25 Feb 2012
The first of the 2012 World Golf Championships events takes place this week as the top 64 available players on the Official World Golf Rankings make their way to the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club in Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona for the WGC Accenture World Match Play Championship. Designed in 2009 by golfing legend Jack Nicklaus, Dove Mountain is hosting the event for the fourth consecutive year. The golf club consists of three 9 hole loops with the Match Play Championship taking place on the Saguaro and Tortolita loops that total 7150 metres.
Named for the towering and distinctive saguaro cactus that populate the front nine, the 3600m outward half is typically Nicklaus with generously wide fairways and large greens. Add in dramatic changes in elevation, forced carries over desert washes, classic pot bunkers and vast waste areas and we arrive at what Jack Nicklaus predicts will become one of the players’ favourite stops on the Tour. The Tortolita loop winds around the base of the mountains that give the back nine its name. The 200m par 3 12th hole is the highest point on the course, before the layout descends into an arid and secluded canyon, finishing in the natural amphitheatre of the 18th green.
Whilst the European Tour takes a month-long break before starting up again in Spain in mid-March, the US PGA Tour event this week opposite the WGC Match Play is the Mayakoba Classic in Mexico. The Mayakoba Resort is 30 minutes from Cancun International Airport and all-time great Greg Norman has crafted here a unique and innovative design that really lives up to its name, El Camaleon. Like a chameleon, the 6450m par 71 course forever changes as it meanders through three distinct landscapes – tropical jungle, dense mangroves and oceanfront stretches of sand.
Norman’s amazingly picturesque layout has incorporated into the design a massive ancient cavern common to the area and also huge limestone canals. Opened for play in 2006 and boasting many breath-taking and stunning holes, El Cameleon’s signature hole is the 140m par 3 15th that runs alongside the Caribbean, offering sweeping views of Cozumel and the world’s second largest coral reef. This future classic made history in 2007 when it became the first Mexican golf course to host an official US PGA Tour event.