SAN JOSE DEL CABO, Mexico -- It's a shame that the Cabo Real Golf Club will lose its seaside, par-3 15th hole during a redesign this summer.
The view down the beach out into the Sea of Cortez from that tee and green is why many golfers come to Los Cabos in the first place. The hole was sold for redevelopment, the latest victim of golf business trumping golf beauty. The club likely received a pretty peso from the sale, much like neighboring El Dorado Golf & Beach Club, a private club that made international news by developing four of its beachfront hotels into high-end real estate in 2004.
The golf gods must be okay with the deal, because Cabo Real's Head Golf Professional Juan Carlos Castellanos said the 168-yard par 3 has been offering up going-away presents -- at least six holes-in-one in recent months.
Cabo Real Golf Club: The redesign
Original architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. started what should be a thoughtful reconfiguration of the back nine in June. Jones, who designed Cabo Real in 1993, will move the 14th green left along the beach and closer to the shore to help offset the loss. This relatively short par 4 that meanders to the beach should get a bit tougher and even more gorgeous.
The par-4 16th that climbs away from the beach will be converted into the new 15th hole, an uphill, 190-yard par 3. The new 16th hole, a 170-yard par 3, will sit across the street near the 17th and 18th holes on higher ground away from the shore.
Castellanos called the changes a positive not a negative, although the 7,037-yard layout will lose a stroke to par and play as a par 71. The finished product should be completed by late October.
"Most customers are repeat customers. They want something new," Castellanos said, defending the decision for the redesign.
Jones II will also take a long look at some minor tweaks to the front nine, long considered the toughest loop in Los Cabos. The front nine dances through mountainous terrain with panoramic views in every direction. Gulches and arroyos border many fairways, collecting every errant shot.
They're maddeningly difficult if your driver is balky or you're playing from the wrong tees. Otherwise, they're great fun. The par-4 ninth drops precipitously from the tee to a rippled fairway. A lake guards the green.
"Playing the front nine, you must play wise. You must place the ball," Castellanos said.
Dave Montgomery, a transplant from California who has worked at Cabo Real for five years, said he loves that you don't have to pull out driver on every hole to score well.
"I think it's a great course," he said. "I know members who play it every day. A guy would not play this twice a day 365 days a year if it was not a good course."
There is already another nine-hole routing on tap should the club ever want to expand further.
Cabo Real Golf Club: The verdict
Golf purists like me will always lament the loss of a natural theater for golf to another money-hungry real-estate developer, but players who experience the new Cabo Real Golf Club for the first time this fall will probably never know what they're missing.
Cabo Real has enough dramatic elements to satisfy everybody, even without the lost par 3.