Situated between Marbella and Estepona, the 36-hole Atalaya golf complex is also home to the headquarters of the European PGA. “In-the-know” golfers regard both Atalaya courses as two of the most understated, esteemed tracks on the Costa del Sol.
Bernhard von Limburger designed the classic Old course and it opened in 1968, fifteen years before a ball was first struck on the Paul Krings-designed New course. Both layouts originally played to a par of 72, but the 17th hole on the New was later reduced to a par three due to wayward drives clattering into houses on the hole's right side. The New is an easier test than its older sibling, even though the fairways are often tighter and more undulating than the Old.
The New is configured with five par threes, four par fives and nine par fours (five of which are under 300 yards) so it is considerably shorter than the Old. Two of the par three holes on the scorecard (4 and 12) are highly rated. The 161-yard 4th plays across a pond to a small, raised green and the testy 230-yard 12th is the first of two consecutive one-shot holes that cleverly route the course onto lower terrain.
12 years ago I played Old for the first time and some months ago 2 more rounds were added there. But I had no chance before with the New as since I arrived it was closed due to Covid. But when the Old needed ra break and maintenance they opened the New for some weeks so I jumped on it to experience a way different but no less fun course. I had done a ride around it and remembered almost every hole but now playing it was totally different.
As I said in my Old Review it has a lot of Old School Design features while New can’t be highlighted by that but yes for the great fun it is to play it. Risk/Reward at a high scale in many of the holes, a lot of short par 4s (I drove 15to 1m and eagle it), challenging par 3s (hit only 1 of 5 GIR on them) and 4 very different par 5s from a short reachable to a monster 600yds to end the round.
Course was in very good condition, specially greens and bunkers taking into account no play and limited maintenance on them for almost a year so it is good to highlight the very good job the Maintenance Crew and Club Management have done.
The course sits in the same piece of land as Old, with most of the holes on the ondulated piece of land and some of the holes on the flat part of it. Some short par 4s do not allow driver off the tee which makes you show if you are accurate enough with hybrids or long irons.
I’d like to highlight many things:
- The set of par 3s is excellent: 4th 170yds over a lake from elevated tee, short 9th uphill which plays 15yds longer than it shows with nice views from the green, monster 12th 230yds downhill with a semi hidden green, 180yds 13th with death penalty on the right side and shortened 17th which used to be a par 4 and plays downhill with great views of Gibraltar on a clean day.
- Par 5s can give you birdies or trouble: 2nd has water all of the right side so you need a very accurate tee shot, then 6th uphill and dogleg left will allow an aggressive line with the tee shot before an uphill second shot, 14th demands off the tee and a blind second shot and 18th is the longest hole on the property where you will need 3 very good hit shots to make a par.
- Of all the short par 4s, some can be driven but some have no chance: 3rd demands a short to a lake tee shot before an uphill 130yds approach, then 11th you could go for it but be smart and play short finishing with sharp dogleg left 16th where you need 220yds to see the green but hitting over 240yds will be danger.
- Off the drivable ones: 5th can be reached but it is very well protected with bunkers, 7th needs a cut off the tee while 15th a straight drive will give you a huge chance of eagle.
The bunkering is consistent and the greens are quite good but here are the 3 things I would do if there was a chance:
- 18th is just beside 5th from Old and they are almost the same, 2 long par 5s with a stream 50yds from the green. I would try to make them different one from the other.
- 1st is very similar to Old 6th and they are beside each other (I actually pushed my tee shot to 6th!), fairway bunkering and modifying green would make them different.
- The course is so fun and so open to good scoring that if a designer makes some creative greens this course can turn into excellent, because distance off the tee is not needed to have fun.
It is a perfect complement for the Old, I recommend you to play them both and see the contrast they have from each other. One of the Oldest Clubs at La Costa del Sol, a very nice terrace, proper golf courses and the chance to walk them both says a lot about the quality of golf you can play here.
If you're after a 'proper golf course', Atalaya New isn't for you. It is very short and quirky. However, it is extremely fun. Perfect place to play if you've just come off the plane, or for a money game with friends. Lots of birdies to be made. I would rather play the new than the old.