Travelin’ Joe’s Favorite New Courses Of 2017
Courtesy of Joe Passov
Danzante Bay GC
Baja California, Mexico
The government of Mexico originally intended for Loreto, a coastal town on the Sea of Cortez, to be a prime golf and resort draw for upscale tourists on the Baja Peninsula. Instead, it was Los Cabos, 315 miles to the south that claimed the honor first. Rees Jones is aiming to change that with Danzante Bay at the Villa del Palmar Resort.
Best known as the “Open Doctor” for his renovations of U.S. Open courses, the younger son of Robert Trent Jones Sr. has carved out some noteworthy original designs as well. His newest is certainly one of his best. With its desert-meets-the-sea surrounds, Danzante Bay opened with 11 holes in 2016, and the complete 18 debuted in mid-December 2017. They were worth the wait. The seven holes, numbered 2 through 8, are absolute stunners, nearly overwhelmed by their canyon setting amid the Sierra de la Giganta Mountains, yet boast outstanding playability, thanks to friendly containment features that Jones and associate Steve Weisser installed. The forced carry (though with a healthy bailout) 207-yard, par-3 3rd would be a standout anywhere, but it’s one of the older holes that has already made a gigantic splash, the 178-yard, par-3 17th. The downhill hole features a peninsular green jabbed into the rocks, the diagonal green fronted by sand, cactus and canyon. In the backdrop are the Sea of Cortez and a sliver of mountain in the distance. Jones told me that the hole is “the most spectacular natural hole we’ve ever designed,” right before he lofted a mid-iron onto the putting surface. I managed to match him, but he lipped out for birdie, while my attempt for a 2 wasn’t even close. For pure fun — this hole and the entire course could very well be Rees’ defining statement.