Seve Ballesteros was the architect behind this off-the-beaten-track course back in the early 1990s when he ventured deep into the Basque interior to lay out what many consider to be one of his better designs.
There were originally twenty-seven holes in play at the Izki public golf facility, eighteen on the Urturi course and nine on the Lagrán course, but the 9-holer has since closed, leaving the facility with the main Urturi layout and a small pitch and putt course.
The par 72 course can be set up to play as long as a muscular 7,125 yards from the back tees but such a length is hardly surprising when you consider that seven of the ten par four holes can play in excess of 400 yards.The best holes on the front nine are played early in the round with a lovely loop of holes from the 3rd to the 6th .In particular, the right doglegged, par four, 5th is a cracker, played from an elevated tee to a fairway that leads to a raised green surrounded by trees.
On the inward half, the 13th is by far the shortest of the par fours on the card but its stroke index rating of 1 is due to the barranca that twice eats into the narrow fairway on the left side of the hole - as intimidating holes go, this one is right up there with the best.
A couple of early editions of The Challenge de España tournament on the European Challenge Tour were held at Izki in 2002-3 but the event moved elsewhere (it was played for a number of years at Tecina in La Gomera) before returning here in 2017.
Played this course in early October 2018, paid only 30 euros total for two players online, must be the best deal in all of Spain.
The course was in super nick, greens and surrounds well cut and presented, fairways green and first cut of semi very well maintained.
Having played more than 600 different courses around Europe and the USA, the outward nine holes are first class, the inward holes are not quite as good, as most are played in more open ground.
I know this is a course that can be used for professional players, but my opinion is the par 5 holes are a little tricked up, for example the 8th hole that is just reachable with two well stuck shots, has a small ditch running across the front of a small plateau green, and the 18th another par 5 is a severe dog left that restricts the use of woods for the better player, these are minor concerns as you will enjoy the course and it's condition.
The staff we're very helpful and friendly, do yourself a favour and play it, you won't be disappointed.
The holes at Izki are carved from dense woodland but good fairway width means it never feels as though the trees are too restrictive. Indeed, the holes are routed such that that there are little triangular pockets as at holes 3 to 5 and 15 to 17 where things open out a bit.
There’s also plenty of movement in the landscape, with fairways rising and falling throughout the round as they head away from then come back to the clubhouse in two returning 9-hole circuits. Water comes into play only once, at the par three 17th, where a lake lies to the left of the hole.
The 6th is a great little par three, played from a seriously elevated tee position down to a green that’s protected at the front by a couple of large bunkers, and it precedes a strong couple of holes that play towards the clubhouse and the short uphill 9th.
On the back nine, the totally unconventional 13th is completely unexpected, but there’s always a place for a quirky hole on a course, especially when it brings into play a fantastic natural feature like the gorge that twice eats into the left side of a narrow fairway.
I wasn’t aware that The Challenge de España tournament on the European Challenge Tour was held here last year (and will be returning again next month) as I thought it was still played on one of my favourite courses, Tecina in La Gomera, Canary Islands.
The fact that this prestigious professional event was hosted by Izki last September after an absence of fourteen years is a testament to just how geared up this club is to tournament golf, with a course built on a scale that you might not expect to find in the mountainous region of northern Spain.
Izki is one of the most outstanding golf courses in Northern Spain, and one of the best designs by Seve Ballesteros.
It is located in the Natural Park of Izki, in the mountain of Álava (Basque Country) and a few kilometers north of the wine region of La Rioja, in an environment of special interest.
The course itself is a beauty, especially when the colors of autumn make it a colorful show, apart from its virtues from the purely golfing point of view.
In general, although many of the fairways are surrounded by trees (beech and oak, basically), they are usually wide enough, allowing the use of the driver in most holes. The green complexes are always interesting, and in a good state of maintenance, even in the cold and rainy winter months.
As far as routing is concerned, the sequence from hole 2 to 6 is particularly noteworthy. In the second round, the highligts are the peculiar hole 13, inside the forest and with two creeks that divide it, and the strong finish that represent holes 16 to 18.
In short, a must visit in the region of the Basque Country, at a very reasonable price, all in an enviable environment, and with the opportunity to enjoy the interesting gastronomic and cultural offer of the area.