Cove Club at Cabo del Sol, Twin Dolphin and Chileno Bay among the honorees
Los Cabos, Mexico (May 8, 2021) – Golf Magazine has released its latest edition of the ‘Top 100 Courses You Can Play,’ a compendium of “beautifully inclusive, thrillingly elite” public-access options sprinkled throughout North America.
“Our previous rankings of public-access courses have been confined to the United States,” the magazine reported in its May issue. “This time, we’ve also ventured into Canada, Mexico, Bermuda and the Caribbean. Expanding our reach means, for starters, you can find courses in prime condition at any time of year.”
That includes Los Cabos, the dazzling Land’s End destination at the tip of the Baja Peninsula known as the ‘Golf Capital of Latin America.’
The publication carefully defined the public-access category. “What exactly constitutes ‘public’ has become a sometimes tricky proposition,” the report stated. “There are semiprivate courses that allow limited ‘outside’ play certain days of the week. There are also courses that grant access via a stay at a certain hotel. Several facilities featured on this list are private clubs with a public component. For our purposes, we consider a course public if you can access it as a nonmember.”
GOLF Magazine concluded by issuing a call to action: “We’re all fired up to wipe the dust off our passport and once again experience different cultures and broaden our course architecture knowledge.”
Formerly known as the Ocean Course, the Cove Club at Cabo del Sol (No. 69), built by Jack Nicklaus in 1994, is the course credited with pinpointing Los Cabos on the international golf map. The seaside layout, rebranded and reopened as the Cove Cub in 2019 after a major facelift by Nicklaus, features a handful of new holes, restyled bunkers, improved playing surfaces and a new landscape scheme.
The layout occupies what the course designer, who first visited Los Cabos in the 1960s to angle for trophy marlin, once described as “the best golf property I’ve ever seen.” Holes stretch across a splendid desert landscape touched by the Sea of Cortes and backdropped by rocky peaks.
Specimen cardon cacti and tawny granite outcrops stake out the fairways and greens on a course often described as the “Pebble Beach of the Baja.” Comfort stations on both nines offer Mexican specialties and ice-cold refreshments.
One caveat: the window to play the Cove Club is closing fast. The golf course will close for renovations later this month and will reopen as a private club in the fall.
Twin Dolphin (No. 71), centerpiece of a 1,400-acre master-planned community, is an otherwise-private club that offers exclusive access to guests of Montage Los Cabos, a deluxe beachfront hotel. Built on a broad sloping plateau bisected by three major arroyos, the 7,156-yard layout, perched 180 meters above sea level, features a sweeping ocean view from every hole.
Built by Fred Couples (a Twin Dolphin member) and Todd Eckenrode of Origins Golf Design, the course features dramatic elevation changes, undulating greens, tumbling fairways and natural bunkering. Subtle mounding corrals errant shots on a broad-shouldered layout marked by wide corridors and few forced carries. To settle bets, Twin Dolphin has a par-3 “bye hole” that calls for a 95-yard pitch shot over an arroyo. For kids and beginners, the club’s Nino’s Tees present a sporty 2,300-yard, par-61 layout. Greens, tees and fairways, under the care of a Pine Valley alumnus, are honed to perfection. There’s also a caddie program, comprehensive practice facilities and a pair of ‘Red Door’ comfort stations serving fine fare and top libations.
Arguably the finest Tom Fazio-designed course in Latin America, Chileno Bay (No. 86), first opened in 2013, has been completely revamped by Discovery Land Company. Formal bunkers brim with bright white sand, a stark contrast to the layout’s native tawny waste bunkers. Bougainvillea, oleander and other colorful ornamentals frame the emerald-green fairways. Manicured to perfection, the golf course, girdled by sandy arroyos and prominent natural pinnacles, offers a sea view from every hole.
Displaying his trademark artistry, Fazio created graceful flowing landforms intended to simulate rolling ocean waves. Wide fairways and generously turfed surrounds create strategic options for good players and bail-out areas for duffers. Two on-course comfort stations serve Kobe beef sliders, homemade tamales, beer on draft and candy galore.
Guests of Chileno Bay Resort & Residences, a beachfront hotel and residential villa complex managed by Auberge Resorts Collection, enjoy exclusive access to the golf club.
Alongside its Top 100 You Can Play feature, GOLF Magazine has a companion story, “Go Tropical,” designed for players who want to work on their tan and their Top 100 checklist. The “Road Trip: Cabo San Lucas” sidebar offers excellent diversions, from the “ultimate in field-to-table dining” (Flora’s Field Kitchen) to nightlife (“Sammy Hagar’s iconic Cabo Wabo”).
There’s even a suggested detour to the Jack Nicklaus Signature course at Quivira, a breathtaking clifftop layout that “offers stunning ocean views.” Players need to stay at a Pueblo Bonito Resort, with Pueblo Bonito Pacifica, an adults-only, all-inclusive hotel five minutes from the golf club, the best option.