Montecastillo is one of the most popular golf resorts in the world and it hosted the Volvo Masters Andalucia for five consecutive years beginning in 1997 when Lee Westwood won the event.
Spain’s equivalent of Wentworth in England – its magnificent , late 19th century, El Castillo clubhouse is constructed with similar crenellated walls – Montecastillo is situated on an enormous 400-acre property which also boasts indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, football pitches, a five-star hotel and villas that overlook the 18th hole of the golf course.
Located in the heart of the country’s main sherry and brandy producing region, Montecastillo was created by Jack Nicklaus in 1992 and it’s a long, demanding course, routed thoughtfully across rolling Andalucian terrain. In typical Nickalus style, everything is laid out quite clearly in front of you so it is playable by golfers of all abilities, provided they use the correct tee at every hole, of course!
Montecastillo is a splendid layout with some very testing holes and many visitors use buggies to cope with the often long, uphill or downhill walks from green to tees, particularly on the back nine.
The outward half is fairly open with water really only affecting the approach to the par four 7th green and the tee shot on the par three 8th hole. The inward half is a little tighter with the 13th hole having a great view of the Jerez Grand Prix circuit from the tee and the closing, par four, 18th elevated tee providing marvelous views of the hotel and castle.
Recent improvements have included the planting of 100-year-old olive trees around the course, the installation of a new drainage system and the introduction of silica sand to the bunker complexes.
Sad to hear the condition of this place is going down hill. Several airlines including Ryanair and Easyjet cut down their services to Jerez airport, so it must be hard to attract visitors. This is a shame, because it's a fantastic course with a nice hotel, and Jerez is a nice city to visit. We went through a phase of coming here every year, but it's been a while now since our last visit.
As a former stop on the European Tour, the course can challenge the pros, has great greens, and has fantastic practice facilities. It is very recognisable as a Jack Nicklaus layout, and for me has a similar design style, especially the green complexes, to the Heritage course at the London Club. What Montecastillo has in abundance (apart from sunshine) are high elevated tees. Play it off the back tees, and you have some daunting carries down to the fairway below, with strategically placed bunkers asking to be carried. It's all set out in front of you, there are no tricks, and I think this is very much a drivers golf course.
The course has a gentle start and takes a while to get going, but the front nine has a strong finish: 7 plays from an elevated tee with water coming into play right alongside the green, 8 is a well protected par 3 with water down the right, and then 9 is a very attractive driving hole from an elevated tee, with lots of fairway bunkers at driving distance the fairway rises to an elevated green and it's possible to get on to this par 5 green with two good hits.
The back 9 has a couple of weak holes at 10 and 17, which feel a bit cramped, but for me it also has the best holes on the course, with a series of par 4's driving from elevated tees. 13 and 15 are the pick of the bunch, as well as 18 with the lake in play down the left hand side.
I've always walked this course, carrying my own bag. To be fair it's a long walk, the holes are spread out and you have to climb a lot of hills to get to all these spectacular elevated tees. It's 7,000 yards off the back tees, but the course plays shorter due to the elevated tees.
Myself and my best pal played this course in may 17, absolutely unbelievable. Everyone else in the reviews seems to think the course has gone massively down hill so not sure how good the course must have been before hand because it was fantastic when we played it.
The opening hole is brilliant, a short uphill par 4, with hills/mounds to the left of the fairway and an array of bunkers to the right, you can either pull out the big dog and go aggressive over the bunkers, which will leave you 20 odd yards in or knock a 4 iron to the left of the bunker(BORING).
There are plenty of memorable other holes also including the third, looooong par 5, with water all down the right and bunkers down the left, once you get near the green theres even more bunkers and water to contend with, so a 5 or a 6 here is a decent score.
Another is the 8th, a cracking par 3, where if you don't carry the front of the green, you'll need a bucket and spade, the bunkers are hugeeeee. To finish the front 9 you have a lovely par 5 off elevated tees, with an unbelievable view.
The back 9 also had plenty of good holes with water and bunkers coming into play on most holes, 12, 13 and 14 is a cracking stretch of holes with a par 5 followed by a 4 and a 3.
The finishing hole 18, is spectacular as you'll have probably seen by all the pictures on google, the views and immense and the hole is even better, hitting the fairway is vital as there is a lot of water left of the green and also everyone on the patio can see your approach shot so you don't want to make a fool of yourself...
The greens are class the whole way round, very fast and true. The bunkers were perfect and the fairways ran a mile. Would recommend any to go play it, its a great test of all your game but also very enjoyable.
A buggy would be advised as its a long walk between tees and also very hilly.
Played the course today. The layout is nice. But the condition is bad except the greens. The bunkers were not good one many holes, as the workers have driven their cars into the bunkers and not fixed in afterwords. Most of the rough and fairways are average.I mean this course is overrated. All the courses I've played in Spain has better conditions.
The older of Jack's 2 Montes, The other being Rei just across the border in Portugal, and they share some traits. You will need a buggy, walking is pure folly. They are built on land that enjoys some spectacular elevation changes and they are an honest and fair test for players of all standards. What is interesting however is what progression there is at Monte Re. You can see from Jack’s earlier work here, there is less complexity in the detail, it has more of a broad brush feel to it and despite the majority of the holes being fantastic fun there are some that are ordinary and a bit clumsy like 17 and 10. They are imposed on the landscape rather than flowing with it. You just can’t say any of that about Monte Re, where Jack has reached a zenith in his architecture career. It is also as if this might have been one of the first courses ever designed on a computer. Massive bunkers dominate some holes for example. It can be easy to be left with a 50 yard greenside bunker shot over sand. The scale seems wrong or clumsy on the par 5 16 for example. However, we loved this course. Mainly because the tee shots are terrific fun here and there always a few options from the tee. There are some excellent par 4’s. The 5’s and the 3’s are okay too. We had 5 days here and it was incredibly good value. No doubt you will be staying in the Barcelo? The all inclusive for five days+ is the way to go. You have a 15% discount on the buggies to 40 Euros and unlimited golf. To play 36 holes add another 20 Euros. Not bad at all. I highly recommend this place for a golf trip. The accommodation is generous and very comfortable, the golf is exciting, fun and above all it is terrific value. JCB LAY
Unfortunately, you talk more about (the fabolous) Monte Rei than Montacastillo. This (Montecastillo) WAS a great course until they lost the Volvo open some years ago. Until then the best part were the bunkers with this cristal white Sand. Seemes to be valuable as the bunker sand was sold(!!) and removed soon after, now you have some brownish stuff in there which is unpleasant to contact. You NEED a buggy on this couse, a shame that they have not invested money on this part for years, probably following the cheap greenfees they now offer. This course is now mediocre, not more. The thumbs are lowering annually, very unfortunately.
We walked it, hard but not impossible. I believe that the European Tour won't let a course that demands a buggy host a tournament, it has to be walkable. I may be wrong. Shame if it is going down hill, we played 10ish years ago and loved the course, we had it to ourselves. The only disappointment I recall was the bar area has a load of trees between it and the course which stops you watching people play the 18th (may not remember that right). Also played Monte Rei this year that is a definite buggy course but cracking experience.
Not only is Montecastillo a stunning golf course, originally built to a high standard for the Volvo Masters but in recent years has had extensive work carried out to enhance it even more, great variety of water holes and well placed bunkering make for a golfing experience that you must try: What makes this venue even nicer are the staff, they are so pleasant and are always there to please, Added to that the hotel is excellent with well appointed rooms, great restaurant and good food: Again the restaurant staff are truly superb: There has been considerable investment over the past years in the whole resort, and it shows: If the ladies in your life are not golfers they will love the Spa and Heath Treatments or even just relaxing by the pool. This is a gem that you don't want to miss: Most certainly highly recommended for the serious golfer.