My first and only visit to Mexico was to Los Cabos and Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort where you’ll find Quivira Golf Club. The trip was for my work at LINKS Magazine and the entire experience was 5-star. We stayed at the Towers at Pacifica within eyeshot of the golf course, we had a day on a sailboat, ate like kings, and most importantly, played what might be the most scenic golf course in the world.
Instead of going into detail about the non-golf side of the experience as I have already done in LINKS, this review focuses on the course.
The Course and Routing
Quivira Golf Club is a Jack Nicklaus Signature design located on the southernmost tip of the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico. The course is laid out on top of cliffs overlooking the intersection of the deep blues and waves of the Pacific Ocean and bright turquoise waters of the Sea of Cortez.
The layout is split between ocean-side holes, many of which play directly on top of the cliffs, and desert holes in the hills and dunes set back from the water. Nicklaus’s team was able to cherry pick the most dramatic land from each of those settings, and the result is an unbelievably scenic course with an admittedly strange routing (that could change in the next few years*).
The journey from the 4th green to the 5th tee is just under 600 feet of elevation gain and would take at least 30 minutes to walk. Equally long green to tee walks later in the round all but guarantee you must take a cart at Quivira.
That said, did you come to a resort in Los Cabos looking for a master class in course routing? No. You brought your clubs to one of the most beautiful parts of Mexico for the scenic golf and Quivira over delivers on every hole.
*A second Nicklaus course is in the works at Quivira and the routing may of the original course will likely change to include new holes and give up some holes to the new sibling. There is also talk that the clubhouse will move from the coastline at the lowest point on the property to the cliffs overlooking the water.
The Golf Experience
Quivira embraces the “all inclusive” aspects of the resort. There are three halfway houses at the 5th, 9th, and 16th holes. They have cold drinks, fresh cocktails, snacks, and the second stop even has a full kitchen cooking fish tacos, quesadillas, and other specialties. Players stop, eat, have a drink, and soak up the views. No need to sneak in a quick round!
Quivira is the most beautiful setting for a golf course that I’ve seen. I’ve never played Pebble Beach, but I heard many comparisons between Quivira and the famous course 1,500 miles north in California. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
I took the photos in this review over the course of two days and two rounds at Quivira. You’ll notice some differences in lighting, but I tried to show each hole at its best.
Hole #3 – 275 yards – The 3rd may be driveable for longer hitters, but it’s a long poke up the hill. I played the hole twice with a 3 hybrid left of the middle fairway bunker and a short wedge into the green from a nice angle.
Hole #4 – 594 yards – The 4th turns back toward the clubhouse with strategically placed bunkers throughout the fairway.
As I mentioned in the introduction, the drive from the 4th to the 5th tee is a long journey and climb up the mountain. The structure in the photo below is the first of the three halfway houses. It’s quite a view! The golf holes you see in the distance are the range, 1st, and 18th holes.
Hole #5 – 311 yards – The 5th is one of the most dramatic holes on the course. In the photo below you can see two players on the green in the distance perched on the edge of the cliffs. I took the picture from the forward tees and the men’s and championship are in a blind position on the edge of the cliffs to the left and rear of this spot.
Despite the beauty of this scene, the hole is awkward. My group struggled both days on this hole and we concluded the best play is to hit a blind 5-6 iron into the meat of the fairway and then hit a blind wedge down the hill into the green. This is the weakest hole on the course but, ironically, it’s the most memorable as well. I totally understand why the Nicklaus team wanted to use this part of the land, but keeping the green on the same level as the fairway may have been a better choice.
Hole #6 – 165 yards – This par 3 shares the same stretch of coastline as the 5th, but this hole is much less awkward. This green is receptive and the terror of the left miss is balanced with the kick-board bank on the right side of the green. As you can see in the video below, that left bunker is perched right above the water!
Hole #8 – 377 yards – This is one of my favorite holes on the course. The line off the tee is the cart and two players in the distance. The approach is then uphill to a green with a false front, deep front bunker, and helpful backstop behind the green. The view beyond this green is the Pacific Ocean, Diamante Dunes, and west coast of Mexico beyond.
Hole #10 – 529 yards – This dogleg right plays level for the tee shot and straight downhill to the green. Second shots can run down the hill and feed right onto the green.
The development and golf course you see in the distance is Diamante where Tiger Woods and Davis Love III have designed courses.
Hole #11 – 362 yards – This is another hole that was squeezed onto a piece of land that didn’t feel quite right. The tee shot is blind, as you can see below, but there isn’t an indication of where the fairway starts and ends. Strangely, it’s also a split fairway with thick natural area separating the upper and lower sections. The best fix for this hole would be to move the teeing grounds uphill to the left, but the tees already thread a ridge line as high as they can go.
Hole #12 – 595 yards – I loved this par 5 that traverses the hill down to the cliffline. In the first photo below you can barely make out the green nearly 600 yards away at the water’s edge. The hole zig-zags with natural areas cutting into the fairways at various layup distances. The hole can be fairly easy or tough as nails depending on your misses.
Hole #13 – 135 yards – The final oceanside hole is this par 3 directly on the rocks with waves crashing below. Banking to the left and rear of the hole offer a bail-out instead of challenging the cliff line.
Hole #15 – 526 yards – This hole brings the round solidly back into the desert section of the course. Right center of the fairway off the tee, right center fairway for the layup, and a short iron onto the green is all you need here. Get greedy and you pay – as I found two rounds in a row.
Hole #16 – 449 yards – You have to leave the mountaintop and get back down to the clubhouse right? The 16th marks that descent with at least 300 feet of elevation difference between green and tee. I struck a solid 280-ish yard drive on this hole and had a gap wedge into the green. Elevation is fun!
Hole #17 – 454 yards – The last bit of elevation is taken off on the difficult 17th hole. The cart in the photo below is in the perfect landing area, leaving a tough approach to the well-guarded green.
Hole #18 – 444 yards – The final hole meanders back to the clubhouse with a creek/ravine the only real hazard down the left side.
Quivira will never be considered an architectural gem or a favorite of design purists, but if you don’t enjoy your round at Quivira you need to check your pulse. There are some seriously fun holes out there and the views at every turn are to die for. The architecture snobs who will invariably play Quivira and turn up their noses need to remember the intent of the owners and Nicklaus team – they wanted to design a beautiful and fun course for their guests and they achieved that goal many times over. I loved it and hope to return for a few more rounds sooner than later.