After my first visit to Valderrama back in 2008 and five more rounds since then, I think my latest in March 2019 gave me the total satisfaction that I had always wanted here. When we talk about courses at the very top-end, I think we are entitled to be ultra-observant and that is what I have always done when playing here.
The issues for me were, if you hit into the tree-line off of the fairways there was little chance to advance your ball forward as the low branches were too thick – the chip out sideways a familiar shot at Valderrama. This has seriously changed now with a pruning program across the course that now allows a chance to play in the direction of the green. There has also been plenty of trees that have been removed around the course, previously some were in places that were too penal and affected decent shots to the greens. The third hole (par-3) has been updated and I think this makes it so much more interesting – it is a simple change with the tee now raised so now you can see the bottom of the pin from the tee.
An improvement also comes at the familiar par-5 17th – observations that the slope at the front of the green was too steep were voiced by many – this has been attended to and although still defined is less unfair than previously.
Other subtle changes at Valderrama have been to take buggy paths out of view from the tees – a cosmetic change but enhances the views when playing your opening shots.
Leaving Valderrama this time, I had a huge smile on my face – yes, the experience off course was as special as ever but now it is clear that opinions have been listened too and more importantly, acted upon. Difficult to find fault now.
Date: April 12, 2019