La Duquesa is one of the more recent Robert Trent Jones Snr courses on the Costa del Sol, opening as it did in 1989, a good number of years after his earlier designs at Sotogrande (1964), Las Brisas (1968) and Valderrama (1975).
The course at Manilva, near Estepona, may not be as highly regarded as that trio of top ranked, iconic Spanish layouts but it still displays more than a modicum of RTJ design traits – raised putting surfaces and challenging greenside bunkers are in evidence throughout.
The clubhouse sits not far from the seaside and the course rises in two returning loops of nine around El Hacho Hill, overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s a pity the original order of playing the front and back nines has been reversed as the excellent short par three, 8th is not quite the knee-trembling matchplay proposition that it once was when played as the 17th, so late in a round.
I've just played here today, I knew it was cheap just €30 for the round and a little more for the buggy, which is recommended. I knew I wasn't in for anything special despite the fact it is designed by Trent Jones. The hotel on site is closed and run down, the receptionist for the course was friendly and truthful, she advised me the course was in bad condition.
The front nine is tighter and more challenging but it's irons off all the tees for myself being a low single figures player, but even the good shots ended up with lost balls due to the slope, lack of grass and dryness of the course, I was playing good shots up the left hand side and watched it constantly chase into the scrub area on the right. There's no green grass on the fairways, they are dry, patchy and I would describe them almost as semi rough.
This course is perfect for those on a budget or doing the Trent Jones courses around the world or just starting out.
The whole course area looks like it is being run on a dwindling budget, with rough areas all over the course.