Nestled in a wooded valley-like setting, the 6.000-metre layout of Chaparral Golf Club (the club dropped the prefix "El" in 2019) was designed by Pepe Gancedo and the course (in a Berkshire Red style) is routed in an entertaining six par three, six par four and six par five configuration.
Although the course is not especially long, Chaparral is no pushover and conquering this layout will require accuracy as well as skill. There is much variety between the various holes and those that do score well here tend to go easy with the driver, choosing fairway woods and long irons for many tee shots.
There is no shortage of golf courses along the Costa del Sol, but few are appointed with the delights of El Chaparral with its exciting topography that features dramatic valleys and barrancas that must be treated with extreme caution.
A great example comes early on in the round at the 477-metre 3rd hole, which on length alone should be a straightforward par five, but its stroke index 1 suggests otherwise. The 3rd doglegs left and the tee shot needs to be placed down the right side of the fairway in order to see what’s in store for the second shot. It’s the second, or the approach shot for the big hitter, which asks questions. The green is a long but narrow target and a ditch cuts diagonally across the fairway some 100 metres from the green, leaving a challenging lay up for those that choose to play the hole as a three shotter. Those that go for the green in two must avoid the water on the left side of the green at all costs.
Chaparral Golf Club is a family business, run by Antonio Rubio with passion and attention to detail. Playing surfaces are managed by a knowledgeable agronomist and the on and off course service is to be savoured.
This was a course which I always passed by on my trips to La Costa del Sol but had never been able to play. I can’t blame myself as there are many good courses here and trips are not always long enough to play them all. I still have pending to play many more but yesterday due to Domingo’s very kind invite we enjoyed a great round of golf and lunch together with Head Pro Pablo (very good player) and fellow TTOO Bert. It was not a proper match but a fun round enjoying the course, talking about the current state of golf travel and them telling us all the investments and upgrades the Club is doing to raise their status. Improvements are not only visible at the Golf Course but also access roads, new villas and the quality they have put to every new thing they did.
The course is something different to what you often see here at La Costa despite some big level changes and this is the dense pine tree woods this course has. At some point sometimes too dense and needs some clearing and continue with the tree management program (I am aware they are working on it) in order to clear some spaces, improve views, show more of the course when standing on tee boxes and allow high handicappers to escape easier from the woods. It is unusual in having 6-6-6 par 3s-4s-5s and this is quite a good feature I believe as you have birdie options, challenging tee shots and par 5s where you can make 4 or turn it into a 7 if a bad decision is made.
There are many good holes and a couple which I would not say are bad but would work on them to make them different. Those are them:
- 1st: a very tough opener, up the hill and with dense forests on both sides. It is the first tee shot to be so tough, I would try to soften slopes on the right side and clean some trees.
- 8th: today in my opinion the weakest hole on the course with the potential of being the best one. Is there something better than a reachable risk/reward short par 4? That tree that gives the logo to the club is ok but there is tree cleaning needed on the right side, amplify a little bit the landing area and show the green from the tee and that would be a blast!
- 11th: a good par 5, maybe the slope makes a just short shot to come back way too much. Trees on the fairway are ok, they should find a way to get it a little bit wider and allow carts as it is then very uncomfortable to back and forth to the club with rangefinder and 3 clubs.
- 12th: another shorty where some cleaning on the right side and showing the green will amplify playing options.
- 13th: a very good par 5 up the hill, not long but you need precision. The short part of the green is just 5mts wide and pin was there! The places has the space for a potential antitheater green complex which would be great!
- 15th: my favorite hole, a short 4 dogleg left with 2 trees on the fairway (typical Gancedo feature) which you need to avoid. The view from the tee box seeing your ball fly is amazing.
- 17th: the other hole I feel can go from bad to good with just a chainsaw … Tee shot is ok and would love a wider view but second shot … no! I love “Casuarinas” but take them all away and show me the green! Raising a little bit the landing area for the second shot will give high handicappers space and confidence for a layup shot as well.
- All 6 par 3s: there are long ones, middle length and a short one, all of them very good and challenging. You can vary the set of tees and hit irons of all kind. Loved them!!
I am aware it is a course constructed back in the 90s, only open for some years and then closed for a long while and that now they are doing a fantastic job in the recovery and improvement process, keep it up. It is a course that definitely needs a second round in order to improve your score, but the full experience of the game, high quality service staff, fantastic restaurant and course condition (very impressive) makes it worth to be played.
Back in 2006 while working in Punta Blanca GC at Dominican Republic I enjoyed a night of beers with Course Designer Pepe Gancedo who at that moment was working on finishing White Sands there and I was able to understand his philosophy and design style very well. It is very clear here and I think he did a good job, which of course can be improved if Club Management is directed in the correct path.
One of the most impressive golf round in Malaga region was played at the middle of February of 2020 in interesting golf course – Chaparral! Chaparral golf course offers 18 holes surrounded by a Mediterranean pine forest and has become one of the most attractive golf courses in Costa del Sol. Spectacular is the term that could be use to define the Chaparral experience. This par 72 golf course offers a large variety of holes appreciated by players of all levels, being the only course on the coast with 6 par 5’s, 6 par 4’s and 6 par 3’s. The course isn’t excessively long, but my opinion it is one of most challenging golf course in Costa del Sol. Actually lot of holes pressure you to evaluate the game's strategy and various options to reach the green. Accuracy and smart game are keys as you navigate the fairways. At the first look is not big deal to reach some of par 5 greens with second shot, but required risk and very depend on wind direction. First of all here always windy and calculate distance include slope is not easy. Greens are wide but slow – to avoid 3 or more putts necessary atack pin very careful. First two holes are for warming up and measuring your clubs. Next one par 5 for bravest. If you have good line you can reach the narrow green in two from the right, but avoid out of bounds in right side and too much left side line. At the next par 3 hole you´ll need a solid shot to reach the green of the longest par 3 on the course, slightly up hill. Seventh par 5 wide hole where the big hitters can really go for it! Hole No. 8 is signature hole will demand the best of you! You have two options - play from the tee savety and leaving the second shot of about 100 m to green or make blind shot with the driver to the pin (with right wind it is reachable), but nessesary high shot to avoid high trees on the right side. The decision depends on the courage – pretty nice hole. Hole 13 par 5 is one of long hitters favorite as could be reachable by two shots and very spectacular for making pictures. Next holes for relaxing and increasing overal result exccept the last par 3. This one could spoil the mood if shot from tee goes right too much. Always aim left of the green and make sure you pass the ravine! In any case, there is a clubhouse and a restaurant in front of you with large glass of beer to discuss played round with your flight.
Definitelly very interesting to play. Also my big recomendation take a buggie. Maintance and quality of the fairways and greens maybe avarage, but playable. Acceptable prices and good value at all. Nice view from restaurant terrace.
As every golf course rating is always a subject with a lot of subjectivity, depending on various criteria and personal point of view to importance things, my personal opinion depends on following criteria: course complexity or challenging, fields condition (especially greens & fairways), service (only what you can get: buggie, club rent, condition of clubs, the amount of choice and etc. except staff and other subjective things that depends on your or staff mood), surrounding views or pleasure to the eyes and definitely value for the price. All criteries will be rating from 1 to 5 stars. My priority is challenging and value for price criterias. Chaparral golf club gets:
1. Challenging - 5*
2. Condition - 3*+
3. Service - 4*
4. Surroundings - 4*+
5. Value for the price - 4*+
Definitelly looking for back next time.
Tricky but fun and stunning course! We thoroughly enjoyed this course. It had some tough blind holes but I found it really enjoyable. I am not an expert golfer by any means but I actually scored decently at Chaparral so average golfers should not feel intimidated by the course. I suggest to rent a buggy, the course is a little hilly for a old man like me. You will really enjoy with the views and think about our next shots.
The views are unreal. Definitely the most scenic course I have ever played.
Booked the course months in advance. 6 years after we played last. A very exciting and challenging golf course. Great staff and enjoyable experience . Shame we didn't book the weather.
We played El Chaparral or Chaparral as it is now called a few years back. At the time we dubbed it El S*** as the condition was so poor.
We were tempted back by the promise of new owners and much better condition, playing in October 2019. Nope, still rubbish. Despite not being allowed on the fairways with buggies for pretty much the whole course, the condition was again poor. Green had pitch marks all over them and while the tees weren’t as awful as the last time we played, it wasn’t much better. The idea of 6,6,6 par three, four and five is good but to achieve this, many holes are ‘tricked up’. The 17th is as bad a hold design as I can recall.
One to avoid.
Played this course with my husband for the first time and we were very pleased. Nice course and great views. The fairways are embedded in the landscape. Very beautiful. All was satisfying. Course, maintenance , service and lunch. We will play here again.
Our second year back in Marbella, and another 5 courses to be played - this was the first time any of our group had played Chaparral, and likely to be the last as none of us believed it would be worth a second visit. The staff in the pro shop were lovely, as were the bar staff (although a little understaffed as service was slow even for Spain). The caddy master was a little surly, but helpful enough.
What I did find strange is that you had to buy a rubber tee peg for the driving range, first time I have come across this and they forgot to mention it when we bought the range tokens - only a Euro each but strange nonetheless.
Finally we teed off to a first hole that represents a valley with a very elevated approach to the first green and it was probably the worst conditioned green I've seen in a long time. You weren't allowed your carts onto the fairway on this hole and by the time we had finished it we were all fairly worn out.
After 5 or 6 holes we were not impressed with the condition of the course, particularly the tees and greens were poor and this continued throughout. However I would say the layout and enjoy-ability improved after this point with a more open back nine especially.
All in all there are far better courses in Marbella and this wont be one we will be returning to in the future.
Great course with some cracking, helpful staff, course in very good condition. The Club sandwich just excellent.
Es un Campo de Golf único de la Costa del Sol por su ambiente forestal (recuerda a los campos de Canadá). He jugado un torneo esta semana y me ha sorprendido gratamente su cuidado mantenimiento y su buen estado en general del campo. Cada hoyo es distinto. Los greenes en estado óptimo y con velocidad media alta. La siega muy controlada y los bunkers perfectamente rastrillados.
SADLY DISAPPOINTING! For a well ranked course, the course was in poor condition when we played with a number of Tees & Greens in particularly bad condition.
The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th & 8th greens stick in my mind, all suffering badly with pitch-marks & what looked almost like small divots (the greenkeeper was filling in the 8th as we approached, almost like you'd sand a Par 3 Tee) but the main culprit for us was definitely the 11th Green - a large portion had been poorly re-turfed and was almost unplayable (the edges of the newly laid turn were actually turning up).
On to the Tees - again, 2nd, 3rd, 9th and a few others were almost weed-like in condition, not properly turfed and were a big disappointment on the day. It should also be noted, if playing from white tees, there's a very strange & ill-placed fence/net infront of the 6th tee.
With some TLC and investment, this could COULD be pretty amazing but our experience was poor & unfortunately, a major anti-climax!