From desert wash to ocean water, Los Cabos golf courses have a bit of everything

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico -- Mexico's No. 1 golf destination is actually two distinct communities, collectively known as Los Cabos.

Or The Cabos.

From anywhere along the corridor that connects the hard-partying hot spot of Cabo San Lucas to the more quiet and quaint San Jose del Cabo, about 20 miles away, tourists will notice a couple of distinct landscapes, too.

Look one way, and you'd swear you were in the dusty surroundings of Arizona.

Spin 180 degrees so you're facing the opposite direction, and it looks more like Acapulco or any other stretch of sandy oceanside paradise.

Here on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, the local golf menu offers a bit of both flavors.

Wanna knock shots past prickly cacti? You can do that here.

Wanna chase your golf ball beside the beach? You can do that here.

The best part is, you can often do both in the same round. Sticking with public-access tracks, here are some of the most memorable tests in the Los Cabos area:

Los Cabos Golf: The best ocean hole

No. 17 at Ocean Course at Cabo del Sol: Without a doubt the most picturesque public track in Los Cabos, the tough part is choosing which of the seven beach-front assignments at Cabo del Sol's Ocean Course is the most awe-striking.

Nicklaus referred to Cabo del Sol's Ocean Course as "my chance to design a Pebble Beach;" a pretty powerful statement from the man who crafted the new fourth hole at the world-famous setup on 17 Mile Drive. The second-to-last hole at Cabo del Sol's trophy track -- Tom Weiskopf sculpted the Desert Course at the 36-hole facility -- is situated right on the edge of the sparkling water.

Stretching 178 yards to a relatively flat putting surface, the beach looks so inviting some golfers probably flub their tee shots on purpose. You might think, "If this is the last golf hole I ever play, it wouldn't be so bad." Whoa, hang on. The 18th hole is almost as good.

Los Cabos Golf: The best desert hole

No. 5 on the Mountain Nine at One&Only Palmilla Golf Club: With one assignment that washes right up to the shore (more on that later), this isn't Palmilla Golf Club's postcard hole.

It is, however, arguably the best of the 27 tests at Palmilla, which was Nicklaus' first design in Latin America and helped spark the golf boom in Los Cabos.

A true example of target golf, the landing area and green surround seem to almost float above a dry water reservoir. From the tees, you'll be tempted to trim some meat from the 401-yard route to the hole. Just don't get greedy, or you'll be trying to hack a recovery shot out of the gnarly surroundings, a mix of cacti and other sorts of thorny foliage.

One&Only Palmilla Resort has become a favorite vacation spot for the rich and famous, so don't be surprised if you see a celeb searching for their ball on this challenging hole.

Los Cabos Golf: The best of both worlds

No. 6 at Puerto Los Cabos: A handful of proud cacti stand guard not far from the putting surface. Since you can see for miles -- literally -- from the elevated tees, you probably won't even notice them.

Puerto Los Cabos Golf Club is an intriguing mix, with the front nine designed by Greg Norman and the back nine mapped out by Nicklaus, who has his fingerprints on about half of the public-access courses in this area. You can thank the Great White Shark for the 213-yard sixth hole, which features a 100-foot drop from tee to green, stunning views of the Sea of Cortez and plenty of landing room for wayward shots.

It's easily the most memorable assignment at Puerto Los Cabos, and that's not just because your green-fee includes unlimited alcoholic beverages (within reason, of course), a detail that could affect your recollection of a back-nine trip to the beach.

Los Cabos Golf: Honorable mentions

No. 3 at Ocean Nine at Palmilla Golf Club: You'll get great distance on your drive on this 458-yard downhill test, and the best part is that the putting surface is perched right beside the water.

No. 7 at Club Campestre San Jose: The 541-yard brute combines beautiful ocean views, rugged desert landscape and a water hazard that wraps around the front of the green and can give you fits.

No. 7 at Cabo San Lucas Country Club: The Pete Dye design is the only course in the region with views of the famous Land's End rock formations, and you might feel like you'll never find the end of this 601-yard doozy, either.

Wes Gilbertson covers the NHL’s Calgary Flames and writes golf features for Postmedia in Calgary, Alta. When the snow melts, he's living proof that thin mountain air doesn't turn everybody into a long-drive specialist. Follow Wes on Twitter at @WesGilbertson.
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From desert wash to ocean water, Los Cabos golf courses have a bit of everything