Quintero Golf and Country Club is the realisation of the dream of Lea and Gary McClung whose determined mission was to provide top golf to a friendly community.
With a little help from Rees Jones and co-designer Steve Weisser, the McClung dream has come true. Formerly called the Founder’s course (as there was a second Quintero course in the offing called Charter, which was billed to be a Greg Norman design but never broke ground), it's a spectacular layout set amidst the cacti of the Sonoran Desert. The layout is routed through valleys in the foothills of the central Arizonan Hieroglyphic Mountains. Not only do the mountains provide a dramatic backcloth but also thrilling elevation changes.
Perhaps the best hole, or at least one of the most unforgettable one-shot holes you’re likely to encounter, is the 9th, where you’ll need to carry a diamond shaped lake in order to find the green which is set stage-like atop a rock wall.
Once the exclusive preserve of a select number of members, the course was made available to the general public in 2011.
Quintero is often mentioned among the top ten public courses in Arizona. Designed by Rees Jones, it is a quality golf course initially built as a private course to attract residents to a higher end housing development which failed. My understanding is that there were three “groundbreaking” ceremonies for the “new” clubhouse which was never built. One thing that remains from the original idea is impressive gates to enter the club.
As the clubhouse was never built, there is a “temporary” structure serving as the staging point/pro shop which requires a seven-eight minute cart ride along roads to get to the practice range and first tee. You make the same long drive when you finish.
The course is good although not in the same league as the better private options in the state. It does hold its old against the best public options. It is a course one should seek out when in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area.
From the Black tees the course is 7249 yards par 72, rated 74.9/146. The Gold tees are 6875 yards rated 72.9/141. The Silver tees are 6437 yards rated 70.6/134. The ratings are appropriate. There are two sets of lesser tees and four sets of combination tees. I joined three others, one a relative novice, and we played the Silver tees although on the par 3’s we moved to the Gold tees.
The course suffers from having a weak opening hole and a weak finishing hole. The course also suffers from having three of the par 3’s essentially being the same hole. The tee of these holes start with a very elevated tee with a substantial drop downhill at essentially the same length albeit with different looking green surrounds. Unlike other courses, the par 5’s are not as compelling in comparison to the par 3’s and 4’s on the course.
The best aspect to the course are the greens. The greens are quick and are often confusing. The break/slants in the greens do not always go towards the direction of the valleys. We found ourselves silently murmuring, then outwardly expressing our confusion, before we started to chuckle at another misread later in the round. Whoever putted first was nearly always at a disadvantage. The course has also kept a fair number of trees and brush that both help to define the fairways as well as provide defense. The driving corridors are often narrower here than one would find on other courses.
1. Par 4 – 405/388/370. This hole plays from an elevated tee over a valley to a downhill hole with a single bunker on the right. The green is slightly raised with a long bunker on its left and fall-offs at the left and back. All of us thought the ball would break towards the lower ground on the left but it went the opposite way. It is a bland hole.
2. Par 5 – 571/545/520. The tee shot plays as a slight dogleg left with a long bunker down the left that divides it from the fairway for the eighth hole. The higher ground is to the right of the fairway. There are scattered trees after that bunker on the left. There is a central long, thin bunker about 100-80 yards from the green. The green is angled to the left and protected by a bunker on the left and a bunker set well off to the right. The green has good contouring to it and I benefited by putting last.
3. Par 4 – 406/390/369. This is the hole I remember the most on the front nine. It is a sharp dogleg left with a pond going down the entirety of the left side. There are two bunkers on the outer corner of the turn, very much in play. After the turn in the fairway there are a lot of trees and brush on the left side between the fairway and green leading to a left pin being blind. The fairway narrows and stops for a 20 yard wide wash, although there is 20 yards of fairway prior to the beginning of the green. There is a large bunker on the right side of the green which is sloped steeply back to front and right to left with a tier. It is a hole that could yield a birdie for the person who flies the inner corner and takes on the pond but more likely the hole results in double and triple bogies.
4. Par 4 – 460/438/399. This is a straight hole lined with trees on both sides. The fairway rolls with an elevated green and a false front. The green is fronted with bunkers on both sides continuing halfway up the green. There is higher ground to the right of the green but fall-offs left and rear. The green is very good with a lot of inner movement. It is a good par 4 due to perhaps the best green complex on the front nine.
5. Par 4 – 374/352/334. You cross the road to play a straight hole that goes uphill which makes the hole feel like it is at least 40 yards longer, perhaps more depending on the wind direction. The hole is tree-lined with no fairway bunkers. There is a “u” shaped deep bunker fronting a green that is shallow on its left side and steeply banked back to front with higher ground behind it. For a “short” hole, this is difficult due to the green.
6. Par 3 – 219/190/169. You climb a major hill to get to an elevated tee with a drop that goes higher the farther back one plays. There is a sizeable bailout area short of the green but you have to carry the scrub/desert. There is a natural wash/ditch to the left of the green which also has a long, thin bunker at its front left wrapping around the back. The right side of the green has an even larger bunker with four fingers that reminded me of a squirrel with a bushy tail. It is an all-or-nothing tee shot to a flattish green where balls landing on the green will roll-out despite the height of a ball coming into the green. It is a nice hole and a memorable one if there were not two other par 3 tee shots similar to it.
7. Par 4 – 431/410/372. This straight par 4 reminded me of the fifth, albeit flatter, as there are no fairway bunkers. The left side of the fairway has the same pond as used on the third hole. The green is thin but long with a long, deep bunker on the right side. The green has higher ground on the left and backside. The green offers more break than it appears.
8. Par 5 – 586/550/502. This is a dogleg right playing where the second shot plays over a canyon as the fairway runs out. The longer hitters might try to carry all of the trees and desert to eliminate the canyon and make it easier to reach the green in two, thereby eliminating as much as 120 yards, but the carry is 220/270/300 so most will not take it on unless they are playing the Silver tees. If one plays safely to the fairway their second shot over the canyon/wash will need to stay to the left of three bunkers on the right that begin about 135 yards out from the green. Once crossing the canyon, the hole is uphill to the green adding as much as 30 yards to the length. The green is a good one with a good tilt back to front and inner swales. Although I preferred the third hole as the best on the front nine, many would choose this hole.
9. Par 3 – 212/188/162. See the similarity in yardages to the sixth? While the hole is very different visually to the sixth as it plays over a small pond to a green set hard against the water, it still requires an all-or-nothing shot just like the sixth. There is a large anchor-shaped bunker to the right of the green as well as higher ground behind the hole which one can use to bring a ball back onto the green.
10. Par 5 – 521/515/485. It is a long cart ride/walk to the tenth tee, another hole playing slightly uphill with most of the trouble down the right side in the form of four scattered bunkers all of which are long as well as trees. The fairway tilts a bit to the right. Near the front of the green are two bunkers, including the fourth one on the right and one on the left. This is the first green with two bunkers at the rear which makes sense as Mr. Jones likely wanted those trying for the green in two to be penalized for going long. It is a good hole.
11. Par 4 – 447/435/411. The next two holes were two of my favorites on the course even though both are essentially straight as they both had nice greens and surrounds. This hole offers two long bunkers down the left side and a fairway that has some nice waves to it. The green has opposing side bunkers and is angled a bit to the right. It is one of the better greens on the course
12. Par 4 – 435/410/384. Playing parallel and in the opposite direction of the eleventh, this hole has the bunkers again on the left side playing slightly uphill. The first of the bunkers is perhaps 50 yards long. Similar to the eleventh, there are opposing bunkers to a green that is thin at the beginning and only widens at the rear. There is a defined spine in this green.
13. Par 3 – 212/176/157. This par 3 does not have the change in elevation that the other three holes has and it’s the better for it. There is a pond that fronts much of the green, more on the left side but it has a bunker between it and the green. The wind was in our faces and all of us found the bunker as we chased a front pin.
14. Par 5 – 552/451/527. The most bunkers on any hole is on the fourteenth with twelve in total beginning with two on the left for the tee shot. The second bunker cuts the fairway width in half and it is horizontal to the fairway. For the second shot there are four bunkers on the left beginning about 75 yards before the green ending at the green front. The six bunkers on the right seem to be one continuous bunker from 220 yards out to the front right of the green. The green sits off to the right and has a fall-off to the left and rear. This is another solid golf hole and the number of bunkers made it both visually appealing and as challenging as any other hole on the course.
15. Par 4 – 379/358/339. A short hole but again going uphill to an elevated green. The fairway has two bunkers on the left side but widens to the right to provide room away from those bunkers, however the right side is blinder to the green. There is another half-octopus bunker on the right front of the green and a small one on the right. This is a tilted green with a substantial fall-off at the rear of the green.
16. Par 3 – 225/201/189. Another downhill hill par 3 with four irregular shaped bunkers on the right side with two of them pressed hard to the green. The front two bunkers are set in a swale. The left side of the green has a sharp fall-off down a heavily tree-lined arroyo leaving the safe miss at the beginning of the green. The green is angled to the right raising the stakes again to an all-or-nothing tee shot on the final par 3.
17. Par 4 – 380/363/344. A long cart ride takes you to seventeen which has three long bunkers down the right side on a fairway tilted to the right. The green is shallow with a deep fronting bunker and a long one on the left side. The green has a bit of a bowl on the right front.
18. Par 4 – 434/425/404. Quintero finishes poorly with a primarily downhill hole with two bunkers left and one on the right. Longer hitters will hit beyond them. The green sits off to the left and is angled right to left with flanking bunkers on the side. The green has a tier and is slanted right to left.
Quintero is a fine public option and if one is willing to venture slightly farther out from Scottsdale, this is a trip well worth it. I think Wickenburg Ranch is slightly better as it has more variety in its routing and much more visual drama from the tees. While the downhill par 3’s at Quintero are challenging, they require the same club and “all-or-nothing” shot unless one moves to different tees. These “all-or-nothing” shots require both finding the green, but more importantly because the greens do not really hold a shot, you need to land near the front of the greens. The par 5’s are Quintero are good but not overly memorable. If there were more holes such as the third and if Quintero did not start and end with plain holes, it would be a much better course. As it is, the “star” of the course is the greens, the tighter driving corridors compared to other courses in Arizona, and the placement of the bunkers. As mentioned, it is well worth playing.
It was an extremely fun ride up and down some mountains. The conditions when I played it in the dead of summer were great with the greens rolling true and fairways that were very plush. The par 3s are exciting and you get some of the best scenery on a golf course I’ve experienced not near water. The one major complaint I had was there were a lot of flies on the course. At times they were a bit annoying but everything else was great. It also has a great range with a preview of some of the views you will see.
A little bit disappointing but still worth the longish drive from Scottsdale. The Par 3s make the course as they quite exciting to play but they are all a bit similar in distance and elevated tee shots. The rest of the course is quite OK but you would not rave about it. Good course conditons overall and the greens ran very true. The clubhouse is very plain with not much variety in food or drink, and is far from the first tee and practice area. I enjoyed it.
Had the opportunity to play and it is a haul from Scottsdale but it is so worth it. First and foremost, a very challenging track where there are only 2-3 holes where you can catch your breath off the tee and that starts with the opening hole. The collection of Par 3SM are fantastic especially the two on the front, #6 and #9.
As a public course, it certainly is the finest in the area and competes well with some of the high-end resort and private courses. Well worth the drive.
One of the issues that has often impacted the efforts of Rees Jones designs is how the actual finished product blends or fails to blend in with the property used. When Quintero shifted its status from a private club to a public one it clearly opened the doors for more people to play this interesting layout.
The isolation of the course in Peoria is also a plus. You don't get the bombardment of housing and other insertions found at many of the Phoenix / Scottsdale courses.
Once you get past the pedestrian opening hole the remaining eight holes on the outward side are very good. The split fairway at the 2nd is nicely done. The par-4 3rd is a wonderful contrast turning left in the fair fairway with water tugging close to the left side of the green on the approach.
The par-3's on the front are quite challenging. The dropshot 6th is quite vexing with unpredictable winds impacting one's approach as it flies high into the air. The conclusion for the front comes with an even more daunting challenge at the 9th. The par-3 plays 212 yards but water diagonally angles necessitating proper club selection. Any pic placement hugging the right side -- whether front or rear -- will need one's total respect or it's a near certainty you'll be donating one's ball permanently to Quintero.
The inward half is routed on a far more compact piece of land. And the initial holes starting the back nine go primarily back and forth. There's also a bit more shaping involved and, as a result, the holes tend to stand apart -- rather than blend in as well as those from the front side.
Peoria and the surrounding area was looking to be the "next" big time development area for the broader Valley of the Sun area. That goal was derailed when The Great Recession hit hard and even though economically matters have settled and doing quite well in the core Phoenix / Scottsdale areas -- the isolation of Peoria clearly impact what is likely to happen from an expansion side.
I read the previous review and I find it hard to imagine how someone could rate the course at the maximum high level. The only rationale I could come to is having a limited portfolio of other desert courses from which to compare / contrast.
Quintero is a testing golf course with sufficient shotmaking challenges requiring plenty of clear thinking in tandem with solid execution. Merits taking the ride from the core areas of Phoenix and Scottsdale and checking out.
M. James Ward