PUNTA MITA, Nayarit, Mexico - When it came time to build another golf course at Punta Mita Golf Club, apparently there was never any consideration to hiring a different designer.
After all, folks were more than satisfied with the first golf course, now known as Pacifico Course, designed by Jack Nicklaus. So why not bring back the Golden Bear for the Bahia Course? Why mess up a good thing?
Nicklaus, however, knew that creating a golf course that was similar to Pacifico would be almost pointless. You're not likely to mistake Bahia for a Tom Fazio-design, but it isn't typical Nicklaus, either. Here you'll find severely undulating greens, plenty of turns and twists and nary a flat lie on the course - just the opposite of Pacifico.
You'll also find plenty of great vistas of the Pacific Ocean like its sister course.
"I don't think you'll find a better one-two combination anywhere," said Phillip Ferrari, director of golf at Punta Mita Golf Club.
Hard to argue that point. While there may be some facilities that may give Punta Mita Golf Club a run for the money, you can count the two courses here among the best 36 holes in golf. Play one one day and another the next. Or play 36 all in the same day.
Once again, plenty of ocean holes
No doubt the 7,035-yard, par-72 Bahia course has a different feel than Pacifico, but you aren't cheated out of ocean views.
By the time you get to the second green, the Pacific Ocean looms in the background. It continues off the 224-yard par-3 third, and you can see the beach and ocean on half of the golf course.
What you'll also find, though, is great shot values throughout the golf course. There are some pin placements, quite frankly, that are inaccessible. Bahia can be set up to be extremely difficult.
There's a particularly good stretch of holes midway through the back nine.
Water from a lake comes into play on the second and third shots of the dogleg. par-5 13th. At 554 yards, it is possible to hit in two, but it isn't a par cinch if you play it in three shots.
The 14th, a 440-yard par 4, doglegs left down toward the ocean. Picking the right club to account for slope and wind on the approach can be tricky.
And the 15th, at 462 yards, plays more like 500 if it's into the wind.
Like all good courses, Bahia has a great finishing stretch, too, highlighted by the 387-yard 17th. With beach and ocean cutting into the left side of the fairway, the tee shot is difficult, and the approach even harder. Two precise shots are needed for a birdie putt here, otherwise you could be looking at double bogey or worse.
Bahia Course at Punta Mita Golf Club: The verdict
Not that you should ever get bored playing Pacifico, but Bahia is a nice change of pace and perhaps more difficult, although Pacifico is rated at 72.7 with a slope of 131.
But while the golf course may be a little more challenging with its undulating fairways and greens, it too offers generous fairways and plenty of opportunity to get the ball in play.
More than that, the views of the ocean are comparable to that of Pacifico. The course more than complements the original, making for a most memorable golf experience.
Punta Mita Golf Club's driving range and lessons
The practice facilities here are first class. You'll find perfect lies on this double-sided large range with plenty of targets. All the while, attendants clean your clubs and generally make you feel welcome.
There is also a large putting green, chipping greens and practice bunkers just before the first tee.
Individual lessons are also available from the professional staff. Led by Ferrari, this is a great place to improve your game.
Formerly served by only the Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita, travelers now have two options.
In November 2008, the St. Regis Hotel Punta Mita opened next to the club. The resort features 120 secluded rooms, each with their own stairway and views of the Pacific Ocean. There's also the signature Remède Spa with nine treatment rooms, three outstanding restaurants, three infinity pools reflecting the sunsets, tennis courts and private cabanas and beach club.
Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita offers 173 guest rooms, including 30 suites, in tile-roofed, Mexican-style casitas set along the Pacific Coast. Most of the rooms feature views of the ocean and mountains.
Recent additions include a lazy river, which makes the Four Seasons not only a great romantic getaway but a good family destination as well.
The Four Seasons also has a world-class spa, terrific dining and plenty of activities for guests.