For as long as I can recall, golf has always had an affinity with cigars. Indeed, the two are perfectly suited. The ritual of smoking is for many an opportunity to mentally unwind from the hustle and bustle of modern life, allowing a brief period of self reflection or conversation determined only by the duration of your cigar(s). The same case can be made for golf, a game played in beautiful, and often remote, surroundings that couldn’t be further removed, physically and mentally, from the office. The combination of the two are truly magical and one of those rare pairings that bring out the best in each other.
There may be no finer talisman (pun intended, sorry) for this ideal than Miguel Angel Jimenez. Besides being one of the most popular and charismatic players on tour, the Spanish golfer is rarely seen without a cigar in hand. His preference is for Cuban cigars and specifically the Cohiba Siglo VI or Behike. It is said his collection extends to about 400 cigars, however, he is careful only to smoke them during practice rounds and while warming up; never during recorded play. Equally, another noted European golfer, Darren Clarke, is well known for his stogies, preferring the Hoyo de Monterrey Double Corona when playing casually.
While there are many noted golfer who enjoy a cigar on the course (mainly on the Senior tour), amateurs have taken to this in considerable numbers. In America, a cottage industry has been established catering to these cigar-smoking golfers by offering any variation of accessory under the sun, from travel humidors to trolley cigar holders and everything in between. But, I digress, back to the point and onto the selection process:
The Pre Game Cigar
This cigar really depends on your attitude to the pre-game routine. While I prefer to hit the range and putting-green prior to heading out (to ensure I get all my ‘bad shots’ out the way first), others take a more leisurely approach. If playing in the morning, many of you will arrive, change and greet the day with a spot of breakfast followed by a coffee on the terrace, thus giving yourselves the time to collect your thoughts before tackling the course. In this instance, a cigar is one of the best ways to mentally prepare yourself for the task ahead. Indeed, it was Harvey Penick that claimed ‘golf is 96% mental,’ and who am I to disagree?
One can approach this pre-game cigar in two different ways. Firstly, you could opt for a shorter smoke time that you can enjoy in its entirety prior to teeing off. Something like a H. Upmann Half Corona, a Trinidad Coloniales or perhaps one of Por Larrañaga’s Petit Coronas would all do well. Alternatively you could capitalise on the fact you’re outside and select a cigar that you could continue onto the course. This would bring us on to the Game Cigar.
The Game Cigar
One of the most appealing qualities of smoking on the course is that time is a non-sequitur. Indeed, in this environment, it is very much on your side. I usually prefer to take a medley of cigars on the course (to share with friends and also because I relish the opportunity to enjoy a few over the 4 hours or so that it takes to get round)
However, it is also the perfect opportunity to enjoy a longer smoke. The days of lighting a cigar and having it follow you from meeting to meeting, via cabs etc like a trusted companion are now but a distant memory. It is wonderful to be reminded that out on the golf course one is not confined by the same rules, and along with shooting, one of the finest opportunities to enjoy a smoke at your leisure. So, depending on the time of day that you’ll be playing, you couldn’t go far wrong with any of the following:
A morning cigar calls for a lighter strength vitola. These options below will all be perfectly suited to a morning round:
- H Upmann Magnum 50
- Hoyo de Monterrey Le Hoyo De San Juan
- Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill
Usually following lunch at the club, the afternoon round cigars can be slightly stronger as your palette is now up and running, so to speak. We’ve included a couple of longer vitolas as time will be on your side!
- Partagas Lusitania
- Cohiba Siglo VI (Miguel Angel Jimenez’s preference)
- Trinidad Fundadores
- Hoyo De Monterrey Double Corona (Darren Clarke’s preference)
The Post Game Cigar
The Post Game Cigar can be almost as pleasurable as those enjoyed on the course. Indeed, the drink that accompanies this smoke after the round is as much a part of golf as the game itself. Known universally as the ‘19th Hole’, here players tend to reflect on the day’s game, lamenting over missed putts, the turning point in a match or indeed, anything that takes their fancy. Over the years, clubs have spent an increasing amount of effort in order to provide the perfect setting for this, usually via the creation of a terrace with a direct view of the 18th green. Many of the grander courses will also have a cigar menu for the terrace, which is perfect if you have been generous on the course. For this occasion, we would suggest any of the following:
Early Morning Post Game Cigar:
- Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No.2
- Cohiba Medio Siglo
- El Rey Del Mundo Choix Supreme
Twilight Post Game Cigar:
- Partagas Serie D No.4
- Montecristo No.2
- Cohiba Piramides Extra
Useful Points / Etiquette
Cigar smoking, like golf, is a gentleman’s pursuit and therefore follows the same set of rules. While these are not set in stone, these are a selection that I have found useful to adopt when combining both of these elegant pastimes:
- Be Considerate of Others
Consideration of others is of paramount importance. If any of your playing partners are not fond of the smell, ensure you remain cognizant of the wind direction and the effect this has on your cigar smoke. Similarly, watch your proximity on tee boxes and, if riding a cart, ask if they mind you smoking when riding.
- Be Careful Where You Rest Your Cigar
Golf courses invest significant time, effort and expense to ensure that their greens are maintained at the highest possible level for your pleasure. It goes without saying that the Greenkeepers would be grateful if you refrained from resting a lighted cigar on them, which can scorch the grass. Instead, gently rest your cigar on the 2nd cut of rough surrounding the green and return to this after putting.
- Take Care of Your Cigars
A small travel humidor is perfect for every golf loving cigar aficionado. We recommend those by Xikar. If you don’t have one of these, don’t fear: a small, sealed plastic bag with a damp flannel will do the job.
- Be Generous
One of the finest qualities of cigar smokers is their generosity. I, for one, always get enjoyment from sharing my cigars with my playing partners. On the plus side, if they do decline, you get to keep some back and gain points for offering!
- Bring a Torch
For many years the wind has proved an issue for smokers and golfers alike. And while it can still negatively impact your game, a torch lighter will at least ensure that your cigar remains lighted. There is nothing more frustrating than battling the wind or the rain with matches. Please remember to carry one with you (as well as a cutter) and you’ll have one less distraction to concern yourself with. There is nothing I can do for your slice, however.