Viuda de Aldana 50,
- +34 (0) 916 500 700
9 km N of Madrid
Members and their guests only
Manuel Diego Miguel
Jack Nicklaus, Desmond Muirhead
Antonio Martín Perdiguero
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.
Moraleja 1 is a beautiful course surrounded by pine trees and villas in the elegant Moraleja neighbourhood. Although not long it is requiring precise shots and good strategic play. Despite its length scoring is a lot harder than its seems at first sight, as the greens are not easy, there is rough around most greens making chipping more difficult and a lot of the holes are tight. Greens are rather small, in contrast to most of the newer Nicklaus courses (like Moraleja 3+4).
A number of the par 4s are rather short giving the long hitter the chance to attack.
The real difficulty are the par 3s: The 175M 2nd is a slight uphill shot into a severely sloping green with a small opening protected by bunkers and large trees. No 4 is 190M into a narrow green and big bunkers in front and back, No 15 is 155 M again uphill and well bunkered and No 17 over a lake which cuts left to right into the green. The long par 5 No 12 is in my opinion the most difficult hole on the course, over 500 M, dogleg shaping right around large trees while the fairway is sloping to the left and water in front of the narrow green. The par 5 18th has again out of bounds left and right and a big lake in front of the green requiring a good drive and courage for the player wanting to attack the green in 2.
The course is universally liked by players of all abilities, despite its moderate length especially low handicappers enjoy playing it for the strategic options, a lot of them think that Moraleja no 1 is one of the best courses in the Madrid area. It definitely deserves a higher rating in the Spain rankings than currently (51st).