Written by William Baker, WBA Principal.
Cubans who are involved in the country’s very limited golf industry have high hopes for the future. There are suggestions that up to 20 new golf course could be built along the north-facing shores of the island. In other words, those locations closest to Miami and other regions of the U.S. It is unclear that this is real possibility. World class golf is accessible, with better amenities, only an island away in the Dominican Republic. Those courses can be breathtaking in their design, conditioning, and seaside settings. In this regard, Cuba will have a lot of catching up to do.
As mentioned in a previous post, there is only one 18 hole golf course in Cuba – Varadero Golf Club. It is an impressive layout with some interesting history, but lacking in the tournament level conditioning that we have come to expect from top destination resorts. That will have to change to bring American players to the island in great numbers.
Several hotels in the area promote themselves as golf resorts. One might expect from the advertisements that each hotel / resort has its own golf course. But apparently they are all sharing the one course on the Varadero peninsula. Golf destination travel usually allows for experiencing a variety of good courses. Using the Dominican Republic again (due to its proximity to Cuba), a number of beautiful and challenging courses can be found in the Punta Cana region. About 40 miles away, near the city of La Romana, six golf courses can be found inside the Casa de Campo Resort. One of these, “Teeth of the Dog”, is consistently rated in the “Top 100” in the World by Golf Digest.
One of the great challenges to golf expansion is Cuba is almost the total absence of Cuban players. In preparation for an international tournament at the Club earlier this year, they were unable to field a team of 50 golfers from across the country. This will change, but it will take time. There is clearly great enthusiasm for golf tourism from the U.S. to develop. But hopefully the uniqueness of the island and the wonderful culture will not be lost in the coming commercialization.