Ernie Els building his first Mexico course, in one of golf’s fastest-growing markets

ernie els at OLEADA golf

Ernie Els on site at Oleada, on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula.

Courtesy Oleada

For a guy known as the “Big Easy,” Ernie Els seems forever on the go.

A globetrotting superstar in his prime, the four-time major winner just keeps on keeping on, balancing a PGA Tour Champions career with myriad travel-intensive business interests.

Consider his far-flung work in golf design.

Since 2000, when he got started in the field, Els, 53, has built courses in nearly a dozen countries and now has half a dozen projects underway, spanning from the Caribbean to Croatia.

The latest? His first design in Mexico, on the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, in one of the hemisphere’s fastest-growing golf markets.

The site for the course sits on a sparkly stretch of the Pacific. Courtesy Oleada

Situated roughly 15 minutes from downtown Cabo San Lucas, along a mile of oceanfront, Oleada Golf Links will anchor an 860-acre resort community called Oleada Pacific Living & Golf.

Oleada is a Spanish word for wave, and the course is part of a swell of development that has transformed what was once a sleepy fishing village into a hotbed of luxe golf resorts and private getaways.

Els’ design will take its place on a sparkly stretch of the Pacific, flanked by a pair of big-name golf destinations — Diamante, which is home to designs by Davis Love III and Tiger Woods, and Grand Solmar, where Greg Norman cut the ribbon on a course three years ago.

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For Els, this first opportunity in Mexico is also what he described as a designer’s dream, providing him with a sandy canvas marked by ridges and dramatic dunes. 

“We’ve worked on so many different types sites over the years,” Els said. “Coral and lava in Hawaii and Mauritius. South Africa on clay. This is by far the most sand we’ve had to work with, and really the best natural site.”

With the routing, Els said that he and his design partner, Greg Letsche, plan to take advantage of the desert-meets-ocean setting, starting higher up, on cactus-dotted terrain, but with the majority of holes working close to the water. Given the coastal winds, Els said he envisions wide landing areas to enhance strategic options and ground-game creativity — as linksy as you can get on a course that is not technically a links.

“This is by far the most sand we’ve had to work with,” Els said of Oleada. Courtesy Oleada

“There’s a lot of natural humps and bumps, and I want players to feel that unevenness without doing anything too crazy,” Els said. “You’re going to be able to play all kinds of shots, and you’re going to have to account for the breezes, just as we will in our design.”

Plans for the Oleada development call for three luxury resorts, along with a nursery, orchards, fitness and wellness centers, hiking and biking trails, and more. But the course itself, Els said, will offer “core” golf, with accommodations and other infrastructure set far back from the corridors of play.

The development broke ground early this year, but Els’ work is only just beginning. The course is expected to open in 2026. Visit here for more information.

Josh Sens Contributor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.