Measuring just less than 5,600 yards, Cabopino is a short, tight course laid out on hilly terrain between Marbella and Fuengirola. The little-known Spanish architect Juan Ligues Creus designed the course and it’s a relative newcomer to the Costa del Sol golf circuit, opening for play in 2001.
Course management is all important at Cabopino and thinking golfers will keep the driver in the bag and brush up beforehand on their iron play as it pays to plot your way around here – fairways are relatively narrow but greens are receptive to properly struck approach shots.
The best hole on the course is played early in the round at the downhill 307-yard, short par four, 3rd which tempts big hitters to go for the green in one, avoiding the large bunker in front of the raised putting surface.
The only two par fives on the course are played at the acutely doglegged 12th and the uphill 14th - banish any thoughts of potential birdies though as the arduous routing of these holes is such that a five on the scorecard at each of these will feel like a pair of fours!
This has been my first week away from Argentina living here in Marbella and the count for new played courses has started. First one was Cabopino Golf just 2mins from my new home and very close to where I have stayed in many holidays here but was never able to play. A practice round was needed before Andalucia Mid Amateur so I decided to try this one and certainly it did not disappoint.
We played in a twosome very early in the morning and the course was just smelling good just mowed! It is the typical technical course (campo técnico, as they call them here) with many severe level changes, fantastic views and a scorecard that appears to be for a short course but it doesn't play that way.
Some par 4s are way uphill, both par 5 don't allow driver off the tee (IMO the 2 weakest holes) and wind plays a factor so this just over 6100yds off the tips does not play that short really.
Greens were rolling excellent, at least 10' in the stimp and course was in very good condition despite some zoyzia/kikuyo contamination on the fairways. Bunkers were pretty good which is not easy to find in this windy area and one in all I found both fun and challenge.
The first 6 holes are 6 narrow ones from the tees where if you get over them in good score the round will be good if you are then smart. 6 tough tee shots, especially very narrow 5th where you then need a mid iron and the high 3rd which is the most scenic hole on the course and where you can go for the green and find it or maybe disaster if you miss either side.
7th is a good par 3 but maybe not enough space form misses and pin was put in a ridiculous spot just 1.5m off the edge of the green. 8th is a 90º dog leg but shot needs to be exact and precise, the only advantage with the first 6 is there is no chance of losing the ball! 9th is up the hill with a severe back to front sloping green and here is one piece of advice I would give to Course Manager: the course has already the challenge on tee shots and fast greens, some slopes like this green might need to be softened in order to give lower skilled golfers to have some more recovery chances.
10-11 are two very good downhill par 4s where approach at 11th is maybe the most challenge short iron you will face with water on the right and OB past the green.
Then 12th, a hard to understand par 5 where tee shot has to be 190-210yds and no more, then a long iron and a wedge to a very well protected green. There is no chance to hit a driver and in my opinion when that option is completely off the hole lacks of drama. It is a typical technical par 5 from this area, I just don't like them.
13th and 15th are two very good par 3s protected by water and both with amazing views. 14th the other par 5 another weak idea, an uphill tee shot that can't be over 220yds unless you are sharp as Calvin Peete was off the tee with water left and OB right, then second goes up the hill but the thing I don't find fair is there is water and you are not able to see it. These are the courses many people come play once for holidays and an unseen hazard will disappoint for sure.
16-17-18 are 3 very good finishing holes, not long but different where 16th is downhill to the toughest green on the course (inverted dish), 17th a reachable one for good players but as narrow as streets in old times! 18th a good finishing one with ocean views and the chance to be risky with the tee shot chosing an agressive line.
It was a fun morning, a course I will definitely play again more than once and as almost every course in the world with room for improvement. But when course shape is good, greens roll true and fast and views are like these then you find a very enjoyable holiday course.
Looking at the scorecard, it seems that Cabopino could be a benign course, with a total length of « only » 5,193 meters from the back tees. In fact, there are only three sets of tees, no championship or black tees here, so obviously this course is not designed to handle the cream of golfers. Or is it not?
Cabopino is pretty full of nice surprises and a source of really good golfing fun. It is located mostly on a hillside facing the Mediterranean sea, only 1 kilometer away, so you get very nice views on several holes. At the same time, some other holes have been created at the bottom of narrow gorges, and even with the invasive groups of villas around the edges, you can feel in the middle of nowhere. The Mediterranean pines are as lovely a landmark as can be. The design of the course is quite varied, so you never have the impression of having played a hole already. The fairways are very good, and even though we played in February on a cool day, the greens were lightning fast, and difficult to read due to the lack of horizontal reference surfaces anywhere. The putting challenge is made even greater as many greens are two-tiered, and a ball not quite reaching the top tier when needed will certainly roll back down a long way. Indeed, the course goes through a lot of elevation changes, both up and down, which makes riding a buggy almost a necessary evil.
Of course the most breathtaking hole of the course is the 3rd, with an elevated tee standing probably 50 meters above the fairway at the bottom of the gorge. However, the par threes are set very pleasantly, at least to the eye because the last two include water and the 15th in particular can be tricky when the wind blows sideways. We thought probably the weak hole was the first par-five, the 12th, a strange double dogleg where only a long and well thought out second shot will allow a chance at reaching the green in regulation.
All in all however, a fun course, no stress over distances but all kinds of use for a level and strategic mind if one wants to score well.
We played this as a warm up at the start of a golf tour. Despite pretty grim weather, we enjoyed it far more than expected. It is not long but it is a good test.
A proper layout, almost no 'up and down' neighbouring holes, plenty of variation and slopes. You have to think your way round, and a couple of holes are seriously tight. A very good set of par 3s.
Tees were a bit scruffy, but the fairways were in decent condition, and the
greens were very good.
We were made very welcome in the pro shop and clubhouse, and although the latter is pretty basic, the food was good.
It is by no means the best course in the Marbella area, but we would definitely go back, and I would be perfectly happy to play Cabopino regularly.