One milestone golf course architects will always remember is the opening of their first design.
A select few, however, get the thrill of experiencing a significant professional event held on one of their designs. Some doubts will probably be bouncing around in their heads. How will it hold up, scoring-wise? What will be the reaction of the fans on site? How will it present to the TV audience at home?
The great Tiger Woods just might be feeling these same nerves as the PGA TOUR prepares to tee up the World Wide Technology Championship this week on his first golf course design, El Cardonal at Diamante Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. The tournament had a long run from 2007-2022 at Mayakoba's El Camaleon near Cancun but that relationship ended when Mayakoba decided to host LIV Golf.
A strong field has decided to tee it up in arguably Mexico's top tourist destination on the Baja Peninsula, led by former major champions Stewart Cink, Jason Dufner and Lucas Glover. The tournament will be broadcast on Golf Channel Nov. 2-5.
A closer look at El Cardonal
The "Hello World" for Woods as a golf course architect came Dec. 16, 2014. It was his first design after high-profile projects in Dubai, North Carolina and Mexico fell through. El Cardonal - you can tour every hole in the gallery above - isn't as highly regarded as the world-ranked Diamante Dunes Course by Davis Love III next door, but it still features panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean from nearly every hole.
Named after the tall, slender, multi-armed cactus that thrives in this natural environment of the desert, mountains and the sea, El Cardonal is a 7,363-yard par-72 layout set upon higher ground than the Dunes. It weaves through dune-framed fairways on the front nine and over desert arroyos on the back. Woods used the classic courses he grew up playing in Southern California as his template. Bold, flashed-faced bunkers probably won't scare the pros much, although they are eye-catching. Their shaping and contours give off the impression that they're closer to greens than they appear.
Green surrounds range from forgiving to foreboding. Watch for pin placements on the par-3 second hole that allow players to take advantage of a backstop. A steep dropoff to the left of the 14th green isn't as friendly. Players can be as aggressive as they want to be on the short par 4s at No. 3 (home to the course's only pond) and No. 10.
Diamante is one of the best golf resort communities in Cabo. Two hotels, a Nobu and Hard Rock, house guests within the development, as do separate villas and suites. El Cardonal features its own sprawling clubhouse, Tacos & Tortas restaurant, golf simulators, a training facility, golf academy and signature comfort stations. The Oasis, a short course by TGR Design; the Dunes Putting Course and a second Woods course under construction, The Legacy Club, add to an incredible array of amenities for golfers.
As PGA Tour events go, this would be one to consider planning an entire fall golf trip around. There are now 18 courses in Cabo, many of them world-class. A fan village will host a 'Taste of Cabo' experience, where some of the best local restaurants will serve their signature menu items. Fall can bring hurricanes - the most devastating Pacific-based hurricane in the country's history struck Acapulco up the coast just last week. The weather could also be ideal.
“We are honored and excited by the opportunity to showcase to the world what a great golf destination the region of Los Cabos has become,” said Ken Jowdy, CEO of Legacy Properties and developer of Diamante. “Hosting the World Wide Technology Championship will have an incredible impact on Los Cabos and bring unmatched exposure to our region."