You’ve taken a flier, play a round of golf on holiday. Yes , you can get a tee time, yes they hire clubs, yes there are buggies available. You book a taxi for the following morning. So you’re waiting outside your hotel, a few minutes early ......... then appearing out of the early morning sunshine a vision. A 1950’s Pink convertible Cadillac arrives - it’s your taxi, of course it is , we’re in CUBA. Immediately you know it’s going to be a good day.
Driving along the ocean road ‘cool wind in your hair’ (Eagles, Hotel California), you turn into the Varadero Golf Club. You will not be disappointed, this is an open links course, running along the shore, open vistas, palm trees, ocean views everywhere, saltwater lakes. Some huge bunkers, an island green and sunshine. This is the only 18 hole golf course in Cuba. It has hosted two European Challenge Tour grand finals.
Originally built in 1931 around the Xanadu Mansion, the former luxury home of the DuPont family. Shortly after the first nine holes were completed, a hurricane washed away most of the greens and fairways. But two very expensive years later, the course was rebuilt to 18 holes.
We arrived with plenty of time to spare, signed in, collected the buggy and very reasonable TaylorMade hire clubs. Quick coffee on the roof terrace, more ocean views then off to meet the starter. To get the lie of the land. I should have realised we’re on Cuban Time. I’m told no rush go and enjoy the practice area. Spacious driving range with good qulaity practice balls and under cover too, this is more for the sun then rain however.
Stepping onto the first tee, we chose the blue tees 6,314 yards, but there are plenty of options to suit every golfer. The tee boxes were in good condition especially considering the amount of traffic they have coming through every day, well after all it is the only 18 hole golf course on the Island. The ccourse is comprised of five par 5’s, eight par 4’s and five par 3’s.
The course is fairly open, tropical vegetation, including some rare giant cactus trees, lush fairways surrounded by a turquoise sea. The front 9 holes are generally easier, wide fairways, although some tough huge bunkers. The back 9 is more complex, lots of water, more individual. The Sixteenth hole in particular stands out for me, with water cross the water three times, target golf, miss your spot and you’re in trouble. Finish to an island green. This is a links course with large saltwater lakes and palm trees.
Finally the 18th, a beautiful tee looking out to the ocean. Palm trees for a little shade to release your ball to the fairway that runs along the shore. Then a shot up to the raised green on a cliff over looking the sea. From here a splendid view back to this picturesque course and almost close enough to order your Dacquiri from the roof bar of the club house.
If you’re staying at one of the hotels near by it’s a couple of minutes away, if you are fortunate enough to be staying at the wonderful recently refurbished Xanadu Mansion, you’re close enough to see the lunch menu!
In Summary, very friendly and welcoming staff, course in great condition, facilities good, value for money - good, location - fantastic. Do book in advance. Don’t rush you’re on Cuba time.
Architect - Les Furber
Holes - 18
Yardage - 6,856 yards (Oro/Gold tees)
Green Fees - 100 CUC / £77 approx.
For more information, visit their wesbite.