Golf World Amateur Team Championships – Men Eisenhower Trophy presentation

Golf World Amateur Team Championships continue in Buenos Aires with the Men competing for the EISENHOWER TROPHY

On Sunday the 70 teams started practicing in both Buenos Aires Golf Club and Olivos Golf Club expecting to get to Sunday with a chance to win the Eisenhower Trophy, while Scotland will defend the title with three great players like Michael Stewart, Ross Kellett and James Byrne.

Argentine team led by Michael Leeson aim to improve the fifth place obtained in 1958 and 1972 (also playing as host), their best performances in the history of the WATC. Emiliano Grillo, Jorge Fernandez Valdes and Tomas Cocha represent Argentina’s Golf Association, co-hosting the event with the International Golf Federation.

Today Tuesday 6:00pm. at the Olivos Golf Club was held the Opening Ceremony of the World Amateur Team Championship, presenting the Eisenhower Trophy which will crown a new champion this Sunday. Althoug the USA appear to be the most favorite, Sweden, Scotland, France, South Africa, Australia and Argentina, emerge as serious rivals.

But for this impressive show of golf is necessary to carry out the contribution of the sponsors, which helped to make it possible-

The Ministry of Tourism of the Nation was the first sponsor to confirm their participation by management of the Minister Enrique Meyer and Susan Marples, coordinator of INPROTUR Golf Product (Tourism Institute). The task of INPROTUR has grown greatly in recent years to show the world the benefits of our wealth of tourism, and sport has been one of the channels of communication used: golf, running, polo, tennis, Dakar, etc. Argentina won the IAGTO award “Undiscover Golf Destination of the year” 2010 and “Golf Destination of the year” Latin America and Caribbean in 2008.

Both the Buenos Aires Golf Club and the Olivos Golf Club are located in the Province of Buenos Aires. Consequently, the Ministry of Tourism of the province, also participates as Main Sponsor, the highest category in this World Cup. And will also sponsor the 2010 Argentina Open to be played at the Jockey Club Red Course in San Isidro.

The world’s leading brand Titleist is an official sponsor of the WATC, as well as of the AAG. Rolex, through an international agreement created by the AAG, became the official timekeeper as major professional and amateur tournaments in the world, sanctioning the event.

Those colleagues who want to be accredited to cover the second week of WATC must complete, without exception, the online form at displayed at http://www.worldamateur2010.org/press

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World Amateur Golf Tournamet – South Korea wins the Holy Spirit Trophy

SOUTH KOREA OWNS THE HOLY SPIRIT TROPHY

South Korea wins the trophy

Talent and professionalism. Perhaps these two words can sum up the spirit of the Korean team that arrived this week to Argentina with a very clear goal: to win the Espirito Santo Trophy. And they did it on a row, finalizing on Saturday 23rd, with a total score of 30 under par after four days of competition, relegating to second place the USA women team, who was said to be the favorite.

The performance of the three players was overwhelming, and also got a record that probably no one can match in the modern history of this tournament, winning at the same time the top three individual classifications.

The protagonists of this wonderfull performance are Jung-Eun Han, Ji-Hee Kim and Hyun-Soo Kim, who met the glory on Saturday in a very forceful beating the U.S. team by 17 strokes difference. Third but far, ended the Swedes (defending champions), France and South Africa with an aggregate 4-under par (572 strokes).

Vicky Tanco

The Argentina team led by Frederick Mc Neill, couldn’t close the final round as was previously expecting,  totalizing 578 hits in the championship could not improve on fifth place in Madrid 1970. However, it is important to note the very good performance of Manuela Carbajo Re, with rounds of 70, 67, 73 and 76, ending tied for eighth place in the individual classification.

“We were very happy with the experience this week in our country,” said Victoria Tanco and Martina Gavier, in conjunction with Carbajo Re who was very happy and surprised by his personal top ten.

On the Asian side, Han (13 under par and winner of the individual), who expressed her feelings: “When we arrived this morning at the course I felt pressure, I was nervous and did not want to look too much the leaderboard” said the player, who is planning to turn pro and play on the LPGA Tour in the United States.

Jung Eun Han

The Korean came back to win the Espirito Santo Trophy after 14 years as they had been victorious in 1996 in the Philippines. In addition, Ji Hee Kim tied the lowest round in tournament history, a record that had the player of Paraguay Julieta Granada with 63 strokes. Korea also scored the lowest record in the history of the competition with 546 strokes (-30) after 72 holes and the three members of the team won the first three locations in the individual classification. A massive victory!

There were many members of the Korean community in Argentina who came today to the Olivos Golf Club, all of them took pictures with the winners at the end of the day, and even collaborated with the translation in the press conference. This gesture touched the players, who thanked his countrymen support throughout the tournament.

The golfers from around the world are already thinking in Turkey, home to the WATC in two years. However, the recent World begins for the men, who begin their practice rounds on Sunday in both courses Olivos Golf Club and Buenos Aires Golf Club for the Eisenhower Trophy. Delegations from 70 countries have arrived to Argentina to continue this great amateur golf event that has returned to Argentina after 38 years.

Olivos Golf Club

FINAL LEADERBOARD OF ESPIRITO SANTO TROPHY
WORLD AMATEUR TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP – BUENOS AIRES 2010
Days 1 & 4: Olivos Golf Club / Par 72 / 6.110 yards
Days 2 & 3: Buenos Aires Golf Club / Par 72 / 6.110 yards

Final Leaderboard

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Golf Destination: South Africa, (by GolferX)

Why South Africa?

16th Green, Design by K J Choi at Legend

Like the vast majority of countries that were once conquered by the British, South Africa is characterized by its great golfing tradition. With a 50 million population (of which only 10% are of white ethnic), this country located on the same latitude as Argentina, has nearly 500 golf courses (versus the 280 existing in our country). Gofers population is around 150,000 and their National Open Championship (played for the first time in 1903) is one of the five oldest in the world. Its location in the map is another plus to the underlying Europe and the same time zone, midway between Asia and America, but below the Ecuador. All these factors combined, put South Africa in the Top Ten BEST SELLER destinations in golf tourism,  especially during the northern hemisphere winter.

Definitely something worth to know personally…. Let’s go and golf South Africa!

Flying into Cape Town
The flight is very comfortable and operated by two good companies like South African and Malaysia. Both offer 8-hour direct flights connecting Buenos Aires to Cape Town or Johannesburg twice a week (Thursdays and Sundays). While Jet lag in the way in is important for the 5 hours difference, the return is a pleasure, we left at 11:00 am from Cape Town, and at 2 pm we were back in Buenos Aires.

Have you ever teed-off at 4 am in the morning? Well that was my internal time!! I left Buenos Aires at 8:00 pm, arrived there at 9am local time, and the guy waiting for me took me directly to the tee!!! For my body were 2:30 am in the morning!!! Golf is not easy in the afternoon! Imagine at 2am in the morning!
Golf in Western Cape, Cape Town

I first visited the area of Western Cape (Cape Town). The capital city is a very nice place, with low mountains that descend to the sea, where you can enjoy many beaches of white sand. It’s a very European style city with a great social mix in the streets.
The hotel is one of the points to highlight as it is in the standards of major countries worldwide, making it possible to enjoy rooms with modern decoration and fully equipped from $ 100 USD a night at four stars.


Arabella 16th par4

In Western Cape, I played three different courses: Arabella Golf Club, a course with wide fairways, 6,800 yards long and established in 1999. The design is very good, and offers beautiful views of the natural Kleinmond lagoon which runs alongside, the maintenance is first class. The golf course is part of real estate development that includes country club and a luxury Spa Hotel, member of “The Luxury Collection”.

Erinvale Golf by Gary Player

We also played at Erinvale Golf Club, designed by Gary Player and set at the foot of the Helderberg. This is a “target shot” very enjoyable course, with some holes on the plane, and other laid out on a very broken terrain. Finally before leaving the Western Cape, visited Pearl Valley Golf Estates. Another real estate venture that includes a country club, luxury hotel, rental villas and a Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, host venue of South African Open on 2008, 2009 and 2010 (with point for the European Tour).

Pearl Valley, Nicklaus Signature Course

This is a serious golf club from every point of view, the design of the course is really excellent (in fact the best Nicklaus course I’ve ever played after Punta Espada in Cap Cana), extremely challenging and very competitive, with great views and an enviable maintenance. The modern and comfortable clubhouse offers luxury facilities. The club has also an outstanding practice area, and the efficient helpful personnel manage the place like clockwork.

Before leaving Eastern Cape, we take a couple of hours to visit the vineyards and wineries of Stellenbosch. As mentioned above Cape Town is located between the sea and the east side of the mountains, on the west face of the same mountain is located the epicenter of one of the eight “Great Wine Capitals of the World.” Hundreds of small boutique wineries offer tasting, gourmet dishes and serial collection bottles at great prices. One of the places we visited was “Ernie Els Wines”, where apart from wines he shows his complete line of golf wear and his trophy room, with replicas and originals of some of the famous cups he received in his successful career as pro.

Golf in Johannesburg sorroundings

Euphoria 16th by Annika Sorenstam

Euphoria 16th by Annika Sorenstam

Early in the morning, we took one of the 17 direct two hours flights that everyday connect the two most important cities of SA: Cape Town with “Joe Burg” as the locals call it.
Johannesburg is located 1,600 kilometers northwest of Cape Town, just 30 minutes from Pretoria, in the middle of the geography of the country and over 1,800 m above sea level. The landscape is the typical postcard of Africa we have seen since childhood. It is an arid savanna of big heat amplitude, with cold nights and very hot afternoons!
We drove to the outskirts in search of the Euphoria Golf Estate Hydro, one of the first courses in the world designed by Annika Sorenstam. Once again this is a real estate development with golf, 5 star hotel and Spa.

Unique place for an afte golf beer

The course is interesting, but complicated. Has more than 7,200 yards and has a lot of bunkers (some very deep), formidable greens, and rough on both sides of the fairway. The highlight is cable car linking the clubhouse with lounge bar located on top of a hill, from where you can live a unique 19th hole with African style plain sunsets.

“The best for the end” they say….
Legend Safari & Golf Resort

Less than an hour from Euphoria, within the region of “Limpopo” at the feet of the “Hanglip Mountain” and inside the “Entabeni” natural reserve is a unique venture in the world: “Legend Golf & Safari Resort”. This millionaire development includes the “Legend Golf Course”, an 8,000 yards plus course, unique in the world for having each of the 18 holes designed by top players, “Legends of the PGA Tour”. Among the designers we can mention Bernard Langer, Trevor Imelman, Luke Donald, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia, KJ Choi, Camilo Villegas, Mike Weir, Justin Rose, Robert Allemby, Retieff Goosen, Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomery.

This spectacular course required coordination and an unprecedented effort for involving and engaging each of these golf stars to take his time to make a contribution on this legacy. The course is long, wide and very enjoyable (ideal for a golf resort), without being very penalizing the concept of “risk and reward” will be present all the time. Definitely one of those courses where you will want to play more than once. In addition due to the natural slope of the surrounding terrain, the place offers astonishing panoramic views, including the abundance of local fauna. YES!

You will play golf among zebras, giraffes, antelopes, etc. As for accommodation, the resort offers 5 star luxury villas, recently inaugurated with latest technology equipment and comfort, as well as a “Lodge Resort” located in the middle of the Entabeni Reserve. The hotel also offers daily safaris in open Land Rovers to the “Big Five Game Reserrve” where we closely stared the “big five”: elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino (called so because of their danger), also has one of the few reserves in the world of “White Lions”, a species extinct outside of captivity. The resort also has a golf high performance training center with cat flaps and areas of special practice that reproduce the three most commonly used types of grass designed for tour players.

We were also proud to be the first golfers to play the “Tribute Course”, a practice course that reproduces in detail (same type of grass, measures, distances, slopes and breaks) ten of the best par 3 in the world (as #10 Pine Valley, Troon #8, St. Andrews #11, Augusta #12 and #16 or Sawgrass #17).
Before returning to Buenos Aires, we experienced the most extreme tee shot existing in the world of golf….

The “Extreme 19th”, par3, 770 yards!!

Located on top of “Hanglip Mountain” at 400 meters high, there is a small tee box of 2m x 2m. A one minute helicopter flight takes you and your driver up there. From the edge of the precipice is easy to see the green of more than 600 square meters (built under USGA rules) that perfectly reproduces the size and relief of the African continent, surrounded by a bunker that reproduces the oceans.

YES, you are not drunk! You read well! 400 meters high, 400 meters away in a straight line and a flight total carry of over 700 meters to reach the green. For you to have an idea of what we are talking about make silence for 34 seconds………

Well, that’s the normal time the ball needs to land on the green!!! and incredible but triuth, if you hit the green you will hear the nosie!!! Please repair the kick….


Teeing off extreme 19th

It is the longest par 3 in the world, and the reward makes it worth a try: ONE MILLION US DOLLARS for those who achieve a hole in one! In fact you need to drive the equivalent to 290 yards (in the plain) to reach the middle of the green on a windless day, which does not happen very often. It is a unique experience! You can watch the videos on youtube of Padraig Harrington or Sergio Garcia playing it!

The resort owners plan to get on that tee Tiger Woods and Nelson Mandella together for an official launch somewhere in time. Sounds hard to get??? Nothing appear to be impossible for these guys!

So…….
Why South Africa?

As you have read, South Africa offers a fantastic combination of golf, wine, wildlife, hotels of high standard and helpful lovely people. If you add the value to fly non-stop in less than 10 hours, and that their prices are very similar to to Buenos Aires, this explains why is South Africa  one of the BEST golf destinations in the world!!

Night comes over Legend Golf Resort

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World Amateur Golf Championship Argentina 2010

Argentina 2010 – 51th Edition
From October 16th to 31th Argentina is going to host the World Amateur Team Championships (WATC) for second time in history. This tournaments organized by the International Golf Federation (IGF) was played for the first time in 1958 in Saint Andrews OLD Course, and since then took place every two years.

GOLF PACKAGES TO CHEER YOUR LOCAL TEAM IN BUENOS AIRES
(click here)

The Trophies
The President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower approved in 1958 the WATC with the aim of encouraging the international develop of the game of golf, and use this wonderful game to foster friendship and sportsmanship around the world. His determination is probably the main reason why the MEN trophy takes his name, while the women one is called Espirito Santo. In the last edition in Adelaide, Australia, the IGF celebrated the 50th anniversary, and the Asociacion Argentina de Golf is proud to co-organize this 51th edition in Buenos Aires.

Participating Countries
Asociacion Argentina de GolfThe teams of men and women coming from all over the world will compete within three different zones: Asia Pacific, America and Europe & Africa. Players must be amateur golfers and follow the rules of The R&A or USGA. They must also be citizens of the country they represent.  An estimate of 120 teams (70 teams of men and 50 of women) will compete in World Amateur Team Championships 2010, Argentina is expecting this event brings a total of 1.500 people at least.

The Golf Courses chosen in Argentina
In 1972, Argentina hosted this same tournament for the first time. On that occasion Olivos Golf Club was chosen as venue for the Eisenhower Trophy while the Hindu Golf Club was it for the ladies competition. For 2010, the two golf courses hosting the competition, both for men and women, will be the Olivos Golf Club and the Buenos Aires Golf Club.

Olivos Golf Club Argentina Invitational

Olivos Golf Club 1st Hole

Olivos 18th green & starter

Olivos 15th Ranked among BEST 500 holes in the World

Olivos Golf Club (scorecard)
Pictures / Info / Comments / Video (click)

Olivos Golf Club, ranked among the TOP 100 International Golf Courses according to Golf Digest Magazine, is one of the best parklands in Argentina, hosting every year the Argentina Golf Masters (or Torneo de Maestros) an event formerly played by outstanding golfers such as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Payne Stewart, Paul Azinger, Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer and Tom Lehman (winner in 2009). It was designed in 1926 by Mr. Luther Koontz, a golf architect who used to work as shaper for Mr. Allistair Mckenzie. This par 72 course offers three combinable trails of 9 wholes (the RED, the WHTE and the BLUE); however for the championship will be playing par 71 totalizing 6801 yards for men, and 6110 yards for women. The 15th hole of 470 yards is normally played as par 5 for amateurs, and par 4 for pros. This challenging dog leg right requires a 260 yards from the tee to have a clear 210 yards approach. The green is small and fast, and the ball breaks hard to the entrance where a small lagoon waits for all the short approaches. Apart from being the signature hole, the scenic 15th is considered one of the best 500 holes in the world of golf.

BAGC putting green island

BAGC Clubhouse

BAGC Club House

Buenos Aires Golf Club (scorecard)
Pictures / Info / Comments / Video (click)
Buenos Aires Golf Club, established in 1990, was designed by Robert Von Hagge. Despite its young 20 years, this club has achieved a lot of prestigious moments in the local golf history: 1994 Argentine Golf Open won by Mark O’Meara (USA) and the South American Team Championships “Copa Los Andes”. 2000, EMC Golf World Cup won by the American team of Tiger Woods and David Duval. The 99th Argentine Open in 2004 won by José Cóceres in a dramatic playoff over Eduardo Romero, and the 102nd edition in 2007. Also ranked among the Top 100 International Golf Courses by Golf Digest Magazine, this is a MUST if visiting Buenos Aires on a golf trip. The course is characterized for its modern “links type” design, where moving fairways, big lagoons, strategic bunkers and varied size greens will require a wide variety of shots to succeed. From the 27 holes available (Green, Yellow, Blue) the WATC will be playing par 72 Green/Yellow, totalizing 6961 yards for men and 6117 for Women.

Victoria Tanco

Argentina Team
The first two names of the total three for the team, were chosen directly according to their position in the Ranking Argentino de Afiocionados and their recent performances. For the third place, a 144 holes qualifying tournament was played between other three top ten players. Four rounds in Buenos Aires Golf Club, plus four more rounds at Olivos Golf Club needed to be plaid to determine the third player of the team.

Women: Victoria Tanco (#1 junior amateur golfer in the world), Manuela Carbajo Re and Martina Gavier.

For Men: Tomas Cocha, Emiliano Grillo and Jorge Fernandez Valdez.

Tomas Cocha

Event Schedule
Fri October 15th: Women Team registration.
Sat 16th / Tues 19th: Women practice rounds at Olivos Golf Club and Buenos Aires Golf Club.
Wed 20th / Fri 23rd: First three rounds of Espirito Santo Trophy.
Sat 23rd: Final Round of Espirito Santo Trophy. Men Team registration. Gala awards dinner at Sheraton Hotel

Sun24th / Wed 27th: Men practice rounds at Olivos Golf Club and Buenos Aires Golf Club.
Wed 28th / Sat 30th: First three rounds of Eisenhower Trophy.
Sunday 31th: Final round. In the evening, farewell awards dinner at Sheraton Hotel.

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Argentina Golf Tour (part4) Ushuaia (by Bob North, UK)

Golf in Ushuaia, Southenrmost city of the world

I knew it was not going to be great – I had to be up for a 2.30 transfer to the airport and then there would be the inevitable chaos at Check in etc. There was. Although we got to the airport at 3.45 the check in staff did not! They wandered in at 4.25. And then when we were through check in the security staff had not turned up so yet another wait. I am lucky that I can use the time to make notes in the Smythson of Bond Street notebook that Essie bought me for my travels. The plane took off an hour late and we flew for 3 hours more or less due south over the pampas, the South Atlantic and then the deserts of Patagonia. Tierra del Fuego from the air is quite special – snow covered peaks, forests and rivers all melting in to the fiords and channels separating the islands. I couldn’t check in to the hotel immediately so it was straight off to Uahuaia Golf Club, the southernmost golf course in the world at 54 deg south.

"Ushuaia Golf Club"

Ushuaia Golf Club

It is 9 holes in the plane of the valley with a trout river running through the middle. And it is windy!!!. I was playing in a light breeze of about 30 mph! Apparently one of my drives went for 4 km. It landed in the river and nothing stops the ball until it hits the sea! The fairways are rough but the greens surprisingly good but so small you have to be a brilliant chipper – not quite my style! I was taken round by the local pro – Guillermo Gomez who was extremely helpful. They have 120 members including 8 women and host the Tierra del Fuego Open in March each year. They are about to try to carve out a second nine.

The course is under ice for 4 months and Guillermo then makes his living giving indoor lessons to locals and the visiting skiers. He tells me he makes a good living, as do most locals – there is virtually full employment.

I walked around Ushuaia in the afternoon and went to the maritime museum, which is in the former prison. Although Magallanes first saw the islands in 1520 and named them Tierra del Fuego, because of the numerous smoky fires the locals used for cooking and warmth, the island was not actually colonised until the hardy pioneers of 1869. Few people wanted to come to somewhere so desolate and it was ideal for the use that expanded the whole population – as a prison. The Argentineans sent you to Tierra del Fuego not Australia. The prison was established in 1897 and lasted through to 1947. Some of the photos show a little of what it was like. The closure of the prison decimated the local economy so the government introduced a law that guaranteed earnings of three times the amount for the same job on the mainland – three for one. They also gave tax breaks for companies but these were withdrawn and the economy was very fragile. I am told that the answer was to give the unemployed jobs in the ‘civil service and local government’ but there is no work – it is just a way of buying votes. They are also given houses rent free but do have to pay local taxes. After they have been in occupation for some 20 years they are given the houses. That keeps the voters in place for quite a long time! These ‘council houses’ look absolutely dreadful but then so does most of the rest of the architecture. It is not a city of beauty.

Tourism has done the rest. Not only is it a place of historic significance it has many natural wonders with glaciers, fiords, peaks, penguins, sea-lions, whales etc etc. And it also boasts some of the finest trout fishing in the world. I am told tha the Rio Grande is one of the most well known rivers for fly fishing trouts, you can catch brown trout up to 14 kg! Big!! In the winter it is also a ski resort (Cerrro Castor) – the best powder available in the region they say, and the airport has every device known to man to get the planes in and out. It has become Argentina’s 4th biggest tourist destination.

Nicolas arranged for me to go fishing on Wednesday. The season has just started – on November 1st. There are two main fishing opportunities – the Rio Grande where you get sea trout up to 14 Kg and it costs about $5000 per day or lake fishing which is much more reasonable. I went for the latter and was picked up at 9 am by ‘Micky’. Not only is he quite good looking and a fishing guru but also he is a ski instructor (here and at Vail), a PADI diving instructor and he represented Argentina in one of the dingy sailing classes at the Sydney Olympics!! We were joined by Gerardo from Comodoro Rivadavia. He spoke little English but w e did establish that he was a rugby player and had just been playing in the Golden Oldies tournament in Buenos Aires. We bonded and have arranged to meet at the opening match at the world cup in Paris on Friday 7th September – France v Argentina!

"Hidden Lake, Ushuaia"

Hidden Lake, Ushuaia

The route to the hidden lake took us past the ski area and across many of the rivers and then over the southernmost section of the Andes (where they run East / West) and down to our lake, which was some 20 kms long. Many of the trees in the area by the rivers and lakes are dying. Why? The answer is Beavers! They were introduced in the 20’s and have no natural predators although foxes will take the weak and old. They mostly die a horrible death – when they are too old to bite the trees their teeth grow in a big curve into their own necks! There were lodges everywhere.

A quick transfer from 4 x 4 to RIB got us on to the lake and off to the Southern end by some disused beaver lodges. On the fourth cast Gerado struck and fought and eventually landed a 2 Kg silver trout. We dutifully cast on and on and by lunchtime we had three trout, two trees, one twig and quite a lot of weed. Gerardo caught the fish.

Micky preparing barbecue in Ushuaia

I know I am not meant to write about food any more but…we went up the Eastern side of the lake and landed using a dead tree as a jetty, walked up the hill and Micky uncovered hidden utensils for an ‘asado’ (BBQ). We all gathered dead wood and in no time we had a roaring ‘parrilla’ (fire). While the wood was burning we had the inevitable starter of various cheeses and salami followed by ‘chorizo’ cooked on the parrilla in toasted bread with ’chirrichurri’ sauce. And the main event – the fillet of beef was being prepared on top of the grill. The Argentines take great pride in their beef and certainly never add any flavouring other than salt. Any beef with a dressing must be of an inferior quality– it is for ‘gringos’. There was a little red wine to wash it down. The pictures show the idyllic setting. Before we cleared up we had one more treat. Micky had left one bit of Chorizo and put it on a fallen tree a few metres from us. A very hungry ‘chimango’ – a type of hawk came and inspected it and then plucked up the courage to swoop in for the treat – and I managed to get a photo!

Back to fishing and at last I did manage to land a 2.5 Kg brown trout. Does it matter that Gerardo actually hooked it? Not to me.

"4x4 Drive, Ushuaia"

4x4 Drive, Ushuaia

Instead of taking the regular route home Micky took us up the old track road in the 4 x 4 and boy did we need every bit of grip it had. I am not sure it would have been Beverley’s cup of tea (or Alex Holmes for that matter). Back over the Andes to Ushuaia only to find it had been raining all afternoon. Shame – we had had beautiful weather! Lots of places talk about having four seasons in one day – George, Ballybunion etc. but Ushuaia genuinely does.

The flight back was unusual for one reason – it took off on time but it was typical for a few others. The Argentineans always seem to load the slowest passengers first; everybody in the line to board shouts to others in their group at least 4 metres away and they carry on conversations with people 3 aisles away. They also fart a lot and fight over hand luggage space. It was also half an hour late landing and I cleared baggage 1.5 hours after the scheduled landing. Poor Agustin had to wait for some time!!

The final morning I was picked up by Gonzalo – 5 minutes early, as he would be! The check in with Daniela seemed remarkably efficient with and I am checked through to Quito. Will my luggage get there? The Priority lounge is empty and welcoming – thanks Bev.

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Argentina Golf Tour (Part3) Patagonia (by Bob North, UK)

Off to the Andes, Golf in Patagonia

Amazingly the flight to San Martin was only 20 minutes late! It was a clear day as we took off over the River Plate and some of the photos on my website show the sprawl of the city and the development along the river. Then it was a 2-hour flight to the South West over the green of the Pampas and then the arid areas in the shadow of the Andes where the only cultivated zones were alongside the rivers. Much like the Orange River in South Africa. Then the white peaks came into view and we landed at San Martin de los Andes. I was met by Sebastian and Nico who had driven the 15 hours from Buenos Aires to be in the area for a week for some business meetings. We went straight to Chapelco Golf Resort a new development in the most stunning scenery.

"Chapelco Golf Resort"

Chapelco Golf Resort, Nicklaus Design, Patagonia

The Chapelco Golf Course is the first Nicklaus design in South America and it has his trademarks with big bunkers either side of the drive and very subtle greens. It is in excellent condition and could be made into a real challenge if they cut the greens tighter and placed the pins in some challenging positions. Even if one was not playing one’s best golf you would only need to look around at the scenery to realise you were in a very special place and it will get even better.

We left the club at about 10pm and I was assured that there would be plenty of places to eat in San Martin up until 1am. Not quite the case! The city boys assumed that the Patagonian towns would be like Buenos Aires! We did find somewhere and actually ate some great Milanese with of course some fine red wine. Then the inevitable local ‘sticky’. Fernet is quite disgusting on it’s own – no wonder they drink it with coke. The 7 lakes to Bariloche.

The morning dawned bright but it was cool (7 C) and as we set off on the 7 lakes trip there were flurries of snow in the air. There is a big storm going through and it is ouring in Buenos Aires – even the football is affected and the South Argentine golf championships 4th round is called off. The trip to Angostura was about 140 kms and mainly on unmade roads but easy to drive down although a couple of detours we took to see two of the lakes were pretty slow going. The scenery was amazing and each of the lakes had their own  character. Two were black with the reflection of the mountains. Pichi Traful had a sandy beach with fishermen on it. I talked to a local – Henri – who turned out to be an ex Swiss Air pilot and had lived in Crans Montana in Switzerland where we used to go skiingas a family. He was very pleased to have just caught a 4 kg rainbow trout.

"Los Pioneros, Villa La Angostura"

Los Pioneros Restaurant, Villa La Angostura

Half way we had to stop for lunch in Villa La Angostura… Can Nico and Seb eat!!! A starterof ‘empanada’ was followed by a local chorizo and then the main course of two butterfly steaks between three of us. We had more than enough. How on earth could anyone eat one by themselves I don’t know. Maybe Doug Worley or Mike Balcomb?? Only one bottle of red wine as we had to drive on so the bill was a very modest £ 7.50 per head!!

"Nahuel Huapi Lake"

Nahuel Huapi Lake, road to Bariloche

‘Nahuel Huapi’ is the third largest lake in South America – after Lake Titicaca and both Bariloche and Villa La Angostura are set on the shores. It is also the centre for the biggest skiing area in Argentina with the Cerro Catedral ski slopes overlooking the town and the lake. Suffice it to say we had another excellent meal and the boys were only one hour late this time!! It is called Argentinean time! Beverly (my girlfriend) has told me not to gloat and talk about food all the time so I will not detail the menu but….We broke all records – the meal was £12 per head! Oh No! Early night – 2 am!

The storm that hit the town and the rest of Argentina on Sunday has passed and I woke to a beautiful but cold clear day. The temperature was about 10 C and the reflections of the snow-covered mountains could be seen on the lake. The boys are staying for 4 days to sort out some up-coming trips and were staying in an apartment a few miles away. They did eventually pick me up and we drove some 20 kms alongside the lake to Llao Lla0 Golf Resort & Spa, distinguished as one of ‘The Leading Hotels of the World’ set between the lake ‘Nahuel Huapi’ and lake ‘Moreno’. The golf course skirts the lake and although it is not the greatest track in the world and the greens were only moderate it was the most wonderful place to play – not dissimilar to Crans sur Sierre in the Swiss Alps. The photos tell the story!

LLao LLao 18th hole

LLao LLao 18th hole, Par 3

The par 3 18th at Llao LLao, requires 170 yards of carry over the lake, a total of 210 yards are neede to get the center of the green and the wind may require hitting a driver from the tee. One of the reasons why is the “signature holes” is for being ranked among the best 500 par 3 in the world. One amazing fact about ‘Nahuel Huapi’, which is at 800 metres above sea level, is that the lake has depths of over 900 metres – i.e. over 100 metres below sea level. Nobody has ever found the bottom in three places! Where does it go? What lives in the depths?

I was upgraded to business coming back to Buenos Aires because as a journalist I needed to take photos from the air of Bariloche. I got away with it!!! Good story for future use!!

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Argentina Golf Tour (Part2) Mar del Plata (by Bob North, UK)

Golf in Mar del Plata

"Mar del Plata"

Mar del Plata city, Atlantic Ocean

Mar del Plata is the nearest big seaside resort to Buenos Aires – their holiday playground a bit like Brighton except it is 300 kms from BA and it is either a four hour drive or a 40 minute flight – in theory! The Argies have decided that they need to rebuild part of the domestic airport runway and have diverted random flights to the International airport so instead of a 10- minute journey to the airport it is nearly 50 minutes and the queues at security are stretched to say the least. I was up at 4 am and arrived at Mar del Plata at 9.30 on a flight delayed only 1.5 hours! The joys of travel!

Mar del Plata is right on the sea and I can see the central beaches from the hostel. Apparently there is a vibrant nightlife! I will ask for reports! It is also a summer golfing area and today we went to play a links course about 30 minutes away near the neighbouring rival town of Miramar – the Miramar Links Golf Club.

"Miramar Golf Links, Buenos Aires"

It sounds more grand than it is but it was a beautiful day, it is right by the sea so you get the ozone in the air, the wind was blowing and although the condition leaves something to be desired it was fun. AND it was great to be able to walk a golf course. After the ‘shot’ achilles muscle I thought I might never play again but the cortisone seems to have worked and I could walk – albeit a bit slowly. They wouldn’t have let me play at Rye at that pace but 3 of us were round in 4 hours so it wasn’t too bad. Agustin, the my 1 handicap tour guide and his father, who had been at the RAC at Cirencester in the 60’s, played and Chris and I took on and managed to beat the young star!

We then looked in at the Marayui County Club, which was a groomed parkland course with amazing clubhouse where you can stay. Pretty good as a base for the area.


Mejillones at "Viento en Popa", Mar del Plata

Dinner was a choice of two sittings – one at 9 and one at 11. We took the 11 pm and sat down at about 11.30 in ‘Viento en Popa’, which translates as ‘Wind in the stern’ – obviously a very popular fish restaurant. Mine host Neco Cioffi is a great PR man and when told I am a journalist he insisted on many photos and regaled us with how the great and the good came to eat with him!! And it was pretty good. Plates of Langostinos, Gamba, Pulpo and Mejjillones washed down by a very acceptable chardonnay were followed by a most wonderful shellfish hotpot and deserts before the inevitable local grappa. And the cost!

This is reckoned to be one of the most expensive restaurants in Mar del Plata and the bill – my treat – came to $60 – £10 per head!! Back to bed at 2am – only been up for 22 hours!!

A lie in! I woke at 8.30 and tried to upload photos etc but the new site would not accept them. Disaster! But the helpdesk was so efficient that all was sorted in about 5 minutes and I am told I can now upload movies as well. Now I can really bore you all!!!

"Playa Grande, Mar del Plata Golf Club"

Playa Grande, Mar del Plata Golf Club

Mar del Plata Golf Club -Playa Grande Course- is right on the seafront on the prime real estate site in town – not unlike Durban CC. It is set in only 30 hectares on the slope overlooking the sea and is very like a links course – not dissimilar in some ways to Rye. There are 5 great, mainly short, par 3s and challenging par 4’s – some not too long. The greens are wickedly quick and of course everything rolls towards the sea. Thank god for a great caddy who was so good on the lines. We also played in the Friday medal!! Not to bad to shoot a net 73 (par 70) especially with she injured leg!! Playa Grande Mar del Plata Lunch was again with shrimps, mushrooms and capers with of course a few French fries!
With beer, wine, desert and coffee the bill came to £7 a head.

Aaaaaggghhh!

Back on the late night flight to BA and then off to the Andes tomorrow. Not too much rest at the moment! Miramar travel lodge right where I am now staying is next to domestic airport – pity the flights have been changed to the International! Also next to a golf shop and driving range so the views aren’t too bad.

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Argentina Golf Tour (part1) Buenos Aires, by Bob North (UK) October 2006

Argentina Golf Tour, October 2006

My name is Bob North, I’m a 67 years old English writer and live most of the year both in London and Cape Town (chasing the warm). I decided go on a tour to the Southern hemisphere golf writing a comparison between golf in the different Southern Continents.

I am arriving to Argentina and planning to write about the highlights of my trip visiting wich are said to be the most important golf destinations here…. Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata, Patagonia and Ushuaia…

Buenos Aires, Argentina

After the excitements of Rio I was going to play golf in Argentina, and most of its golf destinations, wondering what will Buenos Aires have in store? Evita? Maradona? The famous nightlife? The best steaks in the world? I am excited!!
The view from the air was limited but I could see the enormous Buenos Aires city lying to the west of the River Plate. It was flat but with interesting developments near the river. It would be long before I was there and exploring!

Agustin – one of 4 partners of Discover Golf, who arranged my trip, met me. It was apparent from the start that the whole trip was organised to the last detail but there was still room for flexibility.

"Caminito St. La Boca, Buenos Aires"

Caminito St. La Boca, Buenos Aires

That was evidenced but the impromptu city tour we went on. Agustin and his colleague Sebastian are young scratch golfers and not tour guides but they took me on a tour that was amusing as well as informative. We first went to the artist area of Caminito with its street restaurants, bars, pavement tango dancers and vibrantly painted corrugated iron houses Caminito. We toured the different architectural city areas; we saw the government pink house and congress and we even went on the subway – surely one of the most old fashioned in the world.

"Line A subway in Buenos Aires, oldest in LatinAmerica"

Subway "line A", Sebastian and Agostin.

The waterfront I had seen from the air is a heaving development of bars, restaurants and shops with some stunning looking girls and very fashionable men – plus inevitable a fairly large gay community. Not for me on either the gay or the fashion front! As we toured we ‘got on’, we went for a few beers and then I was invited to join Sebastian’s family Sunday evening dinner –the family meet in the same Buenos Aires restaurant every Sunday at about 9pm and whoever is available just turns up. This night there were 13 family and 3 of us – ‘friends’ who were treated as family. Two grandmothers, father and mother, one aunt, four cousins, two brothers and two girlfriends and the ‘friends’ sat down to an amazing meal with chorizo and cheese starters, the best steak I could have tasted and a special apple tart with ice cream all washed down with copious quantities of red wine.

Dinner in "El Canal" with the Prado family

Father turned out to be one of the best golfers ever from Argentina. He had represented the country for 16 years and was a six time amateur champion. His biggest regret was that he missed the cut for The Open at St Georges in 1978 when he was one shot off qualifying at Littlestone. We had a lot to talk about and Miguel spoke enough English for us to talk golf for ages! What a fantastic golf welcome to Buenos Aires.

A little golf in Buenos Aires

Monday is a day that most golf courses shut for maintenance so we set off to La Orquidia Golf about an hours drive North of the centre of Buenos Aires. It is a course set in the middle of an Estancia – originally designed for the private use of the owner. And he did not skimp on some of the design aspects. There are 24 greens – five holes with alternative green options and one ‘spare’ hole; one par three that can also be a par 4 and vice versa. It has flexibility! Although it is not the best condition course I have ever played it is an enjoyable golfing experience Except for one particular hole where the owner’s refusal to cut down any trees at all means that the second shot on the 14th has to be carried 200 yards over a 50’ high stand of trees! Not my ideal second and of course I ended up in the forest and with a six! The finish of the next four holes made up for that – particularly the 17th and 18th – great holes anywhere. The changing, bar and food facilities were limited and my girl would have been totally disappointed by the limited pro- shop. But there were so few people on the course and the only audible sounds were of the birds and nature so it turned out to be a great place to start – and I halved with Sebastian Prado the 2006 Buenos Aires Golf Club champion!!

"San Andres Golf Club, Buenos Aires"

San Andres Golf Club, Buenos Aires

Tuesday is almost as quiet as Monday except the courses are open so I was able to play at the serious courses – and they were. San Andres Golf Club – St Andrews – is a 40 minute drive from the centre still in the outskirts of the city. It is a tree lined course with 3 – 6 “ rough. You have to hit it straight! There are some great long par 4’s, it was in very good condition and the greens were fast and true. The club is 99 years old and the changing and bar facilities looked original, the pro-shop virtually non-existent but the course was a very good test – a bit like Stellenbosch and George in South Africa.

"Buenos Aires Golf Club"

Buenos Aires Golf Club

For lunch we went to the Buenos Aires Golf Club and then played 9 of the 27 holes in the afternoon. This is totally different again – it is a modern style course with two massive lakes and water on 14 holes. It was the course for the World Cup of golf in 2000, won by Tiger Woods and David Duval. Accordingly it looked really tough of the back tees but was a fair test off our tees and the rough was not so penal. If you miss the water you make a good score. What a very pleasant afternoon.

Tango Night in Buenos Aires!

"La Esquina Carlos Gardel Tango Show"

La Esquina Carlos Gardel Tango Show

After the debacle of the Rio samba show I was a little concerned about La Esquina Carlos Gardel Tango Dinner Show but how different it was….. Firstly it seemed that there were mainly Argentineans present, all seemed devotees. Secondly the 3-course meal was excellent (T-bone steak included). Thirdly the red wine was plentiful and free! Fourthly the show was so professional and excellent. I just happened to have a front row table and had the company of two gays and a ‘fag-hag’ from Sao Paulo who were great fun. Of course we discussed the economic situation and politics in Brazil! I was mesmerised for 90 minutes. How on earth can you dance like that? It must take years of practise. 9.5 out of ten for Buenos Aires compared with the 0.5 for Rio!!!

Disaster strikes – I am shot!

"Pilar Golf Club"

Pilar Golf Club, Buenos Aires

The next morning I was up early and taken to Pilar Golf Club. Pillar golf is holding the Argentine open in four weeks time and this was one of the last opportunities to play before it was shut for final preparation. Gonzalo, my 5 handicap golf guide, took me and we were looking forward to a tight match. Unfortunately after my first drive I felt as if I had been shot in the calf and was left writhing on the ground. Ice was packed on to no avail and we had to abandon the golf and could only tour the course in a buggy – which made it even worse as it looked a fantastic course with some real testing holes, particularly alongside the water.

Lunch had been organised at an Estancia Carabassa (Pilar) and I had images of a rather touristy macho gaucho affair. It couldn’t have been further than the reality. Gonzalo had organised a private lunch at a friend’s own Estancia. See the photos. It was amazing with such a selection of Hors’ Douvres and the seven different meats plus Argentine black pudding and three types of sausage! All followed by a red fruit ice cream and strawberries dipped in chocolate!

"Estancia Carabaza, Pilar, Buenos Aires"

Estancia Carabaza, Pilar, Buenos Aires

The only sounds were the birds and the occasional hoof beat of the neighbouring Argentine polo HQ. Really special. I was then whisked off to see Buenos Aires leading Orthopaedic doctor to look at the shot calf. Apparently I am one of 30% of the population who still have a tiny muscle attached to the Achilles tendon and this has ruptured. We are more related to Neanderthals than Homo Sapiens. (At least I think that is what he said!) One cortisone injection, a bandage and some new anti-inflamatories and I was on my way and I have to admit it is a little better as I write. Thank you Dr. Valls and to Gonzalo for getting me there.

The People and the Life in Argentina

The people of Argentina have really impressed me as always trying to be friendly. For some reason they seem to work out that I am English speaking – even if I have only said ‘gracias’, – they then try their little bit of English and are interested to know where I am from, what I am doing etc.. If they can speak a bit more they all want to know if I like Argentina. – And is it better than Brazil? I certainly tell them I do really appreciate Argentina and that it is very difficult to compare it with Brazil because they are from the Portuguese! That seems to amuse them! There is not a lot of love lost between the two!

The only exception was the guide from ‘Tiempo Libre’ – Mariano – in Ushuaia who tried to be a ‘con artist’. He got away with charging P$160 for the 6km transfer to the golf and back and tried it on with other excursions and a rival fishing trip. He didn’t catch me twice! Avoid ‘Tiempo Libre’!

"Tango dancing in Caminito St."

Tango dancing in Caminito street

Argentina has been amazing. Buenos Aires is a buzzy capital with a European feel to much of the architecture. It has all that you would expect of a modern capital city in terms of shopping restaurants and entertainment. Dinner does not even start until 9.00 pm. I am told that there are clubs that cater for all tastes and the nightlife goes on. You can dance, eat or watch a show until about 4am. The discos start at about 2 am and don’t finish until 8 am.

Mar del Plata may finish slightly earlier but it is a seaside holiday city with a massive choice of restaurants, bars and a Casino. Bariloche was quieter but it is up-market specially in the winter when it caters for the skiing set. In summer its’ clientele is much more of the walker, climber, cyclist and water sport enthusiast etc. but there is apparently some of the best fishing in South America and there are hundreds of brochures and booklets on the fly fishing rivers of Patagonia. It also seems to be an artistic centre with exhibitions of local paintings of all styles.

Ushuaia was ugly but there was so much to do you would need a week there to see it all. I was sorry that the winds meant that the flight over the Beagle Channel was cancelled and I couldn’t see the glaciers from the air.

A little history!

Argentina was first colonised in the 1600s and only gained independence in 1816 – less than 200 years ago. We were talking of the Roman invasion of Britain and somehow that seemed to serve to emphasise how young this country is. The early settlers wiped out most of the indigenous Indians and they say that there are only fifty left today.

Argentina was also one of the top five economies in the world in the 30s and 40s but it is now regarded as one of the classic cases of disintegration. The government overspent. Peron oversaw the deterioration of the economy with huge ‘bribes’ to the poor electorate and eventually the Peso nosedived. There were some ten years of stability in the 90s when the Peso was tied to the US $ but the policy of ‘one Peso for one $’ was unable to last and it resulted in massive devaluation with the Peso deteriorating to 4 Peso to the $. It is now at 3 per $ or 6 Peso to the £ – which is one of the reasons why local goods and services are so cheap for us visitors.

A few Argentinean quirks are

  • No plugs in the bathrooms.
  • They eat a lot of salt but try getting pepper!
  • Argentinean time is not prompt.
  • The flush to WC is hidden in the side of cistern.
  • Their favourite group is the Rolling Stones.
  • They are very serious about Maradona – he is the greatest – there is no room for debate.
  • There are no learner drivers.
  • Dinner doe not even start until 9 pm.
  • They drink Fernet Ughh!

Special mentions have to go to.

  • Miguel Angel Prado and his family for welcoming me to the family supper and for his continuing interest in my travels.
  • Gonzalo’s father for his hospitality and to sister Carolina for the superb desert. And I have to mention Sebastian’s homemade pasta. Even I thought it was superb!
  • Gonzalo for organising the private Estancia Carabaza lunch – and to Maria who served us.
  • Dr Jose for the miracle cure to the ‘shot’ leg.
  • The Brazilian gays for the banter at the tango show.
  • Christopher Hope for his insights into the recent economic situation, his company and his talents as a golf partner.
  • Neco for the meal at ‘Viento en Popa’.
  • Jose Luis for the time to tell me all the Jack Niclaus’ stories during the making of Chapelco Golf Resort.
  • Ignacio at Los Pioneeros for the best steak in Argentina.
  • Silvina for the upgrade on the Bariloche flight.
  • Guillermo Gomez the pro at Ushuaia for his welcome.
  • Micky for the fishing and especially the ‘asado’.
  • ‘The boys’ Nico, Gonzalo, Agustin & Sebastian for their wonderful organisation and hospitality.
  • Maria at Estancia Carabaza.

The Golf Organisation

I would like to pay tribute to the organisation provided by Discover Golf.

I have never experienced golf organisation anywhere in the world like the service provided by Discover Golf. It has been exceptionally good. It seems to me that the clubs are not really organised to take visitors and I am so glad I found Discover Golf to get me through the maze of booking at the individual golf clubs, finding my way there and then getting on to the tee! I tried using the Internet and totally failed. The clubs don’t seem to quite know what they are doing, never mind the complication of getting caddies or finding a changing room. The guys at Discover Golf did everything from the transfer from my hotel to getting me in to the club, on to the tee (with caddy or cart included), though halfway, in to the bar, out of the restaurant and home again. They provide clubs (free of charge) if you need them, will play with you at no cost and help with restaurants, show bookings etc. The 4 principals of the business that I met all went out of their way to make sure that everything happened to give me the best possible experience.

I could not fault them at all and cannot recommend them too highly.

I am obviously not the only one. Look at their excellent web site and their guest book

Bob North, London, UK

Bob.north@golfwriters.co.uk

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