South American has some world-class courses across the continent. Here are some of the best.
The Best Golf Courses In South America
Football might be the main sporting passion across the continent of South America, but there are hundreds of excellent golf courses situated throughout.
From Argentina to Uruguay, lets take a look at some of the best.
Traditionally regarded as one of the best golf courses in the country, Olivos has an English flavour to it thanks to a resemblance to heathland courses in Britain. The large and quick greens in particular add to the difficulty.
Jockey Club, Argentina
Perhaps Argentina’s most famous course is the historic Jockey Club, which was designed by Dr Alister MacKenzie in between his work on a couple of other half decent tracks by the name of Cypress Point and Augusta National.
But while these veritable cathedrals of golf have been tweaked and altered over the years particularly in the case of the Masters venue, Jockey Club is thought to be the one MacKenzie design that remains true to his architectural principals.
The green complexes are as demanding as they are stimulating, with heavily contoured putting surfaces surrounded by all manner of humps and hollows, swales and borrows. It’s no surprise to learn that accuracy and placement is paramount at this picturesque 36-hole venue.
Located down in the Patagonia region of Argentina is Chapelco, a golf club designed by Jack Nicklaus and his son Jack. They have fashioned a course that rivals the mountainous backdrop for the attention of those fortunate enough to play it.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Another excellent layout in Argentina is Buenos Aires Golf Club which hosted the 2000 World Cup, won by none other than David Duval and Tiger Woods.
El Potrerillo de Larreta, Argentina
Tom Doak has said in the past that the only thing holding this golf course back from being one of the very best in the world, is having a world class set of greens. Praise indeed.
For the intrepid golfer the only real option is to press on to the southern tip of Tierra del Fuego where the shabby but endearing nine-holer at Ushuaia, the most southerly course on the planet, lies in wait. It’s a long way down so unless icebergs and penguins are your idea of perfect playing partners, don’t try it in winter.
La Paz, Bolivia
The course at La Paz has some remarkable geography. At up to 10,650 feet above sea level, this is the highest golf course on the planet. The club was founded in 1912 and the course established at the current site in the 1940s.
Luther Koontz, an American associate of the great Dr Alister MacKenzie, was responsible for the design and it’s a pretty memorable one. The terrain is quite incredible, with canyons and cliffs to negotiate. The island tee on the 12th is reached by two separate bridges.
Tom and Logan Fazio were asked to construct this golf course and they have created a design that uses the spectacular land to great effect. Combined with water features and importantly, the freedom to express themselves, Santapazienza is truly unique.
Be careful after putting out on the 5th though as the cart part to the next tee goes right into a lake. In fact there is a sturdy path just below the surface which gives the illusion you are driving on water!
Rio 2016 Olympic Course, Brazil
Built for the 2016 Olympic Games, this layout is located within the lush Marapendi Natural Reserve, and has a North American links feel to it.
Designer Gil Hanse embraced the openness of the land and the stiff breeze is often a troublesome foe.
The greens are firm, very large and mainly undulating, and when combined with the significant amount of bunkers and water, you’ll find it unforgiving to the average golfer.
Probably the most iconic golf course in Brazil, Terravista compares favourably to Pebble Beach. It’s remote location in the northern state of Bahia and spectacular clifftop setting make the arduous journey well worth it.
Sao Paolo, Brazil
Founded in 1902 by British railway engineers and designed by Stanley Thompson and Robert Trent Jones, this place has serious pedigree. Regularly rated in the top five in Brazil, the course conditions match its historic credentials. Located in the heart of the city and surrounded by a bubbling metropolis, the course is a sparkling oasis.
It’s a tight, surprisingly undulating parkland layout with water featuring regularly.
Established trees line the fairways and are a real feature – their vivid colours mean pleasant views in all directions.
Los Leones, Chile
Golf has been played on this land for nearly 90 years after Santiago Golf Club moved its location a couple of times. It is situated right next to one of Santiago’s major boulevards and has a truly eccentric and cosmopolitan feel to it.
The par-5 4th is particularly interesting as it measures 560 yards but goes in a dead straight line for its entirety. Never has it been more important to hit the ball straight!
El Rincon, Colombia
Thanks to being located in an area at 8600 ft with a tropical latitude, Bogota has one of the best climates in the world for golf.
As a result there are lots of golf courses in and around the city of Bogota in Colombia with El Rincon often recognised as the best of the lot.
Robert Trent Jones designed this world-class layout which hosted the World Cup in 1980.
Lomas De La Dehesa, Chile
The landscape here is dominated by one overwhelming feature. Looming to the east, the imposing Andes mountains tower 23,000ft above sea level, creating one of the most breathtaking vistas in South American golf. The severity of the terrain is obvious and feels like it casts a shadow over the fairways below.
The quiet course allows plenty of opportunities to take in the panorama and enjoy the walk. Precision is king here, as length is not a problem. The course is a mere 6,300 yards and at an elevation of 25,000ft, the ball will fly half a club further than usual.
Your mind may not immediately go to Ecuador when thinking about great golf but that shouldn’t be the case given the quality of Quito.
Established in 1947 it has a beautiful mountainous backdrop, and given you would be playing at 9,000 feet, you will be playing with the length of Rory McIlroy!
Uruguay may not be famed for its golf but there are several good courses worth any players attention. The Four Seasons resort at Carmelo has a really good American-style course whereas the purists may prefer the Alister MacKenzie design below.
Club de Golf de Uruguay, Uruguay
After completion of Cypress Point, MacKenzie was asked to travel to Argentina which was booming economically heading into the 1930’s.
Whilst there he produced several designs, one of which was extending the nine-holer at Club de Golf Uruguay, situated near the city of Montevideo, to 18 holes.
As expected with a MacKenzie design, it is aesthetically pleasing but challenging for any golfer who seeks to be adventurous and daring in their play.
Notable Mentions: Cordoba (Argentina), El Desafio (Argentina), Ellerstina (Argentina), Mar del Plata (Argentina), San Andres (Argentina), Nordelta (Argentina), Gavea (Brazil), La Serena (Chile),Patagonia Virgin (Chile), Valle Escondido (Chile), TPC Cartegena at Karibana (Colombia), Carlos Franco (Paraguay), Yacht and Golf Club (Paraguay), Lima (Peru), Los Inkas (Peru), Cantegril (Uruguay), Club de Golf del Cerro (Uruguay), Laginuta (Venezuela)
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