“I must come back and enjoy this golf course!” my colleague sighed as we stood beside the ‘Xanadu Mansion’, the Club House of the Varadero Golf Club – Cuba’s only 18-hole golf course. He went on, “Imagine we can combine a holiday by everyday romping on this beautiful beach with its talcum sand and relaxing waters then play [playing] a game of golf. It will be a perfect vacation for golfers seeking a fulfilling holiday.” My colleague had a point. For vacationers enamoured with golf, Varadero’s Golf Club located in Cuba’s resort-filled charming Hicacos Peninsula is the place to play the game.
A world-class championship golf course, the Varadero Golf Club opened its doors in 1998 on what once was the estate of the US based Dupont family with the their former elegant 1930s home as the ‘club House’.
Owned and operated by Rumbos of Cuba, it was designed by Les Furber, President of the Canadian Co, Golf Design Services, hailing from Alberta, Canada. It is an eye-catching 18-hole, par 72, 6,896-yard course, constructed to meet the highest possible specifications. The course has 4 km (2.7 mi) cart path bordered by 5.7 ha (14 ac) of natural saltwater ponds, feeding directly from the sea.
Its location, amid modern luxury hotels on one of the most inviting beaches in the world gives it an appealing setting. Varadero’s beach, a stretch of 20 km (12.5 mi) of tourist enticement offers mile after mile of talcum, sugary-white sand, so fine that it glides like silk across the feet and, as well, the edging clear-blue waters are unsurpassed in the whole of the Western Hemisphere. For me, Varadero has always been a perfect spot in the sun and I never tire of its tourist attributes. Each time its sands seem to be more luring than the last. Set in this aura, the Varadero Golf Club, possesses the best course and facilities for the practice of golf in Cuba – for golfers a holiday mecca.
The extensive mowed grass extending for a mile seems to be in harmony with the various shades of blue emitted from the shore waters lapping the white sands. This gives the course a conception of a paradisaical spot where salt, sea, sand, grass and trees create an aura of a relaxed and soothing atmosphere.
The golf course can be split into two distinct areas: one taking in the holes 1 to 9, considered an easy challenge; and the second, 10 to 18, has some holes more complex and demanding. Each hole has a minimum of 4 tee areas, which allow golfers of whatever ability to test their skills alike, for the low handicap or the professional golfer.
Besides tree-lined fairways and huge open greens, the course also features a 300 m (984 ft) long game practice area, offering a driving range and a fairway bunker with both shallow and steep faces. Golf experts consider the Varadero Golf Club to be one of the best well planned courses in the Caribbean area.
In 1999 and 2000 it hosted two European Challenge Tour Grand Finals. A number of golfers have indicated that it is a golf course that will leave its mark in the world of golfing. In the words of Fuber, its architect, ‘Varadero Golf Club is a combination of bogy easy and difficult par’.
Set amid majestic palms and other greenery the panorama of the course delights the onlooker. With well-tended sparkling green fairways complemented by the glimmering blue sea, the golf course serenades the senses and gives one a feeling of exhilaration.
The Club House, the former luxurious Dupont mansion, has an excellent French restaurant offering a French-style menu, apparently in keeping with its former owners who were of French origin. Located on an elevated coral outcropping overlooking the white beach sands, gently washed by A clear emerald sea, the Club House also offers visitors a large pro-shop and caddie house with a bar, plus caddies and electric carts – readily at hand.
Once considered a no-no in Cuba since it was considered a bourgeois sport, golf today, as Varadero Golf Club testifies, is taking hold. In the near future, this only 18-hole golf course in the country will be joined by other golf resort projects now in the pipeline.
As for us this day, as we sat in the open air terrace at the 19th hole restaurant overlooking the 18th green and we sipped on our Cuba Libre in an aura of beauty and contentment, I thought of the many enchanted places that I had visited in my long writing career. Surveying the scene, I easily placed the Varadero Golf Club among the best.
If you go
Facts to Know About Cuba and the Varadero Golf Club:
1) Visitors to Cuba must use convertible pesos (CUC – at present IS about the same as a Canadian. The Cuban peso, which can only be used by tourists to purchase such products as fruit and vegetables, converts at about 1 CUC to 22 pesos.
2) When golfing at the Varadero Golf Club the best place to stay is Hotel Melia Las Americas, only two minutes by foot from the Club House. Tel: 53 45-667600; or Toll Free: -866-902-9685 ; or Fax: 53 45-667625. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Lady golfers are welcomed and juniors are encouraged to take part in the golf classes. As well, the course is equipped for senior golfers – golf buggies can be used to ride to where the ball lies.
4) For transportation in Varadero, take metered taxis. They are the best way to get around. Also, there is a sightseeing tour bus that runs the whole length of Varadero – cost CUC5.00 – passengers can get on and off all day with the same ticket.
5) In spite of all types of shortages, Cuba is still safe, thefts are rare and tap water is drinkable, even in the villages. However, tourists are advised to drink bottled water.
6) The best buys in Cuba are rum and cigars. Beware of black market cigars – often they are not authentic. Seven-year-old Havana Club is the top rum in Cuba. It is smoother than brandy and sells at around CUC 16.00 a litre.
7) Be sure to save CUC25.00 in cash for your departure tax at the airport.
Cuba Tourist Board, Toronto: 1200 Bay Street. Suite 305. Toronto. ON. M5R 2A5. Tel: (416) 362-0700. Toll Free: 1-866-404 CUBA (2822). Fax: (416) 362-6799 e-mail: email@example.com; or Montreal: 2075, rue University, Bureau 460 Montreal, Quebec, H3A 2L1 Tel: (514) 875-8004 Fax: (514) 875-8006 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org@varaderogolfclub.com