Golden (Bear) Opportunities

Ten Nicklaus Signature Courses to Play on Your Next Golf Trip


Jack Nicklaus turned 75 years young earlier this year. While most of us hope to be on this side of the grass at 75, the “Golden Bear” continues to display a tireless work ethic that would shame many half his age and has made him a highly successful businessman.

This is clearly evident in one of his ventures, course architecture. Nicklaus Design has created more than 380 golf courses globally, the majority of which are in the U.S. More than 45 Nicklaus layouts are under construction in 24 different countries; alas, there’s no let up with this bear.

His design philosophy is simple: Build courses enhancing the natural environment that are challenging and enjoyable for players of all levels. When it involves luxury golf properties – let the course strengthen and elevate the relationship between the game and the community.

That’s especially true of his Signature designs. Of the hundreds of golf courses Nicklaus has created, only a select few are bestowed his “Signature” stamp, which involves more personal attention from the Golden Bear, site visits and yes, a higher fee- one that is definitely worth it. These offerings, which include our very own Cordillera Ranch, mean a lot more than just extra site visits and a ceremonial first tee shot though. Signature represents prestige and a spot in the upper echelon of course architecture.

It also enhances the overall golf experience, and we see that firsthand – the challenges, beauty, conditioning, service and so much more. We are indeed honored to have a Nicklaus Signature Golf Course at the club, and if you’re looking for similar touches in your golf travels around the world, here are few other Nicklaus Signature courses you should put on your bucket list.


Muirfield Village Golf Club – Jack’s answer to Augusta National Golf Club. This ultra-private club in his home state of Ohio pays homage to the home of the Masters in many aspects. Site of the PGA TOUR’s Memorial Tournament, Muirfield Village is tops in the Nicklaus portfolio and consistently ranks among the top 30 courses in the world.


Castle Pines Golf Club – Amazing views and incredible scenery are the hallmarks of this Denver-area course. The yardages on the scorecard can be intimidating (the tips stretch to almost 7,700 yards), but the club sits at almost 7,000 feet above sea level, so the ball will fly. After the round, be sure to nab a Castle Pines milkshake, a signature item at the club.


Cabo del Sol (Ocean Course) – What’s in a name? It’s quite clear in this instance – golf by the ocean at one of the most gorgeous locales in Mexico. Nicklaus created plenty of Kodak moments here, especially at the par 3s. The fifth and 17th were ranked as two of the 500 best holes in golf, while the par-4 18th is a resounding finisher.


PGA National Resort and Spa (Champion Course) – This might not be a Nicklaus original, but the 18-time major winner morphed it into a signature design that is one of best in Florida and the toughest course on the PGA TOUR. Site of the Honda Classic, the Champion Course is home of the “Bear Trap,” a demanding three-hole stretch (Nos. 15-17) that humbles any and all comers. An intimidating bear statue at the 15th portends of the challenge ahead.


Kauai Lagoons Golf Club –Kauai is an incredibly golf-rich island. A must-play on this small atoll is Kauai Lagoons, which recently underwent an extensive renovation. This stern but scenic course bobs-and-weaves through the jungle on the front nine before opening up to oceanfront beauty on the back.


Reynolds Plantation (Great Waters Course) – Georgia offers a fantastic setting for golf, and Nicklaus designed one of the Peach State’s best between Atlanta and Augusta on Lake Oconee – The Great Waters Course at Reynolds Plantation. The lake views make the layout one of the most stunning in the Southeast, while the towering battalions of pines place an emphasis on accuracy, especially off the tee.


Desert Mountain (Cochise Course) – Nicklaus helped pioneer desert target golf. A classic example of the genre is the Cochise Course at Desert Mountain. Tantalizing views of the mountains and lush conditions make it a spectacular golf oasis. Desert Mountain will be site of the season-ending 2016 Charles Schwab Cup Championship on the Champions Tour, and the players consider Cochise one of the best conditioned layouts on the circuit.


The Challenge at Manele – High above the crashing waves Hulopoe Bay, The Challenge at Manele is one of the top courses in Hawaii. Panoramic ocean views greet players on nearly every hole. The par-3 12th demands a 200-yard carry over the Pacific Ocean to reach a tricky green.


Pronghorn (Nicklaus Course) – This Nicklaus Signature Golf Course in Central Oregon winds through ancient lava rock ridges and outcroppings, and boasts jaw-dropping views of the Cascade Mountain range. The Nicklaus Course, along with a neighboring Tom Fazio design, give Pronghorn a powerful one-two golf punch.


Coyote Springs Golf Club – Headed to Las Vegas? Coyote Springs is less than an hour from the Strip and is considered a Sin City must-play. The course opened for play in 2008 and sits in “Nature’s Cradle,” as it is surrounded by mountains on all sides. Like all upscale Vegas layouts, nary a blade of grass is out of place; unlike several upscale Vegas layouts, Coyote Springs boasts a grand practice facility to prep golfers for their rounds.


For golf trip ideas or any help setting up a round on a Nicklaus designed golf course, contact Director of Golf Marc DeWall at 830-336-4653.

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