Very near the Mediterranean Sea and in a privileged area of Andalusia, Finca Cortesin has become a reference in the world of the golf. As site of the 2009-2012 Volvo World Match Play Tournament, it quickly become one of the favorites on the European PGA Tour. At almost 7,500 yards from the back tees it is considered one of the longest courses in Europe. Finca Cortesín Golf Club has 18 holes and more than 100 bunkers. The course has several tee boxes on each hole, which allows balance to the course for all handicap levels. It's a very fun golf course for amateurs and a super challenge for professional players. Cabell Robinson has done a great job of utilizing a great variety of features and very tough holes are compensated with more affordable ones. Finca Cortesín will not leave any player indifferent, you can enjoy the game in its ample routes. The maintenance standards of Cortesin are second to none; the green-keeping staff is committed to offering guests and members the best possible greens, fairways and bunkers all year long. Normally open to hotel guests only (expensive 5 star resort).
Not much introduction is needed for Valderrama, voted Europe’s #1 course by the PGA members, former site of the Volvo Masters on the European Tour and host of the 1997 Ryder Cup. Valderrama gained international fame through the energy of the late proprietor, Jose Ortiz-Patino, who not only insisted on making changes to the original RT Jones Sr. layout (notably to the 17th hole), but also demanded exceptional standards of course upkeep (you hardly dare take a divot!). The strategic difficulty, omnipresent cork trees, the size of the bunkers and a few water hazards will keep you “on your toes”. On most holes, keep the driver in the bag and play for the center of the fairway, as many people can be in the fairway and not have a shot! Don’t bother playing to your handicap, as even the top champions find making par a tough task. Make sure the visit the excellent pro shop and restaurant too, among the best anywhere.
The “old master” of clubs on the coast, Sotogrande was opened in 1964 and was designed by Robert Trent Jones. One of the most prestigious in the area, it was ranked in the world top 100 until 1999. There are many stately homes along the course, and the old dusty money people who are members here still consider this their home course, even though tonier clubs (where many also belong) like Valderrama and La Reserva are just up the road. Be aware of the many trees, the oaks, corks, eucalyptus and palms, which all make for difficult holes, and the water hazards on 12, 13, 14, 16, 17 and 18 that make for a tough finish. The course is par 72-74 and stretches to 6845 yards and can be found on Paseo de Parque in Sotogrande.
The newest addition to the courses of the Sotogrande area, La Reserva was designed by Cabell Robinson and opened in the autumn of 2003 to outstanding reviews. The course lies within the Sotogrande complex just to the north of Valderrama. It can stretch to over 7,000 yards when played from the back tees and the course condition is normally excellent. Four large lakes dominate much of the landscape and provide hazards. La Reserva is considered second in the area only to Valderrama. Robinson has designed a course using the natural features of rolling meadowland, cork and oak trees and combined them with his trademark, crystal white bunkers and well protected greens. The clubhouse is among the best in Spain and the membership comes from all over the world!
Premier Golf Rating: A-
This 18-hole course was designed by Englishman Dave Thomas. Set far back in the hills of Benahavis, about 20 minutes from The Puente Romano and The Marbella Club, this unique golf course enjoys spectacular views of Gibraltar, the African coastline and the mountains. The holes on this hilly (take a cart!) par 71-73, 6600-yard course feature rolling fairways, several water hazards and strategically placed bunkers. Best of all, this course is private and open to guests of the two partner hotels only (or members), and thus retains a quick pace of play and excellent conditioning for this part of the world. Carts are available.
Premier Golf Rating: A-