If I were to ask you to tell me the first word that comes to your mind when I say Mayan Palace, chances are you would say ruins. That was my first thought. However, having recently returned from a Mexican Riviera cruise, I now think of golf when I hear the words Mayan Palace.
During our cruise we visited four ports, one of which was world famous Acapulco. Since I had visited Acapulco on four previous occasions, I decided to check out the Mayan Palace golf course while the rest of the family went to see the death-defying La Quebrada divers and spend time bargaining with native artisans at the massive shopping bazaar in downtown Acapulco.
The Par 72 championship Mayan Palace course, which opened in 1993, was a fun course to play even though the greens on the back nine were being aerated on the day I played. Because of its wide, receptive and forgiving fairways, its length of only 6156 yards from the blue tees, and its 125 slope rating, on first glance many golfers might think of it as a relatively easy course. Low handicappers might even find the Par 3’s at 103 to 168 yards, the Par 4’s at 306 to 438 yards and the Par 5’s at 461 to 517 yards less than challenging. This might be the case if it weren’t for the course’s four lakes, six dog legs, hundreds of palm trees, its club grabbing bermuda grass fairways, and the multitude of greenside bunkers ready to welcome wayward shots.
You may have noticed if you have read other of my columns that I seem to have a preference for water holes. Something about choosing the right club and executing a sphincter tightening shot while trying to avoid the expense of another drowned Pro V.
As such my two favorite holes on the Mayan Palace course were the short 118-yard Par 3 second hole and the 503-yard eighteenth hole.
The Par 3, though only 118 yards, requires a very accurate shot as a lake runs from the tee to near the green, has a wide bunker positioned from the lake to the green, and additional bunkers on each side of the green. All this plus a more than gentle breeze blowing directly into your face off the Pacific Ocean less than a mile to the West…well, you get the picture.
The Par 5 finishing hole is straightforward from tee to green. Big hitters withlots of courage and pinpoint accuracy can hit the green in two. However, the risk/reward factor raises its ugly head as the green is tucked away on a peninsula with water on three sides. As a short hitter, I had no problem realizing going for the green in two was not an option. When my second shot arrived about 60 yards short of the water and 100 yards from the pin, I felt comfortable. With the pin tucked delicately near the back of the green with water in front, on the side and in back of the green, I knew why I liked water holes… the challenge of picking the right club and the executing the proper shot to the correct location on the green.
Unfortunately I wasn’t up to the challenge. I hit into the water and took a double bogey seven. However, as I headed to the “modern Mayan” shaped clubhouse for a frosty thirst quenching blended margarita, I knew I’d had a most enjoyable day playing one of Acapulco’s finest golf courses.
The Mayan Palace golf course is located in the Diamante district of Acapulco about 10 miles southeast of Acapulco Bay, 10 minutes from the Acapulco airport, and 45 minutes from the cruise terminal. The district is made up of mostly luxury homes and condos for wealthy Mexican families who spend their holidays and winter weekends there, and for tourists enjoying the fine weather, white sandy beaches, elegant shopping and golf that make a vacation in the district so enjoyable. The course is open to owners of the resort’s condominiums and time-share units, to guests of its Gran Mayan Hotel, and to the general public.
Next time you head for Acapulco, consider a round of golf at the Mayan Palace. You’ll enjoy your day at one of Acapulco’s most beautiful golf courses and you won’t have to climb any ruins.