I will never profess to being a great golfer; many years ago I could break 80 on a good day, but now finishing the hole with the same ball I started with is considered a real accomplishment! Whether you live in the area or just want to challenge yourself against some of the best golf courses in Mexico and the world, the Riviera Maya is definitely a golfer’s paradise.
Here are four courses that are sure to challenge and delight players of every kind, and each one is conveniently located within just 30 minutes of downtown Playa del Carmen:
By far the best known among Riviera Maya golf courses, this Greg Norman design is home to the OHL Mayakoba Classic, which in recent years has attracted PGA tour stars like Rickie Fowler, Jordan Speith, Ernie Els and the winner of the 2018 tournament, Matt Kuchar. Set in the luxurious Mayakoba resort, this course is worth playing just for the challenge of playing the par 3, 15th hole, where an errant tee shot to the right could end up on the beach in the world’s most beautiful sand bunker.
Located 30 minutes south of downtown Playa del Carmen is the Robert Trent Jones III designed Bahia Principe course at the Riviera Maya Golf Club. It features an 18-hole championship course and a 9-hole executive course. The biggest highlights are the challenging par 5, 4th hole, with water all the way down the side and in front of the green, as well as the par 3, 15th hole, which features a carry of more than 200 yards over water to a green that’s surrounded by stunning natural rock formations. In the end, I’ve found that Bahia Principe’s Riviera Maya Golf Club is a course that can be very forgiving and very punishing, often on the same hole.
Nestled in the gated community of the same name, the Grand Coral golf course was designed by Nick Price and is very playable, as it meanders through the expansive Grand Coral complex. The course features an enormous practice area and a full-service clubhouse that includes a spa and a great restaurant right where you come off the 18th green! For golfers who are having a successful day, beware Grand Coral’s own “Amen Corner,” and remember that holes 15-17 have ruined many a good round.
Cut out of the jungle in the gated community of Playacar is the Hard Rock Riviera Maya Championship Golf Course designed by Robert von Hagge. Keep in mind that this is not a course where you can expect to play 18 holes and be afforded many birdie opportunities. The greens are small, the sand traps are big and the fairways are narrow. But the location is a great one for locals and tourists alike, because the service is great and the green fee is all-inclusive, meaning it includes 18 holes of golf, a cart, practice range and all food and beverages.
If you’re a tourist coming to play a round of golf in paradise, it isn’t cheap, but you can always look around online for websites that work with the local courses to fill in their tee times with discounted rates. Or, play with a local – maybe you’ll get lucky and be able to pay the local rate! No matter what, the experience will be unforgettable… And you’re quite likely to find one of my lost golf balls in the jungle somewhere during your round!
Do you have questions about golfing in Mexico’s Riviera Maya? Share them in the comments!