Logroño lies halfway between Burgos and Pamplona, on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim way that leads to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, six hundred kilometres to the east.
Early in the new millennium, the local authority decided to establish a municipal golf course within the newly created 1,100-acre La Grajera nature reserve on the outskirts of the city, commissioning Marco Martin and Blake Stirling from Stirling&Martin Golf Architects to design the 18-hole layout.
Opened for public play in 2003, the Logroño course extends to a lengthy 6,746 metres from the back markers, thanks in no small measure to the 618-metre 4th, which is reputed to be the longest hole in Spain.
Fairways are set out on hilly terrain, with substantial elevation changes encountered on both nines and an intimidating barranca to be carried on the back nine at the 493-metre 12th and 415-metre 18th.
Greens are reasonably contoured so, provided pins are placed in sensible positions, there’s no reason why a good score can’t be achieved here – though maybe not to the extent of threatening Miguel Ángel Jiménez’s fantastic course record of 60!
Architect Marco Martin very kindly supplied us with the following background information on the course:
Logroño is one of the very few public initiatives to promote golf in Spain. The golf course was promoted by the City Hall of Logroño as a way to recuperate waste land near the city, transforming it into a full recreational area where people can go jogging, cycling, horse riding or play padel tennis.
Environmentally, it was also a great project because we used most of the closed organic land fill of the city. The first three holes on each nine and the driving range are located on top of a 30-year-old landfill. To cover that area, we deposited more than 1.5 cubic metres of dirt and then we shaped the holes. No one can imagine they are playing golf on top of hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of organic and non-organic land fill.
With a tight budget, we also built a complementary 9-hole Pitch & Putt course to welcome new players and to let everybody enjoy a short game golf course.
Thanks to Logroño, some others city halls in Spain decided to invest some money in helping the promotion of golf. In the same way, we designed Xherry Golf in Jerez, Cadiz, which opened in 2002. It’s another great public golf course with 9-hole pitch & putt and large driving range.
If all municipal courses in Spain are like this one in the Logroño then be prepared for an upsurge of good golfers in the years to come as the facilities are second to none for ordinary players. I was rather taken aback by the quality of what I found when I played here recently. I had expected the design to be pretty decent, having visited two new 18-hole layouts that course architect Marco Martin fashioned in Marrakech and Casablanca a couple of years ago, but I was also delighted to find out the conditioning of this course more than matched its architecture.
There’s lots of width to the fairways, sandy waste areas are kept to a minimum, and the large greens are of a sufficient size to allow for a multitude of pin placements. The nines are beautifully routed, each of them rising up to a high point before returning back down again towards the clubhouse. And because the course is situated in the middle of a large protected area, there are no residential intrusions or interference from passing traffic, which is not always the case when playing so close to a city.
The par five 4th is the course’s calling card for the more macho-orientated golfer, billed as “the longest hole in Spain and one of the longest in the world,” but the degree of difficulty attached to this hole is not just related to its length – it also rises steadily from tee to green, the prevailing wind is normally in your face, and the offset putting surface slopes away markedly from front to back so, with that little lot to contend with, anybody carding a par or better here can truly be called a good golfer.
The par five 12th and par four 18th are terrific holes on the back nine, each of them requiring the second shot to a carry across a wide gorge that’s overgrown with vegetation. The par three 16th (pictured above) was my favourite short hole on the card, played across a native wetland area to a green that’s benched into a small hillside. I also really liked the 14th (pictured right), playing every centimetre of its 434 metres from the regular tees – it’s never easy to make an uphill par five hole attractive and this one’s a beautifully bunkered gem of a hole.
I must thank my host at Logroño, the unassuming Director of Golf David Bedia Reventún, who pointed out lots of little improvements that have been made recently to the layout during our round. He also demonstrated how good players can score well here by rattling in half a dozen birdies (three in a row from the 12th on the back nine) as he displayed all the talents acquired during his formative golfing years in Pedreña. I’ve heard that particular coastal village has more professional golfers per head of population than anywhere else in Spain and David’s performance with me did nothing to dispel that assertion!