Tee Time Down South

Mexico is witnessing even more growth in the number and quality of its golf resorts

By: Maxine Cass

Charles “Chuck” Kinder, CTC, the Laguna Beach, Calif.-based publisher of the “Golf Guide to Mexico” and “Golf Guide to Los Cabos” (offered free to travel agents), has his finger on the pulse of Mexico’s best-known niche product, golf.

“Approximately 5,000 individual U.S. travel agents have some sort of golf market,” he noted, “whether a little or a lot.”

After 14 years as a Mexico golf product expert, Kinder is finding that, “surprisingly, Mexico’s golf is going national,” with groundbreaking going beyond Los Cabos, the Puerto Vallarta area and the Cancun-Riviera Maya golf courses promoting to the U.S. market.

“About 30 new golf courses are under contract to be built in Mexico,” within a few years, said Kinder, adding to the current 165-course inventory. One-third of existing courses are 9-hole, one-third are resort courses and the remaining courses are private.

Travel agents selling Mexico can tap into what Kinder described as “relatively inexpensive golf” for “aging Baby Boomers not as inclined to sit on a beach as they once were.”

Mexico is the No. 1 foreign destination for U.S. golf enthusiasts, he noted, because awareness of Mexico’s golf product is increasing. (The Cabo del Sol course, in Los Cabos, received a ranking of 68 in Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 Courses in the World” issue.) Besides, Kinder pointed out, these days “Mexico is seen as safe, secure and close.”

Kinder estimated that within five to six years, Mexico golf courses’ real estate, land and home value will represent $6.5 billion of built-out value. And where will clients find those new courses?

Expect the booming Riviera Maya to add six courses within the next year for a total approaching 20 in Quintana Roo State. Courses are planned for La Paz in Baja and two 18-hole championship courses are in the works for Loreto as part of the Mexican government’s Escalera Nautica (Nautical Stair) plan for upper Baja Peninsula ports. Puerto Penasco at the north end of the Gulf of Mexico has a Jack Nicklaus-designed course under way.

There is new course construction in Mexico City and Guadalajara. The expanding Mexican middle class, Kinder said, is building homes around non-beach destinations in Mexico’s interior at spots near San Miguel de Allende, Morelia (Michoacan) and Torreon (210 miles west of Monterrey). Even Campeche, with virgin beaches waiting to be discovered on the western side of the Yucatan Peninsula, could be on the horizon, said Kinder.