Winter '24 - Escape to Cabo, SNGA Winners & More

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

An Experience Unlike Any Other - Cabo San Lucas

Travel Mexico

Quivira Golf Club

An Experience Unlike Any Other


Situated at the tip of Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, at the place where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, Los Cabos boasts a dazzling mountain-desert-ocean environment where the game’s top designers have crafted some of the world’s finest courses.

Of the six courses built in Los Cabos by Jack Nicklaus, Quivira Golf Club, opened to acclaim in 2014, is by far the least traditional and most spectacular. An engineering marvel and aesthetic tour de force, this 7,019-yard, par-72 showstopper may be the most daring and eclectic course Nicklaus has ever built. Voted to Golf Digest’s roster of the “World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses,” Quivira offers more oceanfront exposure—and more unforgettable thrills--than any other course in Latin America.

Grafted onto a stunning Land’s End site marked by sheer granite cliffs, massive windswept dunes, and rolling desert foothills, Quivira resembles a fantasy golf calendar with mind-boggling holes airbrushed onto vertical canyon walls lapped by turbulent seas. It has the tees, greens, and fairways, but it also has twisting arroyos, acres of cactus, lots of rock, Sahara-like expanses of sand…in sum, a little bit of everything that Cabo has to offer.

The wake-up call comes on the drive to the sixth hole, which traces a switchback route up the side of a mountain and climbs to a vertigo-inducing perch 275 feet above the foaming surf. At under 300 yards from the forward tees, this downhill, sidehill par 4 can be driven, but it’s ‘hasta la vista’ if you miss the rock-walled, cliff-hanging green. The par-3 seventh, its deep, two-tiered green carved from the base of huge stippled dune, is equally dramatic.

After swinging near a historic 1905 lighthouse, the layout weaves through the dunes and returns to the cliffs at No. 14, a tiny par 3 that plays over a yawning abyss to a miniscule green set atop a pinnacle of fissured granite rising 100 feet from the surf. The course then proceeds inland through the desert, dropping abruptly from a set of elevated tees at No. 17, a magnificent par 4 set in a V-shaped valley with a concave fairway at its bottom. A large thumb-shaped rock marks the end of the landing area. The peek-a-boo green, with only the flag in view, is set in a hollow.

Quivira’s new par-4 18th hole, opened last year, was built to replace a hole appropriated for real estate development. It’s a gem. Nicklaus and his design team created a short, beguiling par 4 that bends to the right and slopes towards the sea, the ocean flooding the horizon beyond the green.

Distance is not a problem for shorter hitters at the new 18th. The hole measures 345 yards from the blue tees, 319 yards from the white markers, 252 yards from the red tees. The broad fairway is indented to the right by a vast sandy waste area. The prevailing wind, generally at a player’s back, must be taken into account on the drive and approach. Nicklaus installed a pair of aiming bunkers at the outside turn of the dogleg to frame the hole and provide a target off the tee.

The three-level putting surface, sunk below two ridges and skewed to the line of play, is 100 feet long and barely 30 feet wide. Only the top portion of the flagstick can be seen from the vantage point of the fairway. A bunker placed behind the putting surface saves players who overshoot the green from a fate worse than sand.

A note to first-timers: Quivira is a breathtaking layout, but it can be visually intimidating. Nicklaus, to his credit, built kicker slopes and containment mounds that tend to gather the ball to safety and feed the ball to the hole. Because of the vertiginous setting, each risk-reward scenario must be weighed very carefully on this off-the-charts design. When in doubt, the conservative route and the high-percentage shot are usually the best options. 

Created as an exclusive amenity for owners and guests of Quivira Los Cabos, a resort community that fronts a beautiful 2.5-mile stretch of beach on the Sea of Cortez 10 minutes from downtown Cabo San Lucas, the golf club, an all-inclusive facility, offers complimentary food and refreshments at four comfort stations. Tops among them is the open-air ‘Oasis’ set high above the ninth hole, which offers superb regional fare, top-shelf tequila, and panoramic ocean views.  

Completing the experience at Quivira is a thatched-roof, beachfront clubhouse that features a large rectangular bar, a casual Steakhouse and ample outdoor seating overlooking the surging sea and Land’s End. Players can fine-tune their games at a double-ended practice facility located a mere wedge shot away from the rolling surf.

Quivira Golf Club is also accessible to guests of the multiple Pueblo Bonito Golf & Spa Resorts in Los Cabos. Golfers gravitate to the adults-only Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort located five minutes from the course. This lovely beachfront hotel transitioned into the ultra-luxe category a few years ago with the debut of The Towers at Pacifica, a lavish “resort within a resort” that features beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites with private terraces. Heading the list of amenities is personalized 24-hour butler service.

The hotel’s culinary highlight is Peninsula, a sleek restaurant and lounge specializing in regional Baja cuisine. In addition, The Market at Quivira, a lively food hall located at the nearby Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach Golf & Spa Resort, welcomes diners to an enticing array of eateries, from Asian to Italian. The Market’s newest outlet is The After at Quivira, a stylish sports bar with an ocean-view terrace that features a dozen oversize flat-screen TV’s, artisanal beers on draft, and hand-crafted cocktails. It’s a great place to tally up your score and reflect on what might have been on a course that only Jack Nicklaus could have created.

Here’s the good news: golf’s greatest champion isn’t done. Nicklaus, the man behind the design of Quivira’s flagship course, will return soon to build a second course.

“The first golf course at Quivira is a spectacular layout playing across a remarkable piece of property,” Nicklaus sys, adding that the second course should be “stunning and equally as spectacular.” The new layout will expand the golf inventory at Quivira Los Cabos to satisfy increased demand from three exclusive new projects currently under construction: St. Regis Resort & Residences; Old Lighthouse Golf & Ocean Club (to be managed by Rosewood); and the Alvar hillside condominiums.

While the routing plan for the new course has not been finalized, it will occupy a prime parcel in the northwest area of the 1,850-acre development. Holes will be carved into rolling desert foothills and broad valleys thick with cactus, with winding arroyos framing or crossing the fairways. The southern portion of the course will offer panoramic Pacific Ocean and Sea of Cortez views. Tall, distant peaks in the Sierra de la Laguna range will serve as aiming points on the interior holes. Groundbreaking on the new course is expected to commence by the fourth quarter of this year.

According to Antonio Reynante, Quivira’s director of golf, “It’s very exciting that we’ll be getting 18 new holes by Jack Nicklaus.” The Golden Bear, an indefatigable workhorse with 400-plus design credits to his name worldwide, is singlehandedly responsible for placing Los Cabos on the international golf map. His design commission at Quivira is another (and perhaps final) chance to burnish his legacy in Los Cabos, which he often describes as “one of my all-time favorite places.”

Reynante believes Nicklaus has a special opportunity at Quivira. “At the original course, especially along the cliffs and in the dunes, Jack was able to create a truly unique and special golf experience unrivalled for challenge and scenic splendor,” he says. “But the land set aside for the new course is more generous from a routing and strategic perspective. Nicklaus and his design team will not be constrained by steep sandy hills, sheer granite cliffs and strong onshore winds. He will have a blank slate on which to build whatever he feels the land can yield by way of a versatile, enjoyable test of golf.” Reynante added that Quivira’s second Jack Nicklaus Signature course will be a full-length, championship-caliber layout stretching to more than 7,000 yards.

For Quivira’s golf aficionados, course No. 2 can’t open soon enough!

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