50 Words or Less
Located alongside the Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto in Mexico, TPC Danzante Bay is one of the most visually stunning courses I’ve ever played. Immaculate conditions and a fun, playable design. Get there before the rest of the world discovers it.
The term “destination golf” is loaded with meaning. On one hand, it can suggest a beautiful setting, a bucket list course, and wonderful memories. It also brings to mind jam-packed tee sheets, rounds that last over five hours, and conditions that are well worn.
TPC Danzante Bay, designed by Rees Jones, delivers all the best parts of destination golf while making you forget that there could be any negatives. It’s like having your own private course in the middle of paradise…if you get there before this remote treasure is on everyone’s must play list.
The driving range at TPC Danzante Bay is probably, as one traveling companion said, “the most beautiful and underutilized range in the world.” You hit shots up a ribbon of verdant turf tucked between two mountains – an excellent chance to gauge the effects of elevation on your shots. Range rats will rejoice at the expanse of flat, untouched turf from which you can hit shots.
Next to the range, you’ll find the first practice green with the short game area located beyond that. Drive down to the first tee and you’ll find another putting green for the rare occasion when you need to wait to tee off. The practice facilities are capped off by a nine hole putting course – a perfect way to wind down after your round or warm up your flat stick beforehand.
Customer Service & Amenities
The clubhouse at TPC Danzante Bay has a unique look – two “tents” bookending a large deck – but keeps things basic. There’s food, drink, and a small pro shop where you can stock up on logo’d polos and hats.
Customer service is an area where this course shines. Everyone we encountered over three days was friendly and helpful. The grounds crew deserves special praise for their awareness of golfers and willingness to point out errant shots and interrupt their tasks to help play move swiftly. That’s in addition to the fact that they keep the course in pristine condition.
For more on the resort, Villa del Palmar at the Islands of Loreto, click HERE.
Beauty & Scenery
I’ve been fortunate enough to play some truly beautiful golf courses, but I cannot think of another course that brings as much to the table as TPC Danzante Bay. The mountainous backdrop, the azure water, the elevation changes, and the gorgeous color palette work together to breathtaking effect.
I visited TPC Danzante Bay with a group of very well-traveled golf writers, but the beauty of this course had them giddy. The praise, particularly for the 17th (above), flowed freely every night with positive comparisons to some of the most legendary courses on the planet.
A final word on the views: regardless of where you play from, check out the views from some of the back tees. They’re spectacular.
At TPC Danzante Bay, driving the ball well is the first, second, and third most important thing if you want to score well. As with most desert golf courses, the fairways are lush ribbons of green surrounded by miles of sand and rocks. That sharp visual contrast is indicative of how your tee shots will be received: you’re either in prime position or a lot of trouble – there is no in between.
Off the tee, there are some elements that work in the golfer’s favor. Many of the fairways are banked to keep balls out of the desert. The tee boxes are as perfectly conditioned as any I’ve seen, and there’s no rough to speak of. All that said, if you drive it into the desert, you’re sunk. Off the fairway, you’ll find pebbles, rock, and boulders, plus a variety of desert plants and creatures. Those bigger rocks can lead to some friendly bounces – I had a shot hit the right rocks and end up on the very left edge of the grass – but those bounces can just as easily throw your ball back toward the tee.
If driving isn’t the strength of your game, there are two things you can do to give yourself an edge. First, play the right tees. The difference between the tee boxes is massive: the forward tees are almost all in the fairway, the back tees – as you see above – require long, straight shots just to get to the grass. Second, play to the widest part of the fairway. While some holes are quite narrow, most of them have a section of fairway that leaves more margin for error. Aiming for those generous sections – even when it means leaving driver in the bag – can bring your score down.
If your first shot ends up on grass, the hard part is over. The fairways have some movement to them, but most of your lies will be fairly flat. The greens at TPC Danzante Bay are slightly above average in size, and there are typically just one or two bunkers around each green.
If you hit a poor tee shot, you may have a view like this for your second shot. Before you curse your driver, appreciate your luck in having found your ball. Then, take your medicine and get back on the grass immediately. If you baby your clubs, bring a “desert iron” to TPC Danzante Bay – some of the lies are extremely rocky.
Whether playing from grass or sand, the biggest challenge you’ll face in hitting approach shots will be dealing with elevation. There are some holes – 9, 15, 16 to name three – where the elevation change is obvious. Other holes, like 3 and 17, disguise how much you’ll need to adjust. A rangefinder that accounts for slope can save both strokes and golf balls.
Greens & Surrounds
As tough as TPC Danzante Bay is with errant drives, it’s that forgiving to approach shots that miss their mark. Rees Jones has created surrounds that are full of interest but never take you out of the hole. That starts with the tasteful bunkering and is furthered by the conditions. The surrounds aren’t cut too tight and the rough, where it exists, is fluffy. These conditions allow even a higher handicap golfer to get under the ball to loft it onto the green.
The primary short game challenge, just like in the approach game, is the elevation. There are many occasions where you can’t see the edge of the putting surface because of the curve of the green and the bunkers. Some of these curves benefit the golfer, as they collect shots toward the middle of the green.
The greens themselves feel like a throwback, in a good way. Many modern courses feature enormous greens with rollercoaster breaks, but TPC Danzante Bay has medium size greens with soft, rolling undulations. You won’t find many straight putts but very few break more than a few inches. Some of the greens are segmented or tiered, but the differences are subtle and long putts are still makeable.
#17 – Par 3 – 178 yards
The reveal of the signature hole at TPC Danzante Bay rates among the best in the game. After playing #15 and #16 up steep grades, you drive over the crest of the mountain and are rewarded with views of crystal blue seas to the horizon. The slim finger of land that pokes into the water is so perfectly positioned that it seems it was created for exactly this purpose.
What impresses me so much about #17 is that Rees Jones did not rest on the beauty of this site; he crafted a great hole. There are multiple tee boxes that offer completely different views and shot options. The landing area is large enough, but the steep cliff is unforgiving to errant shots. Finally, the green is divided by a gentle hump that rewards the truly excellent shot.
#18 – Par 4 – 520 yards
Following up a hole like #17 is no mean feat, but Rees Jones took advantage of the elevation to give golfers a final thrill. This hole is long on the scorecard, but the precipitous drop allows for a massive drive. If you get your yardage correct on your approach, you can easily head into the clubhouse with a birdie.
If having your own private course in a desert paradise sounds good to you, book a trip to TPC Danzante Bay now. While it will always be beautiful, I doubt it will be long before the tee sheet is full. Steal this opportunity to have #17 to yourself while it lasts.