Fergus Bisset and the leading competitors give their thoughts on Pilar Golf - The course for the Latin America Amateur Championship
Some 25 miles out of the centre of Buenos Aires, construction at Pilar Golf began in 1992. Designed by The Ronald Fream Design Group Ltd, this is an undulating parkland course featuring a significant amount of water, particularly on the back nine.
I’ve been surprised by how green the countryside is around Buenos Aires, the terrain is lush and populated by a broad array of trees and shrubs. There’s clearly quite a bit of rain here and, in fact, the average rainfall in Buenos Aires is greater than London.
And, looking out across the layout at Pilar, it wouldn’t be difficult to believe that you were in the Home Counties. The track reminds me a little of The London Club – sweeping, rolling fairways travelling past clever bunkering, occasional trees and well-placed water hazards to quick, sloping greens. The shotgun-start practice round took some five and a half hours to complete today, largely because the players were taking time to study the complex undulations that feature on and around the putting slopes here.
Totalling 7,255 yards in length against a par of 72, the course isn’t overly long by modern standards. But, with three of the four par-5s measuring over 580 yards and with only one par-4 of less than 400 yards, those players with the ability to hit the long ball will be at a distinct advantage.
Top ranked Argentinian Alejandro Tosti spoke this afternoon about the importance of driving the ball well here.
“Yes, the par-5s are very long so you really must find the fairway on these,” he said. “And, on most of the holes, it’s important to find the right side of the fairway from the tee as it will allow you to find the pins. If you miss on the wrong side you can make bogey very easily.”
Tournament favourite Guillermo Pereira of Chile holds a similar view.
“The tee shots are key here,” he said. “It’s not just about finding the fairways, it’s important to find the right spots on those fairways.”
Venezuela’s Jorge Garcia spoke about the quality of the greens.
“The greens are good here and very sloping,” he said. “They are soft after yesterday’s rain but could well firm up as the week goes on. You definitely need a sharp short-game to score well on this course.”
The course is one that should provide a suitable test for these top amateur players, as it has a proven record of hosting significant competition. In 2006 and 2011 Pilar Golf played host to the Argentina Open – the first of those events was won by Rafa Echenique. The European Tour player beat Angel Cabrera and Ricardo Gonzalez into tied second place.
This will be a week where the players need to show some patience and pick their battles. Firing at the pin on every hole could lead to trouble. It’s difficult to pick a winning score, but if the weather holds and the greens remain receptive, I’d expect to see at least a few of the top players go pretty low – double figures under par.