El Potrerillo de Larreta is located in the heart of Argentina within foothills of the Sierras Chicas de Córdoba near to the town of Alta Gracia (meaning High Grace). Argentina’s third largest airport, Córdoba (COR), more commonly known as Pajas Blancas, is conveniently positioned just thirty kilometres to the northeast of Alta Gracia. The resort offers a pick up service where guests can be flown by helicopter from the airport directly to the hotel in a thrilling 15-minute flight.
16 light and spacious bedrooms are located within the colonial-styled homestead, which was built in 1924. The Larreta suite features a spacious double superior bedroom with separate living room (with fireplace), bathroom and balcony where breakfast can be taken while soaking up the bucolic views across the estancia. Each room has a fireplace and/or heating and air conditioning, WiFi and mini-bar. Several rooms have balconies while some ground floor rooms have their own covered patio areas. Each room is furnished in a period style, in harmony with the property’s Jesuit heritage, but each room is also very comfortable and delightfully relaxing.
The primary à la carte restaurant is located in the main house where its menu of gourmet cuisine, complemented by delicious homemade dishes, has been lovingly created by Chef Salvia Miranda and her experienced team. An extensive cellar of fine Argentinean wines will satisfy even the most discerning sommelier.
Chef Salvia Miranda is also responsible for the cuisine that’s served in the impressive new clubhouse, which opened in 2014 and was designed by architects Claudia Mestre and Ignacio Zuberbuhler Larreta. Set majestically atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the 9th and 18th holes, the clubhouse is every bit as popular as the main restaurant where the open-fired asador a la llama and barbecue are both located adjacent to the covered veranda and terrace.
The 17th century Jesuit mountain town of Alta Gracia is set around a reservoir where the estancia’s most famous sight is the church, known as Iglesia Parroquial Nuestra Señora de la Merced, which was built to impress by the Jesuit fathers during the country’s colonial Catholic past. Just off the town’s central plaza along one of the winding streets, you’ll find the house (now a museum) where the revolutionary Che Guevara spent his adolescence. Alta Gracia forms part of the Jesuit Block and Estancias of Córdoba, which was designated UNESCO World Heritage status in 2000. The town is an emerging destination in its own right where lively bars, restaurants and even the Sierras Casino juxtapose with the town’s religious history. Alta Gracia is the ideal location from which to explore the ancient mountains of the Sierras Chicas.
The estancia (ranch or estate) of El Potrerillo de Larreta is set in 420 acres of truly stunning countryside in an area which is blessed with a climate that’s ideal for year-round golf. The club has 30 golf carts, but the course is easily walkable and top-end rental clubs are available for both men and women. Head Professional Damian Lucero runs the golf academy with the driving range catering for hitting from turf supplemented by covered bays with mats. It's the perfect facility for experienced golfers to practice and for beginners to begin their golfing love affair.
Two clay tennis courts (and rackets) are available for guest use with lessons available throughout the year. The large outdoor swimming pool (with bar service from October to April) takes full advantage of the estancia’s delightful hillside views. Special rental rates are available for scenic tours over the province in the resort’s own helicopter where keen anglers can be transported to the best fly fishing locations in the region. Complimentary mountain bikes are freely available for rides around the estancia and beyond, where experienced riders can find thrilling hill paths.
The resort can arrange guided pony trekking where the estancia’s extensive network of lanes and hills can be enjoyed from the saddle. Some who like things a little faster (and noisier) may prefer the Driver’s Experience, a high performance automotive thrill at the nearby Oreste Berta circuit.Guests who prefer peace and quiet may enjoy reading a book in the comfortable outdoor seating areas and courtyards. The resort’s small onsite chapel, which dates back to 1927, is still used for special services and baptisms.
The 420-acre estate of El Potrerillo was an integral part of a substantial land holding that belonged to the Jesuit Estancia of Alta Gracia until 1918 when the famous Argentine novelist Enrique Larreta purchased it. Larreta and his family loved the El Potrerillo estancia and its delightful climate and later built an impressive two-storey main house in the typical Spanish colonial style.
Larreta’s grandson, Ignacio Zuberbuhler, inherited the property, and in 1995, with the help of his sons, he began a family project to create a world-class golf resort and country club. “Though they did have the help of two Argentine designers, Angel Reartes and Marcos Capdepont, the Zuberbuhlers were instrumental in the routing of the course and even shaped the greens and bunkers themselves.” Wrote Tom Doak in The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses (Volume 2). “For better and for worse, the course is a family design as much as any I’ve seen.”
Listed by Doak in “The Gourmet’s Choice” alongside Cypress Point, Seminole and Teeth of the Dog, as one of his eighteen favourite courses in The Americas (Winter Destinations), El Potrerillo de Larreta has received the highest possible review ratings in our golf courses section since we first listed the layout in 2013.
Javier Pintos, our Argentina Correspondent, has played here at Alta Gracia on numerous occasions: “The course was designed by local architects but as devoted golfers and great players, Javier and Alejandro have been improving the course and the experience every year. We bring our “La Copa Molitor” Ryder Cup format competition here every year and the experience just gets better every time as the course matures and the maintenance improves. The new clubhouse and the hotel offer the highest quality experience not only for golfers, but also for non-golfers. You can bring your wife and she will be very happy while you spend some time on the course.”
“The course works because the estancia is an almost perfect piece of land for golf” continues Tom Doak. “There are several valleys just wide enough for a fairway to run between the hills, and they merge together as they run to the lower part of the property to provide a good transition from one to another without having to climb up and over the ridges in between. This is one of the most natural routings I’ve seen.”
“Indeed, I like the routing of the course so much that I can overlook the fact that the greens shaping and bunkering adds nothing at all to the course… it’s the only course listed among our favourites that doesn’t have an excellent set of greens. If it did, it would be one of the best courses in the world, instead of just one of the best in South America.”
A couple of streams come into play at more than half the holes on the card and the meandering waters are first confronted at the par five 2nd, where both the drive and the approach shot have to negotiate the first creek as it twice cuts across the fairway between tee and green. A similar scenario occurs again at the par four 6th, par five 8th and par four 11th holes.
“The Zuberbuhlers are very good golfers,” Tom Doak goes on to say, “and they were excited rather than repelled by all of the forced carries over streams that would be required by the ground… fourteen times all told! Most architects would have told them to soften this aspect of the course, which makes it quite difficult for the lesser player, but instead the family embraced the challenge and made that part of the course’s character.”
“Could the layout be improved? Of course!” says Javier. "Some cross-bunkers could be removed and in some places fewer trees would not only give better views but also more width. Is it that good? Yes! It’s definitely a must play for every golfer wishing to complete the greatest courses in the world. Is it worth a golf trip? Absolutely!”
We’ll let Tom Doak have the final word. “It is one of the most comfortable retreats one could hope to find, and it would likely be the first place I’d take my wife if I go back to Argentina someday, secure in the knowledge that the golf course wouldn’t be too hard for her… because she doesn’t play the game.”