The Jockey Club at Buenos Aires is located at San Isidro and it’s an exclusive club that attracts the capital’s best-heeled golfers as well those more interested in horse racing and polo. Founded way back in 1882 (by former national president Carlos Pellegrini), the Jockey Club started out in life as an organisation to control horseracing at a national level, as well as an active social centre.
There are two courses at the Jockey Club, the Red (Colorada) and the Blue (Azul), both of which were designed by Alister Mackenzie and both opened for play in 1935, a year after his death.
The Blue course has a split personality – holes 3 to 7 are separated from the all other holes, lying across the street beside the Jockey Club’s horseracing track and holes 4, 5, 6 and 7 are protected by water hazards. The rest of the Blue course is very similar in style to the Red, where mature trees flank many of the fairways.
Undeniably this layout is the understudy to the Jockey Club’s Red course, but the Blue’s back nine is considered by some to be better than the Red’s front nine.In Volume 2 of The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses by Tom Doak, the author commented as follows: “Unfortunately the Blue course at Jockey is the scapegoat child of the family; they neglect the course whenever the budget is tight, and the up and down nature of the Argentine economy means it is neglected most of the time. Members say the back nine of the Red and the back nine of the Blue are the club’s best eighteen holes, though the long 8th here deserves special mention. I do wonder if there’s a composite routing that would increase the challenge for big events.”
At 2:30 p.m. we are on the Blue course which is 6,378 yards par 72. Besides the golf, the highlight of the afternoon was Clasby and McCoy zipping around the course on Bravo 3-wheel electric scooters (see picture below). They certainly worked nicely on flat ground. I would like to test them out on my mountainous Boothbay Harbor course in Maine.
For the most part the Blue course looks and plays like the Red course. There are 30 bunkers. The magnificent greens average 30 yards in depth with the longest at 37 yards and shortest at 20 yards. All the greens on the Blue are the original design.
Unfortunately, there is one problem with playing the Blue. From the second green you cross a busy road to get to holes three through seven. Playing this part of the course is a shock to the system. After encountering no water hazards on the other 31 holes, you find four ponds here affecting shots on all five holes. The real problem is that the architecture is so out of character with the rest of the course. I am amazed that MacKenzie had anything to do with these holes.
We finished in lovely early evening shadows. We were tired but extremely satisfied at having had another brilliant Alister MacKenzie experience. He is my all-time favorite golf course architect.
The Blue Course stands there as many other "little sisters" in the USA and UK like Oak Hill West, Merion West, Winged Foot East, New Course St Andrews and more. It was co built with the Red and Mackenzie thought both back 9s to be the Central Championship Course.
It has the only co joint greens Alister built in his career (9-19) and many nice features used in many of his other courses. 13 holes stand in the same piece of land as the Red while 3 to 7 you have to cross a highway (like Oakmont) and they are adyacent to the Race track and are said to be the weaker and less Mackenzie holes.
Another thing this course has is it has been taken away from original Mackenzie with bunkers not soposed to be there (they just erased a cross bunker on 8) and a much needed tree management program. Also holes 12-13-17 are not the original fairways he thought and would need many trees to be removed for them to play as they were created.
But it is still a Mackenzie Course, many very good holes and challenging greens and for any visitor it is special to be at Jockey Club. It has even open medal play tournaments on Thursdays for local visitors (you need an Argentine Handicap).
To get it closer to Red it needs some extra length on all four par 5s, some other extra yards on par 4s, bunkering and tree management but it is worth the visit, at least once.
Local Members state hole 8th on this course is the best one on the 36 holes, a great dog leg to the right with the sharpest green and the toughest to hold approach shots.