The Riviera Maya is gearing up for the its sporting event of the year, the OHL Mayakoba Classic PGA tournament at the El Camaleon course from November 5 to 11. However avid golfers know that great golf is to be enjoyed year-round in the Mexican Caribbean on a collection of superb courses designed by golf legends the likes of Greg Norman, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf and Nick Price. We caught up with William Scott, one of our fulltime and founding owners at Grand Residences, who is a longtime Royal Resorts member and a regular golfer. He has this to say about our growing golf destination.
Mr. Scott has been playing golf two to three times a week for the last 30 years. He says, “I started playing golf through friendship and was looking for a sport that I could continue as I grew older. Golf fit the bill and I play two to three times a week at home and when I am on vacation at Grand Residences. He reminisces, “The first course I played was Pok Ta Pok in Cancun in 1992-93 and then the Iberostar Cancun, both easy to get to from The Royal Caribbean where I was a member at the time. I later purchased weeks at The Royal Sands and The Royal Haciendas before buying preconstruction at Grand Residences and over the years I have played all the courses in the Cancun-Riviera Maya area and intend to play the newest, Puerto Cancun.
“Iberostar Cancun is a nice resort course,” he says, “and the undulating terrain at the Iberostar Playa Paraiso makes it challenging to play. You have to be patient at this Riviera Maya course and be careful not to outplay your game. The staff are second to none and really welcome you. They take great care of the fairways.
“For a long time the Iberostar Playa Paraiso course was the qualifier for the Mayakoba PGA tournament, “ he adds. “I have brought down a couple of PGA players to play several of the courses. To watch them play Hole 1 at Mayakoba, which has a cenote in the middle of the fairway, is amazing. And one of my PGA pros shot a 66 in the tournament at Iberostar Playa Paraiso.
“I love Playa Mujeres but it is a bit too far from the resort to play regularly. I occasionally play Grand Coral too.”
Players have many a story to share about their experiences and wildlife sightings at courses in the Mexican Caribbean and Mr. Scott is no exception. “ Back in 1993-94, I was playing a round at the Iberostar Cancun course where there are a lot of crocodiles on the shores of the lagoon. I was watching a 12-footer when my youngest boy grabbed me by the back of my leg and scared the dickens out of me! Incidentally, it was my son who introduced us to The Royal Caribbean,” he reminisces. “He was staying there and proposed to his girlfriend during the vacation. We ended up purchasing a week and then a second one a little later.
“I have played courses in Hawaii, Florida and all over the United States and I think that the Mexican Caribbean is now one of the top international golf destinations in terms of course quality, economics and cost, design and landscaping,” he says. “Take Iberostar Playa Paraiso and El Camaleon at Mayakoba, it’s hard to find better courses anywhere. The prices are good, the play experience excellent and the maintenance impeccable. I’ve been to the Mayakoba tournament too and it’s one of the best I have attended.
Mr. Scott explains: “When I’m at Grand Residences I play golf at least twice a week with friends I’ve made at the resort or friends that are staying with us. I also sign up for the Royal Golf tournaments.”
When asked if he has any golf tips to share, he adds, “I’ve noticed that playing at sea level means that I have to hit a club and a half longer than I do back home. Over the years I have only been rained out once, it usually rains for around 15 minutes and then you can resume play.” On the sea breeze as a factor, he says, “A couple of holes in Mayakoba nearer the water, there is always a breeze and you need to hit a hole and a half but usually the mangroves protect you. The best time to play is earlier in the morning, around 8 to 9 a.m.; the Royal Tournament is at 10 a.m., which is fine too.
“One thing I have noticed over the years is how expensive golf gear and golf balls are here though. Royal Resorts stands out by offering golf clubs that you can sign out at the Sports Desk at no charge [complete golf bags are also available for rent from the resort stores]. I don’t know of any other resorts that do that. And of course the golf program it offers with the discounted green fees and the tournaments. Some participating courses offer transportation and an all-inclusive green fee covering food and drinks.
“Why do I love golf so much? Mr. Scott explains, “I enjoy the exercise and being outside for three and half to four hours a day. It helps you keep flexible as you grow older. I’m going to be 69 this year and there aren’t a lot of sports you can keep up to the same degree at my age. I can’t carry on running but I can continue golfing.”
We would like to thank Mr. Scott for speaking to us and wish him many more happy golf-filled days in the Mexican Caribbean.
Plan a golf day
Would you like to play golf on your next visit? Ask your Concierge for assistance booking tee times and take advantage of special discounted green fees for Royal Resorts members at these courses in the Cancun area and the Riviera Maya: Iberostar Cancun and Iberostar Playa Paraíso, Playa Mujeres, Puerto Cancun and Grand Coral.