Not many places in the world can match the Costa del Sol for fantastic golf courses. There’s a good reason why it’s called the ‘Costa del Golf’, after all: numbers-wise, there are more than 45 great courses to choose from. But beyond the sheer quantity of courses, there’s the quality to take into account – four of the top ten courses in Europe can be found here. Add in year-round sunshine, and it’s not hard to see why golfers flock to the southern Spanish coast in their droves every year.
Best of all, though, is the fact that in recent years with the increased competition and the global financial situation, green fees have been driven right down – making high-class golf in the sun more affordable than it’s been for many a long year. Here, then, are a few of the best golf courses on the Costa del Sol…
Valderrama is arguably the place where it all began. Yes, there was obviously golf tourism on the Costa del Sol before it (along with very other type of tourism you care to mention), but it was the landing of the Ryder Cup in 1997 – and the most dramatic of European victories under the leadership of local boy Seve Ballesteros – that really put the region on the global golfing map.
Reputation aside, what’s the course actually like at Valderrama, though? Impeccable, in a word. Since it was built back in the mid-1980s it’s been a labour of love for its owner Jaime Ortiz-Patino, and absolutely no expense has been spared in creating a course that’s as beautiful and exclusive feeling as it is difficult. The cheapest golf course on the Costa del Sol it certainly is not, but then again for a decent golfer looking for a challenging round – the closing holes of the back nine in particular match this description – while following in the footsteps of legends, it’s hard to beat.
Finca Cortesin, Casares
Finca Cortesin was home to the 2012 Volvo World Match Play tournament, one in a series of recent top-class tournaments that the course has hosted. Why is it such a popular tournament course? As you’d expect from a championship course, it’s pretty much as spic and span as you get with lush fairways and immaculately kept greens, hemmed in by gently rolling hills covered in olive, holm oak and thick scrub.
Designed by Cabell Robinson, Finca Cortesin is challenging, too: if played off the championship tees, it’s the longest golf course on the Costa del Sol and the inclines of the fairways, combined with the judiciously placed water features and bunkers and some deceptively sloping greens, make it a tough nut to crack for even the best golfers.
La Quinta, Puerto Banus
The course at golf resort and spa, La Quinta, is made up of a trio of interconnecting nine holes within a short drive of all the hotels in Puerto Banus. While it offers a fine day’s golfing, it’s a good course for golfers of all abilities being a little shorter and, even in the summer months, lacking the lightning fast fairways of one or two of the other golf courses on the Costa del Sol. La Quinta also has a decent sized driving range as well as a golf academy, so it makes for a good swing-grooving first stop on a week’s golf holiday on the Costa del Sol.
Los Arqueros, Puerto Banus
Another Costa del Sol golf course that has decent practice facilities is Los Arqueros. If it’s been a little while since you’ve swung a club in anger, you can turn up and find your feet again on one of the two putting greens (with bunker), the driving range or chipping green, or even with an hour or two’s (very affordable) tuition.
The course itself is excellent. Designed by Steve Ballesteros himself back in 1991, its defining feature is the challenging terrain – from steep drop-offs to trickily positioned water hazards – it’s laid out on, with holes like 3, 6 and 8 requiring maximum accuracy of shot. Surrounded by gorgeous views of the Serrania de Ronda, it’s also one of the beautiful of all golf courses on the Costa del Sol.