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No. 4 at Cabo Real / Courtesy of CaboReal
Cabo Real, Los Cabos
One of Cabo’s elder statesmen, dating to 1994, this schizophrenic Robert Trent Jones Jr. design sports a rugged, hilly outgoing nine that winds through arroyos and mountain foothills and a much flatter incoming nine that touches the Sea of Cortez in spectacular fashion at holes 14, 15 and 16.
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No. 2 at One & Only Palmilla / Courtesy of Palmilla Golf Club
One & Only Palmilla, Los Cabos
Now 22 years old, the course that got the Cabo golf ball rolling dishes out three Jack Nicklaus desert-tinged, canyon-strewn nines. The entire Ocean nine is a fun, varied romp among cactus-covered slopes and high-priced real estate. The other nines are equally strong.
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No. 10 at Puerto Los Cabos / Courtesy of Puerto Los Cabos Golf Club
Puerto Los Cabos, Los Cabos
It may be home to the world’s only Greg Norman/Jack Nicklaus course, but Puerto Los Cabos isn’t a Shark/Bear collaboration. Instead, they are separate nines -- joined -- until the other nines are finished. The best course near the historic town of San Jose del Cabo is worth the effort, if only to play with 10 miles worth of beach panoramas.
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No. 18 at Cabo del Sol (Desert) / Courtesy of Cabo del Sol
Cabo del Sol (Desert), Los Cabos
Understandably overshadowed by its elder sibling, this strategic 2001 Tom Weiskopf design would be the star almost anywhere else. The aptly named layout plunges in and out of canyons framed by cacti and boulders, and while it lacks the in-your-face seaside interaction enjoyed by the Ocean course, the memorable long views of the Sea Cortez occur early and often.
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Courtesy of Iberostar
Iberostar Playa Paraiso, Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo
Thirty minutes south of Cancun sits this 2005 P.B. Dye design that rolls out rock riverbeds and Mayan jungle borders that influence most of its holes. Not long at 6,701 yards, the course’s teeth hide in its hilly terrain, deep bunkers and undulating greens.
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No. 16 at El Dorado / Courtesy of El Dorado
El Dorado, Los Cabos
Jack Nicklaus’ third design in Los Cabos is a private development layout now under the Discovery Land Company umbrella. Set into the mountain-laced terrain of Sierra de la Laguna, El Dorado boasts several holes overlooking the Sea of Cortez, though others were sacrificed from the original design to make way for high-priced real estate.
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No. 15 at Mayakoba (El Camaleon) / Mario Madau
Mayakoba (El Camaleon), Riviera Maya, Quintana Roo
Home to this week’s PGA Tour event, the OHL Classic, this unique Greg Norman-designed layout 45 minutes south of the Cancun Airport wows with limestone-lined canals that bisect fairways, jungle-like mangrove swamps, natural rock caverns and two par-3s that edge the Caribbean Sea.
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Cabo del Sol (Ocean), Los Cabos
The most spectacular south-of-the-border experience since the original Cinco de Mayo, this 1994 Jack Nicklaus design features back-to-back oceanside par-3s on the front side and a closing trio that’s Mexico’s best. Cactus-covered hillsides and Sea of Cortez backdrops are highlights.
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No. 9 at Vista Vallarta (Nicklaus) / Casa Magna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa
Vista Vallarta (Nicklaus), Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
Phil Mickelson and David Toms teamed to lead the U.S. at the 2002 World Cup contested over this handsome Jack Nicklaus design, but were edged by Japan, despite Lefty’s third-round 62. The layout traverses high ground in the foothills of the Sierra Madres, and affords handsome views of Puerto Vallerta and the Bay of Banderas.
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No. 3 at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita (Pacifico) / Evan Schiller
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita (Pacifico), Riviera Nayarit
The elder of the two Jack Nicklaus-designed siblings is world-renowned for its alternate, island-green, par-3 3rd hole. Known as 3B, it’s called “Tail of the Whale” due to its distinctive shape. When the ocean surf rolls in, an amphibious vehicle gets you to the green.
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No. 6 at Quivira / Brian Oar
Quivira, Cabo San Lucas
Jack Nicklaus’ brand new, edge-of-the-Pacific production opened in October and immediately established itself as one of earth’s most spectacular tracks. The cliff-top holes that straddle rock-encrusted dune ridges will leave you dizzy -- and that’s just from the cart ride.
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Courtesy of Diamante Golf Club
Diamante (Dunes), Cabo San Lucas
Davis Love’s greatest design is also Mexico’s top-ranked course and the 52nd-ranked layout in the World. Gigantic dunes cocoon half the holes, while others enjoy Pacific Ocean panoramas. Memorable holes spice the play, notably those which feature approach shots that must scale massive dune ridges.