Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 15th
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Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 15th
The dangerous, par-4 15th hole on the Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta boomerangs around a water hazard. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Images
Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course
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Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course
Golfers use a suspension bridge to cross the Ameca River to reach the Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. Courtesy of Vidanta
Greg Norman - Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta
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Greg Norman - Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta
Greg Norman hit a few shots at the grand opening of his Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Greg Norman
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Greg Norman
Greg Norman answered questions during the grand opening at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 3
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Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 3
The third hole on the Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta plays 180 yards from the tips. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 9
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Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 9
Water intrudes on the ninth green of the Greg Norman Signature golf course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 11
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Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 11
Players take on a waste bunker off the tee for a shorter approach to the 11th green on the Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 15
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Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 15
The Sierra Madre Mountains accompany golfers around the Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta in Mexico. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 17
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Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 17
The 226-yard par 3 at no. 17 might be the most intimidating hole on the Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 6
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Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 6
This beautiful tree, which blocks the right side of the fairway on the par-5 sixth hole, is one of several large trees on the Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 7th
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Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta - Greg Norman Signature golf course - 7th
The par-3 seventh hole of the Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta has a unique green dissected by a large swale. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor

Grand opening: Tour the new Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta in Mexico

JALISCO, Mexico -- First came the flood waters from the Ameca River. Then came the rains from Hurricane Patricia.

These two natural disasters derailed the opening of the Greg Norman Signature Course at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta for more than a year, causing the Norman design team on site and the Vidanta maintenance staff one cleanup headache after another. But under all that silt and debris was a beautiful course worth saving.

The Shark himself was on hand to celebrate the official grand opening Nov. 14, 2016. The Norman Course, located across the Ameca River from the resort, will team with an existing Nicklaus Course and a 10-hole, par-3 course under construction to put this Mexican megaresort just north of the Puerto Vallarta airport on the map for Canadian and American snowbirds. Long-range plans for Vidanta Golf, Mexico's largest golf operator, include another 18-hole championship course at the Nuevo Vallarta property, recently named a "Silver Medal Resort" by Golf magazine.

Norman's 7,326-yard, par-73 design -- managed by KemperSports -- is infinitely playable for resort duffers but strong enough to give Vidanta Golf's stable of PGA Tour pros a good workout. Mexico's Carlos Ortiz and America's Charlie Beljan, two of those pros, attended the grand opening as well.

The wall-to-wall paspalum grass is a great playing surface. The wide fairways run firm and fast, and the greens roll fast and true. Waste bunkers on eight holes and ponds on another five holes determine the shot-making angles. Norman's creative green sites pose the real challenge.

To combat further flooding issues, five new holes will eventually replace the first five holes, probably sometime in 2017. The routing will be tweaked. It's not ideal that the intimidating, water-logged 15th hole will become the first hole, but the changes will certainly enhance the whole experience. The five new holes offer more risk-reward shots and decisions off the tee -- especially on a short, drivable par 4 -- the only thing missing in the existing course. Two par 3s over water and a par 5 that ends with a green on a canal on the right and protected by a massive indigenous tree on the left will be championship-caliber tests.

Tom Stickney II, a Golf Magazine Top 100 teacher, runs the Vidanta Golf Academy that will eventually move into a brand new facility featuring four hitting bays. Construction is a constant theme at Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta. Building for the better is part of the resort's ethos. Guests are the lucky recipients.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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