Iguassu Falls Golf Club lies in the rainforest between the spectacular Iguaçu Falls and the city of Foz do Iguaçu in the extreme west of Paraná, close to the Three Borders Landmark marking the point at which the national boundaries of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay converge.
The course is one of several sporting amenities within a 5-star resort that reopened in 2015 – architect Eric Larsen told us “it is basically a new course with several new holes and the remaining drastically modified” – and the layout is characterized by wide fairways and relatively small greens, placing a premium on good approach play.
Highlight holes include the par four 3rd (incorporating a split fairway), the downhill par three 7th, the par five 8th (where the fairway narrows markedly towards the green), the short par four 17th (doglegging uphill from the tee) and the short par five closing hole, which offers a good chance of ending the round with a birdie.
Managing Director Miguel Palhota kindly supplied us with the following:
In 2011 the Iguassu Resort was purchased by a wealthy Brazilian businessman to position the complex as one of the best in the country. When he bought the hotel, it had 80 rooms but currently it has more than 200.
The golf course was initially designed by a Japanese architect but the new owner decided to hire Erik Larsen, formerly with Arnold Palmer Design, in order to develop the real estate element of the project.
Due to the fact that the course is located very close to both Argentina and Paraguay, many golfers from those two countries participate in golf events organized by the club.
Located near Iguassu Falls, the history of this golf course is entwined with the history of tourism in the city and today probably writes its most important chapter.
When the GJP group acquired this property the plan arose to launch a housing development in the space of the old golf course, to accommodate this change of course and style they were fortunate enough to hire Erik Larsen the renowned American architect.
Erik has worked for more than 25 years at Arnold Palmer Design, as well as being president of the Golf Architects Association of the United States and responsible for renovating courses such as Bay Hill and Pebble Beach.
The course an example of what a good architect can do with a property even without spending a ton of money. Opened in 2015, the course caters for all levels of golfer, from beginner to professional, which is a tremendous victory for a resort golf course.
The front nine starts with a straight par 4 with a bunker defending the left half of the fairway hindering the first shot but the wide green makes it an interesting starting hole. Things start to heat up at the second hole, a short par 4 with a pond defending the entrance of the green where players can choose between a 3 iron to the middle of the fairway, a 3 wood to the left of the lake or a difficult driver to the green where the ball must carry at least 290 yards.
The third hole is also an interesting par 4 with bunkers dividing the fairway where players can opt for an easier shot on the left or try to cross over the bunkers to a higher plateau where the green is also found. These are strategic holes that make the start of the front nine extremely pleasurable.
If the first nine is more technical it’s the second nine where distance starts to be the differential, a good example is hole 12, the hardest on the course, a long par 4 measuring 470 yards with a hidden lake on the left side of the fairway. For this hole a good drive is imperative for those who aim to reach the green in two.
Unlike the front nine these holes are wider which allows the player to hit aggressively practically all the time.
At the end of the back nine the players with less distance are rewarded with two short holes at #17 a par 4 of 350 yards and at #18 a par five of 508 yards that’s slightly downhill.
The 18th is a nice finishing hole because with a good drive almost all players will have the distance to risk a second shot to the green, opening the possibility of a great score to finish their round. Who does not like to end a game with a birdie?
This course is still under development and with proper care and due investment in grass and bunkers has the potential to be one of the best courses in the region and in the country.
So on your next visit to the Falls, pack your clubs and enjoy a nice round of golf.