Tom Fazio designed the Quarry course at La Quinta in 1994 (the same architect who seven years earlier constructed the acclaimed Quarry course at Black Diamond Ranch in Florida). The private golf club opened in 1994 and only permits members and their guests to play here.
The Quarry sits in the Coachella Valley at the foothills below the Santa Rosa Mountains and features an abandoned mine and Indian trail as part of the course. Seven holes are on the quarry floor, seven are raised and four are at yet another height – all told, the elevation varies on the property by some 300 feet.
Tom Fazio describes the course in the following terms: “What makes the Quarry such a special place is a combination of things. Unique design opportunities… commitment to golf excellence... dedication to enhancing each golfer’s experience… it’s the total package that makes the place extraordinary”.
The signature hole at the Quarry at La Quinta is the 521-yard par five 10th which has a 70 foot waterfall that runs into a stream and a fairway which is bounded on one side by a quarry wall.
The Quarry at La Quinta, designed by Tom Fazio, is often included in the top 100 courses in the USA. According to my hosting member, Mr. Fazio has declared that he was never given a better piece of land for a golf course. That may be true, although some of his other courses such as Wade Hampton seem to have better land. Perhaps that comment is meant to describe the compelling views and the variation in terrain that is in abundance at The Quarry course. Perhaps the comment is meant to convey Mr. Fazio’s ability to have a course built at the bottom of a mountain yet yielded basically flat holes even as one works their way up the mountain.
One can certainly say that Mr. Fazio was able to produce a very good routing for this land, albeit with two criticisms.
The first is that the par 3’s feel the same from the tees we played. The second is that the course would be difficult to walk, which is my preference.
When asking some well-traveled golf friends about The Quarry at La Quinta, nearly everyone of them say that it is their favorite course near Palm Springs. I have only played the Stadium course at PGA West and The Madison Club, so there are too many other worthy courses to play before I could make the same declaration. However, the course is very good so it would take a special course to be better. Indeed, The Quarry at La Quinta is often listed as among the top ten-fifteen golf courses in the state of California, a state that is rich in golf.
The conditioning, particularly for June, is tremendous. I can only imagine how good it is from October – April.
My one “regret” is the tees we played. We played the White tees which are 6210 although due to the condition of the course, the fairway grass was longer than usual. Perhaps this is to keep it healthier during the heat of the summer. We played it on June 27, 2020 teeing off at 9AM, finishing at 12:06 with each of us in our own carts due to Covid-19. At the time we finished the temperature was 106 F degrees. Our member said the course was playing equivalent to 6350 yards as most of our tee shots ended within a couple of feet of where they landed. As I was playing with two longer hitters, I really wanted to see them play at a minimum the Black/Blue combo tees of 6862 which they could have easily handled. They likely could have played from the Black tees at 7083 yards. However, our host is an older gentleman and he wanted to have a match from the same tees.
The Black tees are 7083 yards, par 72 rated 73.4/134. The Blue tees are 6643 yards, rated 71.6/128. The White tees are 6210 yards, rated 69.3/123. With the various combination of tees there are eight tee choices in total.
In sneaking a peek at the back tees as we passed them, I felt the slope to be a low from the back tees and was surprised to see it was not closer to 140. While the fairways are wide, it is a near certainty of a dropped shot if one strays too far off the fairway as one can go down a valley into a ravine, or be caught up in the trees and bushes. I thought the ratings from the other tees made sense.
The course is well routed out and back although a bit repetitive in that one starts with a par 5 going uphill and both nine’s end with a 4-3-4 downhill combination with the seventh hole in each stretch having a stream on the right. Mr. Fazio created a wonderful layout given the 300 feet of elevation changes that he navigated. It does make sense given the land as Mr. Fazio looked for more “level” land to place the holes rather than create a hole which would have a nonsensical change in terrain that could have resulted in a very contrived or silly golf hole.
The greens are smooth with adequate slope and do not have the internal mounding and hollows prevalent in many of today’s “minimalist” greens. There is adequate bunkering both on the fairway and near the greens. The green complexes generally offer a realistic chance of recovery or certainly the ability to limit one’s score. As is the case with all courses built on the side of a mountain, one always needs to be aware of where the valley is, which at this course is the location of the clubhouse.
This is a course one could play over and over and not get tired of it. There is sufficient challenge to the holes and a very good variety of longer and shorter holes, not so much from the tees we played as from the combinations that exist above it.
I will reference the Black and White tees.
1 – par 5 531/488. Playing as a dogleg left climbing uphill after a downhill tee shot, all three of the “guests” discovered the green is uphill more than it looks requiring essentially two more clubs as opposed to one if the pin is near the back. There is a dip in the fairway after the tee shot but then the climb upward begins. There is a large bunker left off the tee but the real danger is the series of four bunkers on the left that begin about 75 yards before the green with a single bunker right. The green is angled right to left and is a long green. It is a nice starting hole.
2 – par 3 202/163. This hole plays slightly uphill from the white tees but slightly downhill from the Black tees. There is a large bunker down the entire right side. There is a nice horizontal spine in the green about 1/3rd in and the green slopes back to front and left to right down the valley. It also has a false front so there is no reason to be short.
3 – par 4 371/327. This course does not try to over-power you with length as the “length” comes from the nature of several uphill shots. In reality there are an equal number of downhill shots. On this hole you play from an elevated tee to a fairway built on a plateau. This plays as a slight dogleg left with large flanking bunkers on either side after a forced carry. The green is long and well bunkered on either side. I felt this to have one of the better greens on the course with the left edge of the green having a fall-off into a valley of sand, trees and brush.
4 – par 4 385/356. This hole plays slightly downhill and one has changed directions again in order to find the level ground. This hole is a lovely dogleg left where for the big hitters they have to cut the corner in order to not go through the fairway. The reality is that bigger hitters should hit a hybrid off the tee. There is a lot of fairway on the right. There is a long sandy bunker on the inward turn of about 60 yards. The green is shaped liked a peanut angled right to left with three bunkers on the left. There is a tree about 50 yards short right of the green that can create a visual obstacle to the green. I liked the hole.
5 – par 5 529/483. While the tenth hole is more beautiful, I liked this par 5 the most because I thought it had the best bunkering throughout the hole. It begins as a dogleg right with three bunkers on the inward turn and two bunkers on the left. The bigger hitters easily flew these bunkers and would have from the Blue tees as well. Bunkers continue up both sides to a green that is angled right to left with three fronting bunkers. The green has a nice tilt down the valley back to front slope.
6 – par 4 451/392. This hole plays slightly to the left with a bunker on the right that should not come into play as it so far to the right. There is a single bunker on the left. The green is below you and is shaped like a stretched peanut shell with a single bunker on the right. There is a significant tilt on this green from left to right. This is a nice golf hole.
7 – par 4 424/368. This hole plays slightly downhill as a slight dogleg left with bunkers on the right. This hole also has a stream down the left side that bigger hitters will try to fly over as far down as they can but if they pull their shot a bit left they will end up in trees. I liked this hole and it was my favorite on the front nine.
8 – par 3 143/124. This is a pretty hole, playing significantly downhill about 90 feet to a deep green surrounded by bunkers on three sides. The green has a nice tilt to it. But the best part of the hole is the view from the tee with palm trees and a pond behind the green.
9 – par 4 440/386. This hole plays downhill and feels like a dogleg left but is fairly straight. The green has a bunker down the left side and feels like it is in a bit of a bowl as the right side of the fairway is banked. A stream snakes its way down the left side and can come into play for longer hitters given the slope of the fairway towards the stream. It is a nice finishing hole to the front nine.
10 – par 5 521/455. The tenth plays as much uphill as the first but it bends off to the right with a pond on the right that should not be in play. There are flanking large bunkers for the tee shot. The fairway wiggles its way up the hill with a stream and waterfall near the green. It is very pretty. There is a bunker about 80 yards left short of the green. The green has a ripple and bump in it and is small with the stream hard against the right side. One can play off the hill to the left side of the green.
11 – par 4 400/375. From the back tee this is a lovely hole but from the white tees it is not as good. The hole angles off to the right with an outward bunker followed by a single bunker at the right side of the green which is angled left to right. I found this hole to be a bit plain.
12 – par 4 401/324. You take a cart ride to the next four holes that are separated from the rest of the course in their own canyon. This hole was my favorite hole on the course as a sharp dogleg left where big hitters can easily run through the fairway. They actually should make a play for the green such is the sharpness of the dogleg. While there is a lot of bushes and trees off the fairway, there is no reason for the long hitters not to try. The fairway does have a 15 yard separation before the green which is angled right to left. I hit left and had to take a drop and had a blind shot to the pin where my par putt lipped out.
13 – par 4 352/335. This hole also bends to the left from an elevated tee but is not a sharp dogleg. There is a long bunker down the left and a fall-off down into a valley where you cannot play. There is a single bunker on the left. Longer hitters can cut the dogleg but a safe play it out to the right where another wide fairway is available. It is a second consecutive fun hole.
14 – par 3 173/143. This hole is much better from the Black tee than the white where it is benign. It is essentially a forced carry over a canyon to the hole that has a decent sized bailout area on the right. There is a single pot-like bunker in the front middle and a mound on the left side of the green. The green has a significant tier and tilt to it. It is an okay hole. You are at the furthest point from the clubhouse.
15 – par 5 614/539. While this is the longest par 5 on the course, I thought it was the least interesting as you play back down the valley on a crescent shaped hole going slightly left then back to the right. You can be blocked if too far on the right for the approach shot. The green slopes front to back with a bunker on the right.
16 – par 4 454/391. This hole reminded me of the seventh because it again has a stream down the left side, although this time it crosses in front of the green about 30 yards short. This hole is another dogleg left with an outward bunker on the turn and then a large one front right of the green. It is one of the larger greens on the course with a tier in the middle and then slopes off to the right. One can gain a lot of distance by hugging the stream on the left as the hole is downhill.
17 – par 3 223/160. Unfortunately the Black tee was closed or we would have headed there. It would be the best par 3 on the course from the Black tee playing very much downhill and from a more compelling angle as you would have to carry the tee shot over a pond. From the White tee the pond is really only on the one-third right side of the green. There is a single bunker front middle. There is a reasonably sized bailout area to the left of the green. The green has various mounds and humps in it. The green is surrounded by bearded palm trees. I liked the hole.
18 – par 4 469/401. The finish to the round is a downhill par 4 curving around another pond. There are flanking bunkers and then the green is set off to the right. It is another large green with a single bunker left and two very large bunkers on the left. This is one of the better sloped greens on the golf course. It is a terrific view from the tee throughout the hole.
In reviewing the holes, the twelfth and seventeenth were the two standout holes, albeit only from the Black tees. I do not think there are many “great” holes here, but there are no holes that one will not enjoy playing. The par 3’s are repetitive from the white tees. It felt like there were too many dogleg lefts. There is a sense of repetition on the course with the finish to both nine’s being 4-3-4 and the par 3’s having steep declines.
What I valued the most about the course was its conditioning as well as the playability. One could have a lousy day off the tee and one’s score would soar, but if one can keep it close to the fairway or find the wide fairways, one should have an enjoyable round of golf. While the greens are not overly complicated, they are either sneaky slow for some of the uphill putts or very quick if one is going down the valley. This is a very fine golf course and deserving of the praise that it receives. I liked it more than The Madison Club and PGA West and I am sure my appreciation would grow from playing back a set of tees.
The Quarry at La Quinta was designed by Tom Fazio back in 1994 and like the majority of courses in Palm Springs is only for members and their guests. The course starts with a long par 5 set against the back drop off the Santa Rosa mountain range with an elevated tee shot to a wide fairway before a slightly uphill second shot to a smallish green. The 2nd hole a medium length par 3 has a false front at the front of the green and slopes gently from left to right. Holes 3 and 4 run adjacent to each other before you reach the par 5 5th. This hole which curves gently from left to right is reachable with two good shots but favour the right hand side because if you miss to the left a birdie is very unlikely. The 6th is stroke index 1 and plays downhill to a green that slopes steeply from left to right. Hole 7 starts the turn back to the clubhouse with a small stream protecting the left side of the hole and bunkers sat at the front right of the green the best line for your approach is to keep your drive as close to the stream as possible. 8 is my favourite hole on the front 9 the green is sat about 60ft below you and is only around 120 years long. Palm trees frame the green and the lake sits to the right….this is a little hole. Hole 9, a long par 4 has water protecting the left side of the fairway before you make your way up to this slightly raised green. The 10th is a picturesque par 5 with a waterfall set to the right of the green…again this hole is reachable but the green is very small! Holes 11 and 12 make their way up towards the mountain again before you reach 13 a clever short par 4 with a fairway set across the player protected on the left by a huge barranca. 14 is a cracking par 3 again protected by the barranca…it is worth spending a moment hear as this hole is the furthest point from the clubhouse and it is eerily quiet. Hole 15 signals the turn for home a long downhill par 5 that requires an accurate tee shot hugging the left side of fairway. 16 runs downhill towards the clubhouse and is very similar to hole 7. Hole 17 is a really tough par three playing downhill over water to a green set towards the player before 18 a longish par 4 head back towards the club house. A day at The Quarry is always fun and as you would expect conditioning and service are top notch. The course is fun to play although not overly taxing from a strategic standpoint. I would like to have seen more run off areas instead of semi rough around most greens and I agree with the previous reviewer that more should have been made of integrating the closely mown areas into the desert.
I'm always amazed that when people do reviews of golf courses they will focus on elements that have little to do with the architecture but nonetheless they will weigh such secondary items as being the equivalent of the design.
Case in point, The Quarry at La Quinta.
The facility is always in top tier conditioning and the service side is no less stellar. The practice facility is especially well done to get one warmed-up for the round ahead.
The golf side is really a tale of two stories. The first deals with a little more than half the course -- till one gets to the rear end of the property and for the final seven holes. The first eleven holes are merely adequate with a challenging shot here or there but nothing on a consistent basis that would tie itself to the phrase compelling architecture.
The rear portion of the property makes its way into a box canyon and it is here where the golf side makes a clear movement into another level. The difference between the first 11 holes and the final 7 is literally night and day.
The final quartet is especially demanding -- and that journey commences with the long winding par-5 15th which plays to a max of 614 yards. The key is getting the tee shot in play as the fairway tapers down considerably with a left fairway bunker making its presence felt. Only after three fine shots does a birdie opportunity emerge.
The long par-4 16th is, in my mind, the most demanding hole at the course. The tee shot faces a few items to pay attention to when stepping on the tee. There's a pesky ditch that runs the entire left side of the hole and eventually crosses in front of the green. When the pin is placed in the very front section the landing area is especially tight as a lone bunker pushes in from the right. To escape with par requires marrying sufficient length and touch.
The par-3 17th that follows is a great example on how architect Tom Fazio can blend both beauty and demand in one hole. The elevated tee gives a clear picture on what golfers need to do. From the tips the hole plays 223 yards but the actual effective length can be a bit shorter given the height of the tee above the green. A devilish water hazard has to be carried for those who dare to fire right at the hole -- the penalty is obvious for failure. Fazio does provide a bailout area to the left but there's no sure par waiting to happen for those who opt to go that way.
The concluding hole provides no respite. At 469 yards it's a real task for any player to escape with par. The fairway is sufficiently wide and the best angle is coming in from the left. The green is protected by major pond and a few bunkers circling the green. Any player able to finish the final four holes in level par has clearly earned some top tier 19th hole refreshment!
My other issue with The Quarry at La Quinta is that while the course has a clear geographical location to the desert the separation between the pristine areas and the native desert is almost completely segregated by the desire to grow rough grass that is just completely out of character. Fairway bunkers are located in the correct spots but when you have rough encapsulating them the only way a ball can find its way there is through the air -- not via the ground. The Quarry at La Quinta would be better served to have more of an alignment to its actual name, featuring a connection that is more real -- and less of a distancing from what the site is truly about. The potential is certainly there for that to happen.
by M. James Ward
The Vintage Club, where we met for breakfast, is exclusive, beautiful and expansive. The Quarry is small, just 54 home lots, and very expensive to join: $225,000 initiation for an individual membership; your wife’s membership privileges will cost another $225,000. The course has many elevation changes and generous, beautifully sculpted fairways in a breathtaking mountain setting. Number 8, a 138-yard par 3, must be as far down off the cliff as it is long. Four beautifully hit 9-irons yielded four pars. Fortunately, Number 9, a 614-yard par 5, was slightly downhill and downwind the day we played. Tom Fazio is my favorite golf architect, and the Quarry is a great course, but not nearly his best. Larry Berle