Article by Victoria Wood
Thousands of people are lured to the warmer climes of Spain every year to enjoy their favourite 18-hole pastime. Golf-lovers have around 120 courses to choose from in Andalucía alone, approximately half of these being located on the Costa del Sol.
The weather rarely disappoints in this part of the world and courses are kept to an immaculate standard, plus feature excellent additional facilities such as hotels, luxury clubhouses and spas.
The fact that there are over 50 to choose from in the region can be somewhat overwhelming when trying to elect where to swing your clubs, so we have carefully handpicked a select few for you. We outline a snapshot of what to expect from those with the most challenging or outstanding courses, incredible scenery and views, impeccable facilities, proximity to Marbella, and, of course, top-ratings by visitors.
LOS ARQUEROS GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
Los Arqueros is a stunning course set up in the hills of Benahavís with views of the Mediterranean in the near distance. Designed by the man himself, Seve Ballesteros, one of Spain’s (and the world’s) most celebrated professional golfers, Los Arqueros was inaugurated in 1991. The 18-hole, par 71 course – a challenge to most – is surrounded by incredible mountainous landscape and boasts immaculate fairways. The original aim of the course itself was to flow alongside the natural contours of the land on which it was designed, in order to sit harmoniously with its surroundings. And that it does.
As well as the world-famous golf course, Los Arqueros offers its distinguished country club featuring facilities for tennis, padel, and a gym, beauty salon, extensive golf clothing shop and golf academy. There is also the Los Arqueros Restaurant on site which has offered exceptional fine-dining for the last 30 years.
Drive from Marbella: approx. 20mins, 18.5km
Ronda Road A-397, Km. 44,5, Local C, 29679, Málaga
Tel: (+34) 952 78 46 00
REAL CLUB VALDERRAMA
Real Club Valderrama is one of the most famous golf courses in Andalucía, Spain, and the world. Originally opening as “Las Aves” in 1974, the course was then taken over in 1985 by Jaime Ortiz-Patino who invested fortunes in transforming it from an average course to being one of the best in the world. Valderrama has seen some incredible players drive across its fairways having hosted the Volvo Masters from 1986-1996, 2002-2008, Europe’s win at Tiger Woods’ first Ryder Cup in 1997, the Amex World Championships 1999-2000, the Andalucía Masters 2010-2011, and the Spanish open in 2016.
The course, designed by Robert Trent Jones, features an 18-hole par 71 course as well a nine-hole par 3 course and is situated behind the exclusive Sotogrande area. Another challenging course for even the most discerning golfer, the 17th featuring a testing water hazard, with maximum handicaps here being 24 for men and 32 for ladies.
Valderrama is not just a world-class golf course with royal standing and manicured greens, it is an elite private members club overflowing with opulence, elegance, tradition and style. And just as impressive is that it is one of two European courses to be awarded full Audubon status – working to conserve and restore natural ecosystems.
Drive from Marbella: approx. 45mins, 60km.
Av. los Cortijos, s/n, 11310 Sotogrande, Cádiz
Tel: (+34) 956 791 200
A stunning golf course with majestic views of the La Concha mountain, the onsite lake and fountain and the Mediterranean. Aloha Golf is a prestigious and well-established club which offers a social atmosphere in opulent surroundings. The PGA tour has been hosted here on the par 72 18-hole course three times recently. The course rolls through hilly terrain amidst plenty of natural boundaries, trees and lakes.
The elegant clubhouse features a beautiful terrace overlooking the course and claims some of the best dressing rooms in Europe equipped with sauna and relaxation rooms. The members-only club also has a top class restaurant, health club, massage and therapy treatments, pro shop and swimming pool.
Drive from Marbella: approx. 15mins, 9km.
Urb. Aloha Golf, s/n, 29660 Marbella, Málaga
Tel: (+34) 952 90 70 85
REAL CLUB DE GOLF LAS BRISAS
Considered one of the oldest and best courses in the region, Las Brisas was also designed by Robert Trent Jones in 1968. It went on to host the World Cup twice as well as the Spanish Open three times and the Mediterranean Open.
The attention to detail throughout the 72 par, 18-hole course is impressive; the raised greens, fairway bunkers, precision-placed water hazards, idyllic and challenging layout, and impeccably maintained surfaces all make Las Brisas a world-class golf course for all skill levels. Not to mention the stylish clubhouse and practice facilities onsite.
Drive from Marbella: approx. 14mins, 10km.
29660 Nueva Andalucía
Tel: (+34) 952 90 81 87
REAL CLUB DE GOLF SOTOGRANDE
Real Club de Golf Sotogrande, another of Robert Trent Jones’ masterpieces (actually his first in Europe opening in 1964), is beautifully designed to blend harmoniously with its natural surroundings, cork oaks, pine trees, palm trees and more, whilst creating a challenging yet accessible course for all to enjoy.
This course went on to host the Spanish Open in 1966, the Sherry Cup in 1970, The VII Ladies European Cup in 1973, the Spanish Pro Championship in 1987 (won by Ballesteros). Qualifying for the European Tour was also hosted here between 1996-2001.
This is a well-balanced but trying par 72 course with over 100 bunkers, 60 or so being placed around greens, long tees, wide fairways and elevated greens requiring optimum accuracy. There is also a stunning, two-tiered clubhouse with excellent views from its multitude of floor-to-ceiling windows, a top-class restaurant and fully-stocked pro shop full of all the major brands of golfing goods.
Drive from Marbella: approx. 45mins, 60km
Paseo del Parque, 11310 Sotogrande, Cádiz
Tel: (+34) 956 78 50 14
ALCAIDESA LINKS GOLF RESORT
This is the only club on our list to boast two full professional 18-hole courses; Alcaidesa Links and Alcaidesa Heathland. As well as this it has the most exceptional views of both the Mediterranean and Gibraltar as well as the African coastline. The courses are set on an upscale, award-winning holiday resort offering a wide range of accommodation.
Alcaidesa Links, designed by Peter Alliss and Clive Clark, inaugurated in 1992, is the only links course in the south of Europe. The par 72, 18-hole course slopes gently down towards the sea so most of the holes are alongside the beach. It’s close proximity to the water means that winds can be a natural hazard, but its beauty, intricate design, and views have made this one of the best in Europe as voted by Golf World magazine, and the links course has hosted the PGA Andalucía from1993-4, the PGA Spain in 1995, and the Junior Ryder Cup in 1997.
Alcaidesa Heathland is a par 72, 18-hole course designed by renowned golfer Dave Thomas, aptly named due to its heath-like topography. The views across the Mediterranean are outstanding and the valley area provides plenty of water hazards and interesting twists and turns.
There is also a fantastic 3,000 m2 fusion of traditional Andalucían and modern clubhouse which sits at the highest point between the two courses, meaning that the views are amazing, extending along the entirety of the coast and out to sea. Here you will find an excellent restaurant and café, event reception rooms, pro shop, golf academy and practice facilities are also onsite.
Drive from Marbella: approx. 45mins, 62km
Avda. del Golf s/n, 11360 San Roque, Cádiz
Tel: (+34) 56 79 10 40
FINCA CORTESIN GOLF
Another of Spain’s top-rated golf courses located on a world’s top 50 hotel’s grounds, Finca Cortesin presents a high-class 18-hole championship course. Here you will find impeccable conditions and attention to detail (including the customer service) on the challenging tees, fairways and greens. Designed by Cabell B. Robisnon and Gerald Huggan the landscaping is incredible as is the incorporation of the surrounding nature.
Many high-profile events have been hosted at Finca Cortesin Golf such as the Volvo World Matchplay (three times). As well as the immaculate course you will find the Nicklaus Golf Academy, an award-winning hotel, outstanding spa & sport facilities, magnificent beach club and exclusive shopping area all set on a 215-hectare luxury estate.
Drive from Marbella: approx. 35mins, 40km
Carretera de Casares, s/n 29690 Casares
Tel: (+34) 952 937 883