Quivira Golf Club
To the average golfer, the phrase “World’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” might not mean much, but for a lot of us it is the annual reminder that Golf Digest has done all the work in creating the ultimate bucket list. When you scroll this marvelous celebration of international designs and see the photos from No. 1 Newcastle, Northern Ireland, to No. 100 Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, it’s impossible not to want to book a trip so you can cross one off.
However, for many of us, one might be it. With courses in Japan, Dubai, New Zealand, and many other exciting destinations, we must accept the fact that our budgets and schedules will make choosing a truly difficult task. But what if a course is located near a resort community that is an ideal destination for any type of vacation? That could certainly make it easier, if it means convincing the family, that special someone, or your best friends that you know just the place for the big getaway.
For me, that place was Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Golf and Spa Resort, a terrific property that is as luxurious as it is entertaining. It is also home to the No. 87 entry on Golf Digest’s 2022-23 list: Quivira Golf Club, a Jack Nicklaus design that opened in 2014 and instantly became a dream course for players of all skill levels. Even having heard of its reputation, I wasn’t prepared for this masterpiece.
And things are only getting better here, as Nicklaus is working on a second course and he’s promising that it will be “stunning and equally as spectacular” as Quivira G.C. Is that even possible? I can’t imagine so, but I do know that no matter how wild his first design may be, it shouldn’t scare away the average golfer.
Prepare to Make a Day of It
Quivira Golf Club is as much an epic journey as it is a round of golf. This is a sprawling course with large gaps between holes, like the long ride between holes 4 and 5, 6 and 7, and especially 15 and 16, as those last two are set on the west side of the property like they’ve been shunned from the rest. I like to think Nicklaus left so much room over here so frustrated golfers can shout their profanities all at once without disturbing the local wildlife.
In all seriousness, though, the expansive layout is my favorite thing about QGC because it allows for magnificent views at every turn, and some of the holes even feel like they’re not even on the same course. I’ve heard other golfers say they want the most bang for their buck when they’re playing golf on vacations, and this one is worth every penny and then some. So, sit back and enjoy the ride… even if you’ve lost a dozen balls by the turn.
Don’t Sweat the Tough Stuff
No matter how good the player, this is not an easy course. In fact, I’d love to see a PGA event held here so we can all watch and marvel at how the pros would play it. But don’t let the challenge scare you away. The key for golfers of any skill level is to treat a round here like a vacation in general: leave the stress at home (or in the clubhouse) and just appreciate the opportunity to play one of the best courses in the world.
When you’re below average or a beginner, a difficult design can be a deterrent for continuing, so it is crucial not to let the lost balls bother you. And there will be a lot, especially when you’ll want to hit at least three shots on the Par 3 13th hole, with its breathtaking gap between the tee box and green. So, once you’ve stepping into that first tee box, take a deep breath, do a 360-degree twirl to take in the first sights, and repeat after me…
“It’s Time to Be Creative”
Once I put the frustration in my rearview, I realized the best course of action is to spend a little more time examining the layout of each hole and finding ways to take advantage of the designs. You know, what good golfers do. Granted, there are plenty of obstacles you won’t be able to avoid and the curves run wild on many of these holes, but common sense might actually trump talent at Quivira.
For example, one of my favorite holes on the planet is the Par 4 5th, which the better golfers in my group Bryson’d to try and make the green in one. With a slower swing speed and a tendency to hit low runners for safer shots, I focused on sticking to the right side, keeping it on the fairway, and running it down the remarkable slope. A medium chip and two putts later, I had my only par of the round.
I more than earned my phenomenal paloma at the first course snack shack.
Shorten Your Game
While most of the rest of my game was lowlighted by double bogeys and replies of “I forget” when pressed for my actual score, I was at least able to keep the ball on the fairways by playing shorter. Three-quarter and half-swings might’ve put my ball well behind those of my cohorts, but nobody wants to hit out of the rough or sand here. Hell, the sand is at least manageable—I should know as I spent enough time there to use Shooter McGavin’s Hasselhoff joke multiple times.
The rough, though, is especially bad, and the stuff beyond that is no man’s land. Even very good golfers will be spotted kicking out of the thickness, so don’t be too hard on your buddies when you catch them picking a friendlier spot to hit from. Save the heavy roasting for when you catch them doing that tossed ball trick from a bunker.
Prepare to Storm the Shores
At most courses I play during my travels, I’m usually teamed with strangers, which is awesome because I love having someone else’s perspective, not only for golf tips, but also seeing the courses through their eyes. But with my professional mindset, I’m too often caught up in the moment of enjoying the scenery, so I feel like a broken record when I say things like, “Can you believe this is real?” and “How amazing is this view?”
On this course, however, that’s all anyone in my group of eight said. The elevation allows for the best photo opportunities, so be prepared to take selfies and group pics on every tee and green. One element that people might miss without a proper heads up from the staff is that the sprawling beach that’s best seen from the green on the 10th hole is the spot where the battle for the Trojan beach was filmed for the movie Troy.
So, at the very least, you can tell people you’re the Achilles of scoring 110.
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