Riviera Maya Golf Course in Akumal

Golf Vacations - - Chip Shots - For more in­for­ma­tion visit: www.riv­iera­maya-golf­club.com www.bahia-principe.com/en/re­sorts-in-riviera-maya/re­sort-akumal

Joy. That’s what Golf Pro­fes­sional Joseba Romero ex­udes when he’s asked about his job teach­ing golfers from around the world at the Riviera Maya Golf Course in Akumal, Mex­ico.

Dur­ing his first eight years teach­ing in his na­tive coun­try of Spain, Romero had a chance to play with and learn from the best of the best. Romero’s early years, rub­bing el­bows with PGA Tour stars like Ser­gio Gar­cia and John Rahm, helped him de­velop the teach­ing foun­da­tion he shares to­day. When of­fered the lead in­struc­tor reins at the Riviera Maya Golf Course, Romero leapt at the chance to work at a course that is the cen­ter­piece to the lux­u­ri­ous Bahia Principe Re­sort, lo­cated 70-miles south of the Can­cun In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

This same sense of hap­pi­ness and won­der­ment struck renowned golf ar­chi­tect Robert Trent Jones Ju­nior when he took on the task of de­sign­ing this 7,300-yard cham­pi­onship lay­out that over­flows with amaz­ing birdlife, wildlife, and Mayan his­tory. What es­pe­cially im­pacted Trent Jones Jr. were the sur­prises he found mur­mur­ing be­low the sur­face of this land carved from deep within the Yu­catan jun­gle. Cenotes, Mayan Walls, and Golf-Lov­ing Igua­nas Dur­ing the build­ing of the course in 2009, the con­struc­tion crew heard wa­ter run­ning be­neath the prop­erty’s lime­stone sur­face. To their de­light, mul­ti­ple sub­ter­ranean wa­ter bod­ies were un­cov­ered in the form of rivers, springs, and open wa­ter pools. In the Mayan cul­ture, these open pools or “cenotes” are con­sid­ered sa­cred.

In ad­di­tion to these gap­ing cenotes that are fea­tured in the Riviera Golf Course’s de­sign on the 4th and 6th holes, Trent Jones Jr. was also thrilled to dis­cover lime­stone walls stand­ing in place on the 14th and 15th holes of the back nine. These walls, dat­ing back hun­dreds of years, hold a story. Why were they built, what was their pur­pose, and

how are they con­nected to the Mayan peo­ple of yes­ter­year?

Wildlife is preva­lent through­out the Riviera Maya Golf Course’s pris­tine sur­round­ings. Ex­otic birds, clus­ters of but­ter­flies, racoons, igua­nas, crocodiles, and jaguars min­gle seam­lessly through­out the Pas­palum cov­ered prop­erty. The 15th hole, a prodi­gious 230-yard Par 3 from the black tees, is the ad­dress for a fam­ily of igua­nas. As golfers nav­i­gate tee shots over a se­ries of lakes and sand traps, the igua­nas watch as at­ten­tively as the Sun­day gallery at Au­gusta.

Front Nine, Back Nine, 19th Hole

The per­son­al­i­ties of the two nines are as dis­tinct as the el­e­ments that were in place and uti­lized dur­ing their de­sign. Whereas the front nine draws raves for its leg­endary cenotes, the back nine pro­vides a bit of re­lief with wider fair­ways and the mys­ti­cal walls found on 14 and 15.

What’s in the fu­ture for Romero’s course with its in­tox­i­cat­ing blend of Trent Jones sig­na­ture, in­hal­ing fair­ways, pre­cise sec­ond shots, post­card par threes, and true rolling greens? “My dream is for the world to see this won­der­ful course in a PGA Tour event,” Romero said.

Romero re­minds that there is a spe­cial bonus if you check into their 19th hole. The Riviera Maya’s club­house is a gleam­ing white struc­ture framed in glass. Their bar and grill fea­tures a spe­cial drink that Romero learned about from an Amer­i­can golfer he’s taught over the years. “The Amer­i­can golfer en­cour­aged me to try a drink made of tomato juice and beer. Here in Akumal we call it Oyo Rojo. That’s Span­ish for Red Eye,” Romero said with a smile.

Feels Like Home

Af­ter you’ve ex­pe­ri­enced un­der­ground springs, igua­nas with a fond­ness for golf, and shot-maker sit­u­a­tions when you grabbed a five iron off the tee on a Par 4, it’s safe to say that the Riviera Maya is one for the mem­ory books. Play­ing 18 holes in a lush en­vi­ron­ment amidst the Yu­catan Jun­gle is hard to put into words for even a bilin­gual golfer.

As you pre­pare to head back to the re­sort, you meet one of the Riviera Maya Golf Course’s orig­i­nal em­ploy­ees. Al­fredo Ro­driguez has been in love with golf since he started cad­dy­ing at nine years old. Like Romero, this Man­zanillo, Mex­ico na­tive has found a new home at the Riviera Maya Golf Course.

As you pon­der how to ar­tic­u­late the feel­ing gen­er­at­ing from this beau­ti­ful Akumal golf re­treat, Ro­driguez seems to read your mind. Ro­driguez grins and says, “Mi casa es su casa.” That’s per­fect. Ro­driguez nailed what you were think­ing. “My home is your home” says it all.

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