Rancho San Lucas - Greg Norman on hole 7
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Rancho San Lucas - Greg Norman on hole 7
Greg Norman designed a winner at Rancho San Lucas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Lucas - hole 14 green
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Rancho San Lucas - hole 14 green
A look back from the 14th green reveals the incredible sand dunes of Rancho San Lucas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Lucas - hole 17
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Rancho San Lucas - hole 17
The island green at no. 17 adds drama to the end of the round at Rancho San Lucas. Courtesy of Brian Oar
Rancho San Lucas - sunset
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Rancho San Lucas - sunset
Sunsets can be spectacular from the Rancho San Lucas clubhouse perched on a hill. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Lucas - hole 14
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Rancho San Lucas - hole 14
The 14th hole might be the most special at Rancho San Lucas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Lucas - hole 1
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Rancho San Lucas - hole 1
Designer Greg Norman prepares to hit the grand opening tee shot on the first hole at Rancho San Lucas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Lucas - hole 5
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Rancho San Lucas - hole 5
Players can roll the ball downhill to the par-3 fifth green at Rancho San Lucas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Lucas - hole 3
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Rancho San Lucas - hole 3
Shots on the ground can run into the par-3 third green at Rancho San Lucas. Courtesy of Brian Oar
Rancho San Lucas - Shark shack comfort stations
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Rancho San Lucas - Shark shack comfort stations
Golfers at Rancho San Lucas can enjoy complementary food and drink at several Shark shack comfort stations on the course. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Lucas - hole 6
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Rancho San Lucas - hole 6
Greg Norman pures an approach shot to the elevated sixth green at Rancho San Lucas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Lucas - hole 7
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Rancho San Lucas - hole 7
A look back down the seventh fairway at Rancho San Lucas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Lucas - hole 11
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Rancho San Lucas - hole 11
The 11th green is tough to hit at Rancho San Lucas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Lucas - hole 16
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From the blue tees, the 16th hole is drivable at Rancho San Lucas. Jason Scott Deegan/Golf Advisor
Rancho San Lucas - hole 9
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Rancho San Lucas - hole 9
The tough ninth hole climbs up to the clubhouse at Rancho San Lucas. Courtesy of Brian Oar

Shark Bite: Greg Norman's spectacular Rancho San Lucas debuts in Cabo

Cabo's newest golf course roams a special site on the Pacific Ocean.

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico - Four-story sand dunes. Ocean views. Fun holes. Roughly 300 feet of elevation change. Shark shack comfort stations.

Rancho San Lucas, the newest course in Cabo, a booming destination home to 18 courses at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, checks all the boxes of a special golf experience in a region overloaded with them. Designer Greg Norman showed great restraint on the 7,210-yard design, letting the site sing. He was not overambitious incorporating too much movement on the greens or adding too much bunkering. There are only 42 bunkers, unique to the destination as the only area course with revetted bunkers. They're thankfully not as deep and scary as those in GB&I. Wide and forgiving fairways are especially important on a windy site. "Playable" is the operative word.

The most memorable holes are tucked into towering sand dunes, while others roam through cacti forests and over arroyos. The entire course is grassed with SeaDwarf Seashore paspalum, a salt-water tolerant surface that generally plays firm and fast.

Although many of the holes overlook the ocean, three of the best get up close to the beach. It's not uncommon during the winter months to see migrating whales playing just offshore. The par-4 second plays down to the beach. While driving away from the third green - a par 3 parallel to the beach - my foursome watched a whale playfully slap its tail at least a half dozen times. The return to the beach on the back nine is triumphant at No. 14, a par 4 framed by sand: Beach on the left and massive dunes on the right. After a series of engaging dune holes, players test their nerve hitting to an island green at the par-3 17th.

Norman even devised a 12-hole loop of holes sheltered from the breeze, perfect for the offseason when the wind picks up.

Throughout the round, golfers indulge on complementary food and drinks at two Shark shacks, the course's name for its comfort stations, where fish tacos and beef sliders rival the food anywhere on property.

The course is part of a 834-acre resort and real estate community 15 minutes from downtown Cabo and the infamous stretch of bars known as Squid Row. Only guests of Solmar Hotels & Resorts, including the onsite Grand Solmar at Rancho San Lucas, and property owners have access to the course, the 106th by Norman. The Norman Estates real estate enclave, a private gated community within the development, features 32 luxury estate homes and 40 condominiums with access to their own private beach club.

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 1,000 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 Instagram at @jasondeegangolfadvisor and Twitter at @WorldGolfer.
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Shark Bite: Greg Norman's spectacular Rancho San Lucas debuts in Cabo
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