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Afoot in Argentina

Olivos Golf Club

Ruta Panamericana, Km 32,400, Los Polvorines; 011-54/11-4463-1076, olivosgolf.cc. Yardage: 6,705. Par: 72. Architect: Luther H. Koontz, 1928. Greens Fees: $35–$65. T+L Golf Rating: ****1/2

If I could choose only one course to play for the rest of my life, Olivos would merit serious consideration. It's the essence of parkland golf: a lush greensward with graceful, tree-lined doglegs, intricate greens and a wonderful variety of trees. The course has more elbow room and elevation change than the Jockey Club, and the land is used to fine effect. The deservedly famous par-five fifteenth, just 460 yards, rises slightly from the tee, bends to the right and entices long hitters by playing downhill, over a glassy brick-edged pond, to an inviting green. Don't feel doomed when you spot a gentleman in waders standing by, ready if needed to retrieve your ball.

Buenos Aires Golf Club

Mayor Irusta 3777, Bella Vista; 011-54/11-4468-1737, bagolf.com.ar. Yardage: 6,755 (Green/Yellow), 6,754 (Green/Blue), 6,651 (Yellow/Blue). Par: 72. Architect: Robert von Hagge, 1994. Greens Fee: $150. T+L Golf Rating: ****

Often ranked as Argentina's number-one course, this is a daring American-style layout with massive bunkering and mounding. Each of the three nines winds around at least one of two big lakes created during the construction of a highway. The Yellow nine features a short island-green par four, while the Blue's 378-yard second rewards a heroic drive with a fairway that tumbles from the crook of a dogleg down to the green. The club hosted the 2000 World Cup, played on a composite eighteen and won by Tiger Woods and David Duval over the Argentine duo of Angel Cabrera and Eduardo Romero.

Martindale Country Club

Avenido Juan Domingo Perón 2375, Pilar; 011-54/23-2240-6700; Yardage: 6,915. Par: 72. Architects: Diego Caprile and Marcos Capdepont, 1989. Greens Fee: $40. T+L Golf Rating: ****

Despite its classic brick clubhouse, Martindale—the former estate of a wealthy English family—is a relatively modern course. Long, broad fairways lead to enormous, multitiered greens. The opening holes could be almost anywhere—that is, if not for the squawking flocks of tero teros, the stick-legged national birds of Uruguay, Argentina's neighbor to the east. Beginning at number seven, the routing turns into the trees, requiring accuracy over strength, before it ventures out again. As you walk off eighteen, check out the small oak-shaded chapel with ivy-covered walls.

BEST OF THE REST

Ranelagh Golf Club, a 1920s-era layout that in true English fashion borders a rail line and begins and ends at a Tudor clubhouse, is worth a visit. It's where De Vicenzo learned the game as a caddie. The modern San Eliseo Country Club unfolds in a series of a long fescue-lined holes. Despite being the centerpiece of a housing development, the course has a pastoral feel.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS

Buenos Aires' most famous cultural export is the tango, the incomparably sensuous dance believed to have been invented by patrons of bordellos as a way to pass the time. Fittingly, the city will host the World Tango Festival (worldtangofestival.com.ar) October 9–16. Year-round, consistently good shows can be seen at El Viejo Almacén and El Chino.

Given the strong dollar and the city's plethora of boutiques, Buenos Aires is an irresistible town for shopping. At La Curtiembre (la-curtiembre.com.ar), one of many leather-goods stores in the upscale neighborhood of Recoleta, men's jackets sell for just $200 and women's shoulder bags for $100. Bustling arts and crafts fairs in the historic neighborhoods of San Telmo and La Boca attract thousands of shoppers every weekend.

If nothing else, be sure to visit Recoleta Cemetery, a labyrinth of the dead that could be the setting of a Jorge Luis Borges story. Notice the feral cats that slink down the narrow walkways between the stone and marble tombs and the stream of people who pay their respects at the resting place of Eva Perón, Argentina's lightning rod of a first lady.

WHERE TO STAY

Centrally located in Recoleta, the newly renovated Four Seasons (fourseasons.com/buenosaires) makes for an excellent and elegant base. For a splurge, book a suite in the attached French-style mansion. If you prefer to be on the cusp of fashion, the year-old Faena Hotel (faenahotelanduniverse.com) on the redeveloped waterfront of Puerto Madero is a stunningly modern conversion of a former grain warehouse.

WHERE TO EAT

Thanks to its diverse population, Buenos Aires has no shortage of superb ethnic cuisines, particularly Italian, but it's the aroma of sizzling Argentine beef that's the city's biggest culinary draw. Traditional parrillas, steak houses that grill an assortment of cuts over glowing embers, are everywhere. Try Estilo Campo, a spacious outback-themed place in Puerto Madero. Inevitably, you'll need a night off from red meat, in which case venture to Bar Uriarte, a bistro in enchanting Palermo Soho whose open kitchen turns out inventive fare. •

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