Marbella Golf and Country Club have endured some torrid times since Robert Trent Jones first designed the course in 1989 – the original club went bust and then a motorway was built through part of the property so it’s pleasing to see the course come through such trauma largely unscathed.
Laid out on a difficult, hilly site just outside the fashionable resort of Marbella, the course routing makes the very best use of the available landscape, setting up many spectacular uphill and downhill shots across a number of ravines.
Throw into the mix some excellent bunkering, fabulous green complexes, well placed water hazards and – along with many marvelous scenic views – you have a heady golfing cocktail that almost overpowers with its intoxication.
Apart from the 8th, a lengthy short hole set in an olive grove, the par threes are something of a let down in comparison to the others. To balance against this disappointment, the 2nd is an excellent, double doglegged par five and the nine holes from 7 to 15 (par three 10th excepted) are great examples of the old master architect at his best.
Played this one back in 2013 and it failed to be memorable although it was a fun experience with 36 argentine friends. In between the mountains like many of the courses of the area, with the classic touch of RTJ this is one of those with decent value for money although not a great one.
Some great views, a number of dramatic carries and good greens make it an enjoyable holiday course.
I played it again on Friday after 7 years and I have the same sensation but with some regrets on a couple of holes: 4th is too dramatic for the average golfer, it is an all or nothing carry. Then 5th and 8th are what the piece of land allows, but there is very little room for lateral misses and that for average golfers is a drama with lost balls and penalty shots.
Then 6th in my opinion needs to be worked out: after a good driver my mandatory shot was a lay up before the stream (with the PW) or an alternative 7-8 iron before the pond. I don't like it, I know it is a par 5 but I feel the alternative to go for it has to be there.
9th is a very good par 3, we played in strong wind and that huge green was a real challenge. The other 2 par 3s (11 & 16) are very good ones in the direction of the ocean. 12th demands a good tee shot to get up the hill and roll to a short approach, if not it is a very difficult hole.
I usually have regrets with par 5s in these "technical" courses and it also happens with 13th where they lay up second shot is tough for mid handicappers and the pond should be cleaned of bushes to have a nice view of the green.
14th and 15th are 2 good 4s, especially second shot up the hill on 15th. And the final hole demands a good tee shot and if you putt from over the hole ... lightning fast!
As said before, a good course and experience, there will be always room for improvement and playing it in this wind was really fun!
Played this course for the third time this year and think it gets better each time I play it. The course is in good condition throughout, and although the greens aren't the quickest around, they still roll fair and true.
The lead up to the club is impressive, as is the clubhouse itself with a very grandiose feel to it.
The front nine is fairly tight, and I don't think I used my driver until the 8th hole - the 4th in particular is quirky and can lead to some backlogs with people hunting for balls and not using the call through system.
Won't be the easiest course for the higher handicappers, but I would say it's one of the more pleasurable courses to play in the area.
In bad shape for a private club... if it would be more take care of, because the design of the course is interesting!