The Desert Course at Cabo del Sol, a brilliant Tom Weiskopf creation that will celebrate its 20th anniversary later this year, reopened for play March 1. The course, closed several months ago due to COVID-19 restrictions, fully partakes of the region’s ocean-mountain-desert ecosystem. Routed in mountain foothills high above the Cove Club, the Jack Nicklaus-designed gem formerly known as the Ocean Course, the Desert Course is a classic test prized by shotmakers. All 18 holes on the 7,049-yard, par-72 resort venue serve up panoramic views of the glittering Sea of Cortes.
“We’re happily anticipating the reopening of the Desert Course,” said Erik Evans, Cabo del Sol’s director of golf. “As life in Los Cabos gets back to normal, we’re finding that golfers continue to travel here to enjoy a safe social distancing sport that’s more popular now than ever before.”
As part of the club’s “Healthy, Happy & Safe” initiative, Cabo del Sol is following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (USA) and the Health Department of Mexico to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Rigorous cleaning, sanitation and disinfection procedures have been expanded and enhanced above the club’s already high standards.
Chiseling holes into rugged terrain crisscrossed by canyon-like arroyos and winding barrancas, Weiskopf produced a masterful layout in the Desert Course. Dished-out fairways are framed by granite rock outcrops and a dense cactus forest punctuated by multi-armed cardon cacti similar to the saguaro of the Arizona desert. The variety of cactus on this well-groomed spread—barrel, jumping cholla, organ pipe and many more—is astonishing. Ocotillo, palo blanco, mesquite and gnarled torote trees also flourish here. Created with a great deal of sensitivity to the Baja environment, the holes appear airlifted into the desert.
Broad fairway corridors with few forced carries instill confidence from the multiple sets of forward tees, ensuring an enjoyable experience for players at all ability levels. Large, sculpted bunkers marked by dramatic capes and bays signpost the fairways and defend the greens. Subtly contoured greens, a Weiskopf trademark, provide tantalizing targets, their long slopes, gentle rolls and distinctive tiers requiring a sure touch with the putter.
While the fairways are wide, the Desert Course presents a handful of semi-blind tee shots that make landing areas appear narrower than they really are. With its numerous risk-reward options, this well-strategized test needs to be played more than once to learn its nuances.
Pace and variety are the Desert’s strong suits. Drivable par fours at the fourth and seventh holes are balanced by sturdy par fives at the third and 12th holes, each a cross-country quest aimed into Pacific headwinds that calls for three solid shots to reach the green. The dazzling downhill par-3 16th hole, the sea flooding the horizon beyond the putting surface, requires better players to funnel the ball to selected pin locations on the large, sloping green. Average players can bail out to safe right side to avoid trouble on the left.
“With its dramatic views of the Sea of Cortes, the Desert Course at Cabo del Sol is one of the most unique desert layouts I’ve designed,” Weiskopf said. “The rare natural beauty of the ocean, mountain and desert environment provides an ideal setting and some of the best terrain for golf anywhere in the world. My design incorporates traditional bunkering, expansive greens, wide fairways, multiple tee placements, natural waste areas and spectacular ocean views. It’s one of the most scenic courses I’ve designed.”
The Desert Course is served by Cabo del Sol’s stately 40,000-square-foot clubhouse, which fuses colonial and traditional architecture with modern amenities to create a distinctive Mexican hacienda design. Marked by stone floors and high-beamed ceilings, the clubhouse features an expansive golf shop, men’s and women’s locker rooms, and picturesque views from its open-air verandas and landscaped terraces.
Cabo del Sol is convenient to two on-site hotels: Hacienda del Mar Los Cabos, a beachfront resort conceived as a traditional Mexican village; and Grand Fiesta Americana Los Cabos, an all-inclusive hotel with guest rooms perched on a bluff above the Sea of Cortes. Through May 31, green fees for the Desert Course are $225 from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.; and $175 after 11:00 a.m. All-day rate drops to $165 starting June 1. Tee times: 866 231-4677; or e-mail reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org.