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Is Europe’s Original Golfing Playground Still A Must-Visit Region? There Are Plenty Of Reasons Why It Is!



From Isla Canela on the Portuguese border in the west, all the way across to Desert Springs in the east, the 300-mile expanse of Andalucia is home to a terrific array of golf. It is now 60 years since the Costa del Sol reinvented and established itself as a favourite European golfing destination. Blessed with a welcoming climate and only a short flight from the UK, Andalucia has since been a golfing holiday favourite. The region became the first such stronghold, bursting on to the scene in 1964 when Robert Trent Jones designed his first course this side of the Atlantic. The Real Club de Golf at Sotogrande is still going strong and will host this year’s Andalucian Masters on the DP World Tour. The area is packed with courses of every size, shape and description, ranging from great-value and relatively unknown pay-and-plays to the lofty heights of courses that have hosted European Tour events. As you drive along the fast-flowing highways, the signposts are a roll-call of recent golfing history.

The most famous and generally most highly-rated course in the area is the 1997 Ryder Cup venue, Real Valderrama. Elsewhere, well-known holiday golf names trip off the tongue such as Atalaya, El Paraiso, Estepona and Torrequebrada. There are two particularly good courses at Mijas Golf, the Lakes and the Olives. Close to the Puerto Banus marina in Marbella are several excellent courses, including the 27-hole complex at La Quinta, designed by Manuel Pinero and with panoramic views of the Mediterranean and the Sierra Blanca mountain range that surrounds its valley location. Sloping fairways and deep bunkers add to the challenge but water also regularly comes into play, as it does at so many Andalucian courses. Close by are two of the finest courses in the district; Real Las Brisas, and Aloha. It would be impossible to run out of new, different and very enjoyable golf in Andalucia.

Finca Cortesin

Impressive bunkering defines the 2023 Solheim Cup course

(Image credit: Finca Cortesin)

Finca Cortesin is up in the hills just minutes from the porcelain-white beaches of Marbella and Sotogrande. Last year, it hosted the Solheim Cup, and the development is described by its designers as a place where nature gently vanishes into the deep blue sea. For many holidaying golfers, it may also turn out to be a place where your golf ball vanishes into a deep blue penalty area, but it is really the bunkering that defines this lush, green, expansive paradise.

La Reserva

La Reserva

The beautiful par-3 fifteenth at La Reserva

(Image credit: La Reserva)

Adjacent to Real Valderrama, La Reserva was designed by Cabell Robinson. Despite their proximity, the courses are remarkably different with La Reserva more forgiving and also more undulating. It offers spectacular, far-reaching views, and there are two evenly matched loops of nine, each providing an enthralling mix of risk and reward, drama, variety, and most of all, fun. One of its great joys is that no two holes are the same; the golfer constantly changes direction and leaves each hole not knowing what to expect next.

San Roque

San Roque Golf

The approach to the fourteenth hole on the Old Course at San Roque

(Image credit: San Roque Golf Club)

San Roque boasts two very fine courses with the Old designed by Dave Thomas and Tony Jacklin. Seve Ballesteros added his flair to the bunkering, and five years ago it was treated to a significant upgrade that included changes to all of the key features and a reversal of the nines. The New opened in 2003 and was designed by Perry Dye, son of Pete. It covers a relatively compact site and is visually very impressive with its heavy and distinctive bunkering a real feature.

  • Old – Par 72, 6,589 yards
  • New – Par 72, 6,649 yards
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