Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto is home to Danzante Bay, a new Rees Jones-designed golf course that had its Grand Opening Ceremony December 7-9, 2017.
The first phase of the golf course opened in November 2016 with 11 ocean-facing holes situated near the resort’s hotel. The remaining seven holes, etched into the floor of a canyon marked by jagged cliffs, opened in December 2017. The 7,237-yard, par -72 course offers magnificent views of the Danzante Bay and the Sea of Cortes to the east. The majestic Sierra de la Giganta mountain range rises to the west. Jones also built a nine-hole putting course inspired by the famed Himalayas putting course in St. Andrews, Scotland, where families can practice and have fun together.
“Most of the world’s most popular golf courses that have stood the test of time were built slowly,” Jones explained. “Golf holes aren’t really designed and built from a plan you feel them in the land. This land is so good it tells us what to do. The holes fit the land naturally.”
Like all memorable courses, Danzante Bay showcases a diverse array of golf holes that build in drama and interest as the round progresses. The multi-themed layout takes players through a variety of settings, including valleys, arroyos, dunes, and foothills. Holes feature panoramic views of the sea, the mountains, and the surrounding Islands of Loreto, a national park. In many ways, the course pays homage to how golf originated at the place where the land meets the sea.
“This is a golf course that both avid and casual golfers will want to travel to, to play, enjoy, and experience,” said Jones, who noted that with its multiple sets of forward tees, the layout is playable by any caliber golfer. “The golf course has open entrances, pockets, and sandy areas to capture the ball and keep it from going into the desert. We’ve kept the green contours mild so that the putting surfaces are manageable in the wind. People will want to play this course over and over again because the conditions change with the wind.”
One of the prime appeals of the course is its diverse environment. According to senior designer Steve Weisser of Rees Jones Inc., the layout is an unusual topographic blend of desert, mountain, and dunes, with 250 feet of elevation change along the way. Four holes are stitched across a valley due inland from the hotel while three holes are carved into rolling sand dunes along the beachfront.
The newest holes, numbers 2 through 8, began construction in late 2016 and move up, down, and across the flanks of a rocky canyon.
The 15th and 16th holes, each a strategic, mid-length par 4, climb to the breathtaking vantage point of No. 17, a jaw dropping par 3 and the signature hole at Danzante Bay. “As spectacular a one-shotter than exists on any course in the world,” is how Golf Course Architecture described this one-of-a-kind creation.
Jones and Owen Perry, owner and president of the Villa Group, the resort’s developer, changed the initial routing to make way for this extraordinary hole, which commands the crest of a rocky peninsula and drops off on three sides to the sea far below. During the winter months, it’s not uncommon to see blue whales on their annual migration to Baja from Alaska from the 17th hole, which sits nearly 250 feet above the Sea of Cortes. Danzante Bay’s downhill 18th hole, a massive 520-yard 4 par from the back tees, is a fitting finale to this one-of-a-kind golf course.
Perry noted that in addition to Jones’ reputation as an artist and celebrated golf architect (Jones is known as “The Open Doctor” for his redesign of numerous courses in preparation for major golf championships), he partnered with Jones because of his designer’s talent for building challenging yet friendly courses that complement a site’s habitat and co-exist in harmony with nature.
Danzante Bay utilizes two strains of Paspalum turf, the salt-tolerant, disease-resistant varietal that has accelerated the growth of golf in the tropics and has proven to be ideal for the Baja climate. The turf grass is irrigated with water drawn from a recently upgraded reverse-osmosis plant.
“Being located in a protected marine park, we adhered to stringent environmental rules. We gladly accepted the challenge, because we feel that is going to keep the Islands of Loreto unique,” said Perry.
“When I first saw the land where we are building the golf course, I was stunned by the amazing beauty of both the mountains and water that surround it,” Perry said. “Sunrise each day gives the mountains a brownish hue and when the sun sets at night, they turn a vibrant red. And the views of the bay are without question some of the best I’ve ever seen. We’ve literally carved this golf course into this incredible setting while maintaining its natural beauty.”
Join us January 20-27, 2018 for the first ever Golf Tournament Invitational hosted by Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto! Click here for more details.