Until the late 1980s, the only thing that Los Cabos was known for was fishing. The primary source of tourists was people who were coming to Cabo San Lucas in search of Marlin and other sportfish. Rocky Rafkin, a PGA pro, who frequently visited Baja from the mid 70s, said that he was driving along the beach in the mid 80s and saw a few people with shovels working out in the field not far from the beach. He told his friend who was driving the car to stop – that’s a golf course. He walked over to the workers who had shovels, a donkey and a plow and most importantly – no power tools or machines and met another PGA pro who was supervising the workers. This would become the San Jose del Cabo Municipal 9-hole golf course that opened in 1987. It was all built by hand with 32 bunkers and a lake – a 3,153-yard flat course with a par 35. The next step in the history of golf was made when Don Koll, the owner of Palmilla invited Jack Nicklaus to visit. He also invited the then president of Mexico to visit and to meet Nicklaus. The result was a commitment to expand the San Jose del Cabo airport, run better water mains to Cabo San Lucas and the construction of the first Jack Nicklaus course in Los Cabos, which opened in 1990. The Palmilla course is now three 18-hole courses – Mountain (7,036 years, par 72), Ocean (6,771 yards, par 72) and the Arroyo (6,939 yards, par 72). There are now 21 golf courses in Los Cabos and another two planned in the next several years. An amazing number of these courses are listed among the top 100 courses in the world and have been the host to PGA tournaments.
Not all of the golf courses in Los Cabos are open to the public. In fact, ten of the 21 current courses are private and require either being a resident in the community or the guest at a hotel. The newest private course is the Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol. This Jack Nicklaus course has just been updated and recently reopened as part of the private Cove Club. It originally opened as a public course and every fairway has views of the Sea of Cortez and there are four holes that follow the beach. One of the newest private courses is the Twin Dolphins Golf Club available to owners and guests of the Montage Hotel and Resorts and the MaraVilla Condominiums. This one of a kind 19-hole course was designed by Fred Couples (his first in Mexico) and winds through the nature of Los Cabos with stunning views of the mountains and the Sea of Cortez. Greg Norman also entered the hospitality business with a golf course and residences in Rancho Los Cabos along the Pacific Ocean between Cabo San Lucas and Todos Santos. As either an owner of a residence or a guest at one of the Solmar resorts, you can have access to this 7,210-yard, par 72 course. Tom Fazio designed the Chileno Bay golf course which winds its way through arroyos with magnificent views of the Sea of Cortez and the Los Cabos mountains open recently and is also private for homeowners in Chileno Bay or guests of the Auberge Chileno Resort. The Quivira Golf Course along the Pacific Ocean opened in 2014 and is also private. To play this 7,085-yard, par 72, you need to either be a homeowner or a guest at one of the Pueblo Bonito resort properties in Cabo San Lucas. The green fees range from $233 - $380, depending on the season and time of day. In 2009, several courses opened in the Pacific side community of Diamante, just north of Cabo San Lucas. Davis Love designed the Dunes course (7,160 yards, par 72) with views of the Pacific Ocean and Tiger Woods designed his first course ever at Diamante. The El Cardonal course opened in 2014 and was followed by the Oasis short course (12 holes) in 2016. The Oasis course is a par three that winds around over 400 palm trees. Both of these courses have views of the Pacific Ocean. All three courses require that you are either an owner or a guest in Diamante. Although a few tee times each day are allocated to the Nobu Hotel and the Hard Rock Hotel that are on the beach adjacent Diamante. The first Tom Fazio course in Los Cabos, which opened in 2000 was in Querencia, a private residential community just south of San Jose del Cabo and north of Palmilla along the main highway. This is a par 72 course that also has a driving range.
Not currently private, the Jack Nicklaus course in Puerto Los Cabos will become private when the second nine holes of the adjacent Greg Norman course is completed. But don’t worry, if you want world class golf, you don’t need to own in Los Cabos or stay in a luxury hotel. There are lots of additional hotels. As indicated, both courses (27 holes) of golf in Puerto Los Cabos are now public. Currently, the 18-hole Nicklaus course has 7.191 yards, par 72 and the Greg Norman course with 9 holes completed is 3,590 yards with a par 36. Both of these courses feature a palapa rest stop that is included in the green fees, where golfers can enjoy beverages and taco of their own choosing. The first 18 holes of these courses opened in 2008 with the second Nicklaus 9 opening in 2019. The oldest public course in Los Cabos was opened as the San Jose del Cabo Municipal Course in 1987 and was sold to Vidanta in 2012. The second oldest course is Palmilla with 27 holes that opened in 1990 (described in the introduction above). One of the early courses to open in Los Cabos is the Robert Trent Jones II course at Cabo Real. This is a 6,848-yard course with a par 71 that depending on the season and time of day has green fees that range from $140 - $240. The Cabo San Lucas Country Club, just outside of Cabo San Lucas was opened in 1994 following Tropical Storm Lydia has seven brand new holes and offers a 7,220-yard, par 72 course that was designed by Roy Dye. It is also the only club in Los Cabos to have a lighted driving range, allowing players to practice at night. In 2007, Club Campestre was opened in a community just on the western edge of San Jose del Cabo. This Jack Nicklaus course has 6,966 holes and a par 71 with views of the Sea of Cortez and the Los Cabos mountains. Other than the Vidanta 9-hole course, this is one of the least expensive in Los Cabos with green fees ranging from $99 to $195, depending on the season and time of day. It is one of four courses owned by Questro Golf – Cabo Real, Club Campestre and the two courses in Puerto Los Cabos. The most recent opening Los Cabos was the Robert Trent Jones II designed course at Costa Palmas (7,000 yards, par 72), up the East Cape. This is part of the overall Four Seasons Resort development that includes a hotel, residences and a yacht harbor.
Two new resorts planned on the East Cape – the Vidanta Mayan Palace just north of Zacatitos and Punta Playa just south of Zacatitos – plan 18-hole golf courses. The Vidanta property is currently under construction with a 2021 or 2022 opening. The Punta Playa property has not yet been started.
While fishing is still the most popular draw for tourists to Los Cabos, the world-class golf and even more world-class views from these courses has truly made the area a year round destination for tourists.