MEXICO â€“ Golf enthusiasts expecting to tee it up in Mexico City better think again before ironing out any travel plans, as the capital is littered with high-end private golf courses.
But that does not mean that a trip south of the American border has to be absent of golf altogether. In fact, while Mexico is known for its white beaches, beautiful oceans and hot spring break getaways, one of the country's most striking assets may be its wide range of golf courses, from the challenging championship venues, to golf resorts, to even inexpensive public tracks.
But with that much variety, finding the right course can be a daunting task. To make things a bit easier, we have narrowed down the search into a few areas where the Mexican golf industry is booming.
Sitting on the western coast of Mexico, Acapulco is a popular spot for all types of vacationers. Famous for its bright sunshine year round, hardly a day passes in the city that is not perfect for golf.
The easiest course to get to in Acapulco is the Club de Golf (011 52 744 484 â€“0781), an intimate nine-hole course perfect for travelers looking to get in a late day round.
Three other notable golf havens in the area are championship courses located south of the city near the airport, an area known as Playa Diamante.
The first, the Pierre Marques (011 52 744 469 1000) was built on a 480 acre patch of the Revolcadero Beach. At 6,855 yards and a 127 slope, the Robert Trent Jones design tests golfers of all skill levels, with its rolling hills and tropical setting.
Accompanying the Pierre Marques is the shorter and perhaps less challenging Acapulco Princess (011 52 744 466-1000), a Ted Robinson design. The course's resort features, among other amenities popular in Mexico, over a thousand guestrooms.
Even closer to the beach is the Tres Vidas (011 52 744 444-5135), a waterfront course that has been touted by many as one of the most beautiful courses in Mexico.
This region is the second largest coastal city in Mexico behind Acapulco, and also the country's largest commercial port. And while it may not be the most plentiful part of Mexico when it comes to golf courses, it may be the most diverse.
The El Cid (800-525-1925), a championship course designed by Lee Trevino, offers 27 holes of breathtaking scenery and challenging golf. But don't just expect to show up and head to the first tee. Play is only open to the public in the off season and on a limited basis during the high tourist season.
The Estrella del Mar (011 52 669 982-3300) is yet another Robert Trent Jones Jr. design, and stretches over two miles on beautiful beach, offering views of the Pacific Ocean. Golfers will be tested early as the opening hole is a menacing par five, offering a good glimpse of what is to come in the ensuring round.
Weary travelers looking for a shorter alternative to the long, sloping fairways of Mazatlan's championship courses should look no further than Club Campestre Golf and Country Club (011 52 669 980-1570). The nine-hole track is one of the older courses in Mexico, and at only $15 a round, also one of the cheapest.
Of all the cities in Mexico, Cabo San Lucas may provide golfers with the most options and the best rounds. Of course, quality comes at a price, so expect hefty greens fees, especially during the high season.
At the forefront is the premiere Cabo San Lucas Country Club. The Dye championship course is a seaside design featuring nine lakes, fairway views of the San Lucas Bay and the Sea of Cortes, as well as holes etched from mountain and desert terrain. The 7th is a 610-yard par 5, the longest in the country, that doglegs around a lake, helping keep the course record at just below par.
The course sits in a private, 750-acre community, but golf packages are available through the Los Cabos Golf Resort, which is easily accessible from the airport via a reserved shuttle.
Three of the other notable courses in Cabo San Lucas, the Palmilla (800-637-2226), the Cabo del Sol (800-386-2465) and the El Dorado (011 52 624 145-8200), are lengthy Jack Nicklaus designs. The Cabo Real (800-336-3542) is one of the more challenging courses, and features a few of the more recognizable ocean side holes in Mexico.
And no region in Mexico would be complete without at least one completely public course. In Cabo San Lucas it's the Campo de Golf (011 52 624 142-0905), a nine-hole stretch measuring 2,900 yards.
The list of golfing possibilities in Mexico goes on. The Marina Vallarta Golf Club, a Joe Finger design, and the Punta Mita, another Mexican creation by Nicklaus are the hot spots in Puerto Vallarata. Meanwhile, in Cancun, a traveler's best bets are the Caesar Park, a product of Japan's Aoki Corporation, and the seaside Pok-ta-pok, a Robert Trent Jones Jr. championship course.
Wherever you decide to make travel golf plans, whether it be strictly in one region or across the vast country, book tee times early because they are hard to come by, and pack plenty of sunscreen.
July 16, 2002
Looking back, the sequence of events leading to golf in Pinehurst seems so fragile, so random, that you wonder how fate didn't take different twists and turns circa 1895. The Tufts Archives, located in the Given Memorial Library, tells the resort's unlikely story.
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