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La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort Review

By: Andy Waple | Thu 20 Oct 2022

The Costa del Sol is a long-time favourite for British holidaymakers, golfers included. Attracted by the great climate, and a host of top courses each within easy reach, the south east corner of Spain offers just about everything.

Yet even the top courses lack decent sea views - most of the best land has been grabbed by successions of developers seeking to maximise returns, building hotels and apartments along virtually every stretch of sand.

One exception was at Alcaidesa, a coastal area near San Roque and Sotogrande overlooking the Rock of Gibraltar just 15k away.

It has been home to a coastal-type golf course since 1992, boasting the most magnificent outlook over the Mediterranean at every turn. Not only that, it has great views over the famous rock, and on clear days, the Atlas Mountains in Northern Africa.

Unfortunately the course didn’t really do justice to its surroundings. I played there in 1995 as a fill-in course on a week’s outing with a group of lads. We were more taken with the likes of La Quinta and the excellent San Roque, just a few miles up the road.

A second course, the Heathland, was added in 2008, but it was not until this year that the site’s true potential has been realised following its acquisition in 2019 by Spanish developers Millenium Hospitality.

The company has ploughed millions into the project, hiring designer Kurtis Bowman to completely rework the signature Links course making dramatic improvements. With an ambition to create a top class destination to rival the best in Europe, it has been rebranded as La Hacienda Alcaidesa Links Resort. The construction of a five-star Fairmont Hotel is underway and the Heathland is in line for major investment.

The Links

Links Golf Course

(Image Credit: https://www.beyonddrones.co.uk/)

Bowman was hired to transform the Links into a playable, luxurious course, and what a job he has made of his first project in continental Europe.

Whilst it largely follows the routing of the original layout, it has been upgraded beyond recognition and is now one of the finest in Spain.

New, expansive tees, greens and bunkers have been built and the land reseeded mainly with Bermuda grasses throughout the playing areas.

A few holes have been altered completely to improve them, while some scrubland has been removed and greens moved closer to the beach to enhance the connection with the sea.

To compensate for the winds that are so characteristic of the location, the owners and designer decided the putting challenge would be created by the size and contours of the greens rather than undue pace. Although not a true links course as we know it, the greens are designed to accept chip-and-runs to mimic the real thing.

It remains a fun, resort course to suit all abilities, yet capable of staging prestigious tournaments.

The course looks gorgeous from the off and it only gets better.

From a gentle start  - a Bowman trait - the course toughens immediately with a long par three followed by stroke index 1 before the true visual drama of the course unfolds from the elevated 5th tee. Not a phone camera will stay in the bag at this point - and it will remain well used for many holes to come as the course hugs the coast from here until the 14th tee.

There is no doubt that this is among the most scenic courses in Europe and one you would wish to play many times.

It is hard to select stand-out holes as there are many of them though the knock out 5th with its dramatic views, elevation changes and double green shared with the 13th, and 7th, a rollercoaster par five stand foremost in the memory. With the Rock straight ahead from the 7th tee the longest hitters may need to club down to avoid plunging off the end of the fairway. A well placed tee shot however brings an option of safely laying up onto the second fairway tier below, or risking a long hit setting up a birdie chance. It’s a thrill-a-minute hole that you will not forget.

Golf Course

(Image Credit: https://www.beyonddrones.co.uk/)

The Heathland

This course is considered the weaker of the two at La Hacienda yet it’s hardly an ugly duckling. Even so it is in line for significant investment to make this a 36-hole resort to challenge the best.

While it lacks the visual appeal of the Links, it is a fine layout featuring some very testing holes, particularly those that run by the side of a twisting river valley.

Fairways are generous, the greens large and in good condition during our visit making putting a pleasure.

It begins with good opportunity to open the shoulders and give the ball a fair crack and its openness continues largely throughout.

Memorable holes include the 4th, where the fairway sweeps downhill to the green in the distance, the tight dogleg 10th that tests nerves on the tee followed by the even tighter 11th where the fairway slopes left to right towards the river bed and OB. The green here is framed magnificently by the rolling landscape and captures a great view of the Med below.

Two really tricky holes are to come - the 13th which is a downhill par five from an elevated tee and the par three 14th - the toughest of the four long and testing one-shotters.

I found this an enjoyable course and nothing like the after-the-Lord-Mayor’s show as I thought it might have been.

The Resort

Resort Restaurant

Golfers can stay in the nearby four-star hotel, the Aldiana Club Costa del Sol, or rent an apartment on site. From 2024 the five star 323-room hotel operated by the luxury Fairmont Hotels & Resorts currently under construction will open its doors.

For golf and accommodation deals see our tour operator partner Golfbreaks which has a number of options 

Another great feature of this resort is the modern clubhouse that leaves nothing to be desired. Designer wallpaper in the gents’ WC is not something you will encounter too often! 

The clubhouse is a great place to wind down with a beer overlooking the course. Its Sal Verde restaurant, with tables inside and out, is first class. The restaurant’s beach bar also has great food and cocktails to complete the picture.


Links Golf Resort

(Image Credit: https://www.beyonddrones.co.uk/)

The owners of La Hacienda Links Golf Resort have high aspirations for their flagship project, which they hope to be viewed in the same light as its exclusive up-market neighbours Real ValderramaReal SotograndeFinca Cortesin and La Reserva.

With the fantastic upgrades to the Links course, a brilliant clubhouse and restaurants, not to mention the upcoming Fairmont Hotel and upgrade to the Heathland, they are well on course to achieving their lofty ambition.

La Hacienda already now has a course that befits its surroundings, and with more investment to come it surely has a recipe for undoubted success.

For more information, please visit https://www.golfbreaks.com/en-gb/holidays/costa-del-sol/alcaidesa-golf/.

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