5 of the Best Golf Resorts in Spain
MOST golfers will already know that there are dozens of fabulous golf courses in Spain. It is a part of Europe with which most of us are familiar – on average, it boasts about 300 days of sunshine every year, the food and drink are reasonably priced, almost everybody speaks English, and the Spaniards have finally realised that they need to price their golf competitively if they are to continue to attract foreign visitors in considerable numbers. At the height of the recession, visitors numbers tumbled and courses started to close, but things have picked up once again and there are few better places to visit to experience great golf and good weather.
We look here at five of Spain's best golf resort destinations.
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The good news is that budget airlines fly to Murcia on a daily basis, so you know that you are going to get cheap flights. Don't get caught out with all the extras though – you will have to pay extra for hold luggage and to take your own golf clubs, so be sure to take that into consideration when you book.
No visit to the Murcia region can be considered to be complete with a trip to the magnificent La Manga Club. We will come to the golf in a minute. What you may not know is that La Manga features a world-famous tennis centre and soccer school, so if you take the family, there will be plenty for them to do while you chase that little white ball around. The grounds are glorious, there is a private beach and, naturally, the resort features a spa. Nearby are an amazing selection of bars and restaurants to suit all pockets and tastes.
La Manga boasts three brilliant golf courses. The North measures 6,293 yards and is a par 71. Designed by Robert Putnam, it features palm trees, lakes and storm gulleys know as barrancos. It has tight fairways and large greens. The South course (Feature Review) was also designed by Putnam but was later altered by the legendary Arnold Palmer. It has hosted the Spanish Open and measures 7,108 yards. Water features on 15 of the 18 holes, and the front nine contains two astonishing par three that each measure in excess of 200 yards. The West course was designed by Dave Thomas. It enjoys plenty of elevation changes and calls for accuracy from the tee to avoid the barrancos. It measures 6,248 yards and is a par 72.
The five-star InterContinental Mar Menor Golf Resort and Spa is relatively undiscovered, but that is not likely to last for long. The owners have recognised that British golfers are looking for value for money, and this place certainly offers that in spades. You can either stay in the hotel or in villas located within the grounds. The 18-hole, par 68 Mar Menor Best Golf forms part of the Nicklaus Golf Trail in Murcia, southern Spain.
Mar Menor Golf (Feature Review) is a par 72 measuring 6,730 yards and it hosted the final of the EuroPro Tour in 2001. It features some pretty penal bunkering, so strategy plays a key part of any round here. The front nine was designed by Dave Thomas, the back nine by Jack Nicklaus. The front nine is fairly tight and calls for accuracy from the tee, while second nine is rather more open. A huge lake comes into play on the 13th, 14th and 15th holes. Mar Menor is part of the Nicklaus Golf Trail that also includes Saurines Golf, La Torre Golf, El Valle Golf, Hacienda Riquelme Gol fand Alhama Signature, all designed by Nicklaus. All the courses on the trail are easily accessible via a complimentary bus service from the hotel.
VALDERRAMA, SAN ROQUE, CADIZ
The jewel in the crown of golf in Spain is arguably the simply amazing Valderrama Golf Club, which hosted the unforgettable 1997 Ryder Cup, when European captain Seve Ballesteros somehow managed to appear at the side of every one of his team as they were about to play a crucial shot. The signature hole is the par-five 17th, where you play across a lake to a green that slopes sharply from back to front. Whatever else you do, you do not want to find yourself in the cavernous bunker at the back of this green. The course will also be familiar to golf fans as it hosted the Volvo Masters for many years.
There are a host of other activities to enjoy here too – including sailing, jet skiing, quad biking and hiking. There are also lots of shops, bars and superb restaurants to be found in a glorious port-side location. A visit to the Club Martimo (the Marine Club) is a must. This is probably the perfect venue for any golfer who is taking his family on holiday to Spain.
VALLE DEL ESTE AND DESERT SPRINGS, COSTA ALMERIA
The most southerly part of the Spanish mainland is also the driest and the warmest. On a clear day (and let's face it, almost every day is clear), you can see the North African coast and there are many African influences in both the architecture and the cuisine in and around Almeria. It remains a relatively undiscovered part of Spain, but visitor numbers are now growing quickly. It is served by Almeria airport and is also just a 90-minute drive from Murcia airport.
There are a host of terrific golf courses. One of the best is Valle del Este. Designed by Jose Canales, it opened in 2002 and stands out because it makes the most of the surrounding landscape and looks entirely natural. Most of the raised tees are surrounded by volcanic rock, which is a feature of this part of Spain. The fairways are generous, but Valle del Este contains a lot of bunkers, not to mention three large lakes, all of which are to be avoided at all costs. You should also try the Indiana Course at Desert Springs, which is a true desert course, not unlike those you would expect to find in American states such as Arizona and California. Designed by Peter McEvoy, it is terrific par 72 with just about the best greens you will ever experience.
LA FINCA GOLF RESORT
When you think of the Costa del Sol, the chances are that you will immediately conjure up images of packed beaches in resorts such as Benidorm. It may not appeal to everybody, but part of the unique attraction of this part of Spain is that it has such wide appeal to families and twentysomethings, and if you are part of a couple looking for something quieter, you will find it if you do a little research.
La Finca is just over an hour from Alicante Airport, and its three courses and hotel are among the best in the region, with the hotel rooms providing spectacular views over both La Finca Golf (Detailed Guide) and the stunning grounds. In the distance you can see the Escotera mountains. The hotel offers a wonderful restaurant and superb leisure facilities, including a spa. La Finca Golf has wide and generous fairways with spectacular greens. Villamartin was opened in 1972 and has hosted the Spanish Open, while Las Ramblas is probably one of the most naturally beautiful golf courses in mainland Spain, featuring Mediterranean pines and plenty of water. The undulating greens are large and generous but very quick.
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