The sizeable portfolio of von Haage, Smelek and Baril contains more than a dozen European golf projects, including courses in France, Italy and Denmark, and the design company has operated in Spain since the late 1980s, when the Forest and Links 18-hole layouts were established at Emporda Golf Resort, to the north of Barcelona.
The course at El Encin is located half an hour’s drive from the centre of Madrid, just off the main highway to Zaragoza, and it’s the golfing centerpiece of a small 40-bedroom resort that opened for business in 2011, with a sun terrace, swimming pool and restaurant available to golfers to while away the hours when they’re not playing.
The course is laid out as two returning lines on a relatively flat landscape, characterised by an abundance of variously-shaped bunkers, expansive sandy waste areas and imaginatively contoured greens. Two lakes offer visual spectacle and an element of aquatic menace at a couple of holes on the back nine of what is a very engaging layout.
We contacted architect Rick Baril of von Hagge,
Smelek and Baril and asked a few questions about El Encin. Click the link to read
more: El Encin Q&A with Rick Baril.
Played El Enfin 2x in July/August 2018. It is an interesting layout with a myriad of bunkers and severely ondulated greens. This gives a lot of strategic options to play the course and makes it fun. Some of the greens are very big, but at the same time narrow or long, i.e. giving little room for error either in distance or direction. For example the 17th green is 60 yards long, while the first green seems only 10 yards deep. From some tees you seem to see only bunkers all over the fairway (11th).
There is a big difference in length from the different tees and from the White (not to mention the black tees) it is 7100 yards long. The course hosted a challenge tour tournament a while back so it is a proper championship course by design/length.
The course is 30 min from Madrid and somewhat strange right next to a highway with a hotel attached. The Greenfee (45 Euros during the week) is quite attractive.
The drawback is that when I played the course was not in good condition greens, fairways and bunkers were not well maintained which lowers the enjoyment quite a lot.
If this course would be with beautiful vistas and in top condition it would be a 6 Ball rating, but this way it is only 4ball. Still worth a trip considering all I think.