased by winding arroyos, and returns players to the beach and sea at the finish. The layout’s defining feature is its revetted pot bunkers. These steep-walled sandy pits were constructed from recycled artificial turf and are nearly identical to the natural sod-walled bunkers found on British links courses.
In addition to a pair of on-course comfort stations, a handsome ranchero-style clubhouse overlooks the fairways and sea. Rancho San Lucas is a private club with exclusive access available to guests of Solmar Group hotels, including the on-site Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas Resort.
One&Only Palmilla earns its moniker as the “Grande Dame” of Los Cabos. Palmilla Golf Club, the first Jack Nicklaus Signature course in Latin America, is located five minutes from a legendary hideaway built-in 1956 by the son of a former president of Mexico. The glamour and ambiance of the original resort was carefully preserved at One&Only Palmilla, which opened in 2004 following a $90-million expansion and refurbishment. This ultra-luxe property, continuously upgraded to retain its iconic status, is set on a rocky promontory that juts into the Sea of Cortes, its protected sandy coves fronting azure-blue waters calm enough for swimming. The hotel is a perennial favorite of Hollywood A-listers.
Palmilla’s Mountain and Arroyo nines, chiseled into in a box-shaped canyon walled in by steep stony peaks, set the stage for top-shelf golf in Los Cabos when the core 18 opened in 1992. Routed around boulder-strewn arroyos and cactus-covered foothills, Palmilla was the first course in the hemisphere to partake of Cabo’s unique mountain, desert and ocean ecosystem. Tournament-tough from the tips, the layout’s wide fairways and open-entry greens accommodate players of lesser attainment. The club’s Ocean nine, which features a 600-foot elevation change that carries players from the mountains to the sea, is currently closed for revisions and will reopen at a later date.
The final Editors’ Choice Award was claimed by Quivira Golf Club, a spectacular layout grafted onto a dazzling Land’s End site at the exact place where the Sea of Cortes meets the Pacific Ocean. Arguably the most daring and eclectic course Jack Nicklaus has ever built, Quivira, his sixth design in Los Cabos, is an aesthetic tour de force and an unforgettable test from any set of tees.
Highlighted by risk-reward options and breathtaking drops from tee to fairway, Quivira offers more oceanfront exposure than any other course in Los Cabos. This breezy, multi-themed layout starts at sea level, climbs the face of a mountain, tiptoes along sheer granite cliffs, zigzags through massive sloping dunes, and ambles across rolling desert foothills. A Nicklaus favorite is the short par-4 fifth hole, its slanted fairway wedged between a shouldering dune on the right and a vertical cliff on the left 275 feet above the thrashing sea. The target is a semi-blind, cliff-hanging green tucked well below the fairway.
An all-inclusive facility, Quivira serves Mexican fare and refreshments at four comfort stations, including the open-air Oasis set above the eighth green. The private club is accessible to guests of Pueblo Bonito Golf & Spa Resorts’ five properties. Golfers gravitate to the nearby Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort, a deluxe adults-only beachfront property where the accommodations, Armonia Spa, dining options and technicolor sunsets are exceptional.
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