Regina Dvorak, a journalist for Simply Golf, one of the leading German magazines about this sport, visited us in March 2019 and published this article about her trip to Argentine Patagonia.
From the link you can access the pages of the magazine, in its original language.
We hope you enjoy it as much as she did!
To view the original pages of the magazine in PDF, click here.
DON’T CRY FOR ME, PATAGONIA
Golf at the quite other end of the world
How to get the idea to play golf in Patagonia? Quite simply: driven by thirst for adventure, curiosity and longing for diversity. That’s how it is for me at least. For you it will probably be up on this fine travelogue.
Admittedly – for a few rounds of golf, even if they are dramatically beautiful, Patagonia is quite far away. In combination with lifestyle, sports, culinary and natural spectacles of all kinds, Argentina is just the right hot spot for golf adventurers, hedonists and lovers of breathtaking scenery. Great, unforgettable impressions are waiting and the golf is unparalleled.
The right preparation
It is extremely unreasonable to travel to Argentina for golf at random. I’m generally a happy individual traveler, but the decision to go into the comfort of an excellent local golf tour operator in this case was definitely the right one. When it comes to travel, I do not think that optimization is the appropriate mantra, but to make sure that you can see and do exactly the things that bring you the most joy and fulfillment during your time and for adequate capital I think that makes sense. Despite a thorough initial study of the topic, one can not imagine how unbelievably many different options the country holds. So it is important to ask the right questions in advance. And unfortunately, according to the exclusion principle.
For example:”Rather cultural-cosmopolitan golf or rougher & tougher?”Rather more or even more sensational wines and steaks before and after the game?»Better more Andean outlook or more tango scene in the evening?»Do you prefer golfing & fly fishing or golfing & trekking?»Rather kneeling in Cordoba (for Austrians) or getting wet in Iguazu?»Want to discover World’s End or make a detour to Uruguay?»Loose your return ticket or return home?
For me it is the love of spectacular mountain panoramas that determines my itinerary. Of course, Buenos Aires has to be there, then it’s off to the mountains and the south to fully enjoy the Andes. Finally, I want to warm up in Iguazu.
The diverse golf
The first golf bag came in the luggage of Henry Smith in 1879 directly from Scotland to Argentina. Since then, more than 300 golf courses have sprung up, all of which stand out for their grandiose setting. The variety varies from the many courses of the wide plains around Buenos Aires with their natural lakes and rivers, the links courses on the Atlantic, the courses surrounded by vineyards at Mendoza over the places of the wonderful mountain world of Cordoba to the breathtaking natural beauties that the golf courses in Patagonia. Even if golf is the only choice, the agony of choice is an integral part of travel planning.
Three of the courses around Buenos Aires (Jockey Club, Olivos and Buenos Aires GC) are regularly in the Top 100 of the best golf course lists. While that’s by far not all the courses which are worth playing, they are one of the great highlights when traveling to Argentina. For this reason alone, it is advisable to plan a few days in the capital. In addition, Buenos Aires is a outstanding city in itself and is now one of my absolute favorite cities. These three prestigious courses have cult status and challenged names like Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Byron Nelson, Sergio Garcia, Tiger Woods and more. This feels good for me, cause my partly manageable score hurts less against this background. But I also have good excuses: The places are incredibly beautiful, they need full dedication, offer, especially in the case of the Buenos Aires GC, particularly much water and my travel companion Lucas is so funny that my concentration suffers a little bit. In addition, I am distracted by extraordinary things such as the hundreds of unknown birds and plants, capybaras (quasi very, very large guinea pigs) and turtles, which we constantly encounter. Each of the three courses makes my heart beat, this is really big golf.
San Martin de los Andes – Chapelco
Next Stop: San Martin de los Andes – that already sounds like a great adventure. When approaching, I am then briefly confused by the fact that until 3 minutes before landing I see only desert. But this fear disappears soon as the view of the mountains and lakes, that accommodate the place so picturesque, is showing up. The airport is tiny, charming and perfectly suited to San Martin de los Andes, which reminds a bit of Schladming. The Chapelco Resort, my home for the next two days, is very impressive. Not only because I feel like I’m the only guest at the five-star Loi Suites Hotel and lovingly cared for, but also because every look is sincere. Across the golf course you can see the Andes. And indeed from everywhere. The Chapelco course designed by Jack Nicklaus winds its way relaxed and perfectly into the landscape embedded in the forests of the National Park and keeps me on the right track. The sometimes narrow fairways and fast greens compete with the great scenery to my full attention. In the relaxed clubhouse it glees especially fine with Christian Müller, the local headpro who moved from Germany to Argentina because of love and has, understandably, when you’re sitting here on the beautiful terrace, no regrets a day.
My personal golf highlight of the journey. Some people have already told me enthusiastically about El Desafio (“the challenge”) and I can only say that they are all right. Not only is Argentina’s incumbent president playing regularly here, but just anyone who’s up for something has been there. The setting is pretty unusual. A luxury mountain resort is planned but not yet built. A small welcome hut, the lonely polo field and the nine holes planned by Greg Norman are the vanguard. Thierry Doulut, the head greenkeeper of the course, gives me the honor to play the round of golf with me. In his pick-up we drive the steep gravel road uphill for felt some hours to finally park in front of two containers connected by a tarpaulin, which are currently the clubhouse. Yes, this is exactly what my Patagonia adventure should feel like! What can I say? The nine holes are amazing. Located in the middle of the mountains, breathtakingly beautiful, ingeniously designed and with the most spectacular views imaginable. In addition, Thierry, who has built and planned golf courses all over the world, tells me that El Desafio is the first fully organic golf course in South America. No chemicals are used and the water comes exclusively through the natural gradient. Nevertheless, or because of that, the whole place looks well maintained and plays extraordinary well. With the buggies you should not be squeamish by the way, the paths between the holes are far and fell like very bad hiking trails, but you can meet animals like Eagles and enjoy the magnificent scenery along the way.
The next highlight is the drive from San Martin de los Andes to Bariloche along the 7-Lakes route. One national park joins the other, and after each bend, the view is actually a little more beautiful than before. Fortunately, Josè stops with me at almost all vantage points. You are never in a hurry in Patagonia. And nowhere it’s run over.
After a good 7 hour drive for the 200 km we arrive at the famous Llao Llao Resort, which spearheads the luxury hotel industry in South America. English Golf Hospitality Meets Swiss Ski Hotel Luxury. The house and the associated golf course are located at the intersection of three huge lakes and that’s what makes the location so magnificent. In addition, there is the 360 ° view of the Andes, glaciers and lakes – and that already at the breakfast table. Speaking of breakfast: That’s absolutely awesome. The golf course on the lake has a very, very nice old and a somewhat manageable new part, is relatively short, mostly windy and sometimes very tricky. Amazingly, I play during the club championship, my flight partners are the only two ladies in the club, in total there are almost sixty members. Special sporting ambition is therefore hardly noticeable to the ladies, the ladies’ championship rating should be assured.
Even better than Llao Llao I personally like the Arelauquen Golf and Country Club. 15 minutes from Bariloche is the less known course in a beautiful valley surrounded by the high Andean peaks. Here pure golf is played. Narrow, hilly fairways, small, fast greens and dazzling par 3 holes with great panoramas make up the perfectly groomed course. He is not too difficult to play, but with the lonely location and great peace that the space exudes, he is a definite must. The rest of my time in Bariloche I spend exploring the sensational area, enjoying the beautiful hotel with its beautiful scenery and shopping: this place consists almost entirely of chocolate shops and, cause of its importance as a hiking and skiing El Dorado, sports shops. Accordingly, the souvenirs for my children are chocolate and ski socks.
THE NON-GOLF BUCKET LIST
Personally, I continue to El Calafate to hike the incredible El Chalten, visit the Perito Moreno Glacier and then spend a week in one of Chile’s most famous national parks, Torres del Paine, to fully live out my trekking desires. Then I stand speechless in front of the Iguazu Falls and the wonderful Hotel El Pueblito. It’s 30 ° C more than in Chile and everything here is incredibly awesome again, albeit very different from yesterday. The deepest jungle and hundreds, on average 70 meters high, waterfalls, expect me here. Indescribable. This is my personal non-golf bucket list. However, yours could look completely different. What should definitely be a fixture is Buenos Aires. The completely different neighborhoods, each in its own way, sparkle with charm: Bocca is the colorful, Italian neighborhood on the old port, San Telmo offers endless tango options, nightlife & antiques, Recoleta is beautiful and distinguished, Palermo Hollywood and Palermo Soho have their names not by coincidence. No matter what you are interested in, Buenos Aires has it.
In addition to golf, Argentina has so much more to offer than I imagined before traveling, and is currently surprisingly cheap for Europeans due to the high inflation rate. It is no coincidence that the country has been named one of the best golf destinations in the world, even if it is a long way from our point of view.
So: Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina – I’ll be back soon.
SIMPLY GOOD 2 KNOW
The partner of our choice: patagoniagolf.com
Twenty years of experience, the fifth time in the World Golf Awards awarded as Argentina’s Best Tour Operator, incredibly professional yet highly personal. All information about the Hot Spots and hotels as well as useful weblinks can be found at www.simplygolf.at