Welcome to My Desert

Welcome to My Desert

“Welcome to My Desert”

Although I don’t live anywhere near the Phoenix Convention Center, I want to welcome all the GHS leadership and members to Arizona!

This has been my home since 2006 when I moved to Troon Village, in what is known as north Scottsdale. My Scottish friends always raise an eyebrow when I say I live at Troon. Thirty-five years ago when developer Jerry Nelson hired Tom Weiskopf to design the course at Troon Country Club, he named the whole project Troon, as a tribute to Tom’s Open Championship win at Royal Troon in 1973.

It’s been a great privilege to be part of this golf community. And it is also a great privilege to be part of the Golf Heritage Society travel team — except this time I don’t have that far to go!

2024 GCSAA Show 

GHS exhibits for the 3rd time

My first experience being part of the GCSAA Show was in 2022 at San Diego. It was quite a thrill to be among all the major exhibitors like Toro, and of course the American Society of Golf Course Architects (ASGCA) who are strategic partners with the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America to put on this extraordinary Conference and Trade Show. I wrote a story about it — Ship Ahoy! — you can find it here.

It’s exciting for me and the other GHS board members who got to be entrenched with thousands of other passionate golfers, and especially the ones who take care of the turf on which we play the game we all love so much.

Some GHSers at our booth in 2024: Deb Haueisen, Ben Ellis, Glenn Haueisen, and Mel Lucas

The GCSAA was established in1926 and Donald Ross was one of the original founders. The more than 19,000 members from the United States and 78 countries are the men and women who manage and maintain the game’s most valuable resource — the golf course. Their mission is to advance their profession and improve communities through the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf.

That’s why members of GHS resonate so much with these golf enthusiasts, since we, too, seek to promote an appreciation of the history and traditions of golf, played on the largest golfing landscapes the world over, that are maintained by our golf brethren.

This 2024 iteration of the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show was like no other, as it was billed as, and delivered on, bringing interactive experiences .

The agenda included many educational sessions for the 10,000 + golf industry attendees plus the awesome session that I got to attend called “Ladies Leading Turf” with three exceptional women who told their inspirational stories to a standing-room only crowd.

Taba with Forrest Richardson

Ladies Leading Turf Session

Jan Bel Jan with Amy Bockerstette

A golf course – a story to be unfolded…

Since I don’t drive at night anymore, I was not able to hang out for fun dinners but I did get to experience one great event hosted by ASGCA Past President, Forrest Richardson, called ”Taco Social” — since he had a 3-5pm option. Lucky me.

I got to eat great food, meet Forrest’s wife Valerie and drink Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc! What a fun event in a spectacular setting! Forrest is a golf course architect and among the many courses he has created he also re-designed Mountain Shadows in Paradise Valley. It is one of the best short courses I have played anywhere in the world. Forrest has designed courses from Utah to Sweden to India. Part of his design philosophy that I really like is:

“A golf course is a story to be unfolded. For the greatest enjoyment there should be anticipation, intrigue, the occasional chase scene and even a pinch of humor.”

I hope everyone comes away with a sense of accomplishment, especially if some new members decided to join GHS as they have done at the other GCSAA Shows we have participated in!

This should give you more of a sense of Forrest Richardson’s sense of humor and style — check out this restored BMW 1959 Isetta car. Forrest said similar ones have sold for as much as $200,000 at the Barrett-Jackson auctions that take place here in Scottsdale.


Taba with the Forrest Richardson 1959 BMW car

New Zealand – Part One

New Zealand – Part One

Starting at the Top

Our epic golf trip began when we landed in Auckland on February 4. In spite of the flight delay out of Los Angeles, missed connection on Qantas, and due to the kindness of strangers when Kevin and I were hopelessly lost, we were able to make our tee time at Kauri Cliffs on February 5.

Nothing like starting at the top—in more ways than one. Our first golf adventure took us to the northernmost region on the North Island. We were heading to Kauri Cliffs, which is currently ranked #37 by Golf Digest Top 100 Greatest Golf Courses in the World.

When we traversed the long, winding road to our destination we pulled into the carpark at the same time as another couple, we decided to join up with them. Michael and Lindsay Forgash were from Philadelphia and happened to be members of Merion and also mad keen Eagles fans.


Reading about and seeing mouth-watering photographs in glossy magazines is not the same as being there. Enthralling? Yes!

The David Harman layout thrilled and challenged at every turn. We were grateful to have carts to get around this “muscular” course. No shortage of jaw-dropping beauty. Creating 18 holes in this mountainous, heavily forested region had to tax every resource of the architect, shapers, and the visionary developer, Julian Robertson.

There is no shortage of golf nuts like us willing to travel a world away to score another exotic golf experience.


Here you can read New Zealand Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4

New Zealand – Part Two

New Zealand – Part Two

Te Arai Links

We have barely begun to adjust to our new exotic environment of New Zealand and we are on our way to Te Arai Links. If I did not know this course was designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw I could have worked it out. The fact that it is so walkable, the excellent routing, the short distance from green to next tee, maximizing the beauty and all the natural features of the site — all their hallmarks are present.

The local Māori meaning of Te Arai is “the other side of the veil” and the terrain of trees, sand dunes and coastal views are all unveiled as we play our round. Coore and Crenshaw use the heaving sand ridge landforms and meandering valleys to create drama. Like a symphony, there are soft passages and then crescendos of beauty unfolding like when we see the stunning, white sand surf beaches. We also took the time to view their handsomely-appointed on-site suites. It would certainly be great to stay there when the new North Course, designed by Tom Doak, opens in October 2023. There is great fun to be had at Jim’s Folly, the 2.5 acre putting green.

You might have heard of Tara Iti Golf Club, opened in 2015, and also designed by Tom Doak. We saw a steady stream of helicopters, possibly from Tara Iti, shuttling golfers and perhaps prospective buyers to look at the exclusive housing lots being released on the Te Arai property. Quite a busy corner of Mangawhai.


Lake Taupo — our restful home for a couple of nights

We loved being around this gigantic crater lake, created by a massive volcanic eruption that occurred about 25,000 years ago. The lake is obviously a popular holiday spot, especially for trout fishing. In the town of Taupo I also discovered a French themed salon called Creme Brulee, where in the capable hands of Cheyenne (her Kiwi mom just loved the name), I could tidy up my disheveled hair.

We found great eateries like Victoria’s Cafe Kitchen Bar, serving all day breakfast/brunch and the Thai Delight Restaurant where we indulged in Prawn Cakes (minced prawn and pork with plum sauce) for a starter. They also had excellent wine choices like the Brookfields Sauvignon Blanc from Hawke’s Bay, which we found had a high evaporation rate!

From our base by Lake Taupo Kevin and I zipped over to The Kinloch Club. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, and opened in 2007, we were amused by the “Irish drop rule” printed on the scorecard: Any lost ball can be treated as lost in a water hazard. One shot penalty at point of entry. Very handy for me on this difficult course, where I often noted on my card: “Very tough hole.” No problem for Kevin though, who plays off a 6 handicap and relished the stern test.

Tom Long, the Director of Golf, PGA Golf Professional, graciously met us on his day off to provide the essential Course Guide and point us in the direction of the first tee. Other than the grounds crew, we had the place to ourselves. The gorgeous scenery included distant views of the deep blue lake. It was fun to learn that Tom is a fellow writer and contributor to a New Zealand-based magazine called THE CUT GOLF.

Harrie Geraerts, Manager of Kinloch Manor & Villas showed us around the luxurious accommodations, which were fully booked months in advance. The main building, modern with eccentric touches here and there, featured a comfortable great room with magnificent views, a quirky bar area and a spacious dining room. Abundant vegetable gardens graced the lower ground, framed by heaving hills where cattle grazed.

At The Kinloch Club, we also learned about Treetops, a sister property, that is a Wilderness Retreat, nestled in the rural hills of Rotorua. It sounds like a fabulous place to unwind and restore.


Wairakei Golf and Sanctuary

Although we did not play a round at Wairakei, we enjoyed learning about the bird sanctuary that is part of this property outside of Taupo. The ambitious project is the brainchild of owner Gary Lane. The course is immersed inside a wildlife sanctuary, where around 25,000 native trees and five thousand exotics have been planted to encourage bird life and further improve the park-like surroundings.

Pheasants, guinea fowl, and fallow deer have also been released on to the property. Wairakei has become home to many kiwi chicks now that there is a kiwi egg incubation facility at the sanctuary.

There has been a noticeable increase in insect life, tree seedlings and native birds like the tui, with its distinctive white throat tuft, which is part of the Wairakei emblem.The sanctuary eagerly awaits the two kārearea (New Zealand falcon) that return annually to nest.



Here you can read New Zealand Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4

New Zealand – Part Three

New Zealand – Part Three

New Zealand: Extraordinary Natural Beauty, Heavenly Wineries, and World-Class Golf

After traveling through miles and miles of natural beauty and ancient rainforests, we settled ourselves for a couple of nights in the coastal town of Napier.

After a massive earthquake (registering 7.9 on the Richter scale) in 1931 Napier was rebuilt with many buildings designed in an Art Deco style with unique Maori motifs.

Considering Napier was completely leveled by New Zealand’s deadliest disaster, it is now a thriving place in the renowned wine-producing region of Hawke’s Bay.

We enjoyed our time strolling along the waterfront promenade called the Marine Parade. We discovered an excellent Indian restaurant — Rasoi — where we were lucky to get a table.

Kevin mainly picked this spot for two reasons — the first so we could be close to Craggy Range. Hawke’s Bay is New Zealand’s oldest wine region and has over 200 vineyards, 76 wineries and 38 cellar doors. It could have been a tough decision where to go, but not for us.

Our wine adventure at Craggy Range was an exceptional highlight of our trip. This family-owned winery produces iconic wines from grapes grown on estates in Hawke’s Bay, Martinborough and Marlborough. Before (and after) our sumptuous lunch of Eye Filet Steak for Two, prepared by Head Chef Casey McDonald, while strolling around the grounds, I discovered the stunning bronze sculptures of a Charolais family — a bull, cow and calf — by Paul Day.

I was blown away. Some of you know about our darling next door neighbors in Liscannor — they are Charolais cows — and I have written lots of stories about their spirited conversations. Yep, they talk (to me).

But here, with the stunning Te Mata Peak framing the whole property, were these monumental cattle. They were commissioned by Terry and Mary Peabody, owners of Craggy Range Vineyards, and created by Paul Day. Day, who lives in Dijon, the capital city of the historical Burgundy region, drew his inspiration where he is surrounded by these magnificent creatures.

The second reason for staying in Napier was to be close to Cape Kidnappers. Owned by Robertson Lodges, the same family behind the Bay of Islands’ Kauri Cliffs Lodge & Golf Course, Cape Kidnappers is the second working farm started by Julian Robertson.

The Cape figures in Maori mythology and its name immortalizes the first visit by Captain Cook in 1770. It is seaside golf but not links. But oh, is it grand. What a canvas Tom Doak was given to work with. And boy, did he deliver. Only if you enjoy playing heroic shots played over challenging and beautiful terrain, that is. Somehow, this intoxicating blend of New Zealand golf ingredients combined to produce my best round of our entire trip. It was, without a doubt, my favorite.

But one more enchanting occurrence made it so — just as we reached the carpark we stumbled upon a couple of blokes who were tracking some of the 70 Kiwis that nest in this spectacular corner of New Zealand. Although we did not get to see the iconic, flightless bird in its natural habitat, there was a well-preserved, shaggy example encased in a display case in the pro-shop!

 We had one more segment of our itinerary to experience. We traveled to the capital city of Wellington, situated on the southernmost point on the Cook Strait.

Here we were ensconced in the thoroughly modern and luxurious Bolton Hotel. From our perch in this very sophisticated high-rise we had quite a view of the bustling city that was originally established by British settlers in 1839.

Other than positioning ourselves here so we could fly to the South Island, we had booked a round at the Paraparaumu Beach Golf Club. I had absolutely no idea what I was in for. Kevin described it as “an old-fashioned members-club.”

From the very first tee shot I was often wondering “where am I going?” It was the closest thing to playing a course like Lahinch in Ireland where there are lots of blind shots. I didn’t learn until much later that the course was designed in 1949 by Alex Russell, Paraparaumu hosted 12 New Zealand Opens, won by such notable players as Peter Thomson, Corey Pavin and Michael Campbell.

Kevin and I played as a twosome behind another twosome who were obviously members. They did not need to consult the modest tri-fold course guide like us.

On the back nine, when we came to a halt behind the guys ahead of us and had time for a friendly exchange, that is when we learned that this was the only course Tiger Woods ever played in New Zealand. One factor was his longtime caddie, Steve Williams, grew up learning to play golf here. And he made his professional caddying debut at 13 years old, carrying Peter Thomson’s bag in the New Zealand Open.

But in 2002, the world number one, at age 26, struggled on the course and almost missed the cut. By the end of the tournament, Woods only managed a share of sixth, while Australian Craig Parry claimed the title.

From Wellington we’ll be flying to Queenstown on the South Island. This puts us in proximity of winemaker Andrew Keenleyside, who is profiled in the Terroir of Golf chapter called “Winemakers Talk Terroir.” Then we will also be able to visit The Hills — featured in the “Golf Clubs Around the World with a Strong Wine Culture.”

The Hills came to my attention long before I began writing this book. I had heard of this extraordinary place that is essentially a sculpture park, while it was originally conceived of as a private members club by Sir Michael Hill.

Young Michael created his first golf course at age 11 on the lawn of his family’s house at Whangarei. He mowed little circles for greens and used baked bean tins for holes.


Here you can read New Zealand Part 1Part 2 and Part 4

New Zealand – Part Four

New Zealand – Part Four

The South Island

Were we ever lucky. Months ago, when we scheduled our flight from Wellington to Queenstown on the South Island, we had no idea we would board our flight just ahead of a cyclone. States of emergency were declared when Cyclone Gabrielle hit Auckland and many other areas of the North Island. This extreme weather event wrecked more havoc as the country already had to deal with heavy rain, destructive flooding and high winds in January.

We were delighted to be checking into the Hilton Hotel Resort on the banks of Lake Wakatipu for four fabulous nights. Our suite was spacious and luxurious. We had a relaxing afternoon before a casual dinner in the lakeside Stacks pub. Blessed with gorgeous sunshine, we headed out early to The Hills Golf Club in Arrowtown for our 9.30 am tee time. Kevin and I wanted to savor every moment of this extraordinary experience, starting with the best breakfast sandwich and smoothie I have ever tasted, bar none.

We were welcomed warmly by Craig Palmer the GM/Director of Golf, who handed us our scorecards, and rang up my purchases, which included a wide brim hat to shield me on this blue sky day. As I said in Part Three, I knew about this place before I wrote the The Hills profile for Terroir of Golf, A Golf Book for Wine Lovers. I was astonished to learn that Sir Michael Hill was a passionate art lover and he created not only a world-class club and course but a magical sculpture park to boot!

It’s one thing to see pictures of three-dimensional artwork in a book or online and an entirely different experience to get up close to these monumental works of art. Once out on the course it’s not long before you are confronted with Sean Henry’s bronze titled “Seated Figure.” Who is this bearded traveler that appears deeply lost in thought? I loved Mark Hill’s work titled “Elegance” and I was especially enchanted with the “Dragon Flies” over the pond by the 6th fairway/green. Then, immediately following is the dramatic display of 5 Clydesdale horses on the 7th fairway — titled “The Frolic and The Fancy” by Max Patte.

But without a doubt, my favorite piece was “Solace in the Wind.” This cast iron work, sited on the bridge at the 10th hole, is also by Max Patte.

The figure is arching back and leans precariously into the wind, exuding a spiritual or even metaphysical quality. It speaks to me. You can read more about The Hills experience and the many sculptures in the Terroir book.

From our base at the Hilton Resort, we wound our way to Terra Sancta to meet up with winemaker, Andrew Keenleyside. Andrew is also featured in Terroir of Golf in the chapter called “Winemakers Talk Terroir.” And boy, does he ever. He speaks so poetically about the rumble-jumble of the terrain characterized by schist, I could listen to him for hours. He talks of the shingle, river gravel and limestone and how all that minerality creates such flavorful wines.

There is simply nothing like tasting wine with the winemaker himself. The cellar door at Terra Sancta is so warm and welcoming. The whole vibe of the property, surrounded by vineyards on all sides, is magical. When I asked Andrew about the stunning wine bottle labels, I was mesmerized by his eloquent descriptions of all the images that illustrated the story of this special place, the founders and the product itself.

Andrew also explained another reason the vines are so happy is because of the Babydoll Sheep! Thanks to their flock of these gentle creatures, they have such a good yield of manure they don’t have to fertilize now!

You’ll find colorful names like Miro, the vineyard dog (he’s even got his own block that produces Riesling), Crocodelia, and Bad Bunny. You’ll see a rendering of the Kawarau River and the luscious pinot noir grapes that the Central Otago Valley is known for. If you can make the journey yourself you can learn about the “Mysterious Diggings.” OK, I’ll give away a little bit of the lore — it has to do with the gold sluicings from the 19th century gold rush.

We made our way back to Queenstown, where we ventured for dinner at Paddy Gaddy on the main street, called The Mall. You might not guess that the food is Asian Fusion. But our favorite meal was at the Flame Bar and Grill. Fabulous seafood, ribs, burgers and views.

I’d say hands down, Kevin’s favorite was the ice cream at the Patagonia Creamery and Chocolaterie. Now this is a place with a story! It was founded by Argentinians Alex Jimenez and Lorena Giallonardo. The dream to create the exquisite chocolate of their homeland led to five cafes located in the Southern Lakes of New Zealand where they roast their own coffee and offer a dizzying array of exotic ice cream flavors along with gorgeous boxed gift sets of their delicacies.

Alas, it was time to fly to Australia to continue the epic adventure.


Here you can read New Zealand Part 1Part 2, and Part 3

Cabo Is Fab-O

Cabo Is Fab-O

In February of this year, my golf tour partner, Kevin McGrath, and I spent two glorious weeks, zipping back and forth between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, twenty miles apart. Our local contact, Brian McCallen, who does Public Relations for Los Cabos, calls it the “Tourist Corridor”.

Cabo San Lucas, or colloquially “Cabo”, is at the southernmost tip of the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. The Baja peninsula is separated from mainland Mexico by the Gulf of California; but locals prefer to call it the Sea of Cortez. Along the coast you will see pristine sandy beaches and postcard perfect turquoise blue water. However, the strong currents and powerful shore breaks do not encourage taking a dip in the sea.

Hazards of the shore are marked with beach warning flags, red being the most dangerous. One red flag means surf is high and there are treacherous currents. Two red flags means NO-GO for even the strongest swimmers. Besides red, there is an entire beach color coding system. Green: conditions are good. Yellow: Caution. Black: Extreme danger!

A few places like Chileno Bay, have a swim-safe area, with kayak, snorkel and dive gear rentals available. The gorgeous Medano and Palmilla beaches are also swim friendly. If you want a close-up look at the iconic rock formation known as El Arco (the arch), where the Pacific Ocean becomes the Gulf of California, you have a number of options. There are tours of different duration, and even some on fancier boats taking in the sunset on a 2-hour tour. You can also hop onto a water taxi that will drop you off and pick you up at the swimmable Lover’s Beach.

However, we were there for the golf. Golf. Golf. And more golf. That’s what we’re all about. And plenty of delicious food and excellent wine.

In the two fun-filled weeks, we managed to pack in nine rounds of golf along the Tourist Corridor. Were I not such a golf fanatic I’d have loved to have observed the gray whales, including cow-calf pairs, and even courting whales, on one of the many private boat excursions. Or go in search of blue whales, the largest animals ever to exist on Earth. And there’s sport fishing; but the golf course beckoned…

Cabo sand beach

Chileno Bay

Taba and Kevin

Course #1: Cove Club at Cabo Del Sol

We started our golf adventure at this ultra-private club. If you can pull some strings, like we did, your extraordinary round will include stopping off every few holes at “comfort stations” — mere bathrooms these are not.

The array of food and drinks boggles the mind. We had the benefit of playing the Jack Nicklaus Signature course (formerly the Ocean Course) with Aaron Shotzberger, the Golf Professional, who congenially pointed out, “The bacon is really incredible.” Standing on end in a ceramic cylinder, when I took the first bite I was hooked. I grabbed an ice cold can of pineapple juice while I circumnavigated the astonishing smorgasbord full of mouthwatering treats; but kept returning to the crunchy strips of bacon that tasted like they were baked with honey. Sinfully good, and golfers need protein, right?

While we did not play golf at Chileno Bay Club, Dan Counts, the Head Golf Professional, gave us a tour, pointing out the spectacular golf holes designed by Tom Fazio. Next up was a site visit of the entire property, owned by Discovery Land Company, including the ultra-luxurious Auberge Spa.

Throughout our tour we saw stunning works of art, starting with a monumental steel sculpture by Sante Fe, New Mexico-based artist Will Clift. A wide range of pieces from dozens of artists, some from Los Cabos and elsewhere in Mexico, included fascinating ceramics by the Mexico City duo Charabati Bizzarri, and mosaic surfboards by Wes Horn near the entrance to the beach.

That evening, Valentine’s Dinner at COMAL was sublime. Our romantic table was set against the dramatic views of the Sea of Cortez. The food was exquisite and the live music by a group called Green Love took the whole experience over-the-top. The female singer was enchanting.

Cove Club

Cove Club Course18th hole

Course #2: Diamante Cabo San Lucas

Our friends, Jeff and Lisa Sepesi, whose permanent residence is in North Carolina, are building a house on the property. They invited us to play with them at this magnificent private resort that includes two world-class courses paralleling a mile and a half of breathtaking Pacific coastline.

Before we descended the steps to the spectacular practice range at the Dunes Course, designed by Davis Love III, we took advantage of the breakfast slider bar. Like the other courses in Cabo, the green fee includes all the food and beverages. We enjoyed egg and bacon sliders accompanied by fresh smoothies made with blueberries, strawberries, and/or bananas. Later, while playing golf, we made pit-stops to indulge in small plates and skinny margaritas at course-side comfort stations.

Course #3: Rancho San Lucas

We had the good fortune to be paired with a lovely couple, Shairida and Johnnie Mack, who’ve been coming to Cabo for 25 years. The Greg Norman-designed course is the centerpiece of the 834-acre private Solmar Group resort. On this particular day, the wind was whipping up the sand from the beach and high dunes, creating an extraordinary challenge. To reward ourselves for surviving what felt like a Saharan desert storm, and continue the friendship we developed during our round, we drove up the hill to Picaro for drinks, and to take in the magnificent view from the tranquil patio. The menu looked superb, especially the Charbroiled Giant Shrimp.

Course #4: El Cardonal

Lucky us. Jeff and Lisa had us come to Diamante again to play this second course, designed by Tiger Woods. Oh, were we in for a treat. Wide landing areas and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean made the experience fun and memorable. We joined them later for dinner at a seaside restaurant in downtown Cabo. Situated on the Medano beach shoreline, SUR Beach House is part of the trendy Bahia Hotel Group. From the outdoor seating area we could see cruise ships anchored out in the bay. Cabo does not have a cruise ship dock yet, but there is probably one on the drawing board. There is a massive amount of construction going on — hotels, resorts, hundreds of private homes — so for the next ten to twenty years, this tourist destination will only grow bigger; and for cruise ship travelers too.

Course #5: Puerto Los Cabos Golf Club

This is one of three public golf courses in Los Cabos owned by Questro Golf. The first nine holes we played was called the Nicklaus II Course. The tiny greens were lightning fast and confounded us. More experience would have helped us adjust.
While lining up a putt, I spotted a giant lizard on the edge of the green with sharp spikes protruding from the ridge of its long back. This Spiny-Tailed Iguana was one scary reptile. Just as the sun was setting, we finished the second nine holes on the Norman Course.

We were thrilled that our room at Hacienda Del Mar (HDM) was in the main building, high enough up with views of the pool and ocean. We delighted in strolling through the manicured gardens and further enjoyed the nightly themed music and dinners served in the Los Tomatoes Restaurant courtyard.

Once Kevin and I discovered the Pitahayas Restaurant at HDM, we returned two more times. Chef Volker Romeike’s sophisticated menu encompasses tastes from Mexico and exotic dishes from the Pacific Rim cuisine.

Other joys of HDM include the artwork that greets you in the main reception area, and is showcased in other public spaces. Paintings and decor in the lobbies reflect old-world Mexico. More contemporary canvases, 6-foot-high tile portraits and stained glass are found both indoors and outdoors.

Diamante Club entrance

Chileno Bay red bucket

Chileno Bay pool

Course #6: Club Campestre San Jose

Today we were in for a big surprise. The starter on the first tee informed us that the word campestre means “country” or “rural.” This course is also a Nicklaus design, and part of the Questro Golf communities. When we reached the fourth hole, the first par-5, the meaning of the word campestre was underscored when a herd of goats meandered onto the course. They bunched up in the shade of a big tree behind a bunker on the left side of the fairway. I aimed my shot in the direction of the goats, knowing I couldn’t reach them or the bunker, and it would position me for my third shot onto the green.

Kevin and I were both trying to get a decent photograph to send back to pals at Lahinch Golf Club in Ireland, where two goats roam the course. The tradition of keeping the goats stems back to before weather apps became the norm. If the goats took shelter by the clubhouse it meant rain was on the way. The goats are so beloved that one is now part of the Lahinch logo.

Course #7: Club Cabo Real

This is the third course in the Questro Golf group, where we were guests of Susana Martin, Director of Sales. She arranged for us to play all three in our quest to experience what Cabo has to offer the golf traveler. Cabo Real was designed by Robert Trent Jones II. We had the pleasure of playing with José Vargas, who flew into Cabo from the thriving commercial center of Monterrey. He was an excellent player and gave Kevin serious competition. When José would hit a wayward shot, he’d moan, “I hate golf.” Then he’d birdie the next hole and was back in love with the game.

Course #8: Palmilla Golf Club

Playing golf with Brian McCallen was both fun and enlightening. Brian revealed that when the club’s first two nine-hole courses opened — Arroyo and Mountain, the first Jack Nicklaus Signature Course in Latin America — this was the start of the big golf boom in Cabo. We played Arroyo first, then Mountain, nearly tumbling off the steep cart path when we came upon the resident rock lizard that Brian said has been there for twenty years. (The club’s Ocean nine was added in 1999.)

The club is part of a 900-acred master-planned community known as the “One & Only Palmilla”. Exhilarating elevated tees…check. Unplayable transition/desert areas…check. Manmade water hazards…check. Getting to know a bit more about Brian while having post-round drinks, was certainly illuminating. He served as a Senior Editor at GOLF Magazine from 1987 to 2003. Big expense account…check. He is now a freelance writer and tourism consultant, living in Cabo, and escaping the heat of the desert summer back home in leafy Connecticut.

Hacienda del Mar pools

At Cabo Real with Jose Vargas

Goats on Campestre Course

Course #9: Quivira Los Cabos

Nothing like saving the best for last—except we didn’t know it until we got there. Quivira is an epic residential resort community. The golf course was designed by Jack Nicklaus. Kevin and I both agreed it was our favorite. Considering Kevin plays off a low single digit handicap, and I’m way north of that, it is quite a feat for an architect to create a course that is fun and challenging for golfers of such different skill levels. Nicklaus wasn’t always known for doing that; but thankfully he has evolved over the decades of doing golf design, and has arrived at this new awareness.

The course itself is a marvel of engineering, cut into and weaving around a mountain. The drama builds as you leave the 4th green and you are riding higher and higher in your cart, wondering if you’ve strayed onto the wrong cart path. Nope. Just keep going for what seems like 10 minutes and you finally reach Hole #5.

Not only is there a great comfort station, where the drink of the day was an amazing rum punch, the fifth hole is so unique, there is someone on hand to give you guidance on how to play it. You have to see it to believe it. It’s a par-4 blind shot to a green that is so far below you, it is magical and scary at the same time.

I chose the right line and my driver sent the ball down, down, down to within a short pitch shot to the small undulating green. Overshoot it and you’re in the ocean. To make par there was a thrill. With four more pars on the back nine, I had the most fun and best score of my entire Cabo experience.

After our round, we had committed to doing a site visit. Figuring it would be a letdown after all the euphoria Kevin and I felt from playing the intense course, we were treated to a big surprise instead. I had heard about Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach from a fellow member of Troon Country Club. She said, “We have a timeshare there,” so I figured it would be nice. Nice? Ha! It was extraordinary.

The gated luxury community at Quivira Los Cabos is situated on 1,850 acres. One of the newer offerings, Coronado, atop a bluff overlooking the ocean and hole No. 17 of the Nicklaus course gives buyers the chance to choose from floorplans ranging from 3,700 to 4,000 square feet, with prices starting at $1.8 million. Features include kitchens with granite islands, Viking appliances, marble flooring and a two-car garage. More highlights are patios, pools, fire-pits and pergolas for your outdoor entertaining. You can even have your own family crest adorn your personal hacienda.

I have to say, after being shown around the massive “all-inclusive” property, I was duly impressed with every luxurious design element, but when we got to the Towers at Pacifica, I realized this adults-only “resort within a resort” set a new bar for me. To cap off this perfect day, we dined at El Huerto Farm to Table Restaurant, indulging in delicious organic food from their four and a half acres of gardens, orchards and fruit trees.

Golf, whale-watching, golf, fabulous food, golf, strolling on the beach, golf, sport fishing, golf, floating in a refreshing pool with a swim-up bar, and just enjoying the laid-back splendor of Cabo, there’s something for everyone — but especially golf lovers.

P.S. A note about timeshares: If you don’t already have one, or even if you do, it’s a safe bet that, at some point during your visit you’ll be invited to a presentation on buying Cabo timeshares.

Pueblo Bonito at Sunset Beach


Quivira hole #5