The Costa del sol golf course guide is a “rough guide” and is purely the personal opinion of the author. Please take in to consideration that these comments are subjective, personal opinions and standards of golf differ. Please take this rough guide as exactly that, an honest, personal opinion from a fellow golf addict.
Alcaidesa Links Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Alcaidesa golf course is a 18 hole, par 70 golf course.
Address: Ctra de Cadiz (N340), Km 124.6, La Linea, Cadiz. Tel: +34 956 791 040.
This is a beautiful and tricky golf course for every standard of golfer from 28 handicap to scratch. Allis and Clark have made and admirable attempt to create a rare links course on the Costa. Stunning views across the bay to Gibraltar and hilly terrain make it a delight to play. Take plenty of balls, as the fairways are tight and unforgiving surrounded by gorse and ravines.
A buggy is needed – even for the fittest amongst us- and as you play consider taking an extra club up on par threes because of deceptive wind.
Alhaurin Golf Course, Costa del sol, Spain.
Alhaurin golf course is a 18+18+9, par 72 golf course which was designed by Severiano Ballesteros.
Address: Ctra Mijas-Alhaurin, (MA485) Km6, Alhaurin el Grande. Tel: +34 95 259 5970.
Tight beyond belief, difficult beyond anything I have every seen before.
The first hole is extremely difficult with a narrow fairway and rocks to the sides of the fairway, which send your ball bouncing high in to the sky, never to be seen again. As you progress the course gets tougher and if you are not really on top of your game you could easily become more and more disheartened as you progress around the course. I stopped counting shots after I lost my tenth golf ball! By the 18th I had suffered several episodes of golf rage and was close to a nervous breakdown.
I’ve read course guides say that this course “compels golfers to concentrate on their game and choose with care which club they should use for every stroke.” Personally I would say this course is one of the toughest golf course on the Costa del Sol. This course is at best described as a challenge for an experienced player who is on top form, at worst its tight and downright cruel.
Alhaurin golf course is generally cheaper to play than most other local golf courses.
A buggy is essential as is an ample supply of golf balls.
Cabopino Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Cabopino golf course is a 18 hole par 71 golf course.
It’s a relatively new course but it has matured very quickly and is very well maintained. The marshal’s are friendly and very welcoming.
There is a driving range on the approach road to the course, so if you arrive early you can loosen up your swing. Alternatively you could take the approach Andy and I prefer, loosen up with a San Miguel at the bar before you tee off.
Cabopino golf has a pleasant clubhouse, with a pleasant sun terrace where you can sit, eat, drink and enjoy the views of the ocean. The staff in the bar and restaurant are friendly staff and they serve good quality food.
The short at only course is only 5,170 meters long but it’s has tight fairways and is challenging.
The greens are large and were of fantastic quality when we last visited. The third hole is the one most people enjoy the most and it’s not one you will forget, it’s a par 4 which drops dramatically from the tee to the green and has outstanding views. A buggy is advisable on this course, which is hilly.
Dama de Noche Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Dama de Noche golf course is a 9 hole, Par 70 golf course.
Centro Commercial Plaza, Oficinas 51-52, 29660, Nueva Andalucia, Marbella.
Dama de Noche golf course is a nine-hole course, which can be played as 18 holes. It is flat, wide and easy. It is ideal course for a high handicapper or anyone wanting a gentle stroll.
All that changes a night though because the is course is flood lit and can be played at night.
They say that the lighting system is designed to cast no shadows thus giving daylight quality and maximum visibility, does that apply in the rough as well I ask myself?
You do have to make a reservation for night golf because they only put the lights on if there is sufficient demand but for total golfing addicts or insomniac this course offers considerable novelty value and it’s one to talk about in the clubhouse when you go home.
El Chaparral Golf Course, near La Cala de Mijas, Costa del Sol, Spain.
El Chaparral golf course is an 18 hole, par 73 course.
Address: N340 / A7 Km 203.
El Chaparral is a club which closed several years ago for reasons that I don’t need to go into now. The course has now risen from the ashes and is trying to build a reputation for itself. Purely for research purposes, I tested out the clubhouse both before and after my round at El Chaparral and I found the staff to be particularly welcoming and they really did their best to make us feel at home.
Even though El Chaparral is only a stones throw from the coast it has an English parkland course feel to it. The fairways are long and narrow and I found the course testing, I didn’t have enough room to risk my driver off many tee’s yet I needed the driver to get the distance I needed off the tee’s to get any chance of reaching the green in regulation.
El Chaparral is extremely hilly and walking it is only for the bravest of golfers. Overall I would describe it as a very tricky course, bordering on frustrating, it tempted me to use the driver but punished me when I did!
The course is a little pricey for what you get. It was quiet when I played it but I’ve been back since and it is gaining in popularity.
Carretera Cádiz, KM 150, Arroyo Vaquero, Apartado 532, 29680 Estepona.
18 hole, par 72 course.
The first time I played this course about nine years ago I was extremely disappointed. The fairways were worn, bare and baked, the greens were unkempt and the whole feel of the place was one of a lack of investment. Since then I have been tempted to re-visit by a friend who told me that improvements have been made yet the cost has been kept down. Well fair play, the cost has stayed relatively low and there has obviously been a lot of investment and as a result the course has improved considerably. It still needs some TLC but it is now playable. Still nowhere near the quality of Monte Mayor, La Cala or the like but it is perfect for a cheap round in between more serious games.
Flamingos Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Flamingos golf course is a 18-hole, par 72 course.
Address: Ctra de Cadiz Km 166, Marbella / Benhavis.
A relatively new course but the work that has gone into the course makes that incredible, it looks like its been established for years.
Clearly no expense has been spared when they built this course. Everything from the hotel toilets to the course itself is magnificent, lavish and downright opulent. A visit to Flamingos really is a treat (and before you ask I don’t get a commission for writing this, I just tell it as I see it.)
Flamingos is worth a visit just to have a walk around the hotel, which has clearly been fashioned on the Alhambra Palace and its magnificent water gardens.
As for the golf course itself it is every bit as lavish as the hotel and clubhouse. As you meander around the course the views vary from a panoramic views of the Mediterranean to secluded views of the wild countryside. Around the course there is an incredible variety of trees, plants and vegetation, some native, some clearly imported so as to add to the experience.
Every now and them you stumble across an old (well they genuinely look old but they weren’t there in 2005!) ruins or statues and every corner holds a new surprise, all of them pleasant.
The front nine holes have generous wide fairways where you really can open up your shoulders, a rarity for Spanish golf and the greens are ample too, so get the low score on the card in front nine if you can. As you negotiate the back nine the fairways tend to narrow down, especially the 18th which really focuses the mind but even so the back nine are not overly cruel. The fairways are narrower than the front nine but they tend to be shorter and you have loosened up, so even though you have to be a little more precise than on the front nine the golf is still enjoyable.
If you visit Flamingos make sure you take the time to explore the hotel after your round. It’s well worth a look.
Over all I would describe Flamingos as a cracking course which tends to be a little on the pricey side but if you want to treat yourself you will not be disappointed. A Masters or Championship course of the future I will wager.
Lauro Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Lauro golf course is an 18 hole par 72 golf course.
Address:Ctra de Coin,(C344) Km 77, Los Caraclilos, Alhaurin de la Torre. Tel: +34 952 4127 67.
Beautiful parkland course surrounded by lots of Andalucian trees. It offers breathtaking views over the valley and Malaga bay. Nine lakes so there is something to think about but it is a relatively easy and relaxing course.
La Cala Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
La Cala has three golf courses, each of 18 holes, par’s 72,73 and 71.
Address: La Cala de Mijas, Mijas Costa. Tel: +34 95 266 9000.
A personal favourite, all three courses are equally good. I highly recommend La Cala golf, not only because of the quality of the golf but also because of the quality of the clubhouse, facilities, surroundings and the reasonable pricing.
At La Cala golf there are three spectacular 18 hole courses, which are nestled in the countryside about 15-20 minutes drive in land from La Cala town.
La Cala golf is an enormous luxury golfing resort, which is perfect for golfers who want quality golf at a sensible price in an exclusive environment.
Set out like a Country Club in extremely large grounds it has an exclusive clubhouse and restaurant. It also has a separate five star hotel, where you will find an very exclusive restaurant.
All three courses have terrific obstacles & natural water hazards along with narrow fairways and large well-kept greens. Set amongst tranquil mountains, all three courses are long and sculptured into the natural contours of the countryside which means that you have think your way around La Cala golf and use the contours of the landscape to your advantage.
All three courses hilly and a buggy is a must. The South is my favourite, it’s a little more forgiving than the North Course and the Europa.
Try the Leadbetter Golf Academy located at La Cala Golf, it’s a little expensive and you will have to book in advance but the instructor’s improved my game, so they must be good!
At the academy they also have an excellent grass driving range.
La Noria golf is a nine hole, par 33 course.
It is located at the beginning of the road from La Cala de Mijas which runs to La Cala Golf off the N340 or A7.
This 9 hole course has been a long time in the building and it is obviously eventually going to grow into a 18 holes course but that will probably take some time.
The club house is literally a bar come cafe but it is adequate and serves its purpose.
I am no fan of 9 hole courses but I have to say I enjoyed playing this course. It’s relatively simple to negotiate and very easy to walk around. The fairways are wide and none of the holes were particularly long. There is water to cross and a few challenges as you negotiate the course and while it’s no Carnoustie for what you pay its not at all bad.
It’s not every day that you want to play challenging golf and if that’s the case then La Noria is worth thinking about. This course is perfect for a high handicapper, a novice golfer or simply for a warm up for a more serious round later on in your holiday. As nine hole courses go this is one of the better ones and for the price its worth bearing in mind.
Los Naranjos golf course, Costa del sol, Spain.
A relatively flat and wide 18 hole course, something which is rare on the Costa del sol.
The best summary I can give of this course is to say it is wide and forgiving and it allows you to “go for it” when the opportunity arises yet there are enough challenges to keep you focused and maintain your interest.
In all honesty a buggy is not essential but if you do hire one the in built satnav is very hand, it even gives you a distance to the buggy in front of you, so there’s no excuse for taking out the four ball ahead of you, never mind such is life!
We found the course to be well marshalled, nothing oppressive but they gave the slow golfers a hint when needed. The course staff were all very polite and helpful and we were made to feel very welcome.
The course has a excellent restaurant and the beer at the end of the round was suitably chilled, what more could you ask for.
Reasonably priced and definitely a course I will be re-visiting.
Mijas Golf Courses, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Mijas golf has two 18 hole golf courses, par 71 & 72.
Address: Urb. Mijas Golf, Mijas-Costa. Tel: +34 95 247 6843
Two relaxing 18 hole courses both having flat and wide fairways. Both courses are generous and forgiving leaving the option of a safe shot down the middle for a bogie or a par, alternatively you can take the driver out and go for the birdie. Good scores are achievable on either of the courses, which are set both in an attractive and tranquil landscape.
If you hire a buggy they have satellite / GPS tracking and mapping which gives you distances from where you park the buggy to the green and to hazards. Watch out though, don’t make the same mistake I made, the distances are in meters not 1yards, don’t forget to add 10% to get yardages!
All level of golfers will find that both courses at Mijas golf are a fair and enjoyable test of golf. Being one of the better-known clubs Mijas can get busy. A four and a half hour round is not unusual because it is so popular but the surroundings are so pleasant you hardly notice. I recommend both of the Mijas courses, play them and you will see why.
Just a tip for those playing out of season at Mijas golf course. They often close half of each of the golf courses to rest them out of season so you may find that you are playing the front nine of Los Olivios and the back nine of Los Largos one day and vice versa the next day. It’s not a problem as both are nice courses but sometimes this takes people by surprise.
Miraflores Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Miraflores golf course is an 18 hole, par 72 golf course.
Address: Urb. Riviera del Sol, 29647 Mijas-Costa. Tel: (952) 83 36 47.
This used to be a favourite and regular golf course for me, sadly there has been extensive building work all around the course edge of Miraflores golf course and it appears never ending. In my opinion the building work has taken the edge off the natural beauty and spoilt the course somewhat. While prices have been reduced in an apparent attempt to tempt golfers back to the course I have to ask myself if I want to go all the way to Spain to play golf in the middle of a building site?
It is one of the more forgiving courses on the Costa and a buggy is not essential.
If you do try Miraflores golf course loosen up in advance of the first tee, the first hole is a tight and requires a straight shot or you could end up in the garden of one of the many villa’s next to the fairway.
Monte Mayor Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Address: Ctra de Cadiz (N340), Km 165.6, La Cancelada, San Pedro. Tel: +34 95 211 3088.
A challenging course but in my opinion this is the best golf course on the Costa del sol, if your game is on form. It is extremely tight, very hilly and is carefully sculptured into the natural mountainous terrain. The natural views and beauty of this course are second to none.
Your golf needs to be accurate, sensible club selection and course management are a must. If you play sensibly and stay on the fairways you will be rewarded, if not make sure you have a good supply of golf balls.
If you play Monte Mayor golf course you are guaranteed a day to remember and you will want to go back as often as I do.
Most of the year golf buggies are included in the green fee’s. If you visit in high season they may not be, in which case I strongly recommend that visit hire a buggy, you will need it.
This is a very isolated golf course, in a location where you have to ask “Who thought of putting a golf course way up here?” The isolation adds to attraction of this incredible golf course but it means that it is difficult to find, so I strongly recommend that you drive to it for a “test run” the day before your golf.
It is set in spectacular mountainous terrain where you will find peace and tranquility combined with natural beauty and unforgettable golf. A challenge but a fantastic golf course in surroundings that are literally unsurpassable. To sum up, if your game is on form do not miss this golf course, its brilliant.
Parador Malaga Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Parador golf course is an 18 hole, par 72 golf course.
Apartado de Correos, 324 29080 Málaga. Tel. +34 952376677
Parador golf Course is famous because it hosted the Spanish Open’s in 1992 and 1999. Personally I am not sure why they would host such a prestigious event at this course because it is literally at the end of the busy runway of Malaga International Airport and there is constant noise as planes take off and land right next to the course.
I found this course boring, the greens were in a terrible condition and bunkers were in a state of total disrepair with bare soil and mud instead of sand.
Famous it may be but I found it to be a total let down. In my opinion the best way to view this golf course is out of the airplane window as you land or from the main road as you drive past to one of the many more pleasant courses in Andalucia.
Rio Real Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Rio Real golf course is an 18 hole, par 72 golf course.
Urb Rio Real, P.O.BOX 82, 29600 Marbella, Malaga. Tel: +34 95 277 95 09.
A mature, tranquil course that gradually meanders way up into the hills and then it wanders all the way back down to the beach. At one stage you feel you are alone in the middle of the mountains, next you are on a green that is literally next to the beach.
The course generally has wide fairways and while you have to concentrate it does not punish you unfairly. Water come in to play on a few times but in all honesty if you play sensible golf it won’t cost you any golf balls. Pleasant countryside and views in the hills and a fantastic vista as you play down to the edge of the Mediterranean Ocean. A relaxing day of golf, this course comes in my top three golf courses but it does tend to be pricey because of its popularity.
The club house has a magnificent balcony / terrace restaurant where you can sit, watch fellow golfers playing out the 18th and reminisce on your “shot of the day.”
The down side of Rio real golf course is the cost. A round of golf here tends to be expensive and the golf buggies, which I would recommend hiring due to the hilly location, are an expensive addition to this already high cost.
18 holes, par 71.
Address Ctra A7, KM 187.5, Junto a Hospital Comarcal, 29600, Marbella. Tel. +34.952.85.01.11.
Being next to a busy main road you could easily assume that it would suffer from traffic noise. For some inexplicable reason it doesn’t. As soon as you tee off the course meanders away from the Coast following the gentle contours of the land leading you into a natural and peaceful setting. The course has several wide and relatively trouble free fairways where you can open your shoulders and let the ball fly but that said there are holes where course management is wise and where a little caution can pay dividends.
Santa Clara is relatively flat and is suitable for walking. The course is a fair test of golf and is similar in difficulty to many UK golf clubs, as opposed to many of the Spanish golf courses, which can be cruel at times. The course is perfect for an easy and relaxing round or for a golf society. It has many similarities to Rio Real but it is slightly easier, slightly flatter and has slightly less trouble. The course is relatively new and consequently it is not as well established as Rio Real.
When you arrive in the car park you will be met by an attendant on a buggy, who takes you your bag to the magnificent clubhouse, even thought it is only about forty yards from the car park. In the palatial clubhouse there are excellent changing rooms, shower facilities and a restaurant that serves a variety of quality food and drink.
My only reservation with this course is the green fee, which is very high compared to other courses in the area. The choice is yours.
San Roque Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
San Roque golf course is an 18 hole, par 72 golf course, which was designed by Dave Thomas.
Address:Urb. San Roque Club,Ctra de Cadiz (N340), Km 127, San Roque.Tel: +34 956 61 30 30.
The old course is expensive but is ideal for both experts and those looking for a leisurely game. Superb practice facilities and wonderful manicured greens and idyllic fairways. A real treat, if you are prepared to spend the money..
As a cheaper alternative you can always try the new course at San Roque, we visited and got a really good deal, half the price of the old course and we found it a fantastic days golf. There is a course is what I can best describe as a fair test, not too tough but not too easy either. They have got this course design absolutely spot on.
Santa Maria Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Santa Maria golf course is an 18 hole, Par 72 golf course, which was designed by Antonio Garcia Garrido.
Address: Coto de Los Dolores, Urb. Elviria. Tel: +34 95 283 1036.
A pleasant and popular course, which is challenging. It has plenty of long holes where you can open up and swing the driver but every now and then they throw in a tight par three to bring you back down to earth. The course starts off with a hole over a lake where you can “go for it” and get the driver out. There is ample fairway and a decent drive makes it a short par four. The course gradually winds its way into the hills and far, far away, we recommend a buggy.
Santa Maria golf course tends to be a little on the pricey side. I found the staff to be unhelpful and less friendly than most other golf courses in the area but if you let the golf course speak for itself you will enjoy a round here.
If you want a buggy or a Powakaddy we strongly recommend that buggy pre-book it, they have a limited supply and they soon get taken.
Sotogrande Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Sotogrande golf course is an 18 hole (Par 72) with an additional nine holes. It was designed by Robert Trent Jones.
Address: Paseo del Parque, Sotogrande, Cadiz. Tel +34 956 785 014
Another Robert Trent Jones success. He is reputed to have described Sotogrande as one of his proudest pieces of work, that’s a compliment from a golf course designer of such ability.
European Tour pros battle here at the end of the season to gain their cards for the forthcoming season so that’s an indication of the quality of this golf course.
Torrequebrada Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Torrequebrada golf has an 18 hole, par 72 course and addition nine holes, which were designed by Jose Gancedo.
Address: Ctra de Cadiz (N340), Km 220, Benalmadena-Costa. Tel: +34 95 244 2742.
Every hole is a different experience. Fantastic views of the Mediterranean and has the shortest par 3 on the coast. The 1979 Spanish Open was played here and you can see why after you turn for home on the back nine. A large number of lakes and strategically placed wide bunkers ensure that this course retains its reputation as one of the most popular courses on the Costa. Welcoming and luxurious clubhouse.
Valderrama Golf Course, Costa del Sol, Spain.
Valderama has 18 holes and is a tough par 72.
Valderama golf course is a world famous golf course and is ranked number one course in Continental Europe.
Valderama golf course is always in superb condition and enjoys worldwide fame, not least due to having had the privilege to have hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup and the last two American Express World Championships.
Extremely expensive but if you can play a round of golf here you are privileged!
One word of warning, I have pre-booked to play Valderama twice and had the booking cancelled at very short notice by the course. Both times they blamed disease on the greens. Strange how this never happens when the Volvo Masters is being played there!
There are new golf courses appearing all the time in Andalucia and the Costa del sol has understandably become known as the Costa del golf. As avid lovers of golf we are regularly visiting the area and we will try to play as many golf courses in Andalucia as we possibly can just so that we can keep this web page up to date (well that’s the reason I give to my wife for playing so much golf anyway!)
The Costa del Sol Golf Guide is purely the subjective and personal opinion of the author.
The Costa del sol Golf Guide is “rough guide” of golf courses on and around the Costa del sol, Spain.
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As boutique providers of upscale golf travel to exceptional destinations worldwide, we take the opportunity from time to time to share our findings regarding some of the great new courses in our footprint, which covers the U.S. West Coast including the Pacific Northwest, Europe and Argentina, among other dynamic destinations. One needs to be prudent when booking golf vacations outside the U.S. As you might also find with hotel properties, you simply can’t believe everything you read in a guide book or on the Internet. Have you ever been to a hotel or resort that hasn’t met your expectations or is living on past glories? Probably so! That’s why we personally play and inspect the courses we recommend to our upscale clientele.
In the past year, we have either played or inspected more than 40 golf courses in Spain and Portugal. While Spain golf and Portugal golf experiences are tops in the continent, what we found was surprising. Specifically, we uncovered some very strong new courses we had never heard of both in golf-rich regions as well as provinces not known for golf. Additionally, we found some much-heralded courses that no longer make the grade, in our professional opinion. With careful planning and expert counsel, your Spain golf vacation or Portugal golf vacation can be the stuff of lifelong memories.
So here are the unvarnished reviews of what we consider to be the top Destination Golf Courses in Spain and Portgual. Our criteria are based on a U.S. perspective from the point of view of a golf professional or scratch amateur (yes, I am a former PGA professional), which means we match our courses with the wishes and abilities of our guests as we place the highest value on the following course attributes:
Spain Golf – Destination Golf Courses:
When Americans and Brits think of Spain golf, they naturally think of the Costa del Sol, which straddles the Mediterranean coast from Malaga to near Gibraltar. Yes, some of the best golf courses lie in this year-round resort area, but golf in Spain is about much more than the Costa del Sol. One can experience championship golf in the Barcelona area, in Seville, and we even found very strong courses in the Basque region (most notable are Izki Golf, a Ballesteros design, and Jose Maria Olazabal’s Golf Artxanda). Here’s our take on the best of the best of Spain golf:
o RCG El Prat is the private, but accessible, Greg Norman-designed complex of 45 holes set in the upscale western suburbs of Barcelona. As all of the nines were designed and constructed simultaneously by the same architect, players can forge ten distinct 18-hole combinations that fit together seamlessly. As expected from Norman, most fairways are reasonably wide, but trouble lurks beyond their borders and approach shots challenge your iron skills. You will feel like a member for a day when you experience Real Club de Golf El Prat. This is a lovely setting and very relaxing getaway from the energy of Barcelona.
o PGA Golf de Catalunya is one of several properties owned and operated by the PGA European Tour, and is the only one in Spain. It’s easy to fall in the love with this place that is located in the Costa Brava (“Wild Coast”), just 75 minutes from Barcelona. There are two courses on the site, Green and Red, with the Green being the longer and stronger test of the duo. The Green is a big, tournament-ready course nestled in the forest just a bit inland from the Costa Brava shore. Mature “umbrella” pines and cork oaks line the well-manicured fairways, and the smooth but undulating greens will test one’s short game. The Verde is simultaneously challenging and fun. There are quite a few elevation changes on these tracks and the scenery is outstanding. There’s just something about those symmetrical umbrella pines that spells relaxation.
Costa del Sol Golf
o Valderrama arguably is the finest course in Continental Europe. The course is located in the upscale Sotogrande development that includes some of the finest golf courses in Spain. Sotogrande is located approximately 45 minutes from Marbella, the gem of the Costa del Sol. Valderrama is literally a legend in mainland Europe, having hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup, the World Golf Championship and countless Volvo Masters tournaments. That tournament elevated the stature of Spain golf to completely new heights. This Robert Trent Jones, Sr. gem is a must-play for the serious golf enthusiast touring the Costa del Sol. One can easily be distracted by the spectacular scenery and mesmerizing cork oaks that line the fairways, but this course demands your undivided attention. You can measure yourself against the best players in the world as you tackle the infamous 17th. The service is outstanding, the design is challenging and the conditioning is nothing short of world class. This is European golf at its very best and a must play for any Spain golf vacation! Maximum handicap: 24 Men; 36 Women.
o Sotogrande is the granddaddy of Costa del Sol golf and perhaps of Spain golf. Sotogrande is Valderrama’s older and less-menacing sibling, located at a lower elevation than most of the others courses on the Sotogrande property. Approximately ten years the senior, she provides wider landing areas and less intimidating greens complexes. Nevertheless, the ever-present breeze is enough to heighten the challenge on this nearly-seaside track. Although Valderrama tends to overshadow it as the best of Spain golf, Sotogrande remains one of the top five venues in mainland Europe.
o La Reserva is an impeccably-maintained and relatively new private club on the Sotogrande property. This Cabell Robinson design stretches to more than 7,300 yards from the back tees. Fortunately, there are four additional sets of tees from which to choose, so choose appropriately! La Reserva’s length is somewhat mitigated by meticulous grooming and generous fairways and greens, so relax and enjoy the wonderful Costa del Sol setting. Few courses offer such incredible curb appeal. The course straddles the rolling hills of the Western Costa del Sol, making this one of the most beautiful golf courses in Spain. The course view from the drive to the club house alone is worth the trip.
o Santana Golf is not a course you read so much about as it is new, but rest assured that it is one of the most talked-about new golf courses in Spain. Set in the hills above the coast in a beautiful, former avocado orchard, Santana is the young upstart of the Costa del Sol golf scene. This track blends a beautiful setting, quality design, attentive service and splendid conditioning to create a grand Spain golf experience. Santana Golf is easily walkable, employs water hazards and bunkers prudently and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and the Mediterranean. The par-72, 7,000-yard Cabell Robinson design offers four sets of tees so that you can bite off as much or as little as you desire of this wonderfully-diverse layout. If you are in the Costa del Sol, experience Santana while it is young and relatively undiscovered.
o Finca Cortesin is another newcomer to the Costa del Sol. The course is located near the mountaintop “white village” of Casares, which looms like a beacon amidst the majestic Sierra Bermeja mountain range. This new Spain golf course opened in early 2007 and is quickly making a name for itself as one of the best golf courses in all of Spain. The Cabell Robinson design offers a challenging variety of holes, as evidenced by the scenic par-4 13th that confronts the player with two water hazards, yet sooths with eye-pleasing green complexes. As bonuses, the routing remains unspoiled by development, the modern practice facility is quite extensive and the customer service is absolutely among the best we have encountered in all of Spain. We suggest that you play this one before the word gets out about one of the best new Spain golf courses!
Portugal Golf – Destination Golf Courses:
As is the case with Spain golf, Portugal golf is much more than a slew of courses situated in one location, which, in this case, is the Algarve. Sure the Algarve has long been known for great golf and great beaches! Quieter and less overbuilt than the Costa del Sol, the Algarve is experiencing a bit of a golf course building boom. There are no fewer than 10 Algarve golf courses either under construction or on the books. But there also are some very strong golf courses on or near the coast in Lisbon. Here’s our take on the best available Portugal golf experiences:
o Vilamoura-Old Course is the elder-statesman of golf in the Algarve. Owned by the Oceanico consortium, this landmark course was constructed in 1969 by Frank Pennink and has been consistently refurbished over the years; however, it has not lost its original and classic parkland charm. The many umbrella pine trees that border the fairway corridors are definitely in play, the rolling landscape challenges your club selection and the undulating greens test your short game, but all the difficulties are mitigated by meticulous grooming. Add to all that the soothing views of the surrounding hills down to the coast. We love this property.
o Monte Rei is a course that you definitely will hear quite a bit about if it hasn’t already come to your attention. This delightful new Jack Nicklaus design, located in a pristine natural setting in the eastern Algarve not far from the border with Spain, is winning the hearts of all those who play it. The first of two Jack Nicklaus Signature golf courses, Monte Rei North, opened in 2007 to rave reviews. The second is in the advanced stages of construction. Nicklaus has utilized the natural landscapes to sculpt a unique layout of approximately 7,200 yards, with eight par 4s, five par 3s and five par 5s – of these eighteen holes, water comes into play on eleven. Monte Rei is a must-play on the Portugal golf scene, especially while it remains somewhat undiscovered. That won’t last long!
o San Lorenzo Golf Club is located in the central Algarve, which is the most developed part of the region. This Joe Lee design undoubtedly is one of the best Portugal golf courses, as it combines a fabulously diverse layout with a gorgeous setting. You will likely use every club in your bag as you traverse this track of slightly less than 7,000 yards, and you will believe that the scenery cannot get any better until you reach the 17th and 18th holes, which are set in the serenity of a bird reserve. On the downside, San Lorenzo gets quite a bit of play, but once you experience it, you will understand why.
Lisbon Area Golf
o Praia d’El Rey is links golf at its best and ranks near the very top of the Portugal golf list of best courses. In 2003, Golf World ranked it the 13th best course in Continental Europe, and we do not argue the point. Cabell Robinson has done another masterful job creating a Portugal golf course that exemplifies tasteful diversity. Ten holes meander along the coast in a links fashion, as the other eight twist their way through a thinly-forested section. To top it off, all the holes offer strategic bunkering and quick greens with plenty of movement in them to keep your attention. There has been some recent real estate development on the perimeter, but so far, not so much as to destroy the ambiance. Praia d’El Rey is Portugal golf at its best!
o Oitavos Dunes is a newcomer to Portugal golf, having opened in 2001. This Arthur Hills design is one of the most intriguing that you will find anywhere and it reminds us quite a bit of Bandon Dunes in Oregon. The design itself is excellent, as the par-71 layout can stretch to more than 7,000 yards and the fast, undulating greens challenge even those with the finest short games. Add all of this to spectacular ocean vistas on one flank and mountain views on the other, and you get one very special property. You might not want to worry about your score here, at least not after your first round, for the course’s challenges and the distracting scenery can create some high numbers. Oitavos Dunes is a great addition to the Portugal golf scene and is worth every additional stroke!
So that’s our take on the best of the best of Spain golf and Portugal golf. The Ryder Cup at Valderrama in part contributed to a golf course construction boom on the Iberian Peninsula. Thankfully, we’ll be back there soon to check out new courses such as the second course at Monte Rei and Nick Faldo’s Oceanico course, also in the Algarve.
Gene Holland is a principal of CORK & TEE http://www.corkandtee.com a boutique travel company that specializes in customized Epicurean Golf Travel, blending championship golf with insider wine and interactive culinary experiences. He has more than 15 years of experience in the golf industry. He spent 11 years as a club professional and also was a member of the varsity golf team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he played with notables such as Davis Love, III and Jack Nicklaus, II.