Originally formed as Santiago Golf Club in 1910, the club moved location a couple of times before finally settling in the foothills of Cerro San Luis in 1934 when several Los Leones members (including Alex MacDonald who later fashioned the course at Rocas de Santo Domingo) set out an 18-hole course.
The layout has been significantly modified a number of times down the years, most notably by Eduado Costabal in 1950 , Bobby Muller in 2002 and more recently Mackenzie & Ebert.
The book 500 world’s greatest golf holes by author George Peper and the editors of GOLF magazine features the 560-yard par five 4th hole at Los Leones: “Upon first glance, this hole seems striking in its simplicity. However, its demand for precision quickly becomes apparent. The hole runs in a dead straight line for 560 yards. There is just one bunker, placed to the right of the putting green. Entry from the left is guarded by an enormous, perfectly placed tree. Just outside the course boundary and running the length of the hole’s right side is one of Santiago’s major boulevards. Walking up the fairway, the player has the unmistakable impression that this wonderful golf course is smack in the middle of one of the world’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan cities. While the green is reachable with two strong shots, they must be played to exact positions.”
Los Leones hosted the Eisenhower Trophy, the biennial world amateur championship for men, in 1998 when the four-man Great Britain and Ireland team held off a strong challenge from holders Australia to claim the silverware.
In 2006, the course was also selected as the venue for both the prestigious Copa los Andes amateur team event (a competition inaugurated by the club sixty years before) and the Chile Open, which was won by local professional Mark Tullo.
It was amazing to come back after almost 6 years from my last visit. The last one had been in Late October, warmer and with trees in bloom while this one was in early fall with perfect days of 23C and all the autumn colors in perfect blend with this fantastic course in the middle of the city.
The only main change did not happen on the course but under it: it was needed to widen the avenue that runs beside 4th hole and Government said they needed part of the golf hole! But many of the Members here are the most important businessmen in Chile and with their expertise in minery they found a way: they built a subterranean avenue which needed some parts of this fantastic par 5 but after finishing it the hole came back as it was. It is a good story to tell to first timers!
The course was in extremely good shape (it hosted the National Fourball Match Play final that same day), greens rolling extremely well, true and fast. And trust me they are a very big challenge, if not sharp with the putter this greens can put you KO in a few holes.
We played 2 rounds Friday and Sunday in 2 sunny days (it never rains in Santiago!) and then enjoyed that fantastic terrace with maybe the best food in the city (Try "Machas Parmesana" and "Barros Luco" Sandwich!).
There are many holes which are great, but the run from 10 to 15 is the best part of the course:
- 10th is a short par 4 but tee shot must be sharp and then green falls strong from back to front, if putting from above the hole it is going to be Formula 1 fast!
- 11th elevated tee par 3, with views of the city and a challenging distance to judge.
- 12th my favourite, flat tee shot and then a short iron to an elevated two platform green, where again putting from abovethe hole can be terrfying. You can even putt it 50yds off the green!
- 13th is the toughest in the course in my opinion, with a sharp tee shot which you need to cut yes or yes.
- 14th the green is 5mts higher than the tee but a short shot could come back 30yds off the green.
Back to back par 5s to end the round can bring surprises in your matches, both reachable. Take into account in the altitude of this city ball goes 10% longer.
It is extremely private, my club holds a reciprocal agreement and this is why we can come here a couple of times every year.
It hosted World Amateur in 1998 and the Club is one of the best in South America.
My Grandfather was Alex MacDonald, one of the original architects of the course. I have visited with my family but not played it as I am not a golfer! I recall a cup of his being kindly brought in a taxi for us to see! He also designed Santo Domingo, Pucon, Osorno, Los Incas in Peru and the Country Club in Santiago. Very interested in golf in Chile for obvious reasons and would love to visit again in the future...
I have played this course many times, the first one back in 1998 when our friends cup called Copa Molitor (similar to the Ryder Cup) started its history. Los Leones is not only a great golf course, very well mantained and with some of the toughest greens I have played, but also a great design and one of the best Golf Club facilities I have been to. The Club House is not only nice and luxurious but elevated facing 18th green and with some of the best food in the country. As my home course Golf Club Argentino enjoys reciprocity priviledges here We haven been able to play it many times.
The Course starts with two easy par 4s (if you don't miss the fairway!) and then headed to a great par 3 over the water. Par 5 4th hole is the longest and toughest with OB on the round all the way. Par 3 6th has the toughest to read green in the front 9, where par 4s 7-8 demand very precise tee shots to tricky green complexes. 9th hole is a double dogleg par 5 where if you go long it will be trouble and maybe OB. Starting back 9 we have short 10th where a small green is all the trouble you will find before the nicest stretch of holes (11-14): 11th elevated tee par 3 with a 30mts drop level, 12th a tough uphill par 4, then 13th a very tough tee shot leading to very nice 14th par 3 with the green elevated (don't miss right!). 15-16 two excellent par 4s before the end like Baltusrol as 17-18 are 2 great par 5s.
Los Leones is for sure the most exclusive golf course in Chile and the most fun to play. Very highly recomended!
Los Leones is the most exclusive club in Chile, and occupies a significant chunk of the most expensive real estate in Santiago. The course is encroached on all sides by a pulsating South American city, but inside represents a green oasis that is the preserve of the city's wealthiest citizens. The joining fee is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and that's only if an option if you are somehow connected to the clique set of families that rule this isolated country. Most of the city's residents will spend their lives looking at the club from the outside. The course is so close to the heart of the city's financial district that one of the main metro stations and barrios is named "El Golf"
The golf course is probably best Chile's most well manicured golf course and follows a rather dull parkland layout for the first holes, although the par-3 requiring a large lake carry to a remote green at the far end of the course is an exception to the norm. The following hole, a par 5, plays right along one of Santiago's busiest and most dangerous highways. Don't slice your drive!
The 10th through the 13th is the best section of the course. The 10th is a short par 4 climbs a foothill to a tiny raised green. The following par-3 plays from a raised tee to a tiny green down below. The 12th offer a similar challenge to the 10th to a tiny raised and deeply bunkered green that can be treacherous with a misplaced tee shot.
The pros who played Los Leones in perfect conditions in last year's PGA Tour Latinoamerica slaughtered the parkland layout with the winner recording a -24 winning score. A young Jordan Spieth is a former winner of the same event.
The clubhouse is an old-style American layout with a large veranda that is synonymous as the venue for some of Chile's most important business transactions. This is a great place to sample Chile's great fish and seafood, if you manage to get an invite.