What to expect in Varadero Golf Club and why you should stay here
Cuba isn’t exactly foremost in most peoples’ minds when it comes to thinking about golf destinations. In recent years, the island has become a truly great vacation destination, with gorgeous beaches, clear waters, amazing colonial architecture, lively music and cultural events, and, of course, those legendary Cuban cigars. And there’s one 18 hole course that’s open to the public, and it’s a treat: Varadero Golf Club. Beautifully positioned along the oceanfront on a narrow peninsula that juts out into the ocean and just two hours from Havana, Varadero is an absolute gem of a golf course.
On top of the golf, the onsite hotel known as Xanadu Mansion is unlike anything else you’ll find on any other golf course. One of the most exclusive hotels in the world, it has only six rooms available. They’re all lavishly decorated in 1930s fashion as if they were left untouched since the mansion was built by the du Pont family.
Included with the room is unlimited golf where you can practice your play more, breakfast and a three course dinner featuring mouthwatering local delicacies. It’s an easy decision to get up for 18 holes in the morning, enjoy a lunch and a beer, and then head back out for a breezy afternoon 18.
Five-star Meliá Las Américas might be a fantastic accommodation choice for those wishing to combine the pleasures of golfing with an adults-only all-Inclusive experience.
The Varadero golf course is a par 72 layout with five par 5s, five par 3s and eight par 4s. It originally opened in the early 1930s, but a hurricane destroyed much of the course and it was scaled back to nine holes in 1936. In 1999, it was redeveloped and reopened as Cuba’s premier golf destination on the highly-sought-after Hicacos Peninsula.
The first hole is a great birdie opportunity, a reasonably short par 5 that’s reachable in 2 good shots if the wind is favorable. #2 is a par 4 with an interesting double fairway lined by mangrove trees, and the third hole is a lovely short par 3 with an ocean view.
The best hole on the front nine is the par 3 8th, a stunning hole with the ocean lurking deviously in the background. The wind will determine how difficult it is to hit the exposed green, and walking away with a par here is quite an accomplishment.
But the majestic signature hole is the par 5 16th, a truly brilliant hole that requires three precisely controlled shots to a series of island fairways and greens. A good tee shot is essential, and a conservative layup to the second island fairway is a must to set up your approach shot to the small island green that’s well-guarded by bunkers.
The course used to have issues with conditions, but a newly installed irrigation system has it absolutely sparkling, with firm fast greens and lush, receptive fairways. It’s a fun, challenging course that will require you to use every shot you have to avoid the numerous water hazards.
The golf course offers club rentals (TaylorMades in both right- and left-handed) and volume discounts on greens fees — the clubs are free if you book a twosome with carts, and the price drops even more if you’ve got a foursome. The resort is just a few minutes’ walk from one of the most gorgeous white sand beaches in the world, and the restaurant provides downright stunning sunset views.
While Varadero Golf Club still enjoys “hidden gem” status in the golf world, that’s changing fast — so plan your trip now to take advantage of great prices on incredible oceanfront golf.