Punta Mita Golf Club Pacifico Course: A Wonderful Resort Golf Course
When you think of golf in Mexico, there’s a good chance the Puerto Vallarta area is not the first place that comes to mind.
Typically it’s Cabo golf courses like Diamante or Quivira that most people think of.
A big reason for this is because of the density of good golf courses within such a small area.
But don’t be fooled, there’s fantastic golf outside of Cabo too.
In fact, hiding about 45 minutes north of the PVR airport are 36 wonderful golf holes in the Punta Mita Community.
And if you decide to make the trek down to visit, not only will you get a world-class resort experience at the Four Seasons Punta Mita, but you’ll get a golf experience that you won’t find anywhere else either.
The two golf courses at Punta Mita Golf Club are the Pacifico and the Bahia.
Today we’re going to talk about the original course which was built on the property, the Punta Mita Pacifico Course.
On top of being a very good golf course in its own right, the Pacifico course has one specific feature that you won’t find on any other golf course in the entire world.
What is it?
Read on to find out.
First Impressions of Punta Mita Golf Club
One of the best things about staying at the Four Seasons Punta Mita is they make everything easy.
It’s about a 10-minute shuttle ride from the resort to the golf courses, all inside the community of Punta Mita.
When you arrive you’re greeted by a nice fountain courtyard outside of the pro shop.
But it’s once you get up the steps to the “Tail of the Whale” clubhouse restaurant, that you truly get a sense of what the property is like.
The Pacifico Course opened at the same time as the Four Seasons resort in 1999.
It’s a Jack Nicklaus signature design, and measures just over 7,000 yards from the tips.
For the average mid to high handicapper, you have some friendly options as the whites are a mere 5700, the blues are 6200, and the gold comes in around 6600 yards.
Here’s my view on resort golf…
As a 12 handicap, I’d rather play up a teebox and shoot 5 strokes better, than have an ego and play from farther back.
Which is exactly what we did in playing the blues.
The dual-sided range at the club is great, and ensures there’s plenty of space for members and guests of the club to warm up and get their reps in.
On the far side of the range is the golf academy. Anyone can use the far range, but typically you’ll find more local members over there.
Punta Mita Pacifico: Front 9
When it comes to oceanfront resort courses, there’s one course attribute that I think is more important than any other: the flow.
Obviously, most resorts have a limited amount of oceanfront real estate, so it’s important to maximize that to the best of the designer’s ability.
Often you’ll find courses that have one or two oceanfront holes at the beginning or the end of the round, and that’s it. The Old Course at Half Moon Bay is one that comes to mind.
So one of the things that stood out to me is how well the Pacifico course leveraged the ocean real estate they do have.
You head out towards the water on holes 2 and 3, before teeing off inland on 4.
Holes 7, 8, and 9 then bring you back out towards the water for some wonderful views (and a halfway house with a gorgeous view).
Then there’s more ocean frontage on 17-18 to finish up.
It keeps the round engaging. It gives you something to look forward to. And it allows you to feel as though you’re someplace special throughout the whole round, rather than during just a small portion of it.
Both the Pacifico and Bahia have very similar openers:
- Gentle par 4
- Wonderful risk/reward par 5
- Scenic par 3
The view from the fairway on #2 of Pacifico is spectacular, as you’re not just able to see the ocean, but you see 3 greens lined up in 2, 3a, and 3b.
Yes, I said 3a, and 3b.
We’ll talk about the extremely unique island green in a minute, but first let’s cover the rest of the course.
Holes 4 through 6 are a challenging set of inland holes, that have some nice split fairways on 4 and 5, divided by a creek bed.
This forces you to really think about your drive and consider your course management strategy.
Holes 7 through 9 start bringing you back out towards the water and is one of the best stretches of golf on the course.
7 is a wonderful short par 5, with a green that has some killer views of Banderas Bay and the town of Punta Mita.
8 is a nice oceanfront par 3.
One feature I personally love about the Pacifico Course is that most of the par 5s are reachable. The 9th is 466 from the blues, and it plays with the prevailing winds.
Some purists might just say this is a stout par 4, but when it comes to a resort golf course? People just want to have fun.
You know what’s fun? Hitting a green in two and having an eagle putt.
Having a tap in birdie.
Playing right along the ocean.
The 9th gives you all of this.
The real-estate eye candy that lines that right hand side of the fairway.
Punta Mita Pacifico Course: The Back 9
Courses like this have their work cut out for them, because when you have a handful of spectacular, scenic golf holes – you need to find a way for the inland holes to be memorable as well. If you don’t, there’s a good chance you’ll walk away with some disappointed guests.
The back 9 of the Pacifico Course does this masterfully.
There are numerous elements throughout the first 6 or 7 holes of the back 9 that are memorable, strategic, and fun.
First off, there’s a pair of short par 4s in holes 10 and 12.
The latter being drivable for those wanting to show off, and the former, has a very well-protected green that forces you to think about what the smart shot is off the tee.
13 is one of the best par 5s at Punta Mita.
It reminds me of a combination of holes 11 and 13 on the Nicklaus Course at Pronghorn.
There’s a bunker in the center of the fairway that both provides a tricky visual challenge, but also forces you to make a decision on whether to go left, right, or straight over – each with its own risk and reward.
The second shot then feels like the 13th on the same course, where you have water all along the right and a protected green.
Long hitters have the potential to reach it in two, but the smarter play for most will be to choose your layup distance and angle wisely.
I made a 25-foot curling putt for birdie that made this a particularly memorable hole.
15 is another excellent par 5 that forces you to think.
It’s very reachable in two, but with raised bunkers guarding the green, there’s a good chance you won’t have a great view of the flag.
You can lay up left to have an easy wedge in with full view of the green.
Again, it’s risk-reward options like this that are prevalent on the course and make it so much fun to play.
17 is a par 3 heading directly out towards the ocean. In their 2019 restoration which I’ll cover in a minute, they brought coral all the way up to the teeboxes to enhance the beachside vibe of the hole.
18 is a challenging par 4, with a back tee box that may be the best tee box on the course.
It’s all carry over ocean and bunker to get to the fairway, but it also makes for a slightly easier angle for those who might have a tendency to slice.
The 18th green finishes up right behind the beach of the St. Regis hotel.
While there are a handful of pedestrian holes on the course, overall I found the Pacifico course to be a blast to play, and exactly the type of golf course you want to play when you’re on vacation.
One with nice views, fun holes, and that isn’t trying to beat you up too much.
The World’s Only Natural Island Green
So now I’m already over 1,000 words into this post with barely a mention of the most famous (and most fun) aspect of the entire course, the “Tail of the Whale” island green
If you’re in the US, chances are when you hear the words island green your first thought goes to either 17 at TPC Sawgrass, or the floating green at the Coeur d’Alene resort.
Ha, those are child play.
Hole 3b on the Pacifico course is the world’s only natural island green.
Meaning they built a green on the middle of a giant rock out in the ocean. It’s just as cool as it sounds.
Hole 3b is a par 3 that plays from 112-181 yards depending on your teebox, and is only available to play during low tide.
Why is that?
Because the only way to get to the green is during low tide.
It’s not like this is some benign little lake.
This hole (and course) is located right on the ocean, where waves are crashing up and down the shore.
There’s a path you take out to the green during low tide to play it, but during high tide? It’s completely covered.
Which is when you really see that this truly is a rocky island out in the ocean.
When you get to the teebox of “3a,” you’re met with a sign indicating if the island hole is open or closed.
You can check the tide charts ahead of time to see when the hole is planned to be open, as well.
Fortunately, considering they recognize the draw the green provides, they’re very accommodating if you want to return to play the hole after your round.
Often if you tee off early, by the time you finish 18 the tides will have changed enough to allow you to go play.
It’s unlike anything else I’ve seen in golf, and truly makes for a memorable, bucket list moment.
The 2019 Restoration of the Punta Mita Pacifico Course
In 2019 the course was closed for 7 months while it underwent a restoration.
The most major change that happened was converting all of the greens to zoysia grass.
There have been some challenging weather conditions to work through since the work was done, including one month during the rainy season with 60″ of rain!
Given those challenges, I came away impressed with the conditions of the course.
The greens were absolutely spectacular. If you’ve never played on zoysia, it really is a treat.
Along with the new grass, there was also significant work done to the greens themselves.
I was told that there really wasn’t much to the original greens. They were pretty flat, and most putts across the course ended up being pretty straight putts.
With the work they recently did, they expanded many of the greens back to their original size, and added some more significant undulations, that are best described as sweeping.
You won’t find many crazy double-breakers.
You won’t find anything too severe (that’s saved for the Bahia Course).
What you have are some beautiful greens that are really fun to putt on. They roll perfectly, and it all comes down to how well you choose your line.
There’s still some work being done on a few of the fairways and green surrounds, but with another season, I expect all of that to be taken care of. And none of it affected the experience of playing the course.
Who Can Play the Pacifico Course at Punta Mita?
Punta Mita Golf Club is a private club with a very active membership, so not just anyone can play the course.
The easiest way to play either the Pacifico or Bahia is to be a guest of the Four Seasons Punta Mita or St. Regis Punta Mita. Those are the two hotels within the gates of the Punta Mita community.
If you’re renting a home within Punta Mita, you may have the ability to play the courses depending on the membership status of the person you’re renting the home from.
If you’re planning to stay at an AirBnB or other rental in the area and you’re hoping to golf, make sure to clarify this ahead of time.
The Club is managed by the Four Seasons, so as a guest there, it will be very easy for them to help you arrange a tee time.
Final Thoughts on the Punta Mita Pacifico Course
The Pacifico Golf Course isn’t just a good round of “vacation golf,” it’s a great golf course by any standards.
I expected it to be a bit of a one-trick pony with the island green, but was pleasantly surprised to see a handful of scenic ocean holes, and also a very fun collection of reachable par 5s.
Being the easier of the two courses, you do notice “resort” elements. One example is the length of the course from some of the tee boxes, and another being the bunkering. It’s generally not overly deep, and you’ll find it works to keep you out of the bunkers in many cases, rather than trying to force you into them.
The Bahia Course on the other hand, is very good in it’s own right. But it’s more of a challenge. Less resort, more a championship test of golf.
If you only have time for one round of golf? It really just comes down to what you want.
Looking to just have fun, enjoy some views, and play the island green? Play Pacifico.
Want a challenging course that will test every aspect of your game? Play Bahia.
The good news is that both courses have some fantastic elements, and both make for a wonderful 18 hole round.
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