The course at Llao Llao Golf Resort hosted the Argentinean PGA match Play in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Holes 10 and 14 feature Nahuel Huapi Lake which provides a unique golfing landscape.
Luther Koontz laid out the original front nine holes in 1940 and the second nine was added fifty-four years later in 1994 by Emilio Serra.
"Half an hour past Bariloche," commented Tom Doak in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses, "Llao Llao (pronounced "zhow zhow") is a grand hotel and resort overlooking Nahuel Huapi Lake and mountains beyond.
Its original nine holes are set on a wooded peninsula just past the hotel, with a daunting 220-yard finishing hole over an arm of the lake; but the rest of the holes are squeezed in fairly tightly. The newer nine holes at the foot of the hotel are much less appealing, apart from the narrow par-4 10th around a bay, and the short 11th from a high tee back to a cozy pro shop."
The whistling wind is whipping over the vast glacial lake, sending sea like waves shh-ing onto the stoney shore below. The busy trees whinny and sway as I send my ball in a futile gesture toward a towering horizon it will never climb above. At this altitude it looks almost weightless in flight. Brilliant against the verdant slopes. Floating like a condor before finally giving up the fight; coming down to the deep emerald green splendour of the immaculate first fairway that snakes down and up again to the parapet green 500 yards away around the gentle dogleg. Following the curves to the right is the inlet on which Llao Llao langours by the lake.
I’ll have to cross that inlet with a long iron I suppose? for the par three 18th.
What a mystical place to play golf. I’ll forgive the four or five holes on the front nine that are in front of the majestic hotel, for being more filler than killer.
There are though, perhaps four or five holes that you just won’t forget. It isn’t long, it’s an easy walk, despite the undulating ground that sits between two mesmeric lakes surrounded by the high mountains. The greens were fantastic. Surprisingly complex for a vacation friendly golf course. You don’t mind three putting here though. Who’s counting?
We reach the turn intoxicated by the epic scenery and fine mountain air as we slip back down to the shore. My Eyes narrow. Searching across the bay for a target. 355 is the direct carry. A little further left then. Success! I’m left with a nine iron. The next one must have hit a vortex? Or maybe it was a crap swing? You decide. But I fish my first ball precipitously from the cold crystal clear water that is 470 metres deep in places. I crunch back up to the green to play my second land-loving ball. A fine double bogey if ever there was one. More photos. Many more photos.
The golf around the club house loops back around the first couple of holes nicely, through massively high trees and without too much drama until you reach the 18th. I imagine this is what Cypress point feels like?
I complete my days golf with a simple but delicious lunch in the club cottage. It feels like Gretal freed Hansel in it, or maybe Frodo stopped here on his epic journey? It’s cute and cosy. Alpine style.
I sit with a beer and a lomo de bife, drinking in the vista of the snow-capped peaks and contemplate a night In Bariloche, the lively frontier town I am based in. It’s lake side centre is full of superb restaurants enjoyed by vibrant outdoorsy people, mingling in the microbrewery bars and recounting the varying adventures of the day.
River plate wins the copa libertadores in extra time and suddenly a carnival spills onto the streets and the town is painted red and white for the night. It turns out that soccer is quite popular in South America.
Eventually, I prize myself away from the brewery pub in which I have been drinking some fine IPA, whilst chatting to some wind blushed German back packers, here for the hiking, and I retire to my suite overlooking the lake and set my alarm for Arelauquen the next day. Fantastico.
JCB LAY Instagram: the_barefoot_golfer