I often get asked by out of town friends and associates who are visiting Arizona that if I could recommend one golf course for them to play that truly epitomizes Sonoran Desert golf, which course would that be? While there are some fantastic desert layouts scattered all over the valley, I now suggest that they head to the northwest side of town and play Quintero Golf Club.
The true southwest desert experience of playing Quintero starts when you exit the freeway. The drive from the freeway to the golf course takes you through some rugged desert terrain and gets you ready for the wild west golf experience you are about to tackle when playing Quintero.
As you pull into the property, you get small glimpses of the emerald green fairways that weave through mountain covered property. Golf course designer Rees Jones did a wonderful job of using the natural landscape to route the course. Opened in 2002, the course is called the Founders Course. It was to be part of a very high end private development that was slated to also have Greg Norman designed course. With the downturn of the housing market and the economy, the original plans have not worked out. That is one of benefits of the down economy. It allows everyone the opportunity to play fantastic layouts like Quintero that were meant to be private.
If you like golf courses that offer up dramatic elevation changes, you need to put Quintero at the top of your must play list. The course starts out with a few fairly level holes before taking you skyward on the par four fifth hole. The hole looks intimidating from the tee, as it runs sharply uphill and winds up in a saddle. The green looks tiny from the fairway, but it is actually much larger than it appears–truly one of the most scenic green sites that I have ever seen. From this spot you turn and play the first picturesque par threes at Quintero. The view of the valley from the tee on number six is simply breathtaking. Make sure to account for the severe drop from tee to green by clubbing down at least two clubs.
One thing to note when playing Quintero is that you really need to focus on being accurate. While beautiful to look at, the desert surrounding the greens and fairways at Quintero is punishing. If you miss the fairway, it is almost impossible to get a club on the ball.
One of the most memorable holes at Quintero, and perhaps one of the most spectacular par fives in the entire state, presents itself at number eight. You have the chance to go for glory and possibly a chance at eagle if you are brave enough to try and carry the desert on the right side. The safe play is down the fairway on the left side, but it leaves a much longer second shot. If you happen to carry the desert on the right, be sure to add a few clubs to your second shot as it is severely uphill. The view looking back down the fairway from the green is spectacular. Mr. Jones uses the lay of the land on the property at this point to have another thrilling downhill par three to close out the front nine. Again, with the severity of change in elevation, less club is needed; however, you must carry a lake that fronts the green. Long is better than short on this hole as there is room behind the green for shots that carry too far.
The back nine has some really good par fours, with my favorite being number seventeen. The green sits between two hills and is another perfect spot for a green site. The par five fourteenth is another memorable hole that darts up, then down, then back up again to the green.
If you are looking for a true Sonoran Desert golf experience, you won’t find a better option than Quintero. I recommend you make the time to play this gem while you can. With the economy turning around like it has, this may be your only chance. They are currently offering up some great membership deals. For more information or to reserve a tee time, check out their website at Quintero Golf or call the pro shop at 928.501.1500.