Quintero Golf Club Review - Four Stars! Sonoran Desert Beauty, Secluded Championship Play, Elevation Challenges

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Quintero Golf Club, a new, semi-private, course, built by Rees Jones and Steve Weisser in 2000, is a traditional desert classic course offering challenging year-round play across 7208 yards in the sprawling Phoenix Valley.

Known as the Valley of the Sun, Peoria, Arizona sits just outside of Scottsdale, an easy one hour drive, and the Quintero Golf Club is situated so far off the main highway that driving the nearly deserted I-17E to Quintero Lane one can nearly think they are lost if it weren't for the three armed "W" shaped Cactus that stands as a driver's location marker.

I also used Google Maps to pinpoint my location so departing AZ-74 and quickly adding the 18 miles from the highway I watched the desert roll. Soon, Quintero Lane, the only paved road around approached and about one mile from the road, deeper into the Phoenix Valley, the entrance to Quintero.

High season for the Quintero Golf course runs December through February, when other than a bit windy, the desert is cool in the morning and warms up to a comfortable 65F to 70F degrees.

The desert begins to heat up quickly beginning in March with the off season, which is an industry term although for the Quintero off season means pace of play adjustments with T-times beginning earlier in the morning allowing for the possibility of two rounds before the scorching desert sun sidelines the golfers to the clubhouse for a couple of cold ones and possibly the back nine before dark.

An 18-hole course, with a Par 72, Quintero is 7208 yards, with a slope of 147 and fast running greens.

A classic championship course Quintero is designed with bent grass in the greens and Bermuda grass on the fairways. Quintero is ranked top 25 Golf course in Arizona. When the major-league baseball players head out to Arizona for Spring training Quintero is the club of choice and when the teams are free, many of the players are competing on the greens.

The pace of play can run about four or five hours with stunning vistas, beautiful and challenging elevation changes, Quintero Golf Club, known throughout the golfing world as one of the top desert Golf courses.

For the golf connoisseur Quintero is at the top of every serious golfer's bucket list. Playing Quintero, for the serious is one of the best and admired throughout golfing circles.

With signature holes that can cause even the confident golfer to stop and pause, holes are designed for the maximum challenge with some offering up to ten different tee boxes, impressive yardage challenges along with desert interruptions: rattlesnakes have been known to appear in the summer and Mexican pigs are on the greens year-round.

Quintero for the Novice Golfer

When I received an invitation to spend the weekend at the club which included accommodations at the Quintero Condominium used for Stay and Play packages, (which will be featured separately) even with my lack of skill known only to myself I immediately said "yes."

As a novice golfer, and quite honestly even that is an exaggeration, the last time I picked up a golf club  was to putt the ball through the windmill on the final Putt-Putt Golf Challenge.

Although after accepting the invitation I did have a distant memory of attempting to play golf at least once. So, let's say as a beginning golfer, what is most important to remember is, go into the game with the victory in mind.

Now, I had some time to work my mental game up. I had a plan, and my plan included almost the exact replica of the day with the one exception: Nowhere in my plan did I see myself playing the first and third holes at Quintero and making Par (possibly a little luck and a nice gusty breeze) hitting it on the greens in three shots and with a couple of putting (lessons) finally sinking the ball! Shocking for the golf pro! And shocking for me also.

So, backing up.

Having met the Golf Pro, Brad, a genuinely nice and accommodating guy. We met the day before my T-time and he explained what we would be doing. I thought it best to explain my plan without giving away my learning curve.

We met at the Pro Shop. I was fitted with a glove, and after the caddy fitted us both with clubs, we were on our way.

Quintero, from the pro shop, opens in front of you with lush greens, perfect summer green grass, against the deep desert shades and cactus. And we arrived at the training greens.

For the championship golfer Quintero has secured teh talents of John Dahl, a recognized professional golf instructor who runs clinics, hosts weekends and provides one-on-one instruction. He has won 26 Golf Championship and listed in Golf Magazines for eight consecutive years in the top 100 Golf Instructors. 

For my introduction to the Quintero Greens, Brad was my golf instructor and it was his job essentially to get me up and teeing-off by afternoon's end.

Fortunately, I have a sports background and that isn't even the key. The key, I found was listening to the analogies he used, as he explained he taught high-schoolers, so bringing it down from the professional golfer looking to improve the chip shot to someone like myself, looking to hit the ball, at least once and not embarrass myself, too badly.

I felt that once I began to hit the ball consistently, and they have a pyramid of golf balls waiting for golfers wanting to practice. He began to use analogies that stuck the point. Essentially the player should end the swing position in the "Championship Trophy" position and the front foot should "squash the bug." Translation: every championship golf trophy has the golfer in a pose, after the swing the golfer should be in that position and the front ball of the foot should have squashed the bug.

Odd as it sounds it works as one is trying to adjust: bend the knees, eyes on the ball, swing the club only, not taking the eyes off the ball, only using shoulders to swing (upper body movement), the information ticks away as the small white ball teases you from the ground. So enthusiastically whacking that ball sometimes works and other times it doesn't.

Golfing of course is not only one shot. And most have seen at least one professional golfer play a round at least once. So, we know the chip shot, played with the iron, and the drive, which allows the ball to travel long distances and then the putter.

The driver is used at the beginning shot. The ball is teed-up and the most important goal is to cover as much ground on the opening shot as possible. Which is why the driver, lightweight with a larger club head aids the shot.

After assessing where the ball has landed, for the novice it can be a bit difficult to see and for the trained eye (and Brad also used a one-eye binocular which shows where the ball is and the yardage needed), it is easier.

The next shot is always handled with the Iron and especially if you are looking to cover water or sand traps, the Irons help with loft creating the high arch which looks spectacular and slight roll, irons have a controlled roll, onto the greens (very good) or just to the border of the sand (not so good).

The last shot Brad explained was the putt, and as I had explained my limited putt knowledge we didn't spend a lengthy time going through the dynamics of the putt. I found the putt may be the simplest shot and probably the most difficult to master.  A tap on the ball seems to be all that is needed.

Of course, we talked about "how fast the greens run" Quintero's run fast. Slope, which way would water roll if it rained, that is the way the ball will roll also.

So, after we finished the introductory practice. We set about, it was supposed to be about 45minutes of instructions and then two hours of play and viewing the course. We ended up extending the time just somewhat and having about three and half hours.

To play Quintero, the complete 18 holes, one can expect four to five hours, depending on the number of players and the tone of the play. Quintero Golf Club rules call for the golfers to continue at a "pace of play" moving through the course and have Golf Marshalls who, especially in peak season, ride through the course and watch for anything unusual.

Quintero is a championship course and operate traditionally except for a few accepted technological advances which are altering the rules of the course (not of play). Music, which would be considered a major faux-pas, and could at one time have been grounds for removal is now allowed with small blue-tooth speakers and in isolated spaces, the tee box when no one is around.

Quintero also offers its gofers beverage cart service. Four hours, in the hot sun, can be exhausting and dehydrating and one of the most important rules at Quintero is stay hydrated. Comfort stations with ice and water along with restrooms are in strategic locations on the grounds.

The Signature

Like all golf courses, the front nine the back nine Quintero with more than 7000 yards of courses has some very expansive and challenging holes with a single or multiple sand traps, multiple lakes (in the drink) which is unusual in the middle of the desert to see such a pristine looking lake. It is man-made and used also for irrigation.

After spending about 45minutes with instructions, we drove up to the first hole. Each of the holes have a maximum yardage and a minimum yardage, which is color coded. The choice is the players.

On the front nine the Hole Nine is the most challenging: "The tee shot to this unforgettable par 3 flies over a water obstacle that makes its way from the distant putting greens to the 18th hole. The Tee boxes, of which there are ten, are made from handcrafted walls places the green on a stage."

The distance challenges begin at 125 yards to 212 yards.

On the back nine, Hole 18, is the most challenging at top yardage of 434 yards. The description reads: "This par 4 requires a good tee shot for the best chance at par. Its elevated green is backdropped by a peaceful waterfall and pond.

Based on yardage along Hole 14 with a challenge between 427 yards to 552 yards is the most significant distance shot. The description of this par 5 hole reads: "On this dazzling par 5, a rolling green ribbon of turf and soft bunker contouring captures your attention. A generous fairway awaits the tee shot but the second shot should be played away from the multiple bunkers lining the right.

For the two holes Brad and I played, Hole 1, the perfect par 4 staring hole, the medium length has ample room off the tee and a very approachable green. And without the proper industry language I must say, the tee boxes which each hole has a circular tee stage, after choosing the yardage (distance) of the challenge, recommendation area made and not mandatory, players choose the length of the challenge they feel fits them on the day.

For me, on Hole 1, you guessed it 303 yards, was the shortest distance between the tee-box and the putter's cup. So, taking the driver and hoping, the first swing picked up the ground and left the grass sliced off and the teasing taunting white ball still standing.

Practice, Brad said, and mentally talking myself through the checklist, the second thwack and just like it's supposed to do, the white ball went somewhere down the green. Now I couldn't see it but Brad, explained it wasn't far at all, and I did quite well. (And I believe him!)

Soon we were hitting the second shot and onto the greens, another elevated circle with the putter's cup. It wasn't long after that after three tries and remember, also, we didn't practice the elusive putt, Hole 1 was completed. I felt accomplished. The he said, on to Hole 3.

It is described as "Perhaps one of the most challenging holes on the course. A large scenic lake frames the left side, teasing players to hug it with their tee shot for an easier second to the green."

For me, seeing the lake translated to hit the ball as far right as possible, staying away from the lake.  And without going through each swing, and miss, I did end the day, having played two holes on the Quintero Championship Golf Course.

We spent the remainder of the afternoon touring the grounds. Quintero is gorgeous desert with never ending views that stretch to the horizon with the Sonoran Desert landscape offset by the lush manicured greens and as the course runs into the mountains the Phoenix valley is breathtaking. It was impressive, dazzling, genuinely magnificent.

I do have to add, even with my golfer's handicap, the beauty of the course, the experience is so grand don't shy away from the challenge. Step into the pro shop and sign up for a few lessons and enjoy one of the most spectacular classic desert golf courses in the world. And return home with the bragging rights of a champion!

For more information: http://www.quinterogolf.com

Pristine course images courtesy of Quintero Golf Club and used with permission.

Other images by Janet Walker.

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