El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 9
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El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 9
A desert wash sits next to the ninth green of the El Camaleon Golf Club in Mexico. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
Images
El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 1
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El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 1
The 554-yard first hole is the longest par 5 at the El Camaleon Golf Club in Mexico's Riviera Maya. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 6
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El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 6
Hidden water guards the sixth green at the El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 7
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El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 7
The seventh green is one of two par 3s at the El Camaleon Golf Club that provides ocean and beach views. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
El Camaleon Golf Club - water taxi
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El Camaleon Golf Club - water taxi
A water taxi within the Mayakoba development floats by the eighth green of the El Camaleon Golf Club in Mexico's Riviera Maya. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 10
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El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 10
Misses that fly past the 10th green of the El Camaleon Golf Club end up in the jungle. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 13
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El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 13
Once players reach the 13th green at the El Camaleon Golf Club, the views of the beach and Caribbean Sea are revealed. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 14
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El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 14
The 452-yard 14th hole is the No. 1 handicap at the El Camaleon Golf Club in Mexico's Riviera Maya. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 17
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El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 17
Water creeps up the left side of the par-4 17th hole at the El Camaleon Golf Club in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 18
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El Camaleon Golf Club - hole 18
The 18th hole showcases the remodeled clubhouse of the El Camaleon Golf Club in Mexico's Riviera Maya. Jason Scott Deegan/GolfAdvisor
El Camaleon at Mayakoba -No. 6
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El Camaleon at Mayakoba -No. 6
The par-4 6th hole plays over the canal at El Camaleon. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
El Camaleon at Mayakoba - No. 7
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El Camaleon at Mayakoba - No. 7
Jim Herman tees off on the 7th hole of El Cameleon during the 2017 Pro-Am at the OHL Mayakoba Golf Classic. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
El Camaleon Golf Club in Mexico - cenote
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El Camaleon Golf Club in Mexico - cenote
You'll discover several cenotes around El Camaleon Golf Club, including this one on the first hole. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
El Camaleon at Mayakoba - putting green
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El Camaleon at Mayakoba - putting green
Facilities are first-rate at Mayakoba, including a stylish clubhouse and large practice putting green. Brandon Tucker/Golf Advisor
OHL Classic at Mayakoba El Camaleon - Smylie Kaufman
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OHL Classic at Mayakoba El Camaleon - Smylie Kaufman
Smylie Kaufman tees off over the canal on the 17th tee of El Camaleon at Mayakoba. Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Play where the pros play: Mayakoba's El Camaleon Golf Club in Mexico's Riviera Maya

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Quintana Roo, Mexico -- It's like a black hole in the middle of the fairway -- dark, deep and dangerous.

Golf balls that fall into a cavernous cenote on the first hole at El Camaleon Golf Club rarely come out. The sinkhole looks like a bunker from the first tee, but it's something more ominous, devouring meek second shots on the opening par 5.

It's the first indication that this Greg Norman design is a shot-maker's course. The 7,024-yard El Camaleon annually hosts the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, the PGA Tour's only stop in Mexico or the Caribbean.

The design, tucked inside a lavish resort development just 40 minutes south of the Cancun International Airport, traverses through three ecosystems, the jungle, the mangroves and the beach. The signature par 3s at no. 7 and no. 15 overlook the emerald waters of the Caribbean Sea.

They're scenic for sure, but it's the collection of par 4s that define how the round goes. Water near the green creates daunting approach shots on El Camaleon's fifth and sixth holes. The ninth green rests next to a rocky desert wash. Water left and jungle right pinch the narrowest fairway at the 386-yard 17th hole. Four bunkers -- the most of any hole -- add visual and strategic elements to the 458-yard 18th hole. Improvements have added a new bar and patio to the upper level of the clubhouse. A new restaurant is scheduled to open by spring of 2014.

Video: Matt Ginella on the unique El Camaleon design

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.
Related Links
You can count on one hand the number of Mexican resorts that reach the level of service and splendor of the Rosewood Mayakoba along the Riviera Maya. The entire Mayakoba complex (home to three resorts and the El Camaleon Golf Club, which hosts Mexico's only PGA Tour event) is paradise. This posh 1,600-acre retreat 40 minutes south of the Cancun International Airport is committed to luxury.
The all-inclusive theme of the Riviera Maya in Mexico has bled into the area's golf clubs over the past few years. Leading the charge are the Iberostar Resorts and the Palace Resorts. Guests at these high-end resorts get premier pricing playing golf, but anybody who wants to go all-inclusive on the course can get the same experience for a surcharge. Jason Scott Deegan has more from Cancun.
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