Course Review: Punta Mita Club de Golf – Pacifico Course, Nayarit, Mexico

The sublime setting of the 18th green on Punta Mita’s Pacifico Course.

The Pacifico Course of the Punta Mita Club de Golf that opened in 1999 defines high-end Jack Nicklaus “resort golf” or any resort golf for that matter  This is the first of the two layouts that Nicklaus and Jim Lipe built for the club.  Accessible only to members and guests of the adjacent St. Regis and Four Seasons Hotels, this is an eminently playable, attractively scenic layout.  It boasts a tropical motif complete with palm trees, native brush, flowers, and deep bold bunkering to accentuate the expansively wide and well-manicured fairways and inviting greensites.

The par-three 17th.

Provided you play the proper tees for your skill level, this is easily the more benign layout of the two.  At the Pacifico layout Nicklaus was given a blank canvas and he did not disappoint.  While there are many attractive holes the alternate par-three third hole and the eighteenth hole are the most memorable. The third named “The Tale of the Whale,” which can only be traversed during low tide or by an amphibian golf cart features perhaps golf’s only truly natural ocean island green which can play up to 194 yards.  In fact, Jack Nicklaus has been quoted as calling it the most favorite hole he ever designed. It is a fairly sized target surrounded by sand and rock and, of course, water.  Even if you aren’t scheduled to play the hole, take an old ball to hit toward the green as this is one of the most unusual and exciting holes you will ever experience.  While the seventeenth hole again visits the ocean’s edge, the finishing hole is a 445-yarder that hugs the ocean its entire right side and also behind the green.  The fairway is generous as are all of the tee shot areas, but it is a great way to end your round.

An eye-level view of the incomparable walk to hole 3B at the Pacifico Course.

The Pacifico Course is definitely one to take your camera as you will be snapping away as the layout defines the term “eye candy” in golf.  In fact, when the Canadian Tour finale was held there, practice round play was particularly slow.  Why?  You guessed it; the pros were busy taking pictures.

Overall the course is a fairly routine test of golf, perfect for casual or average skilled players.  The greens are relatively mild and smooth so that the expert may be able to score a raft of birdies. That’s not to say that the Pacifico Course is easy; it’s more like “mild.”  You should lose very few balls and the greens, for the most part, are inviting to approach shots.  Conde Nast Traveller readers twice voted it the “Best Course in the Americas, Caribbean and the UK”

Fagan Course Rating:  A-. I upgraded my grade on the Pacificio Course to a rare A- on the strength that it so closely fits all the desirable characteristics of the “perfect resort course.”  There are many more challenging golf courses, but the Pacifico Course at Punta Mita defines the essence of what high-end resort golf is all about – fun, well-maintained, gamey, picturesque, and very memorable.  This is fun golf!

Below is the approach to the par-five 13th.

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