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Tee by the Sea

On golf, early mornings, and Baja's Loreto
TPC Danzante Bay.jpg

The TPC Danzante Bay overlooks Loreto’s virgin islands—and lucky golfers might spot whales and dolphins frolicking in the sea below the 17th hole.

The clock marks 6:22 a.m., and I’m yet to become caffeinated. So the reason for getting up before the sun to hike has to be pretty damn good. Life-changing, even.

A jog up the rocky hill against the chilly breeze keeps me warm and takes me to my destination, the 17th hole—a verdant patch of grass sitting atop a large rock overlooking the ocean. Behind me are the valleys, arroyos, dunes, and foothills that dot Tournament Players Club (TPC) Danzante Bay, the 18-hole course designed by American golf architect Rees Jones at Villa del Palmar in Loreto, Baja California.

Completed in 2017, the multimillion-dollar arena is the only TPC golf course in Mexico operated by the PGA Tour. Less than a two-hour plane ride from Tijuana’s airport, “Mexico’s Best Golf Course,” as recognized by the World Golf Awards in 2020, is well within reach for fellow San Diegans.

TPC Danzante Bay, Loreto Golf Course

TPC Danzante Bay, Loreto Golf Course

It’s 6:36 a.m. now, and I’m sitting on the edge of the hill, soaking up the infinite panorama. Glistening ripples spread across the Gulf of California as a boat steers east. At the same time, the gray sky slowly transitions into the same color scheme as a scoop of Thrifty’s rainbow sherbet. West of the par-72 course looms the rugged Sierra de la Giganta mountain range—an emblem of the Baja Peninsula.

The all-inclusive resort developers knew what they were doing with their 4,000-plus secluded acres on the Loreto Bay National Marine Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. At 6:42 a.m., the moon is still out, but the sky’s ever-evolving hues are bright enough for me to shift my focus to the rocks sticking out of the water in the distance.

Loreto Golf Course.jpg

Loreto Golf Course.jpg

Squinting, I realize that they are not actually rocks but rather islands. There’s Coronado, one of Loreto’s virgin islands alongside Montserrat, Santa Catalina (also called Catalana), del Carmen, and Danzante, which sits in front of the hotel. Unlike the Coronado island we have back home, this one hosts blue and humpback whales, orcas, and dolphins. I keep an eye out for the marine mammals that inhabit, or at least travel through, the gulf, but I’m out of luck.

Something else joins my line of sight: the prickly cacti, lush greenery, and jagged peaks encompassing the course, all paving the way to the vast sea. With a few minutes to spare before 7 a.m., I take one final inhale, absorbing the nature surrounding me—a view worth the pre-dawn wakeup call. The sun peeks out from below the horizon, and while I’m still not a morning person nor a PGA golfer, the vistas from Loreto’s one and only TPC Danzante Bay make me feel like I could be both. Maybe I’ll return for a full 18 someday, inspired by the view.

By Roxana Becerril

Roxana Becerril is a Mexican-American writer living in San Diego. When she's not traveling or checking out the newest restaurant in the city, she covers art, culture, lifestyle and Latino topics.

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