Promotional hyperbole may have influenced Cabo del Sol’s designer, Jack Nicklaus, to trumpet its closing trio as “the three finest finishing holes in golf,” but after you’ve played them, it’s hard to argue with the Golden Bear. The Scottsdale-by-the-sea setting at the southern tip of Baja, within 10 miles of more than a twenty Inspirato residences, combines cactus, mountain and ocean in a delightful—and slightly surreal—package.
This 1994 seaside/desert design features newly redone back-to-back par-3s along the Sea of Cortez on the front nine and the aforementioned finish that sandwiches two demanding, dramatic par-4s around the unforgettable 178-yard, par-3 17th. From a clifftop tee, the 17th calls for an all-or-nothing shot over a wave-splashed sandy cove and rugged rock outcroppings, with cactus-covered hills and the turquoise-blue sea forming a compelling backdrop.
A fistful of the world’s elite golfers have trod the fairways, including Hall-of-Famer Raymond Floyd, who won the PGA Tour’s Senior Slam here in 1995. Dr. Gil Morgan broke Floyd’s course record when he captured the Senior Slam in 1998, on rounds of 66-68, beating Hale Irwin by six shots. However, locals still talk about April 12, 1996, when Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino dueled in a televised Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf match.