Known for its sugar-sand beaches and mouth-watering margaritas, Mexico is now adding luxury golf destinations to its repertoire.
Two new Greg Norman-designed courses are joining an upgraded 27-hole Jack Nicklaus course to offer a first-class golf experience south of the border.
The PGA is even taking notice, adding one of Mexico's new courses to its regular tour schedule.
For Greg Norman's first course in Mexico, he created El Camaleon 35 miles south of Cancun.
Its 18 challenging holes are all designed to fit in with and highlight the local environment. One minute you're playing in the jungle and on the next shot, you're surrounded by a swamp, hitting toward the ocean. The course weaves in and out of mangroves, and some holes even play right up next to huge ancient cenotes, or caves.
In 2007, the PGA Tour came to El Camaleon for its first official event in Mexico. It was such a success the tour came back to Mexico again in February of this year.
"Mayakoba is truly a special place," says designer and golf great Greg Norman. The director of golf at El Camaleon, Douglas Goubault, agrees, adding that, "Mexico is the fastest-growing golf destination in the world."
So how does this course stack up? Here are the stats.
By: Douglas Goubault-El Camaleon Director of Golf
1. Stretch before you play to loosen up your muscles and ensure your mind and body are ready to play golf.
2. To better control your chip shots around the green, try using your putting grip on a low-lofted club like an 8-iron.
3. Many golfers stand with their feet too close together. Make sure you have a solid stance and that your feet are slightly farther apart than the width of your shoulders.
Where to Stay
Next door at the new Fairmont Mayakoba (www.fairmont.com/mayakoba). The Fairmont manages the course and has special stay-and-play packages.
Another Greg Norman creation, Playa Mujeres sports 18 eco-friendly holes just five miles outside of Cancun.
Featuring tight fairways, tricky trade winds and seven picturesque lagoon and oceanfront holes, this first-class golf club is already recognized as one of the top courses in Mexico. Playa Mujeres also is a standout because it has a full service driving range along with two putting greens and a short game area.
You'll also find a modern clubhouse with showers, a pro shop stocked with the latest golf clothes and equipment, as well as indoor and outdoor dining areas — popular with golfers for post-course meals and margaritas.
Popular with female golfers, Playa Mujeres (which translates to "Women Beach") is also the first course in Latin America certified as "Women Friendly" by the Executive Women's Golf Association.
Playa Mujeres Golf Club
Rating 74.5 Men & 69.5 Women
By: Julio Viscontti, General Manager, PGA at Playa Mujeres
1. To help handle the tricky trade winds, go up one club. Less loft will keep the ball lower against the wind.
2. When straight downwind, tee higher to take advantage of the wind.