Three hundred twenty miles up the Baja coast from Los Cabos— but a world away in vibe— is Loreto, a sleepy Mexican fishing village turned upscale golf destination, thanks to Rees Jones's new Danzante Bay Golf Club. The place isn't easy to get to, but after one go-round the arduous journey won't matter—because there's no other golf course like it.
"I don't know when I've ever seen mountains so close to the sea," Jones told me when we shared a loop together in December. "And I don't know of a course with so many different environments: desert, cliffs, dunes, arroyos and canyons, all in a seaside setting. It's one of a kind."
Jones, his associate Steve Weisser and builder Randy Ruth crafted Danzante Bay's unique layout for the Villa del Palmar Beach Resort & Spa at The Islands of Loreto. With towering mountains framing many holes, and sand dunes and beach bordering others, the course radiates an otherworldly Palm Springs-meets-the-sea ambience.
While the design accents emphasize playability, there's plenty of golf for the serious stick, starting at the 207-yard, par-3 third, which demands a thrilling forced carry over a desert canyon, and continuing at the 580-yard, par-5 12th, which eases past the resort on its way to its namesake bay.
Still, the unquestioned standout is the 178-yard, par-3 17th, its diagonal green guarded by sand, cacti and canyon and backdropped by the Sea of Cortez. Jones says he's never built a more spectacular hole. I can't disagree. If you crave exclamation points in your golf experience and are looking for an undiscovered jewel, do Danzante.