Tim McDonaldThis Week at TravelGolf.com: June 14, 2007

Sweet deal on golf in Cozumel a reminder that affordable Caribbean golf does exist

In my worldly travels, I come across quite a few golf "deals." These usually turn out to be little more than marketing ploys, but I've come across a good deal on golf in Mexico. In Cozumel, to be precise, in the state with the lyrical name of Quintana Roo.

On this lovely island off the mainland coast, sits the Cozumel Country Club. A little way off is the Playa Azul Hotel, about five minutes from the airport.

Combine the two, and you get to golf "free." Technically, it's not free because you have to pay a $25 cart fee per person, but you can play to your heart's content (36 holes, anyone?) as well as practice on the above-average practice facilities.

The Playa Azul is a nice, little boutique hotel on the beach, with a good spa and a restaurant that's open to the Caribbean Sea.

This isn't one of those all-inclusive places that discourage you from ever seeing "real" Mexicans, but they do throw in a power breakfast buffet. The rooms are cozy enough, and they all have balconies overlooking the pool and water. There's a good beach and a dive shop right next door, which is handy since the reefs here offer world-class diving.

The trick in this deal is having a course you can play multiple times without getting bored, and the Cozumel Country Club does that quite nicely.

It's a touch under 6,700 yards from the back tees, and the Nicklaus Design firm has done a nice job of routing it through coastal island terrain without spoiling the ambience; there are no hotels or condos and only occasionally do you see the hotels rising over the mangroves.

You want to see crocodiles and iguanas? They've got them in spades; in fact, I nearly ran over several, small iguanas that dart over the cart paths that take you through the surrounding jungle. So far, I've avoided the crocs.

Though the golf course isn't overly long, it can be a threat if you aren't accurate, and you look back on several of the holes, wishing you could play them again. If you stay at the Playa Azul, you can do it pretty much as often as you like.

Canadians, always quick to spot a warm-weather deal, flock here in the winter. So should Americans, because it's easy to get to, and once you're out of the tourist zone, you actually get to see locals hand-lining for fish in the Caribbean Sea.

As always, TravelGolf.com welcomes your comments.

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