The area near Madrid airport to the north east perimeter of the capital is well endowed with a number of very good golf courses like the No.1 and No.2 courses at La Moraleja and Real Sociedad Hípica Española Club de Campo.
The RSHE Club de Campo can trace their roots as far back as 1901 and it was one of the founder members of the Spanish Golf Federation in 1932. They moved to their present location when land became available in 1984.
Club members were, at one time, able to participate in other activities like polo and tennis but these days, members are limited on site to indulge in a pony club, swimming, tennis and, of course, golf.
The South course was created in 2001 and the major difference between it and the longer North course is its hillier layout. There are two short par fours on the card and both are delightful holes. The first is the 304-yard 5th where there are ten bunkers all along the left of the fairway to catch any pulled shots. The second is the 294-yard, slight right dogleg, 12th which has an enormous bunker located to the right of the fairway landing area to catch pushed tee shots.
My round on the South course was played in the afternoon, after tackling the North in the morning followed by lunch. A European Top 100-ranked layout like the North isn’t an easy course to follow on the same property but the South does a very good job as understudy to the main protagonist. Indeed, I can imagine some members might actually prefer to play the slighter shorter South as it has a more intimate feel than the brasher, ballsier North – not to say it doesn’t have its moments, like the array of bunkers dug into the hillside behind the par five 16th!
The tree-lined fairways are perhaps a little hillier than the other course but it’s still an eminently walkable course, with, if anything, even more bunkers in play than on the North (my front nine notes have “lots of sand” marked against the 1st, 5th and 6th). The best hole for me on the front nine was the second of the par threes at the 173-metre 7th, where there are three distinct pads on different levels within the green, giving players all sorts of problems if they don’t hit and hold their tee shot close to the flag.
The outward half was good but the inward half was even better, especially the stretch from the par four 14th to par three 17th. The aforementioned 16th is probably the most controversial hole on the property, a downhill par five played to a green that sits behind a protecting pond to the front left of the putting surface. Immediately behind the green lies a grass bank with half a dozen bunkers cut into the slope. They shouldn’t really come into play unless you play ultra-conservatively to miss the water with your approach but they do focus your attention, especially as they’re circled at this time of year with dormant grass, giving them a greater visual impact.
If you get the chance, ask to speak to Director General Javier Calderon, a wise man who’s steeped in the club, before you start or finish your round. He very kindly stopped for lunch between rounds with me and my colleague Brian Ward before showing us round the clubhouse. Even spending a short five or ten minutes in his company will be enough for you to understand why the golf facility at RSHE is so well respected in and around Madrid. Truth be told, it deserves to be more widely regarded even wider afield…
It is not easy to face a 36 holes day immediately after a 12.5hrs long haul flight without almost no sleep and drive directly to the Golf Course. Although I have done it before, it is demanding and not the best but somebody has to do it!
I arrived on a Thursday and received by my clleague Fátima (a very good golfers and member there) who took me to the Club for a quick breakfast before a 2 rounds day. Before teeing off I found some time for a proper walk inside the Club House and the facilities which I found great, very charming and comfortable and with the proper space for hosting not only golf tournaments but also corporate outings. The initial sensation of a golf course with views of the snowed mountains sorrounding Madrid was awesome.
With almost no warming up, just a few putts to test the fast greens, we went directly to the first tee. I can of course not ask for a good round after the trip, just tried to focus on enjoying and analyzing Von Hagge's design and maybe compare to other of his designs I have played in the past. But this ondulated piece of land sorrounded by mountains was something very different of what I have played from him. And although it is said North course is better, I really liked this one as well.
First hole is an "easy" par 4 to start were placing the tee shot is the most important thing. Then second hole is a bit tough to understand from the tee without yardage book or a garmin device (I had both, no excuses!). Par 3 third over water is the first tough demand the course puts you in front of and one great par 3. Upright 4th hole is one of the best, challenging and were tee shot is a great percentage for success. Reachable par 4 5th is another one of the good ones, you can lay up or go for it where missing to both sides will lead to a bogey. 6th hole offers a sort of semi blind tee shot, where you need to aim over some trees to get to the fairway and where maybe driver is not the best option.
Then par 3 7th with an elevated tee box to a well protected green is a hole where although having the correct distance chosing the correct club needs extra thinking. 8th over water dog leg left offers a good ecuation of risk/reward options and the upright second shot is one of those I loved to hit. Par 5 9th will be a 3 shots hole for almost everyone, just make sure to lay up correctly.
11th with its new tees which my Arccos App did not have was in my opinion the best par 3, over a stream to a very well protected green. Short par 4 12th is a sort of break, where mid to long hitters will be able to go for it but approach shot if missing is extremely precise.
Loved the 17th par 3 with the two level green breaking sort of Redan Type. Downhill 18th offers a great end to a fantastic golf course, another great green design by RVH.
All in one a manicured mantained golf course, with the perfect balance of challenge, creativity and playability to make it a fun course to play for every handicap in the game. Speed of the greens was almost 10 feet, some downhill putts were just insanely tough!
Spain may be famous for Seve and some other courses (Valderrama, PGA Catalunya, Real Pedreña, Sotogrande, Puerta de Hierro) but this course is one of the ones you need to consider if playing in Madrid.
Much hillier than the north course, a little bit shorter and trickier, but giving lots of strategic options to the player. Also a fantastic course, beautiful and a joy to play. Greens/course in perfect conditions. Played in August during the week, hardly anyone on the course. Guests are made very welcome, during the week no problem to play as a visitor. Great practice facilities. both courses are a real treat.