1. Jockey Club (Red) San Isidro, Buenos Aires, Argentina
South America’s best collection of courses is in Argentina, and this one by Alistair MacKenzie leads the way. The Red Course, the Good Doctor said, “has a greater resemblance not only in appearance but in the character of its golf, to the Old Course in St. Andrews than any inland course I know.”
2. Olympic Golf Course Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
An informal poll of South American golf cognoscenti revealed this is destined to be the continent’s best course by a wide margin, with only a bit of seasoning (and a certain upcoming event) holding it back. Gil Hanse has worked wonders, creating a linksy challenge from a former lagoon.
3. Lagunita CC Hatillo, Caracas, Venezuela
Long regarded as the best course in Venezuela, this 1964 design by Dick Wilson has hosted several national championships as well as the World Cup. It’s distinguished by its large undulating greens and a quartet of long and testing par threes.
4. Los Olivos (White/Red) Los Polvorine, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Host of the Argentine Open in 2016, this old-school design with narrow, tree-lined, doglegging fairways and fast, sloping greens was designed by MacKenzie disciple Luther Koontz. Also number one on Diego Bustos’ top five list through Central and South America.
5. El Rincon de Cajica, Bogota, Colombia
When Robert Trent Jones created this parkland course in 1963, he factored in the elevation of the site—more than 8,000 feet—by stretching the back tees to 7,542 yards. The signature hole, the 179-yard, lake-crossing 7th, is modeled after the 4th at Baltusrol (Lower), which Jones also designed.
6. Patagonia Virgin GC Frutillar Tenth Region, Chile
Jack Nicklaus’s first design in Chile, this brand-new course sits 450 feet above the nation’s second-largest lake, with spectacular views of the water, a rain forest, and six volcanoes. About half of the holes have an open, links feel, but the neighboring forest brings plenty of trees into play.
7. TPC Cartagena at Karibana Cartagena, Colombia
Another Nicklaus course, this one with a Jekyll-and-Hyde character, the front nine playing through a jungle dotted by six artificial lakes, the road home running along spectacular oceanfront.
8. Nordelta GC El Tigre, Buenos Aires, Argentina
And yet a third—in a third different nation—from the Golden Bear, this one laid out on a former wetlands. Waste hazards, lagoons, and numerous bunkers line the fairways, combining with 18 fast and subtly contoured greens to make this 7,275-yard par 72 the consensus toughest test in Argentina.
9. Buenos Aires GC (Green/Yellow) Buenos Aires, Argentina
The site of the 2000 World Cup won by Tiger Woods and David Duval, this Robert Von Hagge design unfurls in two loops. Nine manmade lakes add to the challenge, notably at the home hole, a drivable par four that’s all but surrounded by water.
10. Chapelco Golf & Resort, San Martin de Los Andes, Argentina
Set amid the magnificent scenery of the Andes Mountains in the heart of Argentinean Patagonia, this parkland/mountain course by Jack and Jackie Nicklaus, lined by native deep-green pine trees, could have been plucked out of the Pacific Northwest.