Mayakoba: Mexico's mysterious land of mangroves, cenotes and championship golf

By Jason DeeganOctober 21, 2013, 8:30 pm

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Quintana Roo, Mexico – If the mysterious, one-lane road through the jungle or the welcome drink in the beautiful open-air lobby overlooking a lagoon doesn’t leave a lasting first impression about the Rosewood Mayakoba, the boat ride certainly will.

Guests don’t simply walk to their rooms. They’re whisked away by water taxis to explore twisting canals and lagoons cut from the mangroves before reaching a lavish luxury suite.

'We loved the boat to our suite,” said Tim Sperling, a Highland Park, Ill., resident visiting with his wife. 'You saw wildlife, crocodile and exotic birds. That’s a neat first impression...As soon as I walked in the room, I said to my wife, 'This is the first time any hotel room has thoroughly exceeded my expectation.''

Exceeding expectations remains the core mission of this posh 1,600-acre retreat 40 minutes south of the Cancun International Airport along the Riviera Maya. The entire Mayakoba complex, home to three resorts and the El Camaleon Golf Club, is gearing up for the OHL Classic at Mayakoba, Mexico’s only PGA TOUR event, on Nov. 14-17. This year could be Mayakoba’s coming-out party as one of the premier golf destinations in the Caribbean and Mexico.

The OHL Classic at Mayakoba

Mayakoba

For the first time since its inception in 2007, the OHL Classic at Mayakoba has its own date on the schedule. The new date, a purse increased to $6 million, plus an added bonus that the inaugural 2013-14 PGA TOUR schedule brings (500 FedExCup points and a trip to the Masters for the winner), will help erase the stigma of the event being classified as a 'secondary' event.

'The players will be the best ambassadors for us,' said Glenn Preciado, El Camaleon’s new director of golf operations. “We will run a tight ship. The tournament will benefit us as the guys start choosing where they play. A lot of them don’t like the West Coast’s bumpy greens. They will start weighing (going to) Hawaii, too. If you live on the East coast, you don’t need to go to the Sony (Open). They can come here (in November instead). It’s a transition year for this new schedule. We’re not sure how it will play out.'

The El Camaleon Golf Club

El Camaleon

El Camaelon Golf Club winds through mangroves before heading out towards the Caribbean Sea. 

The Greg Norman-designed, 7,024-yard El Camaleon course traverses through three ecosystems: jungle, mangroves and along the beach. The signature par-3s at no. 7 and no. 15 overlook the emerald waters of the Caribbean Sea. All but a couple of the par-4s are sturdy, especially in the crosswinds off the ocean. A giant 'cenote' (meaning sink hole), sits in the middle of the fairway of no. 1, a 554-yard par-5. Nobody but the resort players end up in it, though.

Preciado believes the course will play entirely different coming out of Cancun’s rainy season compared to its previous date in the spring.

“The course will be playing long,” he said. “It has been shorter hitters (like Fred Funk and Mark Wilson) who have won it in the past when the course has been firm and dry. Look out for the bombers.”

A clubhouse makeover in its finishing stages will enhance the player’s locker room and lounge on the lower level. The previously unused upper level will open to become a bar with a pool table next to a movie-theater-sized flat-screen TV and a restaurant with outdoor seating overlooking the 18th hole.


View tee times and stay-and-play packages in Mexico on GolfNow


The Rosewood Mayakoba

Rosewood

Rosewood is one of three luxury resorts in the Mayakoba development on the Riviera Maya. 

Mayakoba’s three resorts (there’s also a Fairmont and Banyan Tree on property) hope to attract golf fans to stay and enjoy their spoils before, during and after the TOUR event. The Rosewood Mayakoba has introduced The Ultimate Golf Package, a $175,000 dream vacation for three golfers during tournament week that includes a private lesson with Jim McLean, a round of golf with Norman at his nearby Playa Mujeres design (with private helicopter transportation to and from the course and tee times in the OHL Classic at Mayakoba Pro-Am, plus lavish accommodations in a the Presidential Suite, V.I.P. access and luxurious meals.

But you don’t have to spend your life savings to stay in this tropical paradise. The 128 suites come stocked with private plunge pools, rooftop sundecks, outdoor garden showers and the finest in-room design and details. The staff, including private butler service for every room, aims to please.

The food is as exemplary as the service. The “Mexican night” at Punta Bonita along the beach goes off-menu for a filling six-taco sampler. The fine-dining Casa del Lago serves a versatile lunch and dinner menu near the main pool. The Agave Azul Sushi & Tequila Bar used to be just a premium tequila-tasting bar until transforming into one of Mayakoba’s most popular (and most romantic) restaurants last year. Call ahead for reservations.

I wisely scheduled a visit to Sense, A Rosewood Spa® for my final night on property. Designed around a cenote, this retreat within a retreat is essentially a private spa island hidden in the jungle. The facilities encourage hours of relaxation in the hot and cold therapeutic plunge pools, a steam grotto, sauna or an individual rain shower with heads spraying in all directions. Every treatment – whether in the 12 treatment rooms or eight island suites – starts with a relaxing foot scrub. My 90-minute signature island massage mixed massage techniques with Mayan chocolate oils to set the world right. Suddenly my 6 a.m. flight back to reality in the morning didn’t seem like such a big deal. I was already flying high.


Video: Matt Ginella checks in from Mayakoba on Morning Drive


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Woods: New putter should help on slower greens

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:35 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods’ ice-cold putting showed at least a few signs of heating up earlier this month at The National, where he switched putters and ranked seventh in the field on the greens.

The mallet-style putter is still in the bag as Woods prepares for The Open, and he’s hoping the heavier model with grooves will prove valuable at Carnoustie.


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“To be honest with you, I’ve struggled on slower greens throughout my entire career,” Woods said Tuesday. “So for me, it’s going to help on these greens, for sure.”

To combat the slower greens, Woods usually applied a strip of lead tape to his putter. But this heavier model of putter doesn’t need the extra weight, and the grooves on the putter face allow the ball to get rolling faster and hotter.

“You don’t necessarily have to do that with the grooves,” he said of the lead tape. “When I putted with the Nike putter, I didn’t have to put lead tape on the putter to get a little more weight to it. I could just leave it just the way it was. This is the same type.”  

For all of the talk about his putting woes this season, Woods still ranks 56th in strokes gained: putting. More crucial this week: He’s 102nd in approach putt performance, which quantifies how well a player lag putts.

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Woods: Open best chance for long-term major success

By Ryan LavnerJuly 17, 2018, 11:26 am

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods is more than a decade removed from his last major title, but he said Tuesday that The Open is the major that gives him the best chance for long-term success.

“I would say yes, because of the fact that you don’t have to be long to play on a links-style golf course,” Woods said during his pre-tournament news conference. “It certainly can be done.”


Full-field tee times from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


Woods pointed to the late-career success for both Greg Norman (2008) and Tom Watson (2009), both of whom challenged for the claret jug deep into their 50s.

“Distance becomes a moot point on a links-style golf course,” he said.

That’s certainly not the case, however, at the Masters, where bombers long have thrived, or the U.S. Open, which places a premium on long and straight driving.

“You get to places like Augusta National, which is just a big ballpark, and the golf course outgrows you, unfortunately,” he said. “But links-style courses, you can roll the ball. I hit a 3-iron that went down there 330. Even if I get a little bit older, I can still chase some wood or long club down there and hit the ball the same distance.”

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"Vantage Point with Mike Tirico" set to debut Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET on Golf Channel

By Golf Channel Public RelationsJuly 17, 2018, 10:15 am

Special Hour Complementing the Network’s Week-Long Golf Central Live From The Open News Coverage; Premiere Scheduled to Include Interview with 2014 Open Runner-Up Rickie Fowler On-Site from Carnoustie

Features Include Tirico and Curtis Strange Re-watching ’99 Open at Carnoustie & Jim “Bones” Mackay Facilitating Exclusive Conversation with Caddies Michael Greller, John Wood Recounting Final Round Pairing at 2017 Open

To help set the table ahead of The 147TH Open at Carnoustie, Golf Channel will premiere Vantage Point with Mike Tirico on Tuesday, July 17 at 9 p.m. ET. An extension of the network’s week-long Golf Central Live From The Open comprehensive news coverage, Vantage Point will revisit landmark moments in The Open’s history, uncover personal stories relevant to the fabric of the week and feature a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year” on golf’s original championship.

“It’s a thrill to be going back to The Open again this year, which is a fitting setting to launch this new opportunity,” said Tirico, NBC Sports host who this week will celebrate his 22nd consecutive year covering The Open. “I love being a part of the Golf Channel team during golf’s biggest weeks, and anticipate contributing to our commitment to great storytelling with Vantage Point.”

Kicking off the premiere of Vantage Point will be Tirico’s exclusive interview with 2014 Open runner-up and 2015 PLAYERS champion Rickie Fowler on-site from Carnoustie. One of Fowler’s favorite events, he has missed just one cut in eight previous appearances at The Open. Other highlights within the show include:

  • Jim “Bones” Mackay facilitating an exclusive conversation between caddies Michael Greller (Jordan Spieth) and John Wood (Matt Kuchar) recounting the final round pairing at The Open last July.
  • Tirico hosting a roundtable discussion with past “Champion Golfers of the Year”: David Duval, Tom Lehman and Justin Leonard.
  • A recollection of one of the most unforgettable collapses in major championship golf, when Jean van de Velde surrendered a three-shot lead on the 72nd hole in 1999 at The Open. Tirico and Curtis Strange – both on the live tournament broadcast that year for ABC/ESPN – recently re-watched the telecast together for the first time since calling it live.

 

“This is harder to watch than I thought it was going to be. I’ve never seen anything like

that in my life. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything like that again.” – Curtis Strange

 

“I think I got caught up in the whole deal and felt human for the guy.” – Mike Tirico

 

Vantage Point with Mike Tirico will complement the network’s Golf Central Live From The Open, which will feature nearly 60 hours of comprehensive news coverage from Carnoustie. In total, NBC Sports will dedicate more than 350 hours to showcasing the third men’s major championship of the year, including nearly 50 live hours of the network’s Emmy-nominated tournament coverage – annually the most live hours of coverage from any golf event – spanning from Thursday’s opening tee shot to Sunday’s final putt.

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Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

By Tiger TrackerJuly 17, 2018, 8:40 am

Tiger Woods is competing in his first Open Championship since 2015. We're tracking him this week at Carnoustie.