While staying at Posada Yum Kin, all suite, eco-friendly hotel in Tulum, visitors will find several great options for golf that are simply unmatched anywhere. Where else in the world could you walk among the Mayans while you take in a round of golf? Then after a beautiful day of golfing this challenging historic terrain, there is nothing better than dipping into our cool and refreshing pool and then sitting back with a cool drink.
While golf is not an indigenous sport to Mexico, it certainly has caught on in the Riviera Maya area. Jim Kerr at Worldgolf.com says that “Golf in Mexico has traditionally been a passion of the wealthy upper class, played on private courses located near large urban centers such as Mexico City, where the first golf club in the country opened in the suburb of San Pedro de los Pinos in 1905. It took tourism, specifically along the Pacific Coast and Baja Peninsula, to dramatically pick up the pace of course construction during the past 20 years.
When Cancun was launched, golf was a natural addition to the east coast as well, although the limestone terrain, marshy landscape, jungle foliage, salt water intrusion, heat and other elements presented challenges that only 20th century technology could feasibly and economically overcome. Indigenous ruins were another sensitive issue. The area is catacombed with Mayan excavations, burial centers, cenotes, and abandoned population sites. In keeping with Mexican tradition and conservation policies, courses were built around untouched ruins, incorporating the natural surroundings. This often means alligators, lizards and birds have the right-of-way, and their natural habitat of jungle and lagoons are part of the scenery.”
Golf course designers including Robert Trent Jones II, Greg Norman, Tom Fazio and Robert Von Hagge have taken up the challenge of designing spectacular golf courses under these rugged, and pristine conditions. Here are five great courses you can hit while staying at Posada Yum Kin in Tulum.
Riviera Maya Golf Club
Riviera Maya Golf Course in Tulum is an impressive architectural project in which the designer Robert Trent Jones II has managed to create spectacular synergies between the 36-hole golf course and the luxuriant Mayan jungle, integrating natural lakes and cenotes (sink holes) within the rugged terrain. With eighteen holes cut deep into an ancient limestone quarry and fairways flowing along the natural contours of a jungle dense with mangroves and gum trees, limestone boulders piled at the edge like rubble swept aside by Maya Gods. More than a game it is an environmental experience.
This course is located 10 minutes north of Tulum. Greens Fees: $230.00 US Dollars, Twilight: $130.00. Rates include taxes, green fee, shared cart, snacks and beverages. This course offers food and beverage at the clubhouse and snacks along the course.
The Puerto Adventuras Golf Course is an exiting and challenging course. This beautiful 36-par jungle golf course was designed in 1991 by Thomas Leman and is still one of the best-kept secrets in the area. The fairways and greens are covered by a smooth carpet of Bermuda grass and surrounded by Palm trees, bougainvilleas, tropical fichus and lush foliage.
On your daily rounds you may encounter iguanas, deer and different species of tropical birds and other local fauna.
The Golf course opens every day year-round from 7:30 AM until dark. Golf Carts are not mandatory and no reservations are necessary. Tee Times are not needed to play but are recommended for groups larger than a 4 some.
This course is located 20 minutes north of Tulum. Greens Fees: $88.00 US Dollars (18 holes W/ Electric Cart included) No Discount for Walking or Pull Carts.
Designed by Robert Von Hagge and opened in 1994, it’s a welcome and peaceful retreat from the bustle of “downtown” Playa. Tight, high-shouldered fairways weave through a Maya jungle mostly hidden from the few roads that traverse the zone. Laid out on a limestone plateau, it meanders around sinkholes, or “cenotes,” once used by the Maya to collect rainwater. More than 200 Mayan ruins have been incorporated into the layout. At 7,202 yards, with a slope rating of 14.8 from the blues, it’s arguably the toughest course in this part of the world and can often take five hours to play.
This course is located 30 minutes from Tulum and 5 minutes from the center of Playa del Carmen. Green Fees: $200 US Dollars per player and may require full or partial payment online. This course is an all-inclusive, which means that all food and beverages are included in prices.
In 2006, El Camaleón made history by becoming the first golf course to host an official PGA TOUR event in México and the first official PGA TOUR event ever held outside of the United States or Canada. The tournament will continue to be held annually at El Camaleón through 2012 and is broadcast exclusively on the GOLF CHANNEL. Designed by the legendary Greg Norman, the 7,000-yard layout is unique not just to Mexico, but to the entire golf world.
El Camaleón is aptly named for its diverse layout and ever-changing landscape, which bends through tropical jungles, dense mangroves and oceanfront stretches of sand with holes bordered by massive limestone canals. The indigenous and environmentally inspired design aspects are evident from the opening fairway, by an imposing cenote, an ancient underground cavern that was unearthed during the initial stages of course construction. El Camaleón is the only course in the Riviera Maya featuring two holes just steps from the Caribbean Sea.
While each hole shines with its own particular magic, it’s the par-3s that already are earning the loudest raves. Hole No. 15 will define the El Camaleón experience. At only 160 yards from the back marker the hole plays directly towards the vibrant waters of the Caribbean Sea. The large green sets the stage for a memorable shot as the nearby waves gently soothe the golfer’s soul. Don’t be fooled, this hole is not to be taken lightly, especially when the tropical winds pick up. Regardless of your score, the ocean view will remain with the player long after the round.
No. 7 also plays right to the edge of the Caribbean Sea with the sand and the spray punctuating the breeze. In the distance is one of the world’s largest coral reefs and the island of Cozumel. No. 10 is another short hole that is long on memories. The figure eight green is lined with drama. A shot too long or to the right drops deep into the crystal waters of the canal.
El Camaleón is located 40 minutes north of Tulum in the heart of the Riviera Maya region and about 10 minutes north of Playa del Carmen. Green Fees: $150 US Dollars per player.
Cozumel Country Club
The Island of Cozumel has long been known for world class diving, beaches and fun in the sun. Now you can add world-class golf to that list. Since its opening in 2001, Cozumel Country Club, designed by the Nicklaus Design Group, has been steadily attracting travelers to Cozumel. This golf course has been carefully crafted from the surrounding mangrove marshlands and tropical rainforest to preserve its environmental integrity, as well as providing attractive challenges for players of every skill level.
The Nicklaus Design Group has successfully balanced the strict requirements of building a first-class golf course with a commitment to preserving the delicate ecosystem of the area. In March 2006 Cozumel Country Club became the first golf course in Mexico to earn the designation of Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary from Audubon International by demonstrating that they are maintaining a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas including Environmental Planning, Wildlife & Habitat Management, Outreach and Education, Chemical Use Reduction and Safety, Water Conservation, and Water Quality Management.
You’ll need to take the ferry out of Playa del Carmen, 30-40 minutes north of Tulum, which makes the 30-minute crossing to Cozumel numerous times daily, costs $9 one-way and is an easy daytrip for golfers headed for the Nicklaus-designed Cozumel Country Club. Green Fees: $135.00, Rates include green fee, taxes, and shared golf cart.
Posada Yum Kin, with its multi-lingual staff, is an eco-friendly, 9-unit, boutique, all suite hotel in Tulum, Mexico and features fully-equipped kitchens, a new pool and complimentary breakfasts. It possesses a ‘real Mexico’ atmosphere, but fully concentrates on luxury, while offering a little bit of condo convenience.
(Sources: Riviera Maya Golf Club, http://www.rivieramaya-golfclub.com/
Tee’d Off Tee Times, http://www.teedoffteetimes.com
Puerto Adventuras, http://www.puertoaventuras.com/golf.html
Greg Norman Golf Course Design, http://www.gngcd.com)
(All quoted fees are approximate and only accurate at the time of the writing of this article.)