Great Escape: Palmilla Golf Club
Palmilla Golf Club
At the southern tip of Baja California, Los Cabos has been a revered marlin fishing getaway and sun splashed playground for decades. Over the past 12 months, it has emerged as a great escape of a different sort. “Yes, Cabo is open for business,” said Jason Ballog, Director of Golf at Palmilla Golf Club, one of the area’s most esteemed courses.
“We were proud to be appointed Sharecare Health VERIFIED® by Forbes Travel Guide, which guarantees our hygiene protocols meet the highest standards, and that the Los Cabos region was designated as the world’s first Sharecare Health VERIFIED™ destination for its commitment to traveler’s safety. Furthermore, we have also secured convenient onsite testing for our guests to meet any policies that may require negative test results in order to return home.
“The resort is naturally designed to provide an atmosphere of space and seclusion, allowing greater ease with social distancing; combined with extensive health and safety measures that allow our guests to escape with peace of mind,” Ballog said. “The game of golf is itself a perfect setting for open-air spaciousness where players have freedom to roam. Not to mention Los Cabos is a true outdoor living paradise and you can’t beat Palmilla’s beachfront location.”
The first Jack Nicklaus Signature design in Latin America when it was built in 1992, Palmilla Golf Club continues to set the golf bar in a glamorous destination known for its
ideal climate, desert-on-the-sea setting, and ultra-luxe resorts.
Palmilla’s original Mountain and Arroyo nines formed the first 18-hole course in the region to incorporate Cabo’s unique mountain, desert, and ocean ecosystem.
Chiseled into a box-shaped canyon framed by tall stony peaks on the outskirts of the charming colonial city of San Jose del Cabo, Palmilla presents a memorable test. Holes skirt canyon-like gulches, cactus-studded hills, and boulder-strewn arroyos. Each hole has a sweeping view of the Sea of Cortez. Multiarmed cardon cacti — a cousin of the saguaro — and thorny desert vegetation frame the layout.
“WITH FIVE SETS OF TEES, YOU CAN PLAY IT AS TOUGH AS YOU WANT. BUT LADIES, SENIORS, AND BEGINNERS CAN MOVE UP A SET OF TEES AND HAVE A REALLY GOOD TIME HERE.”
The club’s Ocean nine, added by Nicklaus in 1997, features a 600-foot elevation change from the first tee to the oceanside third green, transporting players from the mountains to the sea.
And while the Ocean nine is known for its dazzling par-4 third hole, its green back dropped by swaying palms a stone’s throw from the beach, there’s more than beauty on this nine. The steep climb up from the coast leads to a challenging sequence of holes at the finish.
The Arroyo nine, spliced by its namesake arroyos, corkscrews through rolling desert foothills. It has its own “Amen Corner” — the par-4 sixth, at 460 yards, is a brawny rightto- left dogleg; No. 7 is a picturesque but well defended par 5 that faces the prevailing wind; and the par-3 eighth, at 243 yards from tips, will drain the plaid from your tropical knickers.
The Mountain nine, stretching to 3,602 yards, is the longest and most challenging of the three nines. At the par-5 fourth, water lurks off the tee and near the green, creating the most tantalizing risk-reward scenario on the course. The standout hole is No. 5, a stirring par 4 that plays across a canyon and drops to a sunken green fronted by a dry river bed.
ELEVATING THE BAR
What accounts for Palmilla’s enduring appeal? Ballog summed it up in one word: fairness. “If you want a challenge, you can move back to the black or gold markers,” he said. “With five sets of tees, you can play it as tough as you want. But ladies, seniors, and beginners can move up a set of tees and have a really good time here. The fairways are generously wide. You can roll the ball onto the open entry greens. And our customer service is top-notch.”
Palmilla has another dimension that sets it apart from its neighbors. “We are the only golf course in Los Cabos owned by the hotel onsite,” Ballog noted. “This gives us an advantage because we can align our core competencies and provide great memories to every player. Looking ahead, we’ll be seeking to improve our infrastructure at a One&Only quality level, including a new clubhouse and expanded practice facilities.”
The recent installation of RoboGolfPro®, a robotic swing trainer, made the facility realize the need to add a golf academy in the near future. Ballog said that the club is extremely excited to be the first Troon Golf® facility to offer the futuristic trainer. Billed as “the first and only swing training system that allows golfers to feel their ideal swing,” the machine has been endorsed by several PGA Tour pros and Top 100 teachers.
Located five minutes from the golf club, One&Only Palmilla was transformed by entrepreneur Sol Kerzner into an iconic luxury retreat. Perched on its own peninsula, the hotel invites guests to bask on one of the only swimmable beaches in Los Cabos, with three coves embraced by dramatic rocky bluffs. These secluded hideaways have floating beds, catamaran-like hammocks, and private butlers. Two ocean-view swimming pools are also available, one for adults and one for families.
The resort’s updated accommodations — totaling 174 oceanfront guestrooms, suites, and two villas — are richly appointed with modern Baja décor and nicely capture the essence of the Cabo lifestyle. The One&Only Spa’s wellness, fitness, and beauty offerings, including Barber & Blade, a gentlemen’s grooming studio, are flawless.
Guests can savor exceptional cuisine at SEARED, a sleek wood-fire grill in collaboration with Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who visits Palmilla a few times each year to host special culinary events. He also oversees Suviche, known for its succulent sushi and ceviche. Another highlight is Agua Bar, an enchanting seafront palapa where mixologist Francisco Oropeza holds court, mixing up magical concoctions and innovative cocktails.
A match made in heaven, Palmilla Golf Club and One&Only Palmilla are a world-class twosome.
AT-A-GLANCE: Palmilla Golf Club
Los Cabos, Mexico