Nicklaus adds another golden feather to his golf portfolio in Los Cabos: Quivira
Taking a quick tour in a golf cart of the new Jack Nicklaus Quivira course in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, I got the impression my round would not be a sip of tequila. Just the carts paths alone that twisted and turned plunging up and down cliffs revealing carries over ravines flushing into the sea and holes cutting through canyons and arroyos, hinted of the fun that lay in store. The convoluted path connecting holes four and five up the steep hillside alone, was a ride on the wild side lasting several minutes.
There were par 3s like no. 6 and the par-4 fifth requiring deft shots to greens clinging to the rocky brink; S-turn runs down a steep slope; vast fields of sand and rocks defining immaculate swaths of well watered paspalum fairways; and views of the sea punctuated by breaching whales. There was even a castle perched on the end of the sand below the seventh hole, the remains of the set for the 2004 Brad Pitt movie “Troy.”
Then I got to play it. What a surprise. Quivira turned out to be so much more playable than its advance billing. And that is exactly what Nicklaus was shooting for. Speaking to our group of golf writers on the day it officially opened (Dec. 4, 2014) he said, “Everyone wants 7,000 yards but this is a destination resort course. Does 7,000 yards mean anything? No. Was it designed to hold tournaments? No. Could it be used for tournaments? Certainly. But this is a resort course and I want to leave it so it is playable, fun and maintainable.”
Of course, how well you score and how many balls you lose to the sea, the desert and ravines, depends on which of the tees you decide to play. Quivira plays 7,139 yards from the tips but with five choices, you can choose to be challenged or decide on a more realistic course.
Of all the Nicklaus tracks I have played Quivira has to be near the top for smashing scenery and memorable holes. I was distracted more than once searching out to sea for breaching whales. “Right over there by that fishing boat,” exclaimed my playing pal pointing out to sea as I was in the middle of my back swing. But then I had asked him to spot one for me so – missed it. Again. There was just so much to appreciate here.
Wide fairways and elevated tees with scruffy sandy waste bunkers, tall rocks stacked like giant cairns in the middle of the landing area, and greens tucked into bowls carved out of cliffs or teetering on cliffs, kept you thinking. Add the comfort stations where your comfort is enhanced by margaritas, ham and cheese croissants, burritos, Bloody Mary and snacks, all included in your green fee and that fee just got all that more comfortable.
Nicklaus, who first come to Cabo in the ’60s to fish said, “It was a time when you got off the plane with $20 in your pocket, a pair of sandals, a bathing suit and tee shirt and your could spend a week. Now you can’t get out of the airport for that.” In the early ’90s Nicklaus came back to build his first golf course, La Palmilla thereby jump-starting the golf boom in the area. “My friends call me the guy who ruined Cabo,” he said.
In addition to the 27 holes at Palmilla, Nicklaus went on to construct the beautiful Ocean Course at Cabo el Sol and now Quivira aptly named for one of the seven “Lost Cities of Gold” sought by the explorer, Francisco de Coronado in the 15th century. Named Best “New International Course” by Golf Magazine Quivira is indeed found treasure.
Stay: The all-inclusive Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf & Spa Resort and its sister property, Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach overlook the sea and Quivira.
Note: Taking golf balls out of Cabo to the U.S in your carry-on luggage is a no, no. New TSA regulations south of the border forbid this. Be sure to put them in your checked baggage or be prepared to leave the golfers in the TSA that much happier with your contributions. (I was not going to check any luggage but with four sleeves of Jack Nicklaus balls from the Quivira opening plus a dozen of my own I had brought to Mexico, after being told of the new regulation, I went back downstairs and checked my bag. Annoying.
And what about the new Tiger Woods course, El Cardonal at Diamante nearby, a 7,300 yard seaside track brushing against the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains with plenty of drop dead views out to the Pacific? Feigning surprise, Nicklaus said, “Woods’ course? It’s a mystery.”
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