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Make it a Point to Play These Jack Nicklaus Layouts

Since his playing days, and certainly beyond that, Jack Nicklaus has been one of golf’s greatest ambassadors.

He’s never shied away from giving takes on what’s right and wrong with golf – from golf equipment to growing the game to Tiger Woods’ journey of surpassing Jack’s 18 major titles. During this COVID-19 crisis, the “Golden Bear” also has been active delivering the social distancing message. He’s appeared on social media, on radio shows and other medium promoting staying at home and being safe around others, especially seniors.

Everyone should be heeding his and every other health official’s advice to quarantine themselves at home and practicing social distancing if they must go out for essential items. That way once normalcy returns, all golfers can resume playing their favorite layouts and discovering new ones to enjoy.

Nicklaus has created some of the best golf courses on the planet – both private and public. Once this Coronavirus pandemic ends, these Jack Nicklaus designs will be waiting for your (likely rusty) golf game. Make it a point to befriend a member of these private layouts or visit these exotic locales where his best public layouts are located.

Cordillera Ranch

Located just northwest of San Antonio in the sleepy town of Boerne, Cordillera Ranch boasts a Nicklaus Signature Golf Course that has earned plenty of fanfare since it opened in 2006.

National Golf Course of the Year, consistently ranks among the top-10 courses in Texas, features one of the best and most beautiful holes in the state. Earlier last year, the golf course got another distinction.

This past January, Cordillera Ranch became the first course in the Lone Star State to grass all its greens with Pure Distinction bentgrass. Developed 15 years ago, Pure Distinction is fast becoming the premier strain, offering the exceptional roll unique to bentgrass, enhanced traits that tolerate heat, humidity and disease more effectively, and a density so tight it mitigates encroachment from other aggressive and unwanted grasses such as poa annua.

Other elite private clubs with Pure Distinction putting surfaces include major championship venue Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa and Essex Golf and Country Club in Canada, often considered one of the top-100 courses in the world.

The greens will surely wow you, as will the par-3 16th, the signature hole at Cordillera Ranch. Beautiful and “Bear”ly touched by Nicklaus, No. 16 features an elevated green bordered by natural waterfalls and a 40-foot-deep canyon.

Desert Highlands

Since its inception in 1983, Desert Highlands has set the standard by which all other private golf communities in Scottsdale are measured. Spanning 850 acres, Desert Highlands majestically melds Sonoran Desert luxury living with world-class amenities.

The community’s calling card is its Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, which inspired championship golf in Scottsdale. Stretching to over 7,100 yards, this splendid layout offers a challenging, but fair test, and striking views of Pinnacle Peak and the lights of the Valley spread across the horizon in the distance below. Nicklaus, Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson have walked these fairways, as it was host site of the first Skins Game in 1983.

The club and community recently invested $7 million into improvements to its golf course, which included renovating every bunker, restoring the 13th hole to its original design, installing a new irrigation system and updating cart paths.

Ocean Course at Hokuala

The only Nicklaus Signature Design on the majestic island of Kauai, the Ocean Course at Hokuala boasts the longest continuous stretch of oceanfront golf in Hawaii. Not surprisingly, MSN Travel named the Ocean Course one of the world’s 12 most beautiful courses.

That’s not the only award bestowed to the Ocean Course – the list of accolades is as long as its stretch of holes that overlook Nawiliwili Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Golfweek, GOLF Magazine, Travel & Leisure Golf and World Golf Awards are among the many media outlets touting the Ocean Course among the top courses in Hawaii and nationwide.

Conveniently located next to Lihue Airport, Timbers Kaua‘i and Marriott Kaua‘i Resort, the Ocean Course was renovated in 2017 with world-class TifEagle greens, bright white silica sand bunkers, innovative visual aesthetics, an expanded driving range, new Golfboards and many other enhancements.

Hokuala translates to mean “Rising Star.” In such a unique setting where the ocean meets the land, this is as good as it gets on the “Garden Isle.”

PGA National – Champion Course

While it may not be a Nicklaus Signature Design or even an original design by Jack, The Champion Course at PGA National Resort & Spa might be his most masterful redesign.

Opened in 1981 and originally designed by Fazio brothers, George and Tom, the Champion Course was the site of the 1983 Ryder Cup, the 1987 PGA Championship and the Senior PGA Championship for 19 years, from 1982–2000.

Today, PGA National is the site of the PGA TOUR’s Honda Classic since 2007 and home to the legendary “Bear Trap” – hole Nos. 15 through 17 on its Champion Course that USA TODAY hails as “one of the toughest stretches in golf.” In addition to the Bear Trap, immaculate conditions and a challenging layout make the Champion Course a favorite among Tour pros and amateurs.

Its most recent renovations came in 2018 when Nicklaus Design removed the Palmetto palms on the right side of No. 1 and left side of No. 9 and green complexes were re-built, shaped and grassed with TifEagle bermudagrass.

Sailfish Point

Situated on South Florida’s Hutchinson Island, this luxury community is home to a par-72, 7,088-yard Nicklaus Signature Design that offers water views on nearly every hole. Case in point: the finishing hole, a striking par-4 dubbed “Window on the Sea” for its remarkable ocean view.

The immaculate views, along with the shotmaking demands and fair challenge have attracted many to join Sailfish Point. These features also have placed Sailfish Point on prominent “Best of” lists. Golfweek annually tabs Sailfish Point among the top residential courses in the country, while others have tabbed it among the premier layouts in the Sunshine State.

Nicklaus originally designed Sailfish Point in 1981, and revamped the course in 2007. Wheels are in motion for Nicklaus Design to spearhead another renovation project beginning later this year. It remains to be seen if this project will continue its current timeline.

Sailfish Point is less than a two-hour drive from both the Orlando and Miami areas, so it’s easy to get to from any major airport.

Story by Dakota Diaz