2004: Quintero reaches new frontier

Peoria, Ariz.

How far out in the Sonoran Desert do you have to go to be a pioneer these days? With Quintero Golf and Country Club, the answer is clear – 40 miles northwest of downtown Phoenix, halfway on the road to Wickenburg. That’s about as remote as Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree, Ariz., was when that innovative tract opened in 1962, and now burgeoning development north of Scottsdale is nipping at its heels.

Quintero’s owner and visionary, Gary McClung, is counting on the same thing happening to his property. He acquired a remote, 800-acre former mining site in the middle of an area under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Bureau of Land and Mines. McClung then had to lay miles of internal roads, put up his own generators and run a pipeline 35 miles to tap into the Central Arizona Project for (recycled) irrigation water. Along the way, he hired Rees Jones and had the good sense to leave him and design associate Steve Weisser alone to do their work.

Build it and they will come? That’s apparently the hope here for Quintero, where plans include 350 homesites. A second course, designed by Greg Norman, is slated for an even more rugged section of the property to the northeast. They’ll need more dynamite for that one. Members now have the run of a dramatic layout that manages to be walkable while playing in a gentle fashion despite some very stark landforms and 150 feet of elevation change. The par-72 layout tips out at 7,190 yards (145 slope/75.1 rating).

Routing is the key to making any tough site work. Quintero was especially challenging because the area Jones had to work with left only three valley passes around five major hills, and one of those low areas was taken by the entrance road.

Rock abounded – quartz, red and black granite, as well as shale. But there also was much undisturbed native vegetation. Preserving the desert fauna gave Quintero a surprisingly mature look when it opened in 2002. It helps that several groups of holes exist in their own little pockets of land – away from infrastructure and roads.

For now, Quintero exists very much in its own expansive world, which is exactly the appeal of the place. Given what the long-term land plan looks like, there’s every reason to believe that

subsequent housing will be kept isolated, in clusters and set back from the golf.

– For more information on Quintero Golf and Country Club, a private club, call 928-501-1560 or visit www.quintero.golf.com.

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