Rancho Viejo Resort and Country Club is home to two 18 hole par 70 courses – El Diablo and El Angel. El Diablo, which translates to "the Devil" is the longer (by 350 years) and plays a stroke or two harder than "the Angel." Both course's fairways are lined with palm trees and a variety of native trees, tropical vegetation, and homes. We didn't find El Diablo all that devilish – the fairways are ample, the greens are small but fair, and if you can hit it fairly straight you'll have a relaxing and enjoyable round with an opportunity to turn in a pretty good score.
Rancho Viejo's El Diablo course meanders through the community and from the tee box you can usually see what you're up against and plan your shots accordingly – no tricks, hidden bunkers, or water to get ya. You will find the dog legs require fairly precise shots if you want to par the hole, some of the bunkers can be treacherous thanks to some steep faces, and the greens are on the small size and require accurate shots to hit and hold.
The front nine's fairways are all tree lined and compared to the back, much tighter. The back fairways are much more open, except for the last two, but the greens seem small and more challenging with tiers, undulation, and more slope. There are some fun holes on both nines like:
#3 a 440 yard par 4 (par 5 for the women) that dog legs left around a lake and to a slightly uphill green with a bunker on each side
#5 offers the brave and long hitters a great risk reward shot to try and carry the trees to shorten this dog leg left 533 yard par 5
#7 and #16 require you to carry the lake off the tee box, which always makes me a little nervous
#10 is challenging off the tee box requiring a precise shot to the dog leg left uphill very small and two tier green
The fairways at Rancho Viejo's El Diablo were well manicured and in very good condition when we played in December. The rough is a little thick but playable and if you're under the trees, you should be able to find your ball and chip back to fairway or toward the green.
Speaking of the greens, they were also in very good condition, very true, a tad slow (8 or so), and held the ball well. They vary in shape and size and most were a little smaller than average. All of the greens have at least one bunker and the vast majority have two traps guarding them. The slope on the greens is manageable and you will encounter a few tiers and some undulation that can cost you a stroke if you're not careful. Putting isn't a problem, once you're on the green.
We played just after a rain and the bunkers were still wet, but they were in good shape with soft sand. Some are very steep faced.
Bottom line – if you're in the Rio Grande Valley, this is a course you should play – good conditions, good value, and an opportunity to score well.
They also have a good stay and play package, read our review of the Rancho Viejo Golf Resort Stay & Play Package to learn more.