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Seaside golf at its best at Nicklaus' Cabo del Sol Ocean Course in Mexico

Chris BaldwinBy Chris Baldwin,
Cabo del Sol Ocean Course - Nickalus design - seaside green
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Greens go down to the waterline at Jack Nicklaus' Cabo del Sol Ocean Course. (Chris Baldwin/GolfPublisher.com)

One of the world's best-known Jack Nicklaus golf courses, the Cabo del Sol Ocean Course helped transform Los Cabos on Mexico's west coast into a resort-filled golf mecca. But have you tried its fish tacos?

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico - Head Professional Fernando Ortiz calls it "the joy of life." It's all over the Cabo del Sol Ocean Course, as unmistakable as Paris Hilton gyrating atop a nightclub table.

Even Oscar the Grouch would have a good time here.

It's not just the Jack Nicklaus design that weaves through desert right down to the ocean's edge, although that's the main attraction, the thing that makes a $250-$350 round seem like a bargain.

Ever wonder what it feels like to be Michael Jordan showing up at the course? The service at the Ocean Course will give you a heck of an approximation.

IRS agents and funeral directors should come here to get happy. You've never seen so many genuine smiles. You're escorted to the range, asked again and again if you need anything and fed fabulous free fish tacos at the turn.

(Warning: You could go to bed at night dreaming of Cabo del Sol's fish tacos. No joke. They're so good golfers have been known to double back after their round and pretend to make the turn again to get another helping. Well, this golfer did, anyway.)

Ask this staff if you can turn the tees into greens and play the course backward and they'd probably try and accommodate you.

"This is the enjoyment of the rewards of life," Ortiz said with the conviction of a Jehovah's Witness. "If you're playing here, you've worked very hard in your life and achieved many things. You should be treated with that respect."

In Mexico golf, the top-notch courses are there for well-to-do vacationers' thrills, and few deliver like Cabo del Sol Ocean. When it was being built in the early '90s Nicklaus called this mix of desert and seashore "the best piece of golf property I've ever seen," and for once the Golden Bear was only slightly hyperbolizing.

"People say this place reminds them of Pebble Beach," Assistant Professional Rodrigo Uribe said. "But Pebble Beach doesn't have the desert. The desert and the ocean combined? No one else has it."

Make no mistake, Cabo del Sol Ocean will muss you up. This is a track from the days when Nicklaus was accused of making courses only he and his buddies could play. Its 147 slope rating is no illusion.

And you're not likely to care.

Not when a mere 100 feet of sand separates the raised fifth green from the waves. Not when you're practically hanging over the ocean and simultaneously staring down a desert golf-ball graveyard at No. 17. Not with the surf serving as the soundtrack to your shots. Not with this service.

"This is one of our most memorable rounds ever, don't you think?" vacationing golfer Theola Kirschbaum asked her husband.

He nodded, smiling. They hadn't even made the turn yet.

Cabo del Sol Ocean Course: The Verdict

Going to Cabo as a golfer and not playing the Ocean course is like an art student journeying to Paris and never setting foot in the Louvre.

Yes, it's expensive. But all the Los Cabos-corridor courses are expensive. This is the best of them, and one of the top seaside courses in the world.

Play Cabo del Sol yourself and you'll learn those secret joys that go beyond golf-brochure promises. There are big hills in the background of the desert holes, clear views of ships on the ocean ones. But this is no postcard play - it's a rollicking round, packed with bite and charm.

My only quibble is the touch of brown in the fairways. But it won't you're your shots, or cloud your memories.

"This is the third time I've played it this week," Chicago golfer Kevin O'Neill said, unapologetically.

Why not? The fish tacos only get better too.

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Cabo del Sol Ocean Course - Nickalus design - desert areasCabo del Sol Ocean Course - Nickalus design - ocean shot

Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.

Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.

Reader Comments / Reviews Leave a comment
  • Dont waist your money

    Luis wrote on: Oct 27, 2011

    Don’t waste your money on this course. We were told that there are much better courses in CABO for better price. My friends and I decided to play the Desert course since one of the workers there told us that it is in much better shape. We made the tee times for the next day, but decided that we are not going to pay any more money to these guys. Upon calling to cancel, we were told that they have a 72 hour cancellation policy and they have to charge us if we don’t play. First, no one told us that when we made the tee times, second, how can you have a 72 hour cancellation fee if you made the tee time 24-48 hours before. This company is just out there to get your money, nothing but thieves. We are going back to CABO, but we will never play there again.


  • the ocean course at cabo del sol

    steve cowit wrote on: May 18, 2009

    I played the Ocean course twice in april ( 09).... it was as spectacular and breath taking golf as i have ever played. I can compare it to peter Dye's Teeth of the Dog at Casa de Compo... it would be a tough choice but i think the view's of the sea of cortez which you have on almost every hole on the ocean course might win out.


  • Cabo del sol

    Reagan wrote on: Jun 19, 2007

    Right On! I live in the Pinehurst area, have played everything from the long list of Hawaii courses to Torrey Pines to Oakmont to Secession to Whistling Straits to nearly everything of note on the east Coast and yes the Ocean Course is not only definitely in my top five, but the Fish tacos might push it to the very top (with dollar Pacificos and lime to wash them down!) Seriously, this is FUN Golf :)