Varadero golf course has an interesting history and pedigree. Originally, the site was the location for the Dupont mansion and golf course, a summer retreat used by family and friends of Irenee Dupont Nemours.
The 18 hole golf course costing $10 million that is now open, replaced the 9 holes built in 1930 by Irenee Dupont at a cost of $1.3 million. The Mansion was completely renovated during 1997, but has kept all the original features including Cuban marble bathrooms, Italian marble and Cuban Mahogany hallway. The furniture included paintings, pianos and, at a cost of $110,000 in 1932, the largest organ in Latin America supplied by Theodore Baily and Meras and Rico.
The mansion, named by Dupont “Xanadu” taken from Samuel Taylor’s poem of the same name about the legend of Kubla Khan, is now the Clubhouse for the golf course and has a French restaurant with excellent cuisine and roof top bar offering magnificent views across the course, with the beautiful sunsets over the 18th green as the sun sinks into the Mar Caribe.
The new Varadero Golf course construction started in December 1994 and continued on until April 1998 when the full 18 holes opened. An ambitious project taken on by Rumbos, the Cuban tourist company, this was their first 18 hole golf project in Cuba and engaged Les Furber of Canada to design the layout. Using his experience working with Robert Trent Jones for ten years, he came up with a golf course designed to the highest specification that is both spectacular and original in concept.
Re-developing the 9 hole course completely, in-filling and draining waste areas with a million cubic metres of subsoil topped with 6 inches of silver sand, sown totally with Bermuda 328, Les sympathetically sculpted a golf course into the Cuban landscape of gently swaying palms and colourful flora.
The landscape gave the chance to incorporate three distinct characteristics. The target golf element, creating 13 hectares of lakes, is best illustrated by the par 5 16th hole with its island fairway and well protected and contoured island green.
Another style incorporated is the classically wide tree-lined fairways and big greens of holes 4, 5, and 7, making position off the tee a chance to open up the opportunities to attack the cleverly placed flags.
The final element Furber incorporated was a traditional links connection, utilising the sea and shore line as a natural hazard, with the 8th and 18th providing elevated cliff-edge tee positions.
The Sol Melia Hotels – Melia Las Americas, Melia Varadero, and Sol Club Palmeras – have entered into a working partnership with Rumbos for the next five years. Melia have appointed Jimmy Burns as Golf Director to oversee the establishment of golf programs directed at the golf tourist market. Jimmy is a British PGA professional of over 25 years. He is the first PGA professional based in Cuba since the Revolution, having spent most of his time in Europe setting up golf projects to bring golfers into the game with quality coaching and playing programmes for golfers of all standards.
Jimmy has been involved in setting up his own golf clubs and pioneering access to golf. Through him, Sol Melia are assisting Rumbos in establishing The Cuba Golf Federation to develop the game and oversee the training standards for instructors, players, greens superintendents, caddies, pro shops, and club administration. The constitution of the CGF has been structured with advice from the English Golf Union, and the Golf Foundation of Great Britain is providing a merit award scheme as a structure to deliver a quality coaching programme for young people in Cuba. Sol Melia and Rumbos are embarking on a world wide marketing programme to bring Cuba Golf to the attention of the golf travel industry.
The Sol Melia hotels are now offering golf packages to suit all players’ needs - guaranteed start times, discounted green fees, walk-in golf clinics, 3 and 5 day golf schools, regular members competitions, golf weeks with tuition and playing programmes providing for Pro-Ams, company golf events, and international tournaments.
Varadero Golf Course :
Par 72 – five x par 3’s, eight x par 4’s, five x par 5’s
Four tees on each hole; over 70 bunkers
Eight holes where water comes into play
Automatic green and fairway irrigation
300 metre double-ended practice range
3 practice putting greens, practice bunkers, pitching green
Club rental, bag store, lockers