In the midst of the natural beauty and splendor of the Mayakoba Resort there exists a mystical cenote (cave). This cenote, which has formed over thousands of years, lies impressively in the middle of the first fairway of the world renowned El Camaleón golf course.
Over the years, visitors and golfers alike have been captivated by alluring powers of the cenote -- powers that cannot be seen with the human eye or felt by human flesh but only known in hearts and minds.
Although it was not widely known, in the deepest, darkest corner of the cenote there once lived a funny little Alux (Mayan elf). As is the case with most, this little Alux had strong magical powers. Each night after the golf course had closed and the sun had gone down, this little Alux would climb out of the cenote to play games, do tricks and cause mischief.
Never was the magic of the cenote and the little Alux more powerful than the evening following the grand opening ceremony of the El Camaleón golf course in June 2005.
The exciting day at Mayakoba featured guests from all over the world, including course designer Greg Norman. The grand opening event provided the first official opportunity for people to play a round of golf on El Camaleón. There were so many enthusiastic golfers that wanted to try their hand at the Riviera Maya’s latest golf challenge, that the course simply couldn’t accommodate them all that day.
As the day passed and the last golfer closed out their round, the sun began to set and the night arrived.
When the little Alux woke up from its slumber and began to make his way out of the cenote, he happened upon a perfectly round, white, shiny and dimpled ball. He’d never seen anything like it, so he gently picked it up and began to take a closer look. Curiously, the only marking on the ball was handwritten and read “Lota.”
The playful little Alux began to think of games that he could play with his new ball. He began throwing it up in the air and catching it. He put it on the ground and rolled it. He threw it as far as he could and would run after it. What fun the little Alux had with his new ball.
After all this, the little Alux realized that playing with the ball could be much more fun if he had someone to play with. Suddenly, he had a great idea. He thought he could use his magical powers to put life into the ball creating an instant friend to play with.
Filled with excitement, the little Alux took the ball back into the cenote and began to chant and use his powers to bring his golf ball to life. The ceremony took a while and required a lot of energy and concentration from the little Alux, but he was determined.
As the little Alux continued with his magical spell, the golf ball began to shake. It surprised him because it meant his spell was working. It wouldn’t be long before he and his new friend would be playing games together all through the night.
As the ball started coming to life, it began to grow. The ball expanded, sprouted legs and arms and his face started to take shape. Finally, just before sunrise the ball had fully grown and was full of life. The little Alux, although exhausted, had accomplished his goal and could not wait to start playing with his new friend.
The next night the little Alux and the golf ball woke up full of energy ready leave the cenote for a night filled with fun and games. Before they would begin though, the little Alux decided to give a name to his new golf ball friend. He had always liked the name Jose (Pepe for short), so he decided that would be the ball’s first name. As a last name, the little Alux thought it would be appropriate to give him the name that was written on the ball when he first found it – Lota.
And so it was from that moment forward that this once small, lifeless golf ball would be known as Jose “Pepe” Lota.
For years the little Alux and Pepe Lota would sneak out of the cenote in the evenings and look for new and interesting games to play or tricks to do all over Mayakoba. They became the best of friends and did everything together.
There was one week in particular each year that the little Alux and Pepe especially loved to go out and play. Every February since 2007, El Camaleón has hosted many of the world’s top professional golfers as they compete in Mexico’s Only PGA TOUR Event – the Mayakoba Golf Classic.
The little Alux and Pepe would love to peer out of the cenote and watch these incredible golfers play the first hole and soar their golf balls right over the opening of the cenote. In the early mornings, before the sun came up they could see the PGA TOUR players practicing on the Driving Range and honing their skills for the day’s competition.
Pepe took great pride in the fact that he lived in a place where the best golfers come to play.
After several years, the little Alux began to feel bad for Pepe. A cenote was no place for a golf ball, especially one as unique as Pepe. So the little Alux started encouraging Pepe to leave the cenote and travel the world. Pepe didn’t want to leave his friend and wanted the little Alux to go with him.
What Pepe didn’t know was that the little Alux was there to protect the cenote from evil spirits and was thereby bound to it. If he got too far away from the cenote he would risk being punished by the Mayan gods.
Night after night, the little Alux tried convincing Pepe to leave the cenote to explore the world so that he could return and share his stories and experiences with him. Pepe continued to resist leaving his friend but was starting to get curious about what else the world had to offer.
Then one night in early 2010, Pepe realized that not only could he share his travel experiences with the little Alux, but he could share the story of Mayakoba and more specifically, the Mayakoba Golf Classic with the world. What better way to show his pride for where he was born.
The next day, Pepe woke up and told the little Alux of his plan to help spread the message about the Mayakoba Golf Classic and travel the world. The little Alux was thrilled with the news and knew that no matter what Pepe did or where Pepe traveled, he would be an instant success.
Before Pepe left the cenote, he felt that he should try to blend in a bit more among the humans if he was going to be traveling among them, so he decided to grow a mustache and wear clothes indicative of his native Mexico.
Once Pepe was ready to depart, the little Alux took one look at him and said “I wish you safe travels and a peaceful journey, Don Pepe Lota.” With that, Pepe set out to explore the world.
Although he found it kind of funny at the time, Pepe liked the title of “Don” that the little Alux had bestowed on him before leaving, so he would go on to use it regularly.
Today, Don Pepe Lota can be found playing with children, teaching about the game of golf and helping to promote the Mayakoba Golf Classic all over the world. He frequently returns to Mayakoba to share his stories with the little Alux and assist with Mayakoba Golf Classic initiatives, like Golf PARa Todos.
So no matter where you are, if you happen to see a life sized golf ball dressed in classic Mexican Mariachi attire, do not be afraid -- it’s just Don Pepe Lota living out his dream.