The Links course at the Alcaidesa Golf Resort was inaugurated in 1990 then remodeled in 1999 to improve its playability by widening fairways and ironing out some of the more severe undulations on the greens.
Links it may be named and marketed as but, in reality, it is an undulating cliff top seaside course that enjoys stunning views over the Mediterranean, the Straits of Gibraltar and the distant Atlas Mountains in North Africa.
And with the introduction of the Dave Thomas-designed Heathland course (and a spanking new clubhouse) in 2007, Alcaidesa now boasts two fine 18-hole layouts at a venue situated in one of the more progressive regions of southern Spain.
The course has an out and back routing with the first four holes heading towards the shoreline and the mile-long beach. Holes 5 to 14 then play out along the coast – where the wind, if it’s up, will stiffen the challenge – before the fairways head back inland to complete the round in front of the clubhouse.
This was my second time on the course after a round back in November 2008 during the IGTM Event. I certainly remembered most of the course but some details were off my mind and it was great to spend a day on the property reviewing both courses and having a current idea on where the Resort is pointing at. And as a Golf Travel Professional I now have a clear idea of what this place can supply to both holiday golfers and permanent residents and it is a very good golf experience with 2 very good courses and a Club House that already shows the upgrade it was given, service has now improved and the quality of the Club House facilities now match the best courses in the area.
I re checked the pictures back in time and that November the course had not been overseeded with Rye Grass like this time and I have to say that the contrast of the emerald green with the ocean, Gibraltar Rock and a nice blue sky afternoon was almost the perfect place to play golf. I am not on the side of those who believe reseeding is necessary as I know what the grass has to put on with once the cool season ends and although the playing conditions might be very good the transition is not always good and the course suffers during the transition. But this made the course to be in perfect condition with greens rolling spectacular.
The course is blessed with one of the nicest pieces of land I have seen for a course but certainly the design lacks of character and I feel some holes are forced to be what they are instead of blending like a natural result of the piece of land together with the architecture. It has five par 3s and five par 5s and it seems that this could be changed and adapted to something different. 1-16-18 are good options as par 5 and I wouldn’t change anything except tee boxes on 1 where a tree “hices” the entire hole, instead of taking it away just moving the tee boxes to the left will increase the visual beauty from the starting point.
5th has the best tee shot on the course facing directly The Rock but it ends on a hole which could be a lot better with some options but on of those could be taking the green closer to the ocean and making it a great par 4. And 7th has a path that goes beneath the fairway that is totally unnatural. Both of them reachable and both of them need to be recreated.
Par 3s are located two on the high side near the club with no views, but both of them are nice shots to be hit where in 2nd I needed a hybrid but it gives you space to land the ball and 17th was playing tough into the wind. The other three are in the ocean part with dramatic level changes being 12th the toughest needing a big carry over a pond. 6th is a sort of Redan Green which could certainly be added some character. It is strange to say but the best holes are those apart from the ocean, it seems that the best piece of land is where there is more room to improve.
Another thing where this course can have an upgrade is bunkering, making them on the correct size and being creative with design could add a differential feature to the architecture.
Another thing I pointed back in 2008 was the lack of some signals and helping the golfer from the tee boxes, with a modern update on this the experience will be a lot better.
I am aware course is in the path of improvement but all the same today it is a great venue, with chances of scoring low if no big wind comes and with good putting. And the value of having 2 different courses in the same place can be certainly another thing to take into account when giving value to it. Why not come and play Heathland early in the morning, a nice lunch and enjoying sunset at The Links? That is what I recommend!