Smokes on the course - the love affair between golf and Cuban cigars
Golf and Cuban cigars are passions that have gone hand-in-hand for many years. Every day, thousands of people across the world head to a links or parkland course for a round or two of this ancient game. The serene settings, usually surrounded by glorious scenery, the duration of the session and the combination of physical exertion with technical know-how make golf an ideal game for those seeking to completely disconnect from daily life for a while. Golf is a game which requires complete focus to play, which makes it an ideal way to detach from the norm and re-centre the mind.
When golf is played as a hobby, it is common to see cigars accompany players around the course. This is, after all, essentially a walk through nature which lasts 3 hours or more, usually played with friends. A round of golf takes patience, commitment and time – things which can also be attributed to the smoking of a fine Cuban cigar, and oftentimes the person who enjoys one is also a fan of the other. Seasoned professionals like Miguel Ángel Jiménez (pictured above), notable amateurs, like 7-time World Snooker Champion Stephen Hendry, and countless weekend players pack a handsome cigar case in their golf bag, taking advantage of the opportunity to smoke a large ring gauge stick they may often find they lack the time to savour properly.
A classic Scottish links course is the ideal setting for a Cuban cigar. Image from VisitScotland.
It is the peace and solitude of a large, open golf course that makes it the ideal spot for a stogie. So many have breath-taking views, offering a glorious backdrop as we walk to meet our ball, and the sight of natures beauty as we puff serves as an added aid to relaxation. Of course, the relaxation can often be dependent on the standard of the day’s play – golf has the power to infuriate as much as meditate – but when the ball is flying true and a gentle breeze rustles through the trees or off the ocean the golf course can prove the most comforting place on earth, at least for a moment.
Which cigars, then, should we take from the humidor when heading out to play? As well as being of a large enough vitola to last us the day, we should consider the time. Most rounds will be played early, making the most of the light, so nothing too powerful will suit. Even after the heartiest of breakfasts, a full-throated Partagas Lusitania or Ramon Allones Gigantes may be an overreach for even the most seasoned aficionado, drawing concentration away from their play and casting a bit of a pall over what should be one of the highlights of the week. Fortunately, Habanos SA have a huge range of options for the golfing smoker, including a range of Montecristos created specifically with golf in mind.
In 2009 a new line of 4 cigars was announced under the Montecristo brand, blended to be medium-bodied and with outdoor smokers in mind. The Open Eagle is the largest of the four – a robusto extra at 54 ring gauge by almost 6 inches – and will fill most of the round with spice and wood. The Open Master is its smaller cousin – a classic robusto at 50 ring gauge by 4 7/8 inches – and will deliver the same delights for around an hour. For a full 18-hole day, packing 2 may be the wisest choice – fortunately the whole line is presented with the option of protective aluminium tubes.
Originally produced as a Limited Edition in 2005, the Magnum 50 was given a regular release in 2008 and is another cigar perfectly suited to al fresco enjoyment. The light-medium body we expect from this venerable brand and the extended smoking time – 50 ring gauge by 6 ¼ inches – make it an ideal choice for the course. It can also be found in protective tubes and will deliver creamy, woody flavour notes punctuated with the occasional hint of citrus, making it perfectly suited to the lush greens and wooded areas of a stunning parkland course.
The Siglo line of Cohiba cigars is the ultimate in medium-bodied luxury smokes, and the Siglo VI is the jewel of the collection. The mighty Cañonazo vitola – 52 RG by just under 6 inches – delivers on both grandeur and smoking time. The glint of the gold foil band in the sun as you make your way up to the next tee and the rich aroma of the smoke will enhance your round no end. The spice and cedar on your palette will delight you with every puff. If a round of golf is intended to be a special occasion, why not mark it with a special cigar?