Atalaya Golf and Country Club is one of the more established golf facilities on the Costa del Sol and it is used as the headquarters for the European PGA.
Situated between Marbella, Estepona and Benahavis its two 18-hole courses are surrounded on all sides by other top-notch golf courses – Monte Mayor to the north, El Paraiso to the west and Guadalmina to the south east.
The respected German architect Bernhard von Limburger designed the Old course at Atalaya in the late 1960s, just at the start of the great golf rush along Spain’s southern coast.
Forty years later, this Costa classic has stood the test of time and its wide, tree-lined fairways, raised green sites and challenging bunker complexes are appreciated even more nowadays when compared to other modern courses in the area.
I had played this one back in 2009 but the review just got lost so wanted a proper round to do a precise review about it. Though I remembered most of it a replay would help to remember details, features and if there were changes then have the course updated to today’s status.
On previous days I gave a ride to the New which I have not yet played but it is closed due to Covid and the lack of visitors, it is quite different, quirky and with the chance of a good score!
Back to the Old, this is a classic parkland laid in a pretty flat piece of land where the features and level changes were shaped during construction. It could be found anywhere in any destination and it doesn’t feel like at Marbella but it doesn’t need any views, it is such a good and fun golf course to play that not seing the ocean during play is just a small detail.
It is a very generous course of the tee, with very few chances of OB and where misses will probably find trees where with some skill you will find a way out or lay up for a bogey, no big drama on lost balls and too many penalties which is great for a holiday round.
The challenge and fun comes in the approach shots where greens offer very good design, slopes and where reading them properly will be a skill, if not properly focused you will not make putts. The other nice feature are the white big bunkers which could bring your mind to a course hosting a Major every year … don’t get me wrong I am not comparing them but some playing features here remind you of there.
It has a very good set of par 3s:
- 2nd is not long but sloped green from back left to front right is very good with some great pin positions! I faced a 20 footer that broke at least 5 feet from right to left.
- 7th is a 235yds downhill monster with a huge green breaking left to right with two lateral bunkers.
- 12th plays similar to Golden Bell: water in front, bunker after it and another behind with a small green up the hill.
- 16th is a 150yds hole with a very wide and shallow green with a higher platform on the left side, I missed left and faced a 70ft very tough and fun putt.
The par 5s are quite different where 5th plays similar to 15th “there”, a slightly uphill tee shot and then downhill to a stream before the green (as originally there in Georgia), 8th is uphill reachable to a small green, 11th downhill tee shot to a well protected upstairs green and finally 17th a bit longer with a cross bunker that seems to be by the green but it is something like 50yds shot and will make you decide if go for it or lay up before and then approach to the biggest green of these 4 holes.
At the par 4s there is variety, very nice 1st from elevated tee to a lake protected green, some doglegs to both sides and usually greens that make you think how to attack pins.
The Course is in very good conditions and it is a great 36 hole facility to enjoy a full day of golf playing 2 different courses. Many of the tee boxes are quite long so with proper set up and pin positions you can play a different course every day and continue to have fun being challenged differently each round.
One green I really liked is 10th , a short 4 which I believe was longer back in 2009 where even hitting from 80yds if you are not precise bogey will be on the card and is one of the greens I feel the designer took some ideas from The Doctor.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am not comparing but just saying it has concepts and ideas from ANGC and it is fun to see that an architect uses them even if it was not his intention. I liked a lot this one, you can score and it is a very nice walk of golf. Really worth the afternoon!
I was very underwhelmed by the Old course. The first hole is lovely, and then it gets very boring very quickly. The holes begin going up and down without any exciting features. I much prefer the new course which is far quirkier.
The old course is great, it is well maintained and it the surroundings are nice. The staff is friendly and really helpful. I recommend every golf player which is visiting the costa del sol a try out at this course.
Played several times during this winter. Good shape and fine green fee prices. Sincere staff and nice setting without houses around.Will play both courses again.