El Bosque is one of several courses designed by Robert Trent Jones during his most prolific spell in Spain from the mid-60s to mid-70s – others include Sotogrande (1964), Las Brisas (1968), Mijas (1976) and Las Naranjes (1977).
Club de Golf El Bosque opened in 1975, the same year as another RTJ creation, Sotogrande New (which became Las Aves before Jaime Ortiz-Patiño subsequently gained control and transformed it into Valderrama) so Mr Trent Jones and his team were at one time very much in demand in Spain.
The course is located in a residential estate, some 15 miles to the west of Valencia, on pine-clad foothills to the north of Chiva and the terrain can be tricky in places with golfers occasionally facing hanging lies on some of the fairways, despite the earth moving that was carried out during construction to level parts of the landscape.
The toughest hole on the course is the 540-yard par five 7th which slopes gently from left to right and doglegs to the right. Two bunkers lie on either side of the fairway to pressure the tee shot then another three sand traps await errant second shots further along the fairway. To crown it all, the long, narrow putting surface has a very tight entrance and is protected by another three greenside bunkers.
The 6,900 yard, par 72, course is laid out in classical style with two par threes and two par fives on both the outward and inward loop of nine. Most fairways are tree-lined and water comes into play in front of the greens on the 8th, 12th, 13th 14th and 15th holes. Several holes are doglegged (including the first three on the card) and there is an average of five bunkers per hole on the course. No holiday golf here, then!
Don’t imagine El Bosque is always played in picture-perfect conditions either. A good bit of ball shaping will be demanded if the summer Levante, a southeasterly warm wind, is blowing. The recommendation? Plot your way carefully round the property.
I had watched a club match on this course about 15 years ago and welcomed the opportunity to play the course recently. It turned out to be a better course than I had remembered and is indeed a very fine test of golf.
It is well bunkered and has a great variety in style of hole. It is also well routed so you are changing direction frequently It is quite hilly but the hills are not a dominant feature of the course. There are some holes with water but it is well used and not many shots have to be played over water.
If you are staying in Valencia you can't go wrong playing this course and El Saler.