Golf scene in Los Cabos

If you want to combine a golf and beach vacation, you can't get much closer to the best of both...

If you want to combine a golf and beach vacation, you can't get much closer to the best of both worlds than the third green at Palmilla Golf Club's Ocean Course in Los Cabos, Mexico.

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

You know you're in for a treat when they sell six-packs of postcards in the pro shop.

Some of these snapshots might look awfully familiar.

As the starter will point out even before your first shot at the Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol in Mexico's sun-soaked Los Cabos region, they call this place 'the Pebble Beach of the Baja.'

You won't have to ask why.

Eighteen-time major champion turned award-winning course architect Jack Nicklaus once referred to Cabo del Sol's Ocean Course as “my chance to design a Pebble Beach” and boasted the public-welcome layout ends with “the three finest finishing holes in all of golf.”

He's not the only one raving about this place.

The Ocean Course has been consistently ranked as the top track in Mexico and has even scored a spot on Golf Digest's prestigious list of the top-100 courses on the globe. The 7,091-yard setup has also hosted a couple of Champions Tour Senior Slam events, a Shell Wonderful World of Golf episode and a long list of swinging celebrities.

Cabo Del Sol's director of golf Greg Tallman, a guy lucky enough to collect his paycheques in this sunny golf hotspot, sometimes tells his guests, “If there's a better place on Earth, I haven't found it yet.”

And Jack?

The Golden Bear still frequents Los Cabos for the fishing. And, perhaps, to admire his work.

While Nicklaus has award-winning work scattered across the world, he also deserves some credit for transforming Los Cabos into a can't-miss destination for clubbers — and we're not talking about the party animals that flock to Sammy Hagar's famous Cabo Wabo nightspot.

Palmilla Golf Club, which opened in 1992, was Nicklaus' first signature layout in Latin America and still holds its own among the other high-end offerings in this area. In fact, Palmilla is one of eight Los Cabos-area courses that cracked GolfWeek's latest listings of the Top 50 Courses of the Caribbean and Mexico.

While some of the assignments at what's now a 27-hole facility weave through tall cacti and dusty desert, the highlight is undoubtedly the third hole on the newer Ocean nine, where the putting surface is perched on the shores of the sparkling Sea of Cortez.

Coupled with One & Only Palmilla Resort, the picturesque track has earned a reputation as one of the top stay-and-play options in Mexico. Nicklaus hosted buddies Raymond Floyd, Hale Irwin and Gil Morgan at Palmilla for the 1997 Senior Slam event, and the sandy setup was also the site of the 2007 Audi World Cup Finals.

More importantly, Nicklaus' design handiwork at Palmilla — now home to the first PGA Tour Academy golf school on international soil, to boot — helped shine a spotlight on the southern tip of the sun-drenched Baja Peninsula.

The Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol was completed less than three years after the first pins were cut at Palmilla, and suddenly, Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo — collectively known as Los Cabos — were on their way to becoming Mexico's capital on the global golf map.

Nicklaus' third signature design in Los Cabos is the ultra-exclusive El Dorado Golf & Beach Club, where the cast of residents and members has included a Hockey Hall-of-Fame sniper, a supermodel and enough Hollywood A-listers that it's a wonder there isn't a red carpet rolled out to the first tee.

In addition to maintaining some of the most pristine course conditions you'll find anywhere, the maintenance crew at the 7,332-yard track has also planted palm trees in strategic spots to prevent the paparazzi from snapping shots of the rich and famous.

If you're in the market for a multi-million dollar vacation home, you'll love the gotta-see-it-to-believe-it setup at El Dorado.

If you're just headed to Los Cabos for a week of sun and cervezas at one of the beachfront resorts, there are several top-notch public tracks to choose from.

Nicklaus also has his fingerprints on the layouts at Club Campestre and Puerto Los Cabos, where he designed nine holes and Greg Norman mapped out the rest.

Other public-access offerings include the Tom Weiskopf-designed Desert Course at Cabo del Sol, Robert Trent Jones Jr.'s Cabo Real and Pete Dye's Cabo San Lucas Country Club.

Several other courses are currently in the development or construction phase.

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

 


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