At times, the pace of life in Argentina can be a little hectic. Buenos Aires especially moves at just one speed – fast forward – and while that is part of its charm, there are occasions when one needs to step away from the urban rat race and, say, spend a few hours walking around in the great outdoors pursuing a little white ball.
A round of golf is the perfect antidote to inner-city blues and this most genteel of sports is surprisingly accessible in Argentina, even though it still dwells on the fringes of mainstream sports.
As a country with plenty of open spaces, it is not surprising that there are over 280 golf courses in Argentina. There are attractive options for those who want to play a cheeky 18 holes on the cheap right in the heart of Buenos Aires, as well as for hardcore golf nuts who are keen to experience some of the world’s most aesthetically pleasing, and challenging, courses.
World Class Players
Golf’s popularity in Argentina has boomed in recent years on the back of the success of Andrés Romero and Ángel Cabrera in the PGA and European tours, however the country has been producing top shelf players for many years.
Antonio Cerdá, who would later emigrate to Mexico, battled with the likes of Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus in the 1950s on the way to amassing 37 tournament wins, including seven in Europe.
Roberto De Vicenzo became the first Argentinian to win a Major in 1967 when he took the British Open. He ended his career in 2006 at the age of 83 with more than 200 tournament wins under his belt, 8 of which were PGA events, and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989. Despite these wonderful achievements, De Vicenzo is almost as well known for an infamous gaffe he made in the 1968 Masters Tournament. On the 17th hole, with De Vicenzo in contention for victory, his playing partner incorrectly wrote down a score of four, when in fact the Argentinian had shot a birdie three. Not paying close enough attention, he signed the card anyway and, according to the rules of golf, the higher score had to stand, meaning De Vicenzo missed out on a chance to play off for the championship. “What a stupid I am,” declared the poor chap when he realised his mistake. Unfortunately, most golfers would be inclined to agree with him.
Andrés Romero has emerged in recent years as one of South America’s best golfers, coming agonisingly close to winning the 2007 Open Championship before blowing his lead on the final two holes. He was named 2008 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, and will hope one day to add that elusive Major title to his list of successes. Argentina’s most prominent golfer since the turn of the century, however, is Ángel Cabrera, winner of both the US Open and the US Masters. Known for his waddling gate (his nickname is “the Duck”) and long drives, the former chain-smoker is an unlikely sporting idol. His unusual, but likeable persona makes him popular with golf fans everywhere, and he has been a great ambassador for the game in Argentina.
Where to Play Golf in Buenos Aires
There are dozens of good quality private golf courses in and around Buenos Aires, as well as all other major cities around Argentina. Most are fairly strict when it comes to allowing non-members to play, however these rules are often relaxed for foreigners.
The best way to guarantee you will have no trouble is to score an invitation from a local who is a member of a golf club. If you are not lucky enough to know anybody who can help you out, the situation varies depending on the course, though contacting the club and explaining that you are a foreigner who wants to play is often easiest way to go about it. Many will be happy to accommodate you, even if you do not have official Argentinian accreditation or a handicap.
In Buenos Aires city itself, the Campo de Golf de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, located in the Palermo parks, is a public course that is both cheap and very convenient. It is kept in good condition and is a substantial length, especially considering it is just a few kilometres from the city centre. Tee times can be booked online or by phone.
Campo de Golf de la Cuidad de Buenos Aires
Avenida Torquist 6397, Palermo
For a more family-oriented environment, or if you just feel like smacking a few balls into the yonder, the Costa Salguero Pitch and Putt and Driving Range offers facilities to suit your needs. Instructors are available to help you work on your swing, while the little Pitch and Putt course is ideal for kids, beginners, or anyone who wants to work on their short game.
Costa Salguero Driving Range and Pitch ‘n’ Putt
Costanera y Jerónimo Salguero, Palermo
Chapelco Golf Club in San Martín de los Andes, Patagonia; photo courtesy of Roger Schultz.
Top Golf Courses around Argentina
For those seeking a special golfing experience, Argentina has the natural gifts to host a plethora of gorgeous golf courses that are among the prettiest in the world. Here are just three examples:
Chapelco Golf Club
San Martín de los Andes, Patagonia
Tel: +54 2972 410219
Considered by many to be the finest golf course in South America, Chapelco is both challenging and stunningly beautiful – the perfect combination for serious golfers. Co-designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son to USPGA standards, the course is part of a residential resort located 15km from San Martín de los Andes. If tough greens, superbly-maintained fairways that punish any loose shots and tricky winds are not enough to get your juices flowing, imagine it all set beneath the dazzling Andes mountain range and surrounded by crystal clear lakes and emerald green forests. In short, it is golfing paradise.
With 27 holes spread over 45 hectares, four sets of tees for different skill levels, nine lakes, plenty of lush, wide fairways and smooth, fast greens, the Buenos Aires Golf Club is a world class course on a grand scale. The different colour-coded tees ensure the course is extremely versatile, as they all offer not just a different difficulty level, but a diverse playing experience. The B.A.G.C. was designed by noted architect Robert Von Hagge and was opened in 1994. Since then it has hosted numerous top-level local tournaments, as well as players of international renown such as Tiger Woods.
This course would be on most golfers’ wish lists due to its spectacular setting alone, but add in the fact that it is highly playable and superbly maintained, and you have a real dream destination. Mendoza Club de Campo sits at 764 metres above sea level and is the only 18 hole course within close proximity of Mendoza city. Holes have names like ‘Malbec’, ‘Syrah’ and ‘Merlot’ so you are unlikely to forget that you are in wine country. With a luxurious club house, as well as a driving range and putting green facilities and of course the snow-capped Andes as a backdrop, there is enough to satisfy even the most demanding customer. Not only that, it is situated just ten minutes from downtown Mendoza city, so visiting golf lovers can easily slip away for a quick round in between wine tastings.
Further afield in Mendoza Province, also check out:
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