The Vidanta Course in San José del Cabo is the oldest in Los Cabos; the granddaddy of them all. It's modest in comparison to the championship-level layouts that followed, a 9-hole municipal course designed in 1987 by Mario Schjetnan. Originally known as Punta Sur, it was later taken over by the Mayan Palace resorts group and is currently managed by Mexican hospitality brand Vidanta. The service is a bit uninspiring, but plenty of locals and seasonal players swear by the place, in large part because it's the only budget-friendly course in the area. The 3,153-yard layout is generally flat, with narrow fairways, moderate bunkering and one major water hazard. The views are nice but not spectacular, with glimpses of the Sea of Cortés and the Sierra de la Laguna mountain range. Rentals and golf gear are available at the pro shop, and there is a small practice area available.
Yet another great Los Cabos course by Jack Nicklaus, Club Campestre opened in 2007 with a 6,966-yard layout tucked between downtown San José del Cabo and the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna. The sculpted fairways are covered with seashore paspalum, a tropical grass common in Los Cabos because it is disease resistant and requires a fraction of the upkeep (including fertilizers and herbicides) needed for more typical golf course grasses. Like most local Nicklaus designs the course features abundant bunkering, plus plenty of dramatic elevation changes, and of course spectacular Sea of Cortés views. The teeth of the course are found on the large, multi-tiered greens, which often make two-putts a challenging proposition.
The Cabo San Lucas Country Club was part of the first wave of the Los Cabos golf boom, although it was called Campo de Carlos when it opened back in 1994, as a collaborative design between Roy Dye and his son Matt. As of December 2018, renowned Mexican golf course architect Agustín Pizá also deserves a mention, after spearheading a massive facelift necessitated by Tropical Storm Lidia the year before. Pizá slightly shortened the back-nine while also widening its fairway corridors to enhance ocean views, but returning players will find the course still retains picturesque fairway framers like colorful bougainvillea, palo blanco trees and towering cardón, the largest species of cactus in the world. The Country Club course also remains the only local layout with views of Land's End and its spectacular Arch, as well as the only place with an after-hours driving range.
Cabo Real is one of a trio of layouts managed by Questro Golf (Campestre and Puerto Los Cabos are the other two), a grouping which allows visitors to buy multiple-round passes good at any of the three courses. Cabo Real was the first of the trio to open, premiering in 1994 with a design from Robert Trent Jones Jr., the man who's currently designing the Costa Palmas Golf Club for Four Seasons on the Los Cabos municipality's still lightly developed East Cape. Cabo Real has plenty of pedigree: it's the only local course, for example, to host two PGA Senior Grand Slam events. In fact, the site of whales breaching near a green during the 1996 tournament helped to catapult Los Cabos into the consciousness of golfers around the U.S. The original design layout has been flipped in recent years, reversing the front and back nines.
Don't let the encouragingly wide fairways and expansive greens fool you: this inland layout, which opened in 2001, provides a challenging test for players of all skill levels. Weiskopf's design takes skillful advantage of the existing terrain, snaking scenically through canyons, washes and arroyos without ever straying too far from magnificent ocean vistas. Water is a course factor on several holes due to man-made lakes and waterfalls, and players will also have to overcome uneven stances from elevation changes and abundant bunkering to post a low score. The rewards for these challenges are stunning views of the Sea of Cortés from seemingly every hole.
Palmilla was Jack Nicklaus' first-course design in Los Cabos and his first of many in Latin America. Brought down at the behest of then prominent developer Don Koll, Nicklaus unveiled his 9-hole Mountain and Arroyo Courses in 1992, returning later in the decade to add another 9-hole Ocean Course. Thus, visiting golfers can now pick and choose their favorite 18 from the 27 available holes. The Ocean Course is the most singularly spectacular, with 600-feet of elevation changes within the first 6-holes and picturesque palm tree framed views of the Sea of Cortés. But all three nines offer challenging conditions and scenic views.
Puerto Los Cabos opened in 2007 with an irresistible twist: the world's only composite course from Jack "The Golden Bear" Nicklaus and Greg "The Great White Shark" Norman. Norman designed the nine-hole Mission Course, highlighted by its 213-yard 6th, a par-3 with an elevated tee box that looks down from the equivalent of a 10-story building to a bunker fringed green set against a backdrop of nearly 10 miles of jaw-droppingly beautiful coastline. Nicklaus, meanwhile, designed the challenging nine-hole Ocean Course. The plan had always been for each of these nines to be expanded into its own 18-hole course, a plan which came to partial fruition in 2018 when Nicklaus returned to design his second nine-hole layout. The new addition has been dubbed Nicklaus II, to differentiate it from Nicklaus I, as the original Ocean Course is now known. No dates have been announced as yet for Norman's second nine, so as of this writing Puerto Los Cabos is operating much like Palmilla, in that visiting golfers can mix and match their favorite 18 from the 27 available holes.
Davis Love III's links-style Dunes Course at Diamante was a revelation when it opened in 2009. It's currently rated as the best course in México by Golf Digest, and the 38th best course in the world by Golf Magazine. To play this challenging and lavishly-praised 7,300-yard loop, you must be staying at a Diamante hosted resort (The Resort at Diamante, or soon-to-open hotels from Hard Rock and Nobu), or express interest in a timeshare or fractional ownership options at Diamante. The latter offers a great opportunity for those who would like to spend a month or two every year with access to one of the world's best courses. In addition to Love's masterful links course, Diamante also hosts two Tiger Woods-designed courses, with a third in the works.
Los Cabos has drawn a host of legendary names to design the ever-increasing number of championship-level loops in the region, but 18-time major champion Jack Nicklaus was the one who put the area on the map. The Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol was his first local masterpiece. When it premiered in 1994, he called it "the best golf property I've ever seen." Nicklaus, not a man prone to hyperbole, added: "I firmly believe that these (17 and 18) are the two best finishing holes of any course in the world." Plenty of others have agreed on both counts. The Ocean Course has been ranked as one of the 100 best courses in the world for 15 consecutive years and counting. It's a world-class layout in every respect, with dramatic vistas of desert, mountain and sea, and seven holes bordering the Sea of Cortés. For those who like to play from the tips, the Ocean Course measures out at 7,111-yards.
Quivira is a legendary golfer and designer Jack Nicklaus' sixth Los Cabos layout, and his second local masterpiece. "Our team worked with the canvas Mother Nature provided," Nicklaus said, "to create one of the most spectacular courses in the world." Set on the Pacific Coast north of Cabo San Lucas, this 7,085-yard course is breathtaking in every respect, with 18 holes winding magnificently along sheer cliffs, and through desert foothills and windswept dunes. Seven holes hug the coast, and ocean views are available from all 18 fairways (keep your eyes peeled for seasonal glimpses of migrating whales). In addition to stunning scenery, there are four mid-course comfort stations serving up cocktails and tasty treats (burritos, anyone?), while more filling fare is available pre or post-round at the onsite steakhouse. The course is accessible to guests at all four local Pueblo Bonito resorts - Blanco, Rosé, Pacifica and Sunset Beach - as well as the luxury residential developments Quivira, Copala, Montecristo Estates and Novaispania. A second Quivira course from Nicklaus is in development.