Los Cabos Rocks Golf Digest’s Top 100

Quivira Golf Club Los Cabos (Image: Quivira Golf Club)

Jack Nicklaus-designed Quivira Golf Club features massive sand dunes, clifftop ocean views and a thrill ride up the side of a mountain. (Image: Quivira Golf Club)

With three spectacular oceanfront courses in Golf Digest’s Top 100—and more high-profile layouts on the way—Los Cabos is drawing discerning golfers to Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

Already Mexico’s premier golf destination, Los Cabos suddenly became an even bigger draw when Golf Digest included three of its most spectacular seaside layouts in its 2016-2017 ranking of the World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses.

The Dunes Course at Diamante moved up three spots and now sits at No. 52 in the ranking. Mexico’s first true links was fashioned by Davis Love III and his design team from a landscape of white sand dunes alongside the Pacific Ocean, “huge portions of which are without vegetation and seem like enormous snow drifts,” notes Golf Digest. Following a redesign, “the entire second nine is adjacent to the ocean, amidst the tallest dunes. How unique is this course? No other links in the world has cactus.”

Credited with putting Los Cabos on the international golf map when it opened in 1994, the Jack Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol is ranked No. 70. “This is my chance to design a Pebble Beach,” Nicklaus said wistfully when he first saw the site. His course plays from highlands of desert cacti and dry washes down to the sea. Nicklaus has immodestly called the Ocean Course’s 16th, 17th and 18th  holes, all perched atop a plateau high above the crashing surf of Whale Bay, the three finest finishing holes in golf.

Ranked No. 98, Querencia, like the Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol, is a newcomer to the top 100 list. Located several miles up the road from Cabo del Sol and adjacent to Jack Nicklaus-designed Palmilla Golf Club, this Tom Fazio design opened in 2000. “The routing wanders the rugged high desert plateau on the outward nine, toward the Sea of Cortez, hopscotching a dramatic canyon on the par-3 eighth. Other holes have humpbacked fairways and greens tucked beneath huge rock outcroppings.”

Tiger Woods at Diamante (Image: Diamante Cabo San Lucas)

Tiger Woods designed the El Cardonal Course at Diamante. (Image: Diamante Cabo San Lucas)

Golf Digest also ranked the best courses in Mexico and 205 other countries around the world. Not surprisingly, Los Cabos dominates Mexico’s entry. Seven of the top 11 spots on the 15-course roster, selected from a total of 220 facilities, are located in Los Cabos. Diamante (Dunes), Cabo del Sol (Ocean), Querenica and Quivira Golf Club command the four top slots on the list, respectively, followed by El Dorado (No. 7), Chileno Bay (No. 9) and the El Cardonal Course at Diamante (No. 11).

Situated at the southern tip of the 1,609-kilometre-long Baja Peninsula, Los Cabos is home to dozens of high-end resorts and 14 golf courses. Though Hurricane Odile inflicted widespread damage in September 2014, Los Cabos has made a speedy recovery. New courses by Nicklaus, Woods, Greg Norman and Fred Couples are all in various stages of development in what not long ago was a sleepy hideaway favoured by marlin fishermen.

Undoubtedly the most thrilling of the newest golf attractions is Quivira Golf Club, a jaw-droppingly dramatic $40-million Jack Nicklaus design at Pueblo Bonito resort that opened to rave reviews in late 2014. The Golden Bear’s layout features massive sand dunes, clifftop ocean views and a 1.2-kilometre thrill ride up the side of a mountain.

Launched around the same time was the Tiger Woods-designed El Cardonal Course at Diamante, the private resort community set on 2.4 kilometres of Pacific coastline that already featured Golf Digest’s No. 52-ranked Diamante Dunes. El Cardonal, Woods’ debut as a course architect, sweeps through dunes and arroyos near the sea. Diamante is bringing Woods back to build a parkland-style third layout, as well as an executive course.