Today Argentina boasts nearly 350 golf courses and the Asociación Argentina de Golf registers the handicaps of nearly 51,500 players, while more than thirty major competitions take place there every year. Europeans, even the Scots, will feel welcome here in a land that appreciates good golf, good beef and good football.
The story is that golf first came to Argentina in 1890 when a certain Henry Smith of Scotland was detained by customs officials as he tried to enter Buenos Aires with a bag of golf clubs that the officials mistook for arms. Other travelers from the British Isles soon began setting up courses, among the earliest being the Lomas Golf Club in 1892 and four years later the truly excellent Mar del Plata, located quite a ways outside the capital. In 1926 the Asociación Argentina de Golf was established as the game became especially popular in and around Buenos Aires during the Interwar years. Abundant farmland had brought prosperity to Argentina, and the famed architect Dr. Alister Mackenzie was lured down from his work in California to lay out the course for what remains the country's top golf establishment, The Jockey Club.
The game experienced ups and downs throughout the rest of the twentieth century in Argentina. The accomplishments of several outstanding native players did much to increase its popularity. The flamboyant Roberto de Vicenzo won more than 250 championships in a thirty-year professional career that took him around the world and lasted until the Sixties. His heirs have included such stars as Eduardo Romero, who shares Vicenzo's powerful approach to the game (and but average putting), and Angel Cabrera, who has taken home Masters and US Open titles.