Resort guests receive discounts on green and cart fees. // © 2015 Riviera Maya Golf Club
Feature image (above): Tee off at Riviera Maya Golf Club. // © 2015 Riviera Maya Golf Club
It’s no surprise that Mexico has become a hotbed for world-class golfers. The Yucatan Peninsula boasts some of the most luxurious resorts in the world, and it makes sense that part of that luxury has grown to include golf, the game of kings.
Currently, the country has more than 160 golf courses, and that number continues to rise. Some of the best courses in Mexico can be found at Riviera Maya Golf Club. Completed in 2010, the complex boasts two courses — an 18-hole, par-72 championship course and a nine-hole, par-three executive course — both designed by famed golf architect Robert Trent Jones II.
Located about a mile from the sea, the courses are part of Bahia Principe Riviera Maya Residences & Golf complex, a massive compound that includes four properties. Resort guests receive a discount on green and cart fees, including access to a fleet of GPS-enabled carts.
When designing the courses, Jones opted to highlight the region’s natural resources, using limestone rock formations and towering stone structures within the area’s dense jungle — an ode to the neighboring Mayan ruins. The picturesque courses have wide, expansive greens that are surrounded by mangroves, deep pools and indigenous flora and fauna. A modern clubhouse with sleek furnishings and a wall of windows that invites in a flood of natural light awaits players at the end of their rounds, in addition to a swimming pool, dressing rooms and showers.
The 18-hole course’s signature hole is its par-three hole 15. Known for his love of incorporating challenging hazards, Jones certainly included many on this one. Starting with an elevated tee box, the hole hugs a sizeable water hazard to its right, with two bunkers on the left perimeter of the green. As Julian Romaguera, director of golf at the club, says: This hole is all about the mental game.
“Sometimes I encourage golfers to use the bunkers as support,” Romaguera said. “Getting stuck in sand can be a better alternative to hitting the lake.”
Though the executive course includes all par-three holes, Romaguera says it still offers a variety of holes that can challenge golfers. All irons can be played there, though some players have chosen to use their driver to tee off.
Since Romaguera arrived to the facility a year ago, he has implemented a golf academy that is open to both visitors and residents. Lessons are available for all ages and skill levels — which Romaguera hopes will continue to grow Mexico’s golf culture.
Adding to a list of progressive initiatives, 100 percent of the greens are treated with organic products, according to Romaguera. The club also works closely with Eco-Bahia Ecological Foundation, an on-property eco-preservation and research organization, to ensure the course maintenance is safe not only for the plants, but also for any animals that make their way onto the greens. The results are brilliantly maintained courses that evoke a new standard of golf in Mexico.
“In my year here, I’ve seen thousands of players play at our golf club,” Romaguera said. “And I’ve never heard anyone say they didn’t like playing at this course.”