With more than 70 golf courses along its 150km coastline, Andalucía’s Costa del Sol not only has the highest concentration of golf courses in Continental Europe it is also Europe’s leading golf travel destination. No wonder it is known as the Costa del Golf, as proclaimed on highway roadside signs.
The area’s popularity with golfers is down to a combination of factors, among them an excellent climate ideal for playing all year round and a fantastic choice of places to play, from designs by world-renowned architects at luxury resorts to hidden gems where the fairways are rarely crowded.
One of the biggest plus points is ease of access. A fast motorway stretching from Nerja in the east to Sotogrande in the west links the gateway city of Malaga with popular coastal resorts including Torremolinos, Buenalmadena, Fuengirola, Marbella and Estepona, making it easy to visit any golf course no matter where golfers base themselves. A network of motorways throughout Andalucía also allows for easy travel to the Costa del Sol and its courses from cities such as Seville, Cadiz, Cordoba, Jaen and Granada.
With such a multitude of courses there are options to suit every pocket, but the golf is great value wherever you play with green fees starting from as little as 30 euros. High season for golf is winter and early spring; play at other times of year and you can find big discounts on green fees while fairways will be much quieter.
Golf courses are spread right along the coast but there are concentrations clustered in several areas, so golfers can play a different venue every day only minutes from their hotel. One of main clusters is in the Golf Valley near Marbella, where courses include La Quinta Golf & Country Club, Los Arqueros Golf & Country Club, Los Naranjos Campo de Golf, Real Club de Golf Las Brisas and Aloha Golf.
There are also numerous golf courses clustered around Mijas and Fuengirola, and around Estepona.
Golfers who like to tee off right on their doorstep can stay at a number of golf resorts with attached courses. They also typically have spas, swimming pool complexes and other leisure and sport activities as well as kids clubs, making them perfect for golfers with non-golfing partners or children.
Among them, La Cala Resort, set in rolling hills near Mijas, is Spain’s biggest golf complex with three 18-hole courses and a six-hole par-3 course plus a luxury hotel and spa at its heart. Marbella’s Tuscan-flavoured Villa Padierna Palace Hotel is another luxury hotel with three golf courses on-site: Los Flamingos, Alferini and Tramores. Also in Marbella, the Westin La Quinta Golf & Spa Resort will offer 27 holes of golf on property when it opens in March 2016 after rebranding from the Hotel Melia La Quinta Golf Resort.
Finca Cortesin boasts a challenging golf course that hosted the Volvo World Match Play Championship for three years and also has a luxury hotel offering accommodation in suites and villas, with a spa, beach club and kids club.
The Costa del Sol’s oldest course, Parador de Malaga Golf, has an adjacent hotel right on a white-sand beach and just 10 minutes from the city of Malaga. The opulent Marbella Club, Golf Resort & Spa has been an institution since 1954. It has its own Dave Thomas-designed golf course, the Marbella Club Golf Resort, although it is a 20-minute drive away in Benahavis.
Many courses were created by noted designers: the Los Aqueros and Alhaurin Golf layouts by the late, great Seve Ballesteros; El Paraiso Golf Club by South African golf legend Gary Player; Marbella Golf Club, Los Naranjos Golf Club, Las Brisas, La Canada, and the Los Olivos and Los Lagos courses at Mijas Golf by master architect Robert Trent Jones Sr; and several by Trent Jones disciple Cabell B Robinson, namely La Cala’s trio, Valle Romano Golf & Resort and Finca Cortesin.
There are also less celebrated courses that are well worth discovering. They include: the 27-hole Lauro Golf, in wooded hills close to Malaga; the Jose Gancedo-designed Torrequebrada Golf course, set between the sea and mountains near Mijas; El Chaparral Club de Golf, the only Costa del Sol course with six par 3s, six par 4s and six par 5s; Santa Clara Golf Marbella and Santa Maria Golf, both near Marbella and both offering glorious views of the Mediterranean; and Golf Guadalmina’s two courses near Estepona, complete with on-site hotel.
The Costa del Sol is a great destination for wannabe golfers or those who want to improve their game, too. There are golf academies offering individual or group tuition at many golf clubs, often with the latest in electronic aids. Famous golfers are also helping to pass on their skills and knowledge.
The Miguel Angel Jimenez Golf Academy, in Torremolinos, is a nine-hole, par-3 course designed by the popular Spanish golfer as a place where both children and adults could learn to play at an affordable price. Its 7th hole was inspired by the famous 12th hole at Masters venue Augusta National and is called “Angustias” – Spanish for anguish! It also features a two-tiered driving range, practice chipping and bunker areas, putting green, Ping fitting centre and a clubhouse, added in June 2014. Staffed by a team of teaching pros, the academy is often used by Jimenez himself to practise.
At Villa Padierna, the Michael Campbell Golf Academy has recently opened. The first academy by the 2005 US Open champion, New Zealand’s Michael Campbell, it has a team of PGA professionals and specialises in private and group tuition, junior golf coaching, specialised golf clinics, and the development of tour players and top amateurs through its Elite Academy.
There are also golf academies at La Cala, La Quinta, El Chaparral, Malaga Parador de Golf, Finca Cortesin and the Marbella Golf Country Club among others.
Golf in Andalucía www.andalucia.org/en/golf