Top 40 Golf Courses of Argentina 2019
This is the fourth edition of our ranking chart for Argentina and we’ve now added another ten tracks to form a new Top 40. We’re indebted to our Argentina Correspondent, Javier Pintos, for his help with this expansion, allowing us to showcase an even wider selection of golf facilities in a country that occupies a mere 16% of the South American landmass while containing 49% of the continent’s courses.
Dwelling a little longer on the statistical side of things, apart from the ten new entries in our updated standings, we have another ten courses making an upward move, sixteen dropping down at least one place and only four remaining in the same position. The most significant of these non-movers is the Blanca & Colorada course at Olivos Golf Club, which remains our number 1 course in Argentina.
Designed by Luther Koontz – the American engineer turned architect who worked with Alister MacKenzie during his visit to South America in 1930 – the original 36-hole layout at Olivos has been transformed over time into a fabulous 27-hole facility, with the principal 18-hole course comprising the White and Red nines.
Our man Javier was here last year, calling it “one of the best maintained parkland courses in Latin America,” and “one of the best tests for amateur golfers” when it’s prepared for competition. Our International Correspondent David Davis also visited, saying that “everything from look, feel, atmosphere and general set up is that of one of the lovely old world classics you would find in the UK”.
Nonetheless, David was concerned about the apparent lack of a tree management program, which is now affecting playing strategy. He also thought the club might not fully realise its responsibility to ensure this Golden Age classic fully reaches its potential. In his opinion, what it might require is a person “to provide the course with the loving attention it needs and give it a thoughtful reno/restoration to finally take care of it for generations to come.”
Thankfully, we understand the club has now adopted a policy of planting no additional trees and those in place are slowly being thinned out, along with the removal of lower branches for those that remain.
For now, Olivos holds onto the #1 spot in Argentina but for how much longer is anybody’s guess.
At number 2, the Red course at the Jockey Club is the first of three highly-regarded layouts in Buenos Aries to make 3-position advances within the Top 10 of the new national table.
Designed by Alister MacKenzie (who also mapped out the Blue course for the club at the same location), the Red course is set on rather flat terrain which is far from the best ground ever given to the Good Doctor to fashion a golf course. Nonetheless, “the mounding around some of the greens has to be seen to be believed,” according to author Tom Doak in Volume 2 of his book The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses.
A recent reviewer thought it was “a true test of technique, confidence and strategy,” where the architect’s “little islands of magnificent elegance represent green complexes that sit starkly on the plain… a bold near miss will be very costly but a conservative strategy might avert disaster without yielding a great score.”
Also rising three places to number 8, we have the century-old course at San Andrés Golf Club, laid out by Mungo Park Jr. in 1907. Mungo, from Musselburgh’s famous Park family, arrived in Argentina in 1903, winning the first edition of the Rio de la Plata Open (the precursor to the Argentine Open) two years later. He would go on to win this event on another two occasions, with all his victories taking place at San Andrés. His wife, Grace, was also a good player, becoming the country's first Ladies' Open champion.
In the past, reviewers have called this an “old school city course [that has] the rich feel of a members club with much tradition” and “a real golf club [with] one of the best courses in the country”. The city of Buenos Aries has grown up round about the property but inside the perimeter fence you are totally unaware of the outside world – isn’t that the way it should always be, even within a big city?
The 18-hole layout at Nordelta Golf Club largely reverses a five-position fall the last time we re-ranked this country by climbing three places in the right direction to number 9. One of a handful of Nicklaus Design layouts to be found in Argentina, Nordelta was specifically built by senior designer Greg Letsche as a tournament track and it’s been used in recent years as a venue for both the Argentine Open and the Argentine Amateur Championship.
The course is the centrepiece of a gated community and it’s a challenging par 72 layout with typical Nicklaus features like waste areas, large lakes and multiple bunkers protecting the landing areas. Fairways are routed across former wetlands with holes that require precise play and more than a little patience if a decent score is to be achieved.
The highest new entry in our chart arrives at number 13 and it’s the new course at Ellerstina Polo, a facility that extends to nine polo fields, two of which were transformed (together with another small piece of land) into an innovative 32-acre golf course four years ago by architect Matthew Dusenberry. Author Tom Doak in Volume 2 of his book The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses calls it “a quintessential Porteño setting for golf” with “nine greens built around the perimeter of two old polo fields, and thirty bunkers set out to defend the greens from multiple angles…. altogether, it’s a near-perfect backyard design”.
Javier, in a recent 6-ball review, said it was “something you will find nowhere else in the world” while David, in another 6-ball review, called it “something completely new and exciting… what Dusenberry created is to say the least magnificent – in terms of land usage – and extremely unique… they created a highly undulated property full of short grass everywhere, making the game incredibly fun and all about finding the proper angles for approaches into greens based on the pin positions.”
Another new entry appearing at number 16 is the new Robert Trent Jones Junior-designed course at Termas de Rio Hondo Golf Club, which was profiled in the R&A publication Golf Around the World 2019:
“The high desert plain of South America known as the Gran Chaco can be a forbidding stretch of land. The arid soil and scorching temperatures – often reaching 115˚ (46˚C) in summertime – combine to stifle settlement and development. But among those oases of growth is the spa resort city of Termas de Rio Hondo in the province of Santiago del Estero.
And it’s here, 700 miles northwest of Buenos Aries, that glove-trotting architect Robert Trent Jones Jr. debuts his second course in South America and his first in Argentina – the 39th country in which he has worked.
The 235-acre golf course sits just west of town, straddling the Dulce River and just behind a dam that forms the Rio Hondo Reservoir. A walkway from the golf course brings city residents to a recently restored estuarial nature reserve. The golf course has been turfed in Paspalum – a turf type easily adaptive in the high desert conditions.”
Nicolas Iorio, partner with Javier at WeGolf and GIA (Golf in Argentina), attended the recent official opening day for this new golf facility and was very impressed by what he saw, remarking that it’s a serious contender for a slot in a South American Top 10. Now there’s another continental chart we must get around to compiling in the very near future…
As for the present, there are some new courses under development: Mendoza Norte Country Club in the Las Heras wine region will provide a high quality golf product; Estancia El Terron by Tom Weiskopf in Córdoba is due to officially open in November with 12 holes already fully playable; and La Providencia Resort & Country Club by Vicente Fernandez in Buenos Aries enjoys a lovely location and it should feature in the next ballot.
There are also plans in progress for course upgrades and redesigns by international golf course architects which will hopefully raise the level of the golf offering in and around the capital. Golf in Argentina has made great advances in the new millennium. Apart from a couple of links layouts by the ocean, the country had only one old-school parkland courses to attract golfers to the game up until the arrival of Robert von Hagge’s 27-hole complex at Buenos Aries Golf Club in 1994.
In the last couple of decades, renowned architects like Jack Nicklaus, Bob Cupp, Greg Norman, Robert Trent Jones Jr., Tom Weiskopf, Matt Dusenberry and Randy Thompson have added contemporary layouts to widen the choice of golf courses for the more discerning golf tourist in the modern era.
That’s why WeGolf re-branded last year, becoming Golf in Argentina.com, with the launch of a new logo, website and social media channels to keep up to date with the dynamic changes in the local golf market. The intention is to attract more golfers from every corner of the world who will enjoy a destination which is not only golf-related, but a complete vacation experience.
|1||Olivos (White & Red)||No change|
|2||Jockey Club (Red)||Up 3|
|4||Buenos Aires (Green & Yellow)||Down 2|
|5||Potrerillo de Larreta||Down 2|
|6||Mar del Plata (Playa Grande)||No change|
|7||El Desafío||No change|
|8||San Andrés||Up 3|
|11||Pueblo Estancia La Paz||Down 3|
|14||Los Canales de Plottier||Up 3|
|16||Termas de Río Hondo||New entry|
|17||San Isidro||Up 1|
|19||Jockey Club (Blue)||Up 1|
|20||Highland Park||Up 3|
|23||Valle del Golf||Down 8|
|25||La Estancia de Cafayate||Down 4|
|27||Las Praderas de Luján||Up 1|
|28||Pilar (Blue & White)||Down 4|
|29||Miramar Links||New entry|
|30||Los Lagartos||Down 1|
|32||La Cumbre||New entry|
|33||Llao Llao||Down 3|
|34||Sierra de la Ventana||New entry|
|35||Costa Esmeralda||New entry|
|36||San Eliseo||Down 9|
|37||Lomas Athletic Club||New entry|
|38||Alta Gracia||New entry|
To view further details of our Top 40 Golf Courses of Argentina click the link.
If you’d like to comment on these revised national rankings then please do so via the “Respond to this article” link at the top or bottom of this page. It’s always good to receive feedback when we update our charts so we’re happy to have you contact us if you’ve something you’d like to say.
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