Av Bernardo Márquez 1702,
- +54 11 4815 0561
15 km NW of Buenos Aires
Reciprocal - contact in advance
Edgardo A. Garat
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, 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 Red course played host to the World Cup of Golf in 1970 with the Australian team winning the team title after David Graham finished second and Bruce Devlin third. Argentinean folk hero Roberto de Vicenzo delighted the local crowds by winning the individual title and, in doing so, became a legend at the Jockey Club.
Perhaps the signature hole is the wonderful one-shot 17th which is a classic example of MacKenzie’s genius. The long, narrow and raised green is beautifully guarded on the left by two angled bunkers making the tee shot a serious challenge, especially when the pin is positioned on the left side.
Angel Cabrera thrilled the country when he won the 2001 Open de Argentina by two shots from Sweden’s Carl Pettersson. This was Cabrera’s first European Tour victory and the birth of another Jockey Club legend.
Spanish text below supplied by WeGolf Argentina
Muchos la llaman, la “joya de la arquitectura”, diseñada por Alister MacKenzie, también diseñador junto a Bobby Jones del Augusta National Golf Club. A tan solo 25 minutos del centro de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires, El Jockey Club se caracteriza por sus grandes greens en forma de platos invertidos y protegidos por grandes bunkers laterales. Posee una gran variedad de árboles, en su mayoría pinos, lo que no impide que en algunos hoyos su trazado sea abierto. Su similitud en algunos hoyos a canchas como St Andrews o North Berwick hacen que cada hoyo sea un difícil desafío pero a la vez entretenido. Es imperdible el hoyo 10 de la cancha colorada, un par 5 no muy largo pero que aun a los largos pegadores suele dar problemas. El green tiene una barranca muy pronunciada que rechaza los approachs que no se juegan con alta precisión.
Inaugurada en 1928, fue sede de la Copa del Mundo en 1962 y 1970, y del Abierto de la Republica en 16 ocasiones. También se disputo en ella el 100º Campeonato Argentino de Aficionados y el 100º Campeonato Argentino de Interclubes.
We were wondering how MacKenzie could do his architectural magic on such featureless terrain. It was working with drainage expert Koontz. All the flat land for the fairways was dug up to create swales and hollows. The excess soil was then used to create humps and bumps (and even an elephant) in the fairways and around the greens. MacKenzie’s inspiration for rumpled fairways at the Jockey Club was the Old Course in St. Andrews. (The Valley of Sin dip has been replicated here on #18 on Red.)
The rest of the excess soil was used to fashion all the greens, some with high elevation. We could immediately see we were going to experience the brilliance of MacKenzie green design (Augusta National and Crystal Downs come to mind). Club historian Pedro referred to “umbrella” greens at the Jockey Club.
There is a great variety of green shapes (wide, deep, shallow) and contours (false fronts and sides, two-tier, ridges, steep shoulders). They are medium to fairly large in size, averaging 32 yards in depth with the deepest 41 yards and shallowest 29 yards. There are no bunkers around two greens and a bunker in front of three others. The substantial short grass falloffs around all greens make for links-style recovery shots. New greens have been built on 5, 8 and 11.
The green that epitomized the design brilliance was on the short par-5 10th, which is only 470 yards through trees on both sides and a sharp dogleg to the right just before reaching the green. The very elevated green is shaped like an upside down “L” with a very steep false front. There is a huge bunker guarding the right side of the green with a steep false side flowing into the right edge of the green. It is a green that you will never forget. After playing my approach shot and finishing the hole I wished there was time for a replay. I wondered how many attempts would be necessary to execute a shot that stayed reasonably near the pin.
Another noteworthy aspect at the Jockey Club is the variety of beautiful tall mature trees around the English-style clubhouse and scattered around the course. Many are strategically placed so the trunks and overhanging branches affect shots.
This was my first experience on a MacKenzie course and I could not have asked for a better one because playing along my friend Javier at 8:30 on a Wednesday, with no one else in front, was a real treat.
In a few words I had a great time on the course, for sure there are some greens that are extreme like the 10th hole “The hole with no pars” but as I understand that is the idea of the architect, greens with lots of movements that will force you to use your imagination and allow you more than one way to play the shot.
For me it was especially pleasant because I prefer to use the ground game on my approach shots, and this is a course that at the right angles will enable or ask for that option something that is not very common these days.
I can say that the combination of fewer bunkers and more hills on the green complex was a great experience and I think modern architecture is going back to this style since huge bunkers defending the greens are no longer in fashion and I applaud that.
It´s impossible to end without mentioning the beautiful club house always present in the course where you can have a glimpse of golf history on the portraits of the great players that once shared this course with us.
Enjoy the experience, have fun and salute the great architect MacKenzie that showed us that golf can and should also be fun.
I think this is my first true Mackenzie Course. Now, I think if you dropped me onto any of his courses blindfolded, I think I would be able to tell you he designed it. It is a true test of technique, confidence and strategy.
Vast swathes of green only exist to carry the ball away from the hole. You had better approach from the right angle for an easier shot. The more out of position you are the harder it becomes. He has a design language all of his own and asks you a very different question to most other designers. The greens are contrived in every regard. Too bold? Hello big drop off. too shy? Back to your feet.
Once again the flat land on which the Jockey club sits demands design. Alister did not let them down. His little Islands of magnificent elegance represent green complexes that sit starkly on the plain. Take them away and you have 3 ball course. I soooo want another go though, you cant do well first time around. It is an education on your first trip.
Subtle, brutal, eloquent, I was not sure at first but by the end I was won over. I have now had a glimpse of what the fuss about Augusta, Cypress point etc is really all about. A player must think about the game in a completely different way here. A bold near miss will be very costly but a conservative strategy might avert disaster without yielding a great score. What would you do? instagram the_bareoot_golfer Huge Thanks to Lance, Dan and Josef. Brought together ona wonderful Day by, you guessed it, Javier of Wegolfargentina. Wow. What. A. Trip!
Just the day after playing the All Blacks in Nordelta I was hosted by member Mario to make Jeff "Goldie" Wilson, former All Black legend at the famous Red. The current players are not allowed to walk courses in competition season, but Goldie as a journalist yes! So I told the chance to make him experience our most traditional golf course, imagined by Dr Mackenzie 85 years ago.
It was a sunny day and member Jaime and Goldie tied a great match with Mario and Me, after we won the last two holes. Jeff, a good 5 hcp was -1 on 14th before 3 bogeys led him to a very good 74.
Course was in very good conditions, greens still with the mix of some rye grass rolling firm and at a very good speed. Trees starting to bloom so the scenery was excellent to show Jeff one of our jewels. And of course he tasted the 11th Hole Half Way hot dog, one of the trade marks of the Club.
I know it is said that the course has lost some of Mackenzie's original features due to excess of bunkers and trees, but the Club Committee is slowly taking it back where it should have not left.
Lunch at the Club House makes it a complete experience for visitors and Mario took care that Goldie had it in full visiting the entire Club House.
It is a course that may not be mantained as Augusta, challenging as Pine Valley or Scenic as Cypress Point but it holds a big piece of argentine golf history and it is well worth a visit!
The Jockey Club carries much history, cache in the local sporting scene, and atmosphere, which creates a great sense of occasion by the time one is on the first tee. To dispense with the qualifiers first, as is mentioned in reviews here and elsewhere, parts of the front nine are tight, maintenance could be touched up a bit befitting the club’s lineage and status (but, to be clear, the course I played was in good shape), and undoubtedly some of the architect’s detailed planning has been lost over years of maintenance. Now for the good part. What a course. The front starts out fine, then a lull, but the course picks up steam as you move along. In particular, holes 14 through 18 crescendo to a fantastic finish. Whether or not the design has been softened, you can feel an inspirational MacKenzie course beneath your feet, and on the back nine you can clearly see it. I flew a continent away to play this course, and it was worth the pilgrimage. I can’t imagine what they would have if the course engaged an expert to fully create and restore the MacKenzie design. On a side note, weirdly, my loafers went missing during the round, but my softspikes served me well walking through Palermo Soho later, all of which added to what was already a special day.