by Louis Bignami

Baja California and I go back to the 1950's when, as high school students, friends and I drove from San Diego to Los Cabos and back in a 1939 Ford. Pavement stopped about 60 miles south of Tijuana in those days, and we survived the trip with only 23 tire punctures and considerably more cactus punctures to bare feet. These days it's much easier on your bottom and soles. Hop on a plane from LAX and you're there in an hour. It's also a lot more posh! One of the best indications of this is golf. You've even got four superior golf courses to pull you away from the wonderful fishing.

Melia Cabo Real Beach & Golf Resort

Cabo Real, the course associated with the Melia Cabo Real Beach and Golf Resort , the largest hotel in and around Cabo, could be called "the great equalizer." It's typical of Robert Trent Jones, Jr. courses as it tempts the expert into sand traps and arroyos that the beginner's shorter game avoids. At 7000 yards with a rating of 73.8 off the back tees and a slope rating of 135 it plays from shore to peaks without ever losing sight of the Sea of Cortez.

Golf where the desert meets the sea.



The front nine at Cabo Real starts with a par 5, 521 yard monster and climbs up the hill for six holes before it turns back past the lake to the clubhouse. The back nine seems rather easier except for the par 3, 12th hole that offers a genuine chance to pop your tee shot over the green. The 15th hole's definitely my favorite. It reminds me of Pebble Beach water holes, or the infamous 14th hole at Mahogany Run on St. Thomas in the USVI. Like Pebble, it's not bad if there's no wind. but it can bite in a breeze and the water's always there to gobble errant tee shots.

Fortunately, most courses at Cabo allow the Desert Rule: "A ball hit beyond the transitional area into the desert should be played under the following options: Ball should be dropped in the fairway at the point where the ball last crossed the margin of the fairway with penalty of one stroke (you need not find your ball)." This keeps you out of "critter country."

As usual, the distance plates on top of sprinkler heads are measured to the front, middle and back of greens.

As a bonus, check out the 36th hole. If you like, play it. Then claim whatever subpar score on the "back 18" your listener's gullibility permits. For holes 19 through 35 are not in yet!

Unfortunately, on my last visit to Cabo I strained my shoulder trying to break the fly rod sailfisf record. So we didn't play the rest of the area's other fine courses. All looked worthwhile with a mix of challenging or comfortable golf depending on the tees selected. Four 18 hole courses seem about right for a week's stay with a day to fish, and a return round at whatever course suits you best. The nine hole Muni course offers a quick budget golf fix on a fishing or lazing day too.

Cabo San Lucas Country Club

Roy Dye designed this slick course, which is lined by palo blanco trees and cardon cactus. With perhaps the best views of any course in Baja, this course sneaks up on you with subtle elevation changes and tricky greens. There's a particularly nice view of Land's End.

Los Arcos at Cabo San Lucas where the Sea of Cortez meets the not always peaceful waters of the Pacific Ocean.


Their large tennis, swim and fitness center, restaurants, shopping, a private beach club and the Cabo Marina where you can charter boats to some of Mexico's best deep sea fishing for sailfish, roosterfish and other species complete the amenities.

Cabo Del Sol

Like Palmilla, a Jack Nicklaus design, Cabo Del Sol will eventually add two more championship courses, and several more hotels. Jack Nicklaus called the area "the best piece of golf property I've ever seen." And Jack's seen them all.

The Ocean Course features seven ocean front holes that, fortunately for those who slice, mostly front beaches along a mile of shoreline. The rest of the holes run up into the bluffs and feature some astonishing stretches of sand that are to regular sand traps as a rowboat is to the Queen Mary!

Palmilla Golf Course

Palmilla, a very exclusive private resort, demonstrates that courses in arid areas need not hog the water to offer championship challenges. Nicklaus called this "my desert mountain course by the ocean" when it opened in 1992. It runs to his "target style" course design so you need to keep your shots in the fairways and greens. Fortunately, the caddies know how to find lost balls, and, if you slice a shot down into the arroyos, you don't have to chase it down among the desert "critters."

The resort here reminds me of Santa Barbara or Catalina with its white walls and red tile roofs. Don't be surprised if you see celebrities on and off the course. Just take comfort in the fact they shank balls too.

San Jose Campo de Golf

A nice little muni nine hole just off Highway 1 designed by M. Shedjnan, this course lets you meet the locals, swat some balls, and remember how golf used to be played in your muni course salad days. It's fun!

Golf & Resort Phone Numbers:

Melia Cabo Real Golf Course (114) 40040 or (112) 86218

Resort Reservations 800-336-3542 or 800-227-0212

Cabo San Lucas Country Club (114) 34653 {3GOLF}

Resort Reservations 800-854-2314

Cabo del Sol (114) 331149

Resort Reservations 800-637-2226

Palmilla Golf Course (114) 88525

Resort Reservations 800-637-2226

San Jose Campo de Golf (114) 20905