RIVIERA NAYARIT, Mexico -- The historic Puerto Vallarta and the modern resorts of the Riviera Nayarit -- separated by the Rio Ameca -- combine to create one of Mexico's best golf destinations.
Two spectacular 36-hole clubs -- the Punta Mita Golf Club and the Vista Vallarta Golf Club -- anchor the region, although they're supported by a stellar secondary cast.
The Bahia Course and Pacifico Course at Punta Mita -- Jack Nicklaus designs on the Pacific Ocean 45 minutes north of Puerto Vallarta -- blow away golfers with their scenery, service and conditioning. The famous extra par-3 hole on Pacifico (called "3B") plays to a natural island green in the middle of the ocean.
The nearby Litibu Golf Club by Greg Norman boasts three ocean holes highlighting a layout strong enough to host a 2010 Canadian Tour event. The El Tigre Golf Club at Paradise Village is most famous for the live tigers caged next to the 17th tee. With water seemingly everywhere, the course is equally tough to tame.
ClubCorp keeps Vista Vallarta's Nicklaus Course and Weiskopf Course, hidden in the jungle in the hills above Puerto Vallarta, in good shape. The Marina Vallarta Golf Club delivers a more convenient round closer to the famous boardwalk of downtown Puerto Vallarta.
Just when it looked like the game had passed the oldest course in the region by, Flamingos Golf upgraded its layout and clubhouse, providing a great value for the next generation of players. After years of renovations and routing changes, the Nayar Golf Course might finally be ready to give guests a fun round that includes a forecaddie. A new Norman course affiliated with the resort is scheduled to open at least nine holes in the spring of 2015.