Golf isn’t necessarily a sport that’s often linked with South America but you may be interested to find that South America does have some of the world’s most interesting golf courses, some of them with a considerable history.
Lima Country Club and Golf Course, Lima, Peru.
Lima Country Club is an institution for the city’s wealthy elite. Once located outside the city it has long since been gobbled up by the ever expanding metropolitan area of Lima. The Country Club is now one of Peru’s best hotels and houses one of the country’s best restaurants. The Club itself has been declared a Peruvian Cultural Monument.
The golf course remains and operates separately to the country club hotel. Surprisingly it’s actually the oldest of all the golf courses on the Pacific rim, pre-dating any courses on the west coast of the US, Asia, Mexico, Chile, Australia or New Zealand. Walking into the club is like walking back centuries – it’s not quite the Royal and Ancient at Saint Andrews but I would suggest it’s the closest thing to it in the Americas. Enormous Conquistador Oil Paintings adorn the walls aligned with ornate dark stained timber – truly from a by gone era.
La Paz Golf Course, La Paz, Bolivia.
Bolivia is one of the least developed countries in South America and as a result golf is played very little and there are not many golf courses. In fact, there is only one golf course in all of Bolivia – but what a beauty she is.
At over 3,342 meters above sea level the golf course is the highest in the world. Owing to the higher altitude, the air is of course thinner, which in turn means that the average tee shot with a driver will travel around 50 metres further than it would at sea level.
The altiplano area where the course is located is generally very dry, but the course is diligently watered and considering it is the only course in the country the groundkeeper does very well to keep the course in a respectable condition.
The clubhouse facilities are also better than you’d expect. Certainly a course worth ticking off your golfing bucket list.
Ushuaia Golf Course, Ushuaia, Argentina
This club may not be one of the world’s best golf courses but then again you wouldn’t expect it to be considering it’s almost literally at the end of the world. At only 1000 kms (600 miles) from Antarctica this is the most Southerly Golf Course in the world. This golf course have a very remarkably large area and different kinds of challenges offered to players. You will really think about the longevity of spikeless shoes you use when you play here since walking from point to point is a more pleasant experience than the club car because of the beautiful natural view of the place.
So it goes without saying that you should only consider playing this course in the Southern Hemisphere summer, and even then make sure you bring several layers of warmth – Ushuaia can be barely above 0 degrees Celsius even on a summer day.
The course itself is reasonably unremarkable. Ushuaia would have been the perfect town for a challenging links course along the Beagle Channel but alas the course is tucked away inland from Ushuaia along a small creek bed.
I think a golfing tourist may be disappointed if he or she flew all the way to Ushuaia just to play the course. Ushuaia is the gateway to Antarctica tourism so if you’re ever in town for an Antarctica cruise then I’d suggest it’s worth heading out and playing at least nine holes so that you can have bragging rights for having played at the most Southerly golf course in the world.
Llao Llao Golf Course, Bariloche, Argentina
Llao Llao golf course has been an institution in Argentina for some time. It certainly doesn’t carry the pedigree of Lima golf club or even well-established Buenos Aires clubs such as Pilar Golf Club. What Llao Llao does offer though is possibly one of the most scenic backdrops of any golf course in the world.
The Llao Llao resort and golf course is located just outside of Bariloche and sitting on the shoreline of Lago Nahuel Huapi. The surrounding area is known as the Switzerland of the South because its stunning thickly wooded, jagged peaks, interwoven with a series of tranquil lakes certainly make it a postcard perfect location.
The main lodge of Llao Llao has a stunning outlook over Lake Nahuel Huapi and makes for possibly one of the most stunning 19th holes to enjoy an icy gold beer post game.
Gavea Golf Club, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The most famous (and expensive) course in Rio is Gavea Golf Club, located in Sao Conrado. The course is framed by ocean, Gavea Rock, and Two Brothers Mountains. The first nine holes are essentially carved into the side of the mountain so it certainly makes for a different playing experience.
Itnahanga Golf Club, which is not far from Gavea, is probably in terms of playing a better course, and has actually held PGA and LPGA events in the past.