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In the Cabo Zone

(Private) One Querencia Boulevard; 011-52-624-145-6670, 888-236-2229. Yardage: 7,070. Par: 72. Slope: 145. Architect: Tom Fazio.
T&L GOLF Rating: ****1/2
When the 40,000-square-foot clubhouse is completed, this amazing Fazio course and surrounding development will have cost a staggering $100 million. That's dollars, not pesos, and it's not hard to see where the money went. In his first course outside the United States in thirty years, Fazio's attention to detail is evident at every breathtaking turn. Foregoing seeding, he had almost the entire course sodded with grass grown in the States and imported in refrigerated trucks. The result is an instantly mature golf course, though it may take a while to cut out the resulting thatch. It's nearly impossible to choose any hole as superior to the others, but number four is a spectacular par five, with the green hanging like a negative-edge pool against the Sea of Cortez in the distance. The ocean views continue on nearly every hole, as does the inspired contrast of colors between the desert and the deep-green palm-lined oasis of the course.

The course and surrounding residential development are strictly private, so you may have to jump through some hoops to play here. You're in the pink if you happen to know one of the 350 members. If not, the sales department has leeway with prospective members who are considering buying real estate or joining up. Bring your portfolio and balance sheet; it'll be worth it.

km 19.5, Carretera Transpeninsular; 800-393-0400. Yardage: 6,988. Par: 72. Slope: 142. Architect: Robert Trent Jones Jr. Green Fees: $85­$190.
T&L GOLF Rating: ***
Under the same ownership as Eldorado, Cabo Real is a solid layout by Joe Finger that was redesigned by Robert Trent Jones Jr., who gets the official billing. The best and most difficult holes are on the hillside front nine, where you have a tremendous view farther into the mountains. The back nine also starts high but then plunges toward the Sea of Cortez. The green on the par-four eleventh sits in a saddle between two craggy peaks and dares you to reach the pin with your approach shot. It's mostly downhill from there, though, with the Transpeninsula Highway slicing through the course and a little cookie-cutter par three on the beach by Las Ventanas al Paraiso. This course is not as well conditioned as Eldorado, and many of the greens have a lot of grain.

km 10.3, Carretera Transpeninsular; 011-52-114-58200, 800-386-2465. Yardage: 7,077. Par: 72. Slope: N/A. Architect: Tom Weiskopf. Green Fees: $125­$278.
T&L GOLF Rating: n/a
Slated to open in November 2001, the Desert course is Tom Weiskopf's first track in Mexico. Sharing a practice facility and a new 27,000-square-foot clubhouse with Nicklaus's Ocean course, the new track will also get a lot of play. A preopening look showed a natural design with lots of ocean views and target golf with large landing areas and few forced carries. The challenges will be found in the ever-present Baja desert and a 638-yard par five. Number eighteen, which crosses a creek and a series of small waterfalls, is likely to be the signature hole.

While most Americans fear the water in Mexico, it's usually the tequila that will get you in Cabo. Good (and safe) food can be had in almost any restaurant, but the very best are often off the beaten path.

(Italian) Forty-six miles north of Cabo San Lucas on Highway 19, in Todos Santos; 011-52-624-145-0340. $$
Located in an old hacienda on the plaza of an artist-colony town, Café Santa Fe's homemade Italian cuisine relies on handmade pastas, local seafood and organic produce. Try the ravioli with lobster and shrimp; you won't believe you're in Mexico. But call ahead: It's not always open (12­9, closed Thursdays) and crowded when it is.

(Mexican) [This restaurant is now closed]
A few blocks off the main drag in Cabo San Lucas, La República serves contemporary Mexican cuisine in a romantic garden. The charbroiled rack of lamb in chipotle sauce with mint chile honey is superb.


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