February 23, 2011

El Camaleón: A Greg Norman Signature Golf Course in Mayakoba

Imagine the scene. You are landscaping your location for a golf course, according to plans laid out by the legendary Greg Norman. The sun is shining; the ocean is sparkling; the day is great and the future looks even rosier. You manoeuvre your bulldozer into the earth and bam! A huge sinkhole opens up in front of you. What do you do?

El Camaleón Golf Course

For Greg Norman and the staff of the Mayakoba El Camaleón Golf Course, the answer is simple. You revise your plans to create a brand new feature - a cenote at the first hole! The result is a world-class course, which is the PGA Tour's only Mexican venue.

Tomorrow, the eyes of the world's golfing media will be on this course. Australia's Aaron Baddeley and Venezuela's Jhonattan Vegas will be taking to the field, in a televised round of the PGA Mayakoba Golf Classic. This is only days after Baddeley just pipped Vijay Singh to claim the Northern Trust Open championship title, in California.

Of course, it's not just professionals who can play here. It is open to the public too. If water hazards are your golfing thing, then the Greg Norman designed El Camaleón Golf Course is the one for you. This course is unique in the world of golfing for some of its features, which include long limestone canals, mangrove forests, dense jungle, lagoons, open beachfront and a huge cenote.

There is a lot of water on the Yucatán Peninsula, but most of it is underground. The porous limestone channels much of the surface water into subterranean caverns and natural canals. At Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, these have been opened up the elements, with the El Camaleón Golf Course fashioned around it.

El Camaleón Golf Course

The result is a stunningly picturesque 18-hole, par 72 course. The terrain is ever-changing, meaning that even frequent visitors will discover something new. Golfers can opt to be ferried to the first hole via a canal, or they could walk across the manicured Paspalum grass. There are several tough holes to test even seasoned golfers, with the most infamous being hole 6. This narrow shot incorporates a canal and a bunker, while risking interference on the ball from ocean breezes.

El Camaleón is a championship course. In 2007, the only PGA Tour event to be held outside the USA and Canada opened here. It returned again, in February 2010, when Cameron Beckman took the Mayakoba Golf Classic trophy. Of course, it's back there right now.

El Camaleón Golf Course

There are plenty of other amenities around the course too. These include a Pro-Golf shop; equipment and apparel to rent; three restaurants; carts with GPS technology to measure distance, provide yardage information and order food and drinks; the Jim McLean Golf Academy; and, of course, the beach.

Jack Nicklaus signature golf courses are also in the area: Golfing on the Riviera Maya.

For more information about golf courses and opportunities to play upon them, it is worth visiting Best Golf in Cancun.


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