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The 7,039-yard El Camaleon Golf Club at the Mayakoba resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, designed by Greg Norman, offers a unique layout. The course bends through three distinct landscapes - tropical jungle, dense mangroves, and oceanfront stretches of sand with holes bisected by massive limestone canals. Norman even incorporated a cenote, a massive, ancient cavern common to the area, into the heart of the opening fairway. And as in all Norman projects, he has balanced the course to make it enjoyable for golfers of all abilities. From the tips, El Camaleon is a major league test; however, each hole is sprinkled with a minimum of five tee blocks, so there is a distance for every player.
While the course is a standout, the surrounding golf amenities are equally as stunning. The handsome, Mayan influenced clubhouse rises above the 18th green and the adjoining practice facility and driving range are five star. Even more amazingly, with the resort's unique canal system, golfers will be able to step out of their rooms and into a boat, which will ferry them to the first tee.
In 2007, El Camaleon made history by becoming the first golf course to host an official PGA TOUR event in Mexico.
This par 4 plays slightly downhill and is into the prevailing
ocean breeze. No bunkers on this hole but you will need to work the
ball around two large fig trees that come into play. The first is
off the right of the tee shot at about 150 yards. The second is on
the left side and can be in play for the shot into the green. The
green is medium size and slopes right to left.
The first of El Camaleon's mangrove holes, this par 4 is into
the prevailing wind. The hole plays left to right while the green
slopes right to left and is guarded on the left by a large bunker.
The ball is best played down the right side of the fairway for the
best angle into the green. Shots not landing on green are most
likely lost in the dense mangroves.
This short par 4 has two forced carries and may be the most
challenging hole on the front nine. Into the wind, it is also in
the mangroves and plays left to right to an elevated green that is
guarded by deep and large bunkers on the right.
This short par 3 plays straight into the strong Caribbean
breeze, making club selection very important. Enjoy this
breathtaking ocean hole with clear views over the water out to the
Island of Cozumel.
This par 5 brings you back into the protected mangroves of
Mayakoba. Bordered on the left by one of El Camaleon's signature
canals, the hole plays right to left with a medium-sized green
tucked directly in front of the resort. You will need three shots
to find the green on this beautiful hole.
This par 4 plays uphill and with the wind. As El Camaleon is
constantly changing, you are now back in the selva - or forest. The
hole plays left to right and a good drive will leave a short- or
mid-iron into the largest green on the course. Take a moment to
enjoy the view of the deepest canals at Mayakoba to the right of
This par 5 brings you back into the protected mangroves of
Mayakoba. The hole plays right to left with a medium-sized green,
and features a cave bunker in the middle of the fairway.
This is the second of an excellent group of par 3 holes. It has
a narrow, long green, normally downwind and coming from the left.
The front hole placement is pretty easy but a back pin is a tough
shot, with a bunker and a cave on the right and lot of junk left.
Wedge to 8 iron at most.
This par 4 plays right to left. A good drive will leave a short-
or mid-iron into the green.
The longest par 3 on the course plays downhill and the green is
perched alongside a breathtaking quarry of crystal clear water. A
shot to the middle of this deep green will feed to the back and
caution should be taken for the limestone cliffs to the right of
this green. Enjoy the quarry views and one of the best
bird-watching locations at El Camaleon.
One of the few birdie opportunities at El Camaleon, a
straightaway tee shot must carry the canal and waste area. The
green sits right to left and falls back to front. Dense forest
completely surrounds this hole to catch any wayward shots.
This very long par 4 may have no bunkers, but plays very
difficult into the prevailing wind. From the back tees, the hole
plays straight away at 451 yards. The fairway is very wide and cut
into the existing terrain to help feed balls back to the middle.
The green is raised and is small considering the heavy slopes that
surround it, so approach shots are best played high and soft.
The only hole at El Camaleon to begin in the forest and end in
the mangroves, this medium length par 5 measures 532 yards.
The wind is prevalent and the landing areas grow continuously more
narrow as you make your way to this small green. Don't be fooled by
the false front bunker in front, the medium size green extends
further back than it appears.
One of El Camaleon's most challenging holes, this par 4 measures
452 yards into the wind and is carved delicately from the dense
mangroves. The tee shot plays right to left and the fairway is very
welcoming. Your drive is best placed to the right of the fairway
for the best angle into the elevated green that is guarded by a
large bunker left. Two great shots will be required to reach this
green and par should be considered a great score.
The signature hole of El Camaleon. A par 3 of 155 yards and
running alongside the Caribbean, the strong ocean breeze will play
an important part in your club selection. Enjoy the sweeping views
of Cozumel and the world's second-largest coral reef. Getting back
to golf, this tricky green sits right to left on a natural dune
ridge and is guarded by a single bunker to the front left of the
The true birdie-hole of the back nine, this par 4 plays through
the mangroves with the wind at your back. The hole plays left to
right to a very wide fairway. The large green slopes left to right
and is well-guarded by bunkers both right and left.
This short par 4 plays directly between a limestone canal and
the Fairmont Mayakoba. The green sits only two yards from the canal
so be sure not to miss left. The prudent play is to leave the
driver in the bag and make sure the balls stays in play on this
very tricky par 4.
This eloquent finishing hole is 452 yards long, up hill and with
the prevailing wind. The fairway is well bunkered, but those who
find it will be rewarded with a straightforward shot to the green.
The unique design of the clubhouse will provide a good target to
this medium size green with several bunkers guarding the right
side. A good challenging hole to finish the round at El
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