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
Date: December 29, 2017