IF YOU ARE COLLECTING spectacular views, if you enjoy watching humpback whales slapping their pectoral fins while you line up a putt and if you want a challenging game — packaged all in one place — the answer is Quivira Golf Club. I arrived after flying the Aeromexico red-eye from New York (JFK) to Mexico City (MEX) for an easy connection to Cabo (SJD). When I was repeatedly asked why I took this flight, my answer was simple: I was the only person in our group to play Quivira the first day, all 18 holes. What a little gift to myself!
The Jack Nicklaus-designed signature course sits on granite cliffs and windswept dune ridges soaring over the Baja Peninsula where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean meet. From the back tees at 7,139 yards (par 72), the course is a monster; over the three full days of golf I rotated from the gold to the white tees depending on the players joining my foursome. The subtle difference meant a significant change in clubbing for the second shot, so often the holes played quite differently.
Quivira offers more sea exposure than any other course in Los Cabos, with dramatic drops from tee boxes to fairways and greens. It also offers unique “comfort stations” where players can take in outstanding views and refresh — with a complete bar and serious snack items. They are located at the starter area, between holes 4 and 5, between holes 8 and 9 and at the 16th tee. If you must play in less than four hours, secure the first tee time of the morning. Otherwise, relax, stop at the comfort stations, enjoy the views, watch the whales, see the falcons flying level with you, sample one of Luis’ special tequila drinks and live the life of Quivira. A second course by Nicklaus is in the works.
Over the three days I teed up with Eric from Forbes.com; John, a roving serial journalist who writes “he-man” content (cars, motorcycles, golf and boxing); James, an editor for a newspaper in Texas and a golf pro most of his life; Anita, a Canadian who spends half her time in Mexico; and Tim, an architectural wizard and photographer. It was a great mix of talented golfers on many levels … and me. The yardage quoted here is from the black tees.
HOLE 4 | 616 YARDS, PAR 5
After ticking off a few warm-up holes, it’s time to hit a string of holes that are challenging, beautiful and make you think about each shot. Off this tee, drive your ball from left to right so it lands away from the brush on the far side and the traps on the right. John slammed a drive straight on this slight dogleg right directly into the far brush, kissing any chance of par goodbye. I curved a drive, landing dead center in the fairway. With my trusty 3-wood I aimed the next shot a little right to stay clear of bunkers in the frontal landing area. My chip was a beaut, high and just where I wanted it, but the paspalum grass grabbed the ball and stopped it dead. A bogey was the best for the day.
HOLE 5 | 310 YARDS, PAR 4
After a stop at the second comfort station, you arrive at a spectacular hole you can play directly from the black tees across the granite and sand cliffs to the green. Enjoy the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and migrating whales as you ponder your shot. From the gold and white tees you can cut the hole a bit for a shorter drive over the dunes to the green; either drive needs power and precision. Option three is to take a 3-wood and slap your drive straight on the right side, allowing the contours of the fairway to take the ball right to left into the rough above the green where the ball will sit up well and clean. Anita and I did just that, then chipped down to the green, landing just off to allow the ball to roll on; the paspalum cooperated this time. Par is easy if you figure out (over three days) your best options.
HOLE 11 | 375 YARDS, PAR 4
On this totally blind tee shot I was saved the first day by a spotter (course employees who help players spot drives) who lined me up to the skinny aiming pole on the left side of the rise. Without this pole, the first-time Quivira player has no clue where to aim. The fairway also splits in two, with a large growth area in the center, making a near-perfect drive crucial. Rumor has it the club will make the hole more playable, softening the rise and reducing the center overgrowth. If you survive the drive, the shot to the green is slightly uphill; those favoring the right might find a favorable roll off the hill onto the green.
HOLE 12 | 635 YARDS, PAR 5
This hole was my nemesis, and it became the joke of all the other golfers. My best score was a double bogey; the worst was uncardable. From the tee box the hole zigzags to the green. My fellow golfers would stand at the tee and say, “Where do I aim?” I’d say, “Simple.” Your drive should favor the left, not so far that it ends up in the high grass but enough to ride the slope to the right and farther down the fairway.
The three times I played, I hit spectacular drives, only to be rejected on the second shot. Eric slammed a tee shot so far even James said, “Great drive.” I had a panic attack trying to find my line for the second shot. When we all arrived at our fairway drives — after James drove me in circles in the cart to add further confusion — I walked forward about 75 yards to find my line. I found a hump on the right side and returned to my ball (well short of Eric’s drive) to take no prisoners and hit my 3-wood (great TaylorMade rentals, by the way). After three days of making a complete mess of this second shot, I wanted to get this right. I slammed the shot and perfectly landed to the right of the left sand traps about 140 yards from the green. From here I made a mess of my game, ending with a decent putt. Perhaps the fourth time is the charm.
HOLE 13 | 148 YARDS, PAR 3
I dubbed this hole Planet of the Apes due to the beach below and the gigantic boulders thrusting from the sea. In the movie, Taylor and Nova encounter the rocks blocking the beach — and at Hole 13, it’s best to stay clear of the rocks and beach. From the tee, favor the left side as the green slopes squarely from left to right. My tee shot landed on the left hill and rolled onto the green for a birdie putt (which I missed).
Quivira Golf Club
Cabo San Lucas
Baja California Sur
tel 800 990 8250
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