Mark Twain, the venerable author, humorist, and cigar smoker, disliked golf and is widely attributed to calling the game “a good walk spoiled.” Arnold Palmer, one of the greatest and most characteristic professional golfers in the history of the sport, loved golf and said “it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” Depending on how I am doing on a particular hole, my opinion of golf vacillates between those two characterizations. In virtually every round, the average golfer hammers at least one perfect drive down the fairway, or strikes a “dead aim” iron shot to the green, or sinks a breaking downhill putt—which motivates him to keep playing the game. When I check in at the club prior to an outing on the links, my professional always tells me to “remember the good ones.” For centuries, the game of golf has been both revered and ridiculed. And then, there’s always Robin Williams’ take on the subject…
Golf and tobacco have been intertwined ever since the first bored, pipe-puffing, Scottish shepherd whacked a smooth stone with the curved end of his crook toward a rabbit hole. Once the game became somewhat organized, it metamorphosed into the leisure-time hobby of gentlemen, since the price of a golf ball was prohibitively expensive for a member of the lower classes. Many of these august fellows would circle the course wearing colorful cravats and top hats, a smoldering cigar firmly clamped between their teeth. In the modern area, a number of professional golfers found that smoking cigar while playing would smooth their swings and curtail their yips on the putting green—Raymond Floyd, Larry Laoretti, Darren Clark, and Miguel Angel Jimenez, among others.
Since the playing of nine holes of golf takes around two hours, I choose vitolas which will typically burn for the entire time—a gordo, a toro, or a Churchill
I probably play an above-average amount of golf and usually enjoy a cigar or two during a round. Whether or not they assist me in lowering my handicap is highly debatable. For a number of years, my favorite smokes for the course were marketed and sold as the “3×3”. This was a bundle of nine cigars encased in metal cylinders, blended by the world-famous Henke Kelner and manufactured by Davidoff. The cigar was composed with a Colorado Claro Connecticut wrapper which surrounded binder and filler leaves from the Dominican Republic, producing a medium-bodied and medium-strength smoking experience. Alas, the 3×3 is no longer produced. These days, I tend to vary my course cigars, due in large part to a much more discerning palate. Since the playing of nine holes of golf takes around two hours, I choose vitolas which will typically burn for the entire time—a gordo, a toro, or a Churchill. If the manufacturer offers a choice, I will purchase the en tubo version of the cigar, since I can stuff it into an outer pocket of my golf bag and not worry about damage. I have a two-finger, hard-leather case and a small Xikar travel humidor for the cigars that are not available in tubes. Other accessories in my bag include a S.T. Dupont Defi Extreme lighter and a Xikar Xi2 cutter, both of which are very reliable and virtually indestructible. Currently, I rotate between ten different cigars at various price points.
Years ago, Dr. Bob Rotella—a performance consultant for professional golfers—wrote an insightful book titled Golf is Not a Game of Perfect. In the same vein, neither are the following recommendations.
$5 & Under
Uncharted is a line of cigars exclusive to JR Cigars, blended and manufactured by the renowned A.J. Fernandez. Uniquely composed with an Ecuadorian Habano Ligero wrapper, a Mexican San Andrés binder, and long-leaf filler leaves from Jamastran and Nicaragua, the toro delivers primary notes of anise, cedar, leather, and white pepper. Medium-to-full in body, flavor, and strength, the very affordable Uncharted is well constructed will burn long enough to complete nine holes of golf. I purchase them by the box.
- Size: 6″ x 52
- Prize: $4.50
- Review: Uncharted Robusto (different size)
$8 & Under
Matilde Oscura Robusto
The Oscura is the second release from master blender José Seijas’ Matilde Cigar Company. It is composed with a Mexican San Andrés wrapper, a Sumatra binder, and filler leaves from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and the United States. Bold and full of flavor, the robusto produces a profile of chocolate, chicory, coffee, oak, molasses, and finely-aged natural tobacco. The Matilde Oscura is a fantastic cigar and was awarded the “Number 8 Cigar of the Year for 2015” by Cigar Dojo. While its length is a touch shorter than what I normally take to the course, the overall smoking experience that the cigar delivers makes up for the fact that it burns only long enough for the completion of about seven holes. Therefore, I fire one up on the third or the twelfth tee.
- Size: 5¼” x 50
- Prize: $7.50 (MSRP)
- Review: Matilde Oscura Robusto
Romeo y Julieta 1875 Clemenceau Tubo
The Romeo y Julieta Clemenceau Tubo has been a staple in my golf bag for as long as I can remember. Many pro shops at golf clubs have a selection of cigars available for sale to their members and the Clemenceau Tubo is frequently found as an offering in those humidors. They are also sold at virtually every tobacconist in the county. Encased in a sturdy aluminum tube, this toro-sized cigar is composed with an Indonesian shade-grown wrapper and a Dominican binder and filler. Balanced, medium-bodied, and smooth, the cigar delivers flavorful notes of assorted spices, earth, milk chocolate, mixed nuts, and pepper. It can be enjoyed at any hour of the day.
- Size: 6” x 50
- Prize: $7.95 (MSRP)
$12 & Under
Arturo Fuente King T Rosado Tubo
The Fuente King T is encased in a colorful and tightly-sealed aluminum tube lined with Spanish cedar, which ensures freshness when stored for a few weeks in a golf bag. While the standard King T is wrapped with a Connecticut shade-grown leaf, the Sun Grown utilizes an aged Ecuadorian rosado wrapper, which is usually reserved for rare Fuente cigars. Combined with its Dominican binder and filler, the medium-strength Rosado Sun Grown King T Tubo delivers notes of cedar, coffee, honey, leather, pepper, and slightly-salted nuts. The Arturo Fuente name is recognized by even the most casual cigar smokers, and I keep a few in my bag to share with my playing partners.
- Size: 7″ x 49
- Price: $9.25 (MSRP)
- Review: Arturo Fuente Chateau Fuente King T
AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata Special Toro
The AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata Special Toro is a special favorite, composed with seven uniquely-flavored tobaccos from four countries. An Ecuadorian Habano 2000 wrapper surrounds a spicy Mexican San Andrés binder. The filler consists of a mouth-watering blend of Nicaraguan Condega Visus, Nicaraguan Estelí Ligero, Dominican Yamasá Visus, Dominican San Vicente Ligero, and Dominican Piloto. The Piloto tobacco produces a tongue-tingling sensation shortly after ignition and then the Fogata settles down to deliver complex aromas and flavors of crisp cedar, espresso, freshly-tilled earth, mixed nuts, Morel mushrooms, pepper, toast, and rock salt. I reviewed the Short Torpedo vitola last year and awarded the cigar a 91 point “Toasty” rating. It went on to become the “Number 6 Cigar of the Year for 2016” on Cigar Dojo.
- Size: 6″ x 60
- Price: $11.90 (MSRP)
- Review: AVO Syncro Nicaragua Fogata Short Torpedo (different size)
$15 & Under
Tatuaje Reserva K222
The Tatuaje Reserva K222 was released as a tribute to Pete Johnson’s beloved dog Kona, who passed away at 2:22 PM on the 26th of August, 2015. Manufactured in Miami and produced in somewhat limited numbers, the K222 is composed with a dark Ecuadorian Habano wrapper surrounding binder and filler leaves from Nicaragua. The construction is excellent, and the cigar delivers a complex smoking experience full of flavors—assorted chocolates, black pepper, coffee, earth, oak, leather, and spices. Smoking time averages around two hours, which is long enough to complete nine holes of whacking the little white ball around the links.
- Size: 5⅞” x 52
- Price: $14.00 (MSRP)
La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull
If I am looking for one cigar that will burn for an entire round of eighteen holes when I am playing as a single (which takes me three hours), I extract a La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull from my humidor and put it in my bag. This hefty, figurado-shaped cigar features an Ecuadorian Corojo wrapper surrounding binder and filler leaves from the Dominican Republic. The filler blend contains some Criollo ’98 along with a touch of Pelo d’Oro tobacco. It is very tasty and full of bold flavors, producing a smoking experience with notes of anise, cedar, coffee, chocolate, citrus, cumin, espresso, leather, and pepper. While most of the cigars produced by La Flor Dominicana are know for their exorbitant strength, the Andalusian Bull begins at a medium level and slowly progresses toward full, giving the golfer a desirable nicotine kick as he heads to the back nine.
- Size: 6½” x 64
- Price: $15.00 (MSRP)
- Review: La Flor Dominicana Andalusian Bull
$20 & Under
Padrón 1964 Anniversary Series Presidente Tubo (Natural & Maduro)
When I have an unusually early-morning tee time, I prefer to begin with a full-flavored cigar that is somewhat milder for the front nine and then transition to a stronger cigar for the back nine. Luckily for me, Padrón has recently introduced two cigars that perfectly meet those specifications.
At the 2017 IPCPR Trade Show in Las Vegas, the Padrón booth highlighted the 1964 Anniversary Series Presidente Tubo. As customary for the company, the cigar is manufactured with both a natural and a maduro wrapper. The Presidente is sharply boxed-pressed and is enclosed in a beautiful rectangular tube, making it ideal for medium-term storage in my golf bag. Additionally, the flat sides of the cigar allow for secure placement in my golf cart while I saunter out to take the next shot. Both versions are composed with a “Nicaraguan” wrapper, a Nicaraguan binder, and Nicaraguan filler leaves. The tasting notes are quite similar, with the Natural delivering a slightly mustier and milder smoking experience. Flavors and aromas of apricot, chocolate brownies, cinnamon, French-pressed coffee, pepper, wet soil, and highly-aged natural tobacco coat the palate, while red pepper and a mocha-like sweetness are dominant on the retrohale. Both cigars are fine additions to the very popular 1964 Anniversary Series.
- Size: 6” x 50
- Price: $15.50 (MSRP)
Davidoff Golf Scorecard Edition 2016
While I could obviously select a number of excellent and high-scoring cigars for this category—the Illusione Haut 10, the Davidoff Yamasá Gordo, or the Arturo Fuente Don Arturo Gran Aniverxario Churchill—the Davidoff Golf Scorecard Edition 2016 is my choice for the course.
The Scorecard Edition consists of five Gran Toro cigars, vertically arranged in a sturdy cardboard box. The company states, “the Davidoff Golf Scorecard Edition 2016 introduces an experience for sharing cigars and comparing scores. Ideal for a foursome match, with four cigars to be shared with each player and one with a distinctive gold second ring to reward the winner. As every scorecard has a story to tell, you will enjoy reviewing the tale of the tees with your friends while hopefully savoring one of these special Gran Toros. The perfect companion out on the course or back in the clubhouse.”
The cigars are composed with an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper which surrounds a Dominican Piloto binder. Five tobaccos are used the filler blend—Dominican San Vicente Mejorado Visus, Dominican San Vicente Mejorado Ligero, Dominican Piloto Visus, Dominican Hybrid Olor, and Dominican Piloto Seco. Since Dominican Piloto is one of my favorite tobaccos, I can egomaniacally pretend that Henke Kelner blended this cigar especially for me. The Gran Toro is highly complex, medium-to-full in body, and medium-to-full in strength. Producing primary notes of cedar, dried fruits, hay, honey, must, and pepper, the cigar creates an exquisite smoking experience which triggers all of the five senses of taste—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami.
- Size: 6” x 55
- Price: $120.00 (MSRP) for the pack of five | $24.00 (MSRP) per cigar
Cigars and golf are as perfect of a pairing as…well…gin and vermouth. Or Bourbon and Kentucky branch water. Bobby Jones, the American amateur golfer and founder of the Augusta National Golf Club, said “competitive golf is played mainly on a five-and-a-half-inch course…the space between your ears.” Puffing on a stick between swings will calm the nerves and focus the mind, perhaps assisting in shooting a lower score.
Source images provided by golfingmagazine.net