Real Club La Moraleja in Spain’s capital city is in the very fortunate position of having four very fine 18-hole courses which its exclusive membership can choose to play on. The No. 1 course held the Spanish Open in 1986 and 1997 (won by Howard Clark and Mark James) and the 32nd Madrid Open was played on the No. 2 course in 2006.
Located in an affluent area to the north of Madrid, La Moraleja 1 was created by Jack Nicklaus and Desmond Muirhead, the Golden Bear’s partner on many development projects, ranging from Muirfield Village, Ohio to New St Andrews in Japan. The club opened the course at Moraleja in style back in 1976 with an inaugural match involving its architect, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, Tom Weiskopf and local hero, Valentin Barrios.
Moraleja 1 is not overly long by modern standards at 6,550 yards in length and it features four short par fours, three of which are played between the 13th and 16th holes. No fewer than five of the front nine holes are left doglegs – nine doglegs in total on the course and they all combine to add great interest to the layout.
Water comes into play at three holes on the back nine, the best of which is the 330-yard, par four, 13th (“La Orca”) where the approach is played across a pond to a green running at a 45 degree angle to the fairway – it’s a lovely hole that blends in beautifully to its surroundings.
The No.1 course has been described as quirky, even amusing, but it still gives the more modern number 2 course a run for its money. One piece of golfing trivia as a footnote: one of the entertainment world’s most famous golfing sons, Bing Crosby, died as he came off Moraleja 1 in 1977 – some might call that dying and going to golfing heaven!
Following the sale of 80 acres of land (occupied by the former tennis courts), the club channeled the proceeds into creating two new courses (3 and 4), which are located a few kilometres from courses 1 and 2 and directly over the road from RSHE Club de Campo.
Opened for play in 2012 and fashioned again by Nicklaus Design, Moraleja 3 and 4 are now Spanish Top 100 courses. No.3 course is very much parkland in style and No.4 course has a links-like feel. The new 72-hole Real Club La Moraleja is now positioned in a unique and commanding position from a golfing perspective.