I had accomplished the unimaginable—at least for me–reaching the green on a 510-yard hole in just two shots. But instead of lining up my treacherous 60-foot downhill eagle putt at Rancho San Lucas Golf Club, I was distracted by a magical scene playing out some 500 yards behind me in the Pacific Ocean, where two whales were breaching in unison just offshore.
Suddenly, the comments made the night before by Greg Norman, designer of Los Cabos, Mexico’s newest golf course, made a whole lot of sense.
“The challenge of this course is the beauty,” said Norman, a two-time British Open Champion and architect of 106 courses around the world. “It’s tough to get your mind off how beautiful it is and focus on the shot you have to hit.”
Naturally, I wasn’t able to get back in the zone, three-putting the 8th hole but still managing a par on Rancho San Lucas’ most difficult hole. There were plenty more pleasant distractions along the way as the 7,200-yard layout wanders through massive windswept sand dunes, climbs through a cactus forest and finds its way back to the beach and the sea on the final nine holes. The par-3 17th hole is the only island green in golf-rich Cabo.
Norman, known as “The Shark” in his playing days, began coming to Cabo 30 years ago from his native Australia to fish and dive, when just six weekly flights arrived here. Now, 550 weekly flights from 40 destinations land in this spot on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, known these days for its vibrant nightlife and its championship golf courses. With Rancho San Lucas and Costa Palmas opening this year, Cabo is home to 18 courses. The designers read like a Who’s Who in the game of golf—Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Davis Love, Tom Fazio, Robert Trent Jones, Tom Weiskopf and Norman.
Golf may be the centerpiece of this 834-acre gated residential enclave, but it’s only part of the fun. Rancho San Lucas, one of seven Cabo resorts owned and operated by Solmar Hotel & Resorts, also features the luxurious Grand Solmar Hotel and the Residences at Rancho San Lucas, seven gourmet dining spots, an adults-only infinity pool, a massive saltwater lagoon, a kids’ pool with two waterslides, a seaside spa and 15 miles of jogging and biking trails.
Rooms at the Grand Solmar start at $191 plus tax, studios, one and two-bedroom suites all come with ocean views. The Mexican-themed suites include a full kitchen with marble counters, stainless-steal appliances, Murphy beds, private terraces, sitting areas and flat-screen satellite televisions. Two-bedroom penthouses at The Residences start at $682, terraces in each suite offers expansive ocean views. For those who want to stay awhile longer, luxury beachfront homes at The Villas and Norman Estates are available for purchase at $650,000 to $7 million.
Solmar Group Developer Francisco Bulnes isn’t a golfer and he had never built a course on any one of his properties. But he began talking to Norman nearly 20 years ago about carving a championship golf course out of his family’s 834-acre rolling desert property, located just 15 minutes from downtown Cabo San Lucas.
“I fell in love with this property from first sight without even getting down to the beach,” Norman said. “I knew I was going to be very fortunate to able to put my name on a golf course here because it has such a diverse ecosystem.”
The project was delayed several years due to the economic downturn in 2008. The hotel opened in 2018 and the golf course was christened in mid-February.
“This is the place where I chased jackrabbits as a kid,” Bulnes said. “I know Greg Norman is known for making tough courses, but I told him we need to have a nice and enjoyable resort golf destination.”
Mission accomplished. Five sets of tees, wide landing areas and limited amount of fairways bunkers and subtly-contoured medium sized greens, two full-service comfort stations and stunning ocean views on 14 holes add up to a thoroughly enjoyable golfing experience. Norman even made accommodations for golfers visiting during the windy season of May and June, routing a 12-hole course within a course of low-flying holes sheltered by the dunes and shielded from ocean breezes.
Green fees are rather steep at $242, but hotel guests get up to a 20% discount and a cart and forecaddie are included. So are the jaw-dropping ocean views and the synchronized whale dancing shows.
Source: Cabo Golf
The Mazatlan Post