2 Where is it?
ITANHANGA GOLF CLUB 16 miles southwest of Rio.
This exceptionally welcoming private club was established in 1933 by President Getulio Vargas, Brazil’s longest-serving political leader, first as dictator from 1930 to 1945, then as elected president from 1951 until his suicide in 1954. He set up Itanhanga as the antidote to Gavea, known in those days as the“Englishman’s Club”and, therefore, unacceptable to a dedicated nationalist.
A passionate, if indifferent, golfer – his handicap was 30-plus – Vargas took time out from his program of industrialization and social reform to play on a flat course laid out in the imposing shadow of Devil’s Rock. Nowadays, 10,000 trees from a mix of 86 different species shed 30 billion leaves a year, a daunting task for greenkeeping staff. Coconut palms dominate, but mangos provide protection from the sun and a succulent snack from November through NewYear.
The river that snakes among the fairways is at its most menacing at the Three Twins, par fours at seven, eight and nine with water to the left that wreck many a promising card.
Estrada da Barra da Tijuca 2005; tel +5521 3883 8323; itanhanga.com.br
Championship course, weekdays R$300/$92, weekends R$425/$130; nine-hole course, weekdays R$180/$55, weekends R$245/$75; caddie (compulsory for visitors) R$100/$30 plus tip; cart R$150/$45; club rental R$150/$45 for 18 holes (brands include Callaway, Taylor Made and Titleist).
6:00 AM – 7:00 PM.Visitor tee times available on weekdays and at weekends after 1:00 PM.
32 Championship course, 6,695 yds, par 72; nine-hole course, 2,840 yds, par 36; driving range, putting green.
The spacious clubhouse has a terrace with seating overlooking the 18th green, and serves an international menu. There’s a large outdoor pool, plus the only polo club in Rio.