Finnish architect Kosti Kuronen is the man who fashioned the 18 holes here at Guadalhorce Club de Golf towards the end of the 1980s. Very much a course of two halves, Guadalhorce’s front nine are laid out in a classic European format over undulating terrain while the flatter back nine are routed around water hazards in an American style.
A testing par 72 course measuring a meaty 6,800 yards, Guadalhorce lies in countryside near Malaga airport – indeed it is located at one end of the runway (with the Parador de Malaga Golf course at the other) so expect some distracting overhead noise when you play here, especially during the busy holiday season.
The signature hole is the 390-yard, par four, 6th which shares a green with the 8th (just like the 14th and 16th beside the river on the back nine). The drive is played from an elevated teeing position and if the ball avoids out of bounds on either side of the fairway, it will set up an approach to an L-shaped raised green protected by a bunker on the left.
Guadalhorce may not be the most technical test for your golf, but it is no pushover at 6,252 meters from the back tees, almost 6,000 from the men’s and still 5,122 from the ladies’, and it is a very pleasant walk through a nice variety of trees, with the Cordillera Antequerana and the Montes de Málaga in the background.
The Guadalhorce golf course has several distinct features which one cannot miss: first, it has a very nice clubhouse which was originally a mansion built on a 16th century farm. The terrace of the clubhouse looks directly over the 18th green, and it is a most pleasant setting for the 19th hole’s drinks and relaxation.
Second, Guadalhorce is built on flat terrain, except for one hill. This hill provides the elevation changes for the first third of the course with the exception of the par-five fourth hole. The rest of the course is almost totally flat. Third, there are no water hazards on the first nine holes, which are tighter, but three holes on the back nine definitely have water come in play, while the holes are more open and the greens are often elevated. Lastly, in 2011 the new Málaga airport runway was built between the Guadalhorce and Parador de Málaga golf courses, so the planes fly precisely over the course, pretty low and quite often. Fortunately, the prevailing winds place Guadalhorce in the landing path, so even though the engines of the planes can be heard very distinctly, they are not a great nuisance to deal with.
Several holes on this course are worth mentioning: the par-four sixth, the last hole with any noticeable relief, starts from the top of the hill and the drive must land on a narrow, uneven fairway cutting through some woods. The approach is to a long but very narrow and elevated green so any ball missing it will either end into the bunker on the left or on the steep slope on the right. Then the par-four eighth, a long hole (414 meters from the back tees), with trees and a slope along the left side and a green tucked behind a bump, sharing the putting surface with the 6th and similarly long and narrow.
The two finishing holes are also interesting. The 17th, a personal favorite, is a rather long par-three which demands a long and precise carry over a couple of lakes ready to swallow any short, long or left-going ball. Many people will decide to lay up, but the “open” space on the right and short of the green is itself protected by a lake in front, and bunkers close to the green, so no matter which strategy you adopt, you have to know how far each of your clubs carries comfortably. The 18th is long but it is not a difficult hole, with its wide fairway and totally flat terrain, but it offers a striking view with the stately looking clubhouse behind the green and the mountain ranges in the distance. A good mind preparation for drinks in the shade of the building!
It seems that Miguel Angel Jimenez practices at a good many courses around Malaga as he originates from there. He is claimed as a player at Parador de Malaga, Torrequebrada and Mijas also.
We certainly saw Miguel there with a huge cigar the time we played there.
Enjoyed the course, although it felt a bit boxed in by roads at its extremities.