Finca Cortesin – 18 new greens and a new green initiative
It’s more than ten years ago since my first visit to Finca Cortesin as I was there just after the course first opened for play in 2006. My initial impressions were strong then and I knew that it would become a serious player, not just in Spanish golf, but as a big hitter in Continental Europe. Around that time, there were some remarkable new high-end courses opening across Europe and Finca Cortesin was certainly one of them.
After looking back at the historical ranking positions, it’s clear that Finca Cortesin continues to improve and is loved by all who play there as the player reviews on the Top 100 Golf Courses website tell us. The course attained a #25 position in Spain back in 2008, rising to #19 in 2010 then #10 in 2012. Currently, it’s ranked as the 5th best course in the country which shows steady, continuous improvement every time we’ve updated our national listings.
My recent visit – arranged by our good friends at The Azalea Group – was to see the course after the latest round of upgrades, constituting the biggest tranche of work carried out to date. During 2017, all eighteen greens (and the practice putting green) were relayed with Ultra Dwarf Bermuda grass which was grown at a Caceres nursery in the centre of Spain.
Amazingly, despite all the disturbance to normal operations, the course re-opened only after only one month of disruption and much credit for that must go to Ignacio Soto, the resort’s head greenkeeper who supervised the project and tested the different possible grass varieties for more than two years in advance of the renovation.
Some world class venues – including Sawgrass, Quail Hollow and East Lake Golf Club – have been hugely successful converting to Ultra Dwarf Bermuda grass greens and industry expert Ken Mangum believes the new investment will help propel the five-star golfing experience at Finca Cortesin to another level.
Mangum, ex-director of golf courses and grounds at Atlanta Athletic Golf Club and head consultant on the project after being recommended by Soto, said: “Many great courses around the world have used the Ultra Dwarf greens system for several years. Overall, they are more environmentally-friendly, cost effective and sustainable.
“Ultra Dwarf Bermuda grass provides a more consistent daily playing surface. The greens remain fast and firm with the changes in weather and moisture, (whereas) Bentgrass becomes soft and slow with humidity, irrigation and rainfall.
“The new greens will offer more great days of play, especially during warmer times of the year. Less pitchmarks will be visible. The dark green colour and surface uniformity will provide good speed and firmness throughout the season.”
As I mentioned already, I’ve been coming here for more than ten years and I’ve certainly noticed improvements every time as the course has matured. The trees, bushes and shrubs all around the course have grown to a point now where many holes are isolated from others and are framed in a magical way.
My favourites holes include the great 3rd and 4th – a risk/reward par five then a potentially driveable par four from an elevated tee – and, on the back nine, the 15th and the 18th. The par four 15th requires a big carry off the tee then a 90 degree left turn uphill to the green and the par five home hole (with the great Casares Mountains as a backdrop that appears to have been Photoshopped into real life) is all about position from the tee to set up the approach to the green.
For those who have yet to visit Finca Cortesin, then do put the course on your ‘must play’ list; you will definitely not be disappointed as this course is the newest member of the European Tour Properties network and was also home to the Volvo World Matchplay event in 2009, 2011 and 2012.
My recent visit was made extra special as I stayed onsite at the luxury Hotel Cortesin, a truly exceptional 5-star experience with service and standards of the highest quality. Without a doubt, it’s one of the very best golf resorts that I’ve been luckily enough to stay at during my Top 100 travels.
The location is perfect too – between Marbella and Sotogrande on the Costa del Sol – and it’s served very well from the airports at Malaga and a little nearer in Gibraltar. Finca Cortesin’s relatively brief history has been a success story with a course and resort that steps up a level with every returning visit.
Top 100 Golf Courses