Guadalmina lies right at the heart of Spain’s “Costa Del Golf” on the Costa del Sol. The small towns of Puerto Benus and Estepona are only 10 minutes away on either side of the golf complex while quality courses like Atalaya and El Paraiso are all within striking distance – it really is a golfing paradise on Spain’s sunny coast.
The Guadalmina Golf Resort boasts 45 golf holes; two 18-hole courses and a 9-hole pitch and putt course. Folco Nardi designed the North and it opened ten years after the South in 1975. Despite its more undulating terrain, the North plays easier than the other 18-hole course, though many golfers prefer to combine them both in a 36-hole, all day package.
Water features at several holes, notably at the 11th where the tee shot is launched over a lake and the approach must fly over a fountain in front of the green whilst the Guadalmina river comes into play at the par four 17th hole. The course has been spruced up in recent times following some renovation work by Global Golf in 2002.
In 2 consecutive days I was allowed to play and test these 2 famous courses which I had never been to before and the final word is they are both worth. I first played the South and then the North, which although neighbor it has not the same look and feel and features as her older sister (host of European Tour Events) with not as many Oak Trees as the other one for example but with many of them who lose their leaves in winter so the first sensation I have is I need to come back in early October on a sunny day and see the mix of fall colors it will have, I am sure they will be really nice.
As for the course, the first 9 go around homes and surrounding the Barcelo Hotel to end just beside it and across the street of the Club House. Then back 9 go down and across the A7 Highway (from 11 to 12) and then back and crossing the road again from 15 to 16.
I feel this course has 11 very good holes until that nice short 3 parallel to the road and then 3 tight finishing holes but the part across the road is quite weak: no space, a par 5 that has been shortened 50yds and to a green in a very small piece of land, then the other three are way too close to each other and with not real creativity on the design which could be a good call to save the lack of space. 12 could be a way better hole (even a tough par 4), 13th needs some definition and 14th as well.
From 1 to 11 I found many good holes:
- Par 4 3rd is tight, with a nice dogleg left tee shot.
- Par 3 6th is a 200+ yards to a big green.
- Par 4 7th offers the tougher tee shot on the course
- I loved 8th, generous off the tee although it doesn’t show, then a small green breaking left to right will demand precision and even better putting.
- 9th has a nice tee shot up the hill, once that is solved approach is not tough.
- 10th plays down the hill and quite long, with a false front that will take all short left shots away from the pin and left a difficult up and down.
Then the final 3 offer 3 tough tee shots, the first two might need something different from the driver but the real deal are the uphill second shots. 18th plays similar to 9th, but 40yds longer.
All in one it is a good secondary course for a Club like Real Guadalmina, it shows that the South is better taken care but this should not make you not play it. There are better courses, yes, but with these greens rolling as firm as they were and fast it is an enjoyable round of golf.