Querencia's grand designs

No. 11 at Querencia.

No. 11 at Querencia.

San Jose del Cabo, Mexico – When the subject of golf architecture is broached, it’s typically along the lines of, “What did you think of that Fazio design?” And to be sure, there’s much to recommend about Tom Fazio’s thrill ride of a layout at Querencia, with its roller-coaster holes, icy-slick greens and sweeping views of the Sea of Cortez.

But Fazio met his architectural match at Querencia in the form of another, lesser-known designer, Arturo Ponce de Leon, who runs the residential community’s design center. He’s the creator of a clubhouse – more accurately described by Querencia’s staff as a “club village” – that’s easily the brick-and-mortar equivalent of Fazio’s layout, which itself is ranked No. 5 on Golfweek’s Best Caribbean & Mexico Courses list.

Ponce de Leon’s work is an utterly fresh take on what a clubhouse should be. Most modern clubhouses are monolithic structures about which developers tout square footage (think quantity) over ambience (think quality). So we’re often left with large, utilitarian buildings where guests pay the green fee and make a beeline to their golf cart.

Ponce de Leon’s design turns that approach on its head. Querencia, loosely translated, is a sanctuary, and the club village concept successfully executed by Ponce de Leon is just that. Modeled after a Mexican village and infused with Tuscan themes, it is, like Los Cabos itself, a “place to promote outdoor living,” he says.

The Tuscan influence can be seen in what he describes as the “simplicity of the massing of the buildings” – a restaurant with abundant outdoor seating, 19th hole, golf shop, locker rooms, yoga pavilion and kids club are located in separate buildings encircling a plaza. Members and guests continually are funneled out to the near-perpetual sunshine and generally temperate climate that characterizes this region. Throughout, water is a dominant theme. There are a series of distinct fountains – most dramatically, an aqueduct that feeds the lap pool.

The boyish-looking, 37-year-old Ponce de Leon displayed a confident touch that belies the fact that this was his first clubhouse design. Just as nature has its imperfections, so too did he embrace them in his design; he shows a visitor an ever-so-slightly-ajar tile or an almost-imperceptible flaw in a sink backwash. Those subtle touches underscore the harmony between the architect’s handiwork and the landscape.

“Architecture,” he says, “should be a little imperfect.”

That same might be said of his club village. Perhaps it is imperfect – but just a little.

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