Klein on Design: No. 18 at Mayakoba – El Camaleon
Monday, January 25, 2010
Bradley S. Klein, Golfweek’s architecture editor, offers his opinion on one memorable hole:
Yards: 458, par 4
Architect: Greg Norman, 2005
Where: Riviera Maya, Mexico
Ranked: No. 7 on the Golfweek’s Best Caribbean & Mexico Courses List, 2010
Event: PGA Tour’s Mayakoba Golf Classic Feb. 18-21
It’s great because . . . this graceful par 4 brings to a conclusion a boldly shaped course that takes golfers along mangrove swamps, natural caverns, man-made canals and limestone basins. At the 18th, the ideal line into the green is close to the tightly bunkered left side. From there, with a helpful prevailing cross wind, it’s a middle-iron to a putting surface that, halfway back, tips subtly away from the line of play, making a controlled approach essential.
It would be even better if . . . the bunkering weren’t suddenly so flouncy and overdone, in marked contrast to the back nine. Those curly-cue fingers and capes and bays in the bunkers look entirely out of place. And then there’s the position of the clubhouse. On its own, the 16,000-square-foot building designed by Mario Lazo is an impressive post-modern evocation of a classic Mayan temple – especially its split, double-vaulted roof. But the long side of the ochre-washed building is precisely perpendicular to the axis of the final hole. That’s always a mistake because the golfer suddenly confronts a block-like linear barrier. The best angle for a clubhouse is off to the side on a deflective angle, as with Shinnecock Hills and Prairie Dunes.