CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico -- Tiger Woods finally has his "Hello World" moment as a golf course architect. Not only did Woods debut the El Cardonal Course at Diamante Cabo San Lucas, on Dec. 16, 2014, it was also announced that day he would return to build another course inside the lavish timeshare community at the tip of the Baja Peninsula.
No longer would the focus be on the high-profile design projects in Dubai, North Carolina and Mexico that fell apart on Woods. Visually, El Cardonal can't match the imposing dunes and stunning beachfront holes of the world-ranked Diamante Dunes Course by Davis Love III next door. Even so, El Cardonal -- named after the tall, slender, multi-armed cactus that thrives in this region -- features panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean from nearly every hole.
The 7,363-yard par-72 layout, set upon higher ground than the Dunes, weaves through dune-framed fairways on the front nine and over desert arroyos on the back nine. Woods used the classic courses he grew up playing in Southern California as his template. His bold, flash-faced bunkers will immediately catch your eye. Their shaping and contours sometimes give off the impression that they're closer to greens or more in play in the fairway than they appear.
Green surrounds range from forgiving to foreboding. Here's guessing the backstop on the par-3 second hole gives up more aces than the steep drop-off to the left of the 14th green allows up and downs. Woods gives players plenty of choices, especially on short par 4s at No. 3 (home to the course's only pond) and No. 10. It's so playable that golfers could go for days without losing a ball.
El Cardonal's sprawling clubhouse is home to a Nike-themed pro shop, several restaurants (coming soon), a golf learning center with three indoor bays and a large driving range. Comfort stations on the course and one near the driving range serve free food and drink. Only golfers who stay on property and go through a one-time "Stay & Play" sales presentation can play at Diamante.