A recent list of top ranked Mexican and Caribbean courses featured all the usual suspects at the top of the chart, including Bermuda’s Mid Ocean Club, Sandy Lane (Green Monkey) in Barbados and The Abaco Club in the Bahamas.
What may surprise many is that Mexico’s Querencia was placed as highly as number two in the list (just behind Casa de Campo’s Teeth of the Dog in the Dominican Republic) so when a course like this can hold its own in such esteemed company, you can be sure that the golf experience here is going to be one of the very best on offer anywhere.
The Tom Fazio-designed course is laid out within an 840-acre private residential estate between Palmilla and Costa Azul in the fashionable resort area of Los Cabos and it’s complemented by a modern clubhouse and practice facilities that face onto the Sea of Cortez.
Fairways are routed in an out and back fashion with a testing set of holes in the middle of the front nine (holes 4 to 7 are rated as stroke index 1,3, 7 and 5), followed by a couple of back-to-back par fives around the turn. The 14th may be the shortest of the four par threes on the scorecard (at only 164 yards from the back tees) but the position of the green, perched on a ridge above an arroyo, ensures it is also the most difficult of the short holes.
Gil Hanse has been hired to construct a second course at Querencia, a development that is bound to raise the profile of the resort even higher.
In my notes I made of Querencia I summed it up as “a very fine golf course with many good golf holes, but no “wow” holes. There are “wow” views and “wow” vegetation. I did like the course and found it one that I would enjoy playing on a daily basis as well as playing with others, if I were a member, or with other visitors to show it off.
This course is well inland high up on a hill with views of the Sea of Cortez are in the distance down the valley to the sea but they are very good. The course itself has the best landscaping, bushes, flowers, trees, palm trees, cacti, of the courses I played in Mexico so far. It is likely one of the most beautiful golf courses that exists from a landscaping perspective. The conditioning is impeccable although the greens do not play particularly fast.
One note to my review is that for the outing we had our group chose to play from the 6391 Combo tees. The back tees are 7050 while the Gold tees are 6589 which would have been my preference. Therefore although I looked hard at the tee boxes behind me, I honestly don’t think I have the proper appreciation for this golf course given my final score of 76 after starting with a double bogey. There are longer forced carries and more angles that would have come into play had I been one tee farther back. In addition many of the tees are elevated which for some made them more nervous but for me I liked the added distance it would provide. I would also recommend that this golf course have a second set of combo tees to come out around 6850 yards.
The course is routed through valleys and ravines and combined with the landscaping it is quite beautiful. From the back tees it has a rating of 74.5/145 while the Gold tees are 0.1/137 and the combo tees are -0.7/133 so you can see how much the yardage makes a difference as to difficulty and strategy.
The vegetation and the penalty for missing some of the forced carries or greens is severe. While the fairways are wide, there is no ‘first cut” of any length as the vegetation is right against the fairway. Missing a forced carry over a canyon will result in a lost ball. Missing some of the greens long or on the wrong side will likely result in a lost ball.
The first hole is a downhill of 426/393/369 with a fairway bunker left and another green side bunker to the left front. But you cannot miss the fairway which I did and this is a common theme throughout the golf course.
The second is a long par 3 of 246/205/184 where I instantly felt regret over not playing a tee back as much of the strategy of the hole went away. The wash area was easily covered and the landing area in front of the green was made too easy of a bailout area from our tee.
The par 4 third hole plays longer than its 373/353 yardage as it plays uphill back towards the clubhouse to a raised green. The hole is pretty straightforward and represents a real birdie opportunity.
One of the holes I remember the most is the par 5 fourth hole, at 552/540/503 that plays as a horseshoe to the left alongside a ridge to a green perched seemingly on a shelf. The valley dramatically falls off to the left side. You cannot miss this green to the left or down the canyon you will go.
The fifth hole is a fine short par 4 going the opposite way at 373/353 playing down and then back up to a well defended green.
The sixth hole is a par 4 of 439/412 where the left side of the fairway should be avoided as you run into a slight ridge/vegetation area. The green is fast against native vegetation at its rear and right side.
The seventh hole is a short driveable par 4 of 343/321 that has a slightly narrower fairway and requires a carry over sand/rock/vegetation. I thought this was a very pretty hole. The green has a ridge line through it and is one of the more interesting greens.
The par 3 eighth hole at 197/177 plays over a canyon with the green slightly above you and no real safe area to miss. I liked this hole a lot.
As would be expected the ninth takes you the farthest from the clubhouse, a nice long downhill sharp dogleg left par 5 of 595/567/532 which does not play as long as the yardage. There is some nice bunkering to the right side of the green.
The tenth turns you back towards the clubhouse and is another par 5 of 534/506 as a slight dogleg right which plays longer as you play uphill.
The eleventh is a nice par 3 of 204/192/173 playing over waste area/ravine to a green that you cannot be short or you will be in the canyon.
The twelfth is another short par 4 of 349/326 but offers a slightly tighter driving line down the left side if one is trying to get as close as possible to the green. This is another pretty hole but it is uncomplicated.
The thirteenth is the hole I liked the most, a long par 4 of 431/396/381 that is a sharp dogleg left where the fairway narrows at the dogleg.
The fourteenth is the shortest par 3 on the golf course at 164/155 and plays down towards the sea and valley. This is a very pretty hole with an outstanding view.
The fifteenth is the final par 5 at 539/512 playing back uphill and feels like a dogleg left but actually it is straight. You do have another forced carry but from the forward tee it is not difficult.
Sixteen was a nice hole on the course at 466/432/406. The green sits above you on a ridge. I thought it played more difficult than its handicap of 12 due to the green complex, although three of us made par.
I liked the seventeenth, a short par 4 of 350/323 that plays uphill and feels like you are in a canyon to a slightly elevated green. Trees come very much into play on the right side and even a bit on the left side. Two fairway bunkers on the right side must be avoided or driven over. It is a fun pitch shot to this green which is steeply sloped back to front.
The final hole is 449/411/390 and plays right to below the clubhouse. It has another forced carry but again from the tees we played it really did not come into play. There are fairway bunkers left and right. There are a series of bunkers on the left side of the green. I thought there should have been bunkers right as well.
A final thought is that I do not remember many of the bunkers on this course as well as I do other golf courses. I think it is because of the tees I played or perhaps because I played well other than the first hole. But it could also be that there is a shortage of bunkers, both in the fairway as well as greenside because this course is intended to be playable and enjoyed. It is not intended to “beat you up” unless you are a handicap above 20. It is a very playable golf course and one that anyone, whether a member or a guest, will enjoy playing over and over.
Querencia is an exclusive private community located within one of the many luxury developments of Cabo San Lucas. I was fortunate enough to meet a member who extended an invitation to check out Q and play the Fazio designed golf course.
The course itself is not located along the coast as some of the other tracks in Cabo, but was built on a vast piece of land that offers dramatic topography and native desert vegetation which provides some really nice aesthetic views. If you do happen to miss any of the generously sized fairways, your ball will likely be unplayable or lost. The flowering bushes, cactus, and tropical plants are dense, with most dropping off into even thicker native.
The layout itself plays fair but still plenty challenging. Due to the topography and distance between many of the holes, it is mandatory to have a cart, like majority of the courses in Cabo. The club’s exclusivity and limited play policies made for a VIP experience. Conditions of the course were immaculate and greens were rolling perfect, exactly what you would expect from a world top 100 ranked course. That said, although I thought there were several beautiful holes, I also felt it was somewhat cookie cutter like some other Fazio resort tracks out there.
Overall, Querencia may not be Fazio’s best design, but is it still a beautiful course that has a solid layout that is very playable as long as you can keep your ball in the fairway. The great staff, service, and 5-star facilities provide a memorable experience while you are vacationing in Cabo. I hope to have the opportunity to visit again.