The Takeaway: Standing as one of the only courses between Cabo and and TPC Danzante Bay, El Cortes starts off slow before taking off midway through the front nine with some dramatic holes highlighted by aqua blue ocean views. The neighboring refinery and shipyard can be distracting and the routing can feel a bit disconnected at times, but there are several individual holes worth enjoying. Grade B
Designer: Gary Player in 2010
Phone Number: +52 (612) 175-0122
Course Website: Official Website - Visit El Cortes Gary Player Signature Golf Club's official website by clicking on the link provided.
Directions: Get here! - Carretera a Pichilingue Km. 7.5 S/N, Lomas de Palmira, La Paz, BCS 23010
Accolades: Ranked 7th in Baja California Sur and 7th in Mexico by Golf Course Gurus.
What to Expect: Formerly known as Costabaja, El Cortes is a Gary Player design located in Baja California Sur’s capital city of La Paz. The feature that instantly stands out is the incredibly brilliant color of the aqua blue ocean water that surrounds the property. Though the course is located well above the water, your eyes can’t help but be drawn to the aqua blue whenever given a chance. Unfortunately those views are hindered at times by the refinery and large oil tankers that take your visual trip to paradise and yank you back to reality. The course starts out with a downhill hole that plays towards the water with power lines and refinery infrastructure tainting the view before the routing turns away from the water and plays some uninspiring uphill holes. However, once you get to the high point of the course the party starts with the dramatic elevation changes, beautiful ocean views, and entertaining design elements to finish out the front nine. The back nine enjoys several more memorable holes with the 14th tee shot being one of the most stunning and impressive tee ball opportunities in Mexico. From a conditioning standpoint, the turf is in average shape. There has been a transition in ownership and with it a lack of consistency with the grass care. As a result the grass around the bunkers are pretty spongy due to the lack of a deep root structure while the fairways and greens are certainly playable but need some attention. All in all there are plenty of fun holes on this cart ball course and it stands as a good spot to play when traveling between Cabo and Danzante Bay. The anise scented towels at the end of your round are a nice touch before moving onto the 19th hole.
By the Numbers
Individual Hole Analysis
Signature Hole: 6th Hole – 404 Yard Par 4 – How could one tire of the views offered on the 6th hole? Sparkling aqua blue water stares back at you as you gaze down the fairway from the elevated tee afforded here. Bunkers line both sides of the fairway and narrow the short grass along the descent to the green with natural desert landscape framing the outsides of the hole. Players who stripe their drive will enjoy extra distance created by the downhill terrain and set themselves up for a scoring opportunity on one of the most attractive you can encounter in Baja California Sur.
Best Par 3: 8th Hole – 180 Yards – The 8th plays over a man made pond to a green fronted by a rock retaining wall and protected by a trio of bunkers. Though not natural in its approach, the hole is attractive nonetheless and more importantly it is strategic in its design. While the moderate length won’t scare off most players, there is a bailout area afforded to the left where players can hit their ball to reduce the carry over the water and use the hill to help kick their ball back towards the putting surface.
Best Par 4: 7th Hole – 451 Yards – The most memorable hole on the front nine and one of the most unique designs in Mexico, the 7th hole is a wild ride. From tee to green the 7th hole descends nearly 175 feet with the fairway only partially in view from the back tee. Tee shots that follow the right-to-left slope of the contoured fairway can set themselves up with the ideal look on the approach shot which is found at the edge of the fairway shortly before the hole plummets further downhill. The view down to the two-tiered green from the fairway edge is inspiring while a trio of bunkers protect the putting surface from making the approach shot too simple. It really is an interesting and fun hole to play that could be played super aggressive off the tee with a bomb hoping to reach the lower fairway or could be approached conservatively with a tee shot safely played to the area of the fairway that is visible; either way, it is an engaging experience.
Best Par 5: 14th Hole – 612 Yards – Another stunning hole both visually and from a terrain perspective, the 14th is starts with commanding views from one of the highest points in the surrounding area. A healthy carry is required from the back tee just to reach the fairway before the grass starts wrapping around to the left along the base of a sizable hill. Saguaro cacti pepper the desert landscape while the Sea of Cortez offers an inspiring view in the distance to create a color wheel of eye candy to take in. Navigating around the hill will eventually present players at the green where four bunkers flank the sides of the putting surface while the front is left open for aerial or ground shots to be worked in. This dramatic hole embodies what El Cortes sets out to accomplish; exciting holes on extreme terrain with great views.
Birdie Time: 9th Hole – 329 Yard Par 4 – Exciting holes just keep showing up at El Cortes with this driveable par four that plays straight downhill. From the back tee the green is visible but most of the fairway isn’t, but any line at the green is safe and if you leak it right there is more forgiveness there than to the left. Balls that settle in on the right side of the fairway will have the ideal angle on their approach where the greenside bunkers will have the least chance of coming into play. This hole plays short enough that almost any club off the tee can set up a birdie chance, so hit your most confidence building club from the box and knock it stiff to set up a 3.
Bogey Beware: 16th Hole – 476 Yard Par 4 – Gary Player saves some of his strongest tests for the end and that is apparent at the lengthy par four 16th. Measuring just 24 yards short of 500, getting off the box with a big drive is imperative to set yourself up for success. Taking a line at the fairway bunker in the distance is aggressive enough to reward an accurate shot but if you are going to err one way or the other it better be right where more forgiveness is afforded. The fairway bends left and plays towards the Sea of Cortez with the left side being heavily bunkered and the right side being much more inviting. A draw that starts on the right side of the green and works its way towards the day’s flag placement is the ideal thought process if you can execute it. If not, bogey could be staring you right in the face.