Playacar Spa & Golf Club on the Maya Riviera, 35 minutes south of Cancun, is a very difficult Robert von Hagge-designed golf course.
While many in the U.S. may not be familiar with von Hagge, he is a highly talented and respected designer and globally recognized. You can find Robert von Hagge designs in Japan, Spain and Denmark, as well as the numerous projects his firm has in development throughout Mexico. He is known for extremely narrow fairways and small greens, and Playacar is no exception.
The golf course is cut from the jungle with cenotes (natural sink holes from underground rivers and acquifers) throughout the track. The course plays 7,144 from the tips (that is far to difficult for most players with the winds in play). The Blues are 6,639 and course carries a 76.1/148 slope rating (huge for Mexico, or anywhere else for that matter).
The par-4 seventh, at 455 yards, is the No. 1 handicap and considered one of the most difficult par 4s in Mexico. The back nine is 400 yards shorter than the front, but don't be lulled into getting too confident. The shorter holes are doglegs with undulating fairways protected by crazy bunkers.
With the wind, you will be hitting 2 and 3 club variations to small greens. Overall conditions were terrific. The greens were in great shape, as were the fairways.
This course is tough, but it is a lot of fun when on vacation. It is one of the older courses on the Riviera Maya, having been completed in 1994. The green fees for the morning run $180 with range balls, cart, snacks and unlimited beverages, including beer. Twilight fees are $130 and begin at 1 p.m.
- Elliot DeBear
January 6, 2009