LOS CABOS, MEXICO – Jack Nicklaus was back on the spectacular Baja California peninsula again in December to christen his sixth golf course here and celebrate an area that is a deep-sea fisherman’s paradise, a whale watcher’s haven and a destination golf resort mecca.
Quivira Golf Club is stunning, fun, and a treat for the visual senses. Located on the southernmost point of Baja California, this 7,139-yard, par 72, is marked by steep granite cliffs, massive windswept sand dunes and rolling inland desert punctuated by wild tropical growth and towering cardón cactus of the Sonoran Desert – a cousin of the saguaros of southern Arizona.
This is where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean and the blue water panoramas from every hole are the most of any course in Los Cabos.
“This is one of the great pieces of property in the world,” Nicklaus said. “We tried to create some excitement on the mountain and in the dunes, and I believe we’ve created a golf course that plays as spectacular as it looks.
“I think Quivira is loaded with good golf holes and unique golf holes. There is good golf even before you get to the ocean holes, which will be unlike anything else in Cabo,” said Nicklaus. “I’ve never seen any place that has three holes hanging out over the ocean like this golf course does. They are unbelievable. This is a diverse golf course with inland settings, its got desert, its got ocean, its got rocks. It has a little bit of everything.”
And the future includes another 18-hole golf course. Just for the record, this will be Nicklaus’ 26th golf course in Mexico, more than any golf course designer, with five of these courses ranked in the Top 10 in Mexico.
Playing conditions are pristine enhanced by sunny 85-degree days. And the platinum paspalum grasses can be found on greens, tees, fairways and rough in this unique mountain-desert-ocean ecosystem.
Quivira Golf Club: It’s all about the downhill drives and views
Many holes have downhill tee shots that are absolute fun. And what’s different about this layout is that it has the fewest bunkers (the entire landscape base is sand) and the smallest green (at No. 13) of any course in Mr. Nicklaus’ portfolio. The front nine is par 34, the back nine is par 38 —another change from the typical.
“The 12th hole is a spectacular par 5,” Nicklaus continued. “You are standing way up on top of this dune, and the hole is nearly 600 yards from the back tee, but it won’t play like that simply because you have a 150- to 200-foot elevation change that goes down to the ocean. (It is an S-shaped journey with ocean view the entire way down).
“Then we’ve got a spectacular little par 3 at No. 13 with tees along the edge of the cliff playing into a rock outcropping that comes out into the ocean, and the green sits right in the middle of these rock outcroppings high above the sea. Then we’re off the ocean until we get back to the par-4 18th. From start to finish, I’d say Quivira has as much pace, variety and spectacular beauty as any course I’ve ever designed.”
Another superlative vista par 3 is No. 6, a 180-yarder that has two tiers. Bang it too far right and you might get a great kick to the pin. Too far left and you are ocean bound.
The only nerve-wracking hole is No. 5, a 310-yard par 4 that goes severely downhill to a green on a manufactured shelf. Many will go for the green from the forward tees, but this hole is being changed to include more friendly and receivable green grass once the fairway turns left and heads straight down to the green.
But perhaps it is the cart drive to No. 5 that will have many talking. This takes almost 10 minutes, crosses rock bridges, built by stone masons, that span tropical gulches and switchbacks your route up the side of a mountain.
“I think the pleasure will come from the fact that we tried not to make it really difficult. I don’t think you’re going to find Quivira to be a long-playing golf course. We tried to make it so the average golfer not only plays the same holes (as the pros), but has the same experience,” Nicklaus said. “Only 1.8 percent of golfers worldwide play the back tees. So, 98.2 percent of the play is on the forward tees. That’s the audience we designed the golf course for.”
Quivira Golf Club: the “comfort” level is rare for any golf course
Included in your golf day are three comfort stations along the way that include gourmet food and sandwiches and just about any beverage you can imagine.
Behind the tee boxes at the fifth hole, at more than 200 feet above the ocean, is the “Cliffs” comfort station with ready-to-go refreshments.
A halfway house situated near the eighth green, called the “Oasis,” showcases the culinary talents of the resort’s chefs, with flavorful regional cuisine dishes and inventive takes on classic Baja cuisine. In addition, a full bar, including a deluxe tequila bar will feature blanco, reposado and anejo tequilas.
There’s a final refreshment station named ‘Cañada” with drinks, granola bars, and various kinds of nuts next to the No. 16 tee, where your tee shot will go downhill on a par 4, 493-yard beautiful hole, punctuated by a huge rock formation in the middle of the fairway.
Quivira Golf Club: Clubhouse, practice facilities and lodging
Quivira’s thatched-roof clubhouse offers a large rectangular bar, a casual steakhouse, and ample outdoor seating overlooking the sea. Beside the clubhouse is a spacious double-ended practice facility that parallels the ocean, as well as an elongated practice putting green and an expanded short-game practice area.
Quivira Golf Club is accessible to guests of the four Pueblo Bonito Oceanfront Resorts and Spas in Los Cabos, and to owners of properties in Copala, Montecristo Estates Luxury Villas, and Novaispania Residences. Select the all-inclusive feature that pays for all your food and beverages.
A $295 golf green fee rack rate (with discounts depending on where you stay) includes the food at the comfort stations. My favorites were the ceviche, barbecued shrimp quesadillas, shrimp tacos, flank steak tacos and tuna sliders.
Each of the Pueblo Bonito Resorts welcomes guests with luxury accommodations, fine dining and a host of on-site amenities. The Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort & Spa is right on the beach. Complimentary shuttle service to and from Quivira Golf Club is included within the Quivira development.
Nicklaus laughed when someone asked about Tiger Woods’ (and Davis Love III’s) next-door private El Cardonal at Diamante golf course opening this month.
“Who?” Jack chuckled.
You will be smiling ear to ear also when you get your first glimpse of Quivira Golf Club. It should be your first stop when visiting Los Cabos. You will not regret it.
Visit http://quiviragolfclub.com for more information.
By David R. Holland