Why ‘plague mosquitos’ have become a battle for pros this week

players and caddies moquito repellent gear argentina open

A few players and caddies have experimented with wearing repellent gear during practice at the Argentina Open this week.

Courtesy Argentina Open

There are many words to describe this week’s Argentina Open on the Korn Ferry Tour, but pro Martin Trainer chose just three. And those three seem to suffice. Trainer’s words: “Muggy and buggy.” Emphasis on the last one, for now. 

The fifth event of the 2024 KFT season takes us more than 4,000 miles south of Jupiter, Fla., down to Buenos Aires, where summer is in full force. Hence, the mugginess. Temperatures in the 80s with high humidity are one thing. Constant storms are a separate, important development. 

According to various local reports, specialists believe recent heavy rainfall has led to a proliferation of Aedes Albifasciatus, also known as “flood mosquitoes,” which reproduce in areas where floods have left behind puddles of water. Hence, the bugginess. It’s been so bad this month that multiple reports have quoted Maria Victoria Micieli, a director of the Center for Parasitological Studies, as calling it a “plague mosquito.” 

That is what is facing Korn Ferry Tour pros this week. But how big of an issue will this be for them?

Early pictures from the Visa Open de Argentina indicate a golf tournament going on as expected — a full driving range, players grinding on the practice green, a pro-am playing out with amateurs. But within that, there are a few indicators of abnormal conditions. 

Many players are layering up, even in the balmy temperatures, with long sleeves and pants rather than short sleeves and shorts. A handful have added a thin gaiter around their necks, the kind skiers wear while on the slopes, or that many people used during the peak of the Covid pandemic when social distancing was urged. 

caddie bug protection argentina open
A few players and caddies have donned repellent gear at this week’s Argentina Open. Courtesy Argentina Open
golfer wearing gaiter argentina open
A player covers most of his face and neck with a gaiter during the Argentina Open this week. Courtesy Argentina Open

There was also a posting set up in the clubhouse, acknowledging the mosquitoes. But instead of discussing their existence, tournament organizers simply asked players not to spray repellent or sunscreen while standing on tee boxes, fairways or greens as the spray could incur turf damage.

Despite what social media would have you believe, only a few players or caddies have donned an actual repellent material, the kind of thin, translucent sheet that a beekeeper might wear when harvesting honey at a bee farm. Among those doing so, and seemingly having some fun with it, is Thomas Walsh, a 27-year-old pro from North Carolina. Walsh has worn protective gear multiple days this week while prepping for the tournament. His caddie, Nate Scott, captured it in full on Instagram.

“Tee time at 8,” Scott said in an Instagram reel, “beekeeping at 9. Here we go.” 

Here we go indeed. While sunny afternoons can make the mosquito issues manageable, it seems to be the rainy times that bring the bugs out in force. And the forecast isn’t looking great. Showers are predicted to arrive once again during Saturday’s third round. In this instance, missing the cut might come with a silver lining: getting on the first plane to Santiago, Chile, where the tour heads next.

Sean Zak

Golf.com Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just finished a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews.