Near the shore of Santa Maria Bay between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo at the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula is the Twin Dolphin Golf Club; home to a spectacular golf course. The course is part of the 1,400-acre Twin Dolphin master-planned community that encompasses Montage Los Cabos Resort & Residences and the private residential community, Maravilla Los Cabos. But what makes the course unlike so many others, was the unique approach taken by the former world champion golfer who designed it.
Designed To Be Enjoyed By Golfers Of All Levels
World-renowned touring professional, Fred Couples, who was once number one in the world and continues to compete on the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions, didn’t have only touring pros like himself in mind when he designed the 7,156-yard-long, par 72 course. Rather, Couples’ goal was for it to be enjoyed by people of all levels of playing ability, from beginners to extremely advanced players. And, Couples, who has designed courses all over the world, considers the course at Twin Dolphin Golf Club to be his best work.
“Most homeowners at Montage and Maravilla are not going to be players with a four handicap,” says Couples, who won the Masters in 1992, among many other tournaments. Couples wanted the course to be fun for everyone who wanted to play it and took the time to consider all types of players in the design process. “It really needed to be playable. And as it has turned out, everyone is really liking it.”
Not to say that the course isn’t going to challenge the low handicap golfers who play from the back tees. In fact, Couples himself has not mastered the course. “I played six straight days, but struggled reading the greens,” recalls Couples, whose scoring ranged from 69 to 71. “I did not make many birdies and I had one bad tee shot where I hit into the desert. I did have a few really good games, but I need to figure out the greens better to shoot a 65 or 66.”
Views Of The Ocean From Every Hole
Perhaps Couples was distracted by the endless breathtaking views of the Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean seen in the distance. Indeed, Couples felt it was so important to take advantage of the ocean views that he designed the course to make sure they would be seen at every opportunity. On the second hole, for example, he saw an opportunity to move the location of the green so that players could enjoy a more expansive view “So now, when you play the hole, you are looking toward the Bay,” he explains.
During the design process, Couples and golf architect Todd Eckenrode of Origins Golf Design visited the property countless times to walk the terrain over and over. “I am very visual, and I like to look at every nook and cranny,” says Couples. Repeatedly walking the course with Eckenrode enabled Couples to envision where a player’s eyes would be looking during play. “The views make the course,” he says. “And on this course, you can see the water at almost every shot.”
The Course Incorporates The Natural Terrain
Starting with a clean palette, Couples was not constrained by having to design around planned homesites, allowing ample flexibility with the design. Eckenrode and Couples agreed to incorporate the natural terrain into the course and did not move boulders, such as the one seen on the ninth hole. “We did not stage anything,” he explains. “People come and say they love how raw the course is. All we did was put grass down and let it grow. We tried to keep it beautiful but really rustic and not phony to the land. We wanted it to be natural.”
And natural it is. Designed along a hillside, the course incorporates the beauty of the desert landscape. There was no mass grading and the surrounding native landscaping was left intact with each hole intentionally designed to blend seamlessly with the land around it. The course incorporates natural arroyos, rocks, elevation changes, bunkering and even native cactus.
A Family-Oriented Club
Another unique aspect to the course is that it caters to the needs of the members and guests who play there. Wanting it to be an enjoyable experience for players of all levels, there are multiple sets of tee boxes, including Niños tees for young children. And seeking to bring the clubhouse environment onto the course, Twin Dolphin introduced Red Doors, which are indoor-outdoor dining and relaxation areas on the course with a residential feel, featuring an open kitchen that offers snacks, sandwiches and beverages.
Members are invited onto the course without tee time reservations and are welcome to play any number of holes. The main clubhouse offers a restaurant and bar with indoor and outdoor dining in addition to a pro shop and locker rooms. The clubhouse opens to a lawn that is outfitted with a football spinner (shooting out football passes) and there are goals set up for pick-up soccer games.
Couples loves these amenities and recalls going out to play golf with his girlfriend’s 11-year-old son who played the kids tees but after nine holes wanted to hang out at the clubhouse where he could watch TV and kick around a soccer ball. “It is all about family here,” says Couples.
Even the driving range was designed with careful consideration. “We put in a bunker on the left side and it is a great place to practice,” he says. “It is beautiful and one of the best holes on the course. You stand there looking at the water the whole time.”
A native of Seattle, Washington, Couples is unique in more ways than one. Not driven by ego, he remains incredibly humble (especially given his major accomplishments), and says he is not looking to stamp his name on courses all over the world, which makes the course at Twin Dolphin Golf Club that much more special.
Couples is proud to have played a role in the development of the course at Twin Dolphin Golf Club. “This course is by far the best one that I have been involved with,” he adds. “To be a part of Twin Dolphin, for a guy like me, is a huge blessing.”