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Quivira Golf Club: A High-Wire Act

Sep 21, 2023

Since its debut in 2014, Jack Nicklaus’ masterful design at Quivira Golf Club has garnered a loyal following and plentiful awards. Arguably the most eclectic and original handiwork in Jack’s course design portfolio, Quivira is a singular layout that stands apart from all other Nicklaus designs. There’s a reason for that.

As Antonio Reynante, Quivira’s director of golf, points out, “Along the cliffs and in the dunes at Quivira, Jack was able to create a truly unique and special golf experience unrivalled for challenge and scenic splendor.” However, from a routing and strategic perspective, Nicklaus and his design team were handcuffed by the site’s steep sandy hills, sheer granite cliffs and strong onshore winds. Necessity being the mother of invention, the Golden Bear, an indefatigable workhorse with 400-plus design credits under his belt, prevailed on a peril-packed parcel that would have defeated others. 

While recognizing Quivira as one of the “World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses,” Golf Digest issued a caveat about the unusual routing. In the end, the layout’s stunning Land’s End location and riveting challenges carried the day. 

Writing in the Fall 2023 issue of LINKS Magazine, Joe Passov, an astute observer of golf course architecture, described Quivira as a “Hire-Wire Act.” He also called it “golf’s ultimate hair-raising adventure.”

“Sometimes all we want from a golf experience is a tranquil walk in the park,” Passov wrote. “Occasionally, however, we crave a pulse-quickening thrill ride.” Noah Webster wasn’t a golfer, he said, but his dictionary defines ‘hair-raising’ as ‘causing terror, excitement, or astonishment,’ and the course that best fits that description is Quivira in Cabo San Lucas.”

The fun, Passov exclaimed, “begins with the five-minute-long, switchback-filled, vertigo-inducing ride” from the fifth green to the sixth tee at 275 feet above sea level. (The holes were renumbered last year, so the former par-4 fifth hole is now the sixth).

Measuring a scant 310 yards, the slim, slanted fairway at No. 6 traces the edge of a sheer granite cliff on the left before tumbling downhill to a peek-a-boo green that hangs on the edge of oblivion. 

As Passov noted, “…even with a successful lay-up, the green is somewhere ‘down there,’ visible to some, not to others. For those who can see it, call it a mixed blessing.” Why? “Staring down at the 200 feet of nothingness left, back and right is momentarily disorienting, because it’s unlike any other target you’ve ever aimed at on a golf course—and that’s with a wedge from a sidehill lie.”

In the end, No. 6 is the connective tissue Nicklaus needed to build to get players around the side of a mountain to experience the breathtaking par-3 seventh hole, its two-tiered green carved into the base of dune with a cavernous bunker, and a sheer drop-off guarding the left side. Splendid links-like holes follow, notably the eighth, its tee boxes set above Faro Viejo, a landmark 1905 lighthouse. Faced into the prevailing breeze, the clifftop fairway, flanked by dunes and the sea, leads to an infinity-edge green defended by sandy wastelands. 

There are more thrills ahead, notably at the mammoth, double-dogleg par 5 12th hole, which zigzags downhill along an island-style fairway to a lolling tongue of a green. It’s the longest hole on the course. The shortest is the petite par-3 13th hole, which calls for an unerring tee shot over an abyss to a midget green that crowns a pinnacle of granite rising from the boiling sea. 

“At times, the Quivira journey is wacky, but given the wow factor, it’s undeniably wonderful,” Passov concluded. Golfing guests of Pueblo Bonito Resorts would heartily concur.  

Stay at one of our Cabo resorts for your next golf trip and play Quivira.