Want to escape the cold – Cabo awaits with golf, sun and turf

Quivira and Solmar Golf Links courses provide perfect respite from the Colorado cold

By Jeff Wallach

Twenty years ago, a perfect day in Los Cabos, Mexico, might have included hanging upside down from a fishhook in a certain harborside bar while a waitress poured tequila down your throat. These days it transpires far from the crowds, at the welcoming Quivira Golf Club, crafted amidst sweeping dunes, granite cliffs, imposing cardon cacti, and desert foothills at the tippy tip of the Baja Peninsula.

The wildlands lying on both the Pacific side and the Sea of Cortez sides of Cabo have filled in with a portfolio of world-class family resorts and the golf courses that love them — Quivira among the best of them.


Hole No. 14 at Quivira Golf Club. Photo by Jon Whittle, courtesy Quivira Golf Club

Jack Nicklaus delivered one of the most impressive performances of his career by creating an immensely playable and downright fun layout represented well by the fifth hole— a 310-yard adventure with the reachable (though not by average golfers!) green clinging to the side of a cliff like a nervous rock climber. Shorter hitters can still punch a perfect running draw with a rescue club at a scythe of fairway that will feed the ball way downhill to the hole. Or not.

The par-three sixth, following, capers along the cliff edge as well, and anything hit left will land on someone’s sandcastle. Blind shots, massive dunes, eminently puttable greens, and the opportunity to use the ground creatively make this seaside beauty among Jack’s best. Beside the aforementioned holes characterized by high levels of drama, you’ll love No. 10, a par five that tempts a long carry shot past a pot bunker on the safe side of stunning desert wasteland. From there it’s a downhill romp to the green, which may be reachable in two.

On its surface, Quivira appears to be a desert course beside the ocean, or an ocean course that plays through the desert. But the key to unraveling its secrets is to recognize that it’s actually a mountain course that happens to play through an oceanside desert. Seen from a boat off shore, several holes seem to defy physics as they stick to cliff sides.

Additional excellence is provided by a series of comfort stations en route along the golf journey — thatched oases serving up fresh cuisine and cocktails, all of which are included in green fees. But the best news of all at Quivira is that Jack and friends are headed back to Cabo to design a second inland course to complement the first. And if Quivira’s top-notch everything is any indication, you’ll complement it too.

Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Beach Beds. Photo courtesy Hunter Public Relations

Après golf, enjoy the digs at one of two Pueblo Bonito hotels a quick shuttle ride away. Pacifica is a beachside adults-only all-inclusive luxury resort with five restaurants, elegant spa, two pools, and more, all at a relaxing distance from the orchestrated chaos of Cabo — which is always accessible via taxi if you happen to crave a little more action.

Only a single word currently prevents Cabo from being among the top golf destinations on the planet: reciprocity. Which is to say, while the area is replete with fine hotels for every price range, drool-inducing restaurants, scenic wonders, and some stunningly good golf, the current state of affairs will only allow you to play those courses affiliated with your chosen resort.

West around the bottom of Baja is the welcoming enclave of The Grand Solmar Pacific Dunes Resort and accompanying Solmar Golf Links Course — a perfect family retreat with glorious suites, villas, private homes, an adults-only pool, water slides for the kids, and movies, karaoke, spa and cabanas. Add a friendly, relaxed vibe and great food at Anica Restaurant, and you’ve discovered a perfect hideaway. The carefully and gently crafted Greg Norman golf course is the only layout in Latin America to feature revetted bunkers — here built from artificial soccer field turf and thin layers of concrete, but as beautiful as the layers of sod at St. Andrews. You’d never guess at their construction unless you nose right up and feel them.

Opening holes climb through arroyos and a cactus forest as the course traverses three distinct ecosystems and offers oceans views from every hole. Norman built the layout with a philosophy of least disturbance to the natural attributes of the site.

The 17th green at Solmar Golf Links, a 191 yard par 3 with the sea at your back. Photo courtesy Hunter Public Relations

The favorite hole of Head Golf Professional Mario Navarro may be number fourteen, but only if he’s forced to choose. The 444-yard par four cuts between two massive dunes, hiding the ocean that you know lies just beyond. The way he played during a recent round they should all be his favorite —birdies and pars rained from the otherwise sunny skies.

When compiling those must-play lists of the “best” golf courses, raters and reviewers should factor in the tamales served by one of Solmar Golf Links’ several comfort stations located along the course, which also features massive, pristine greens averaging over 10,000 sq. ft., little rough (unless you shank one into the desert), few forced carries, and an overall rugged, natural look that makes you feel you’ve embarked upon a wild golf adventure.

Holes 12 to 18 are especially impressive as they play from high up inland and stair step down to the beach. The course concludes with an island green at number seventeen and a par-five finale that seems to stretch about a half-million yards uphill and into the wind. If you par it from the back tees, treat yourself to a fine tequila — which you should probably sip while sitting right side up.


Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.

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Jeff Wallach is a golf writer from Portland, Oregon, and is the author of the novel “Mr. Wizard.” Reach him at [email protected]