Real Valderrama - Southern Spain - Spain

Real Club Valderrama,
11310 Sotogrande,
Prov de Cadiz,
Spain


  • +34 (0) 956 791 200


Valderrama played host to the 1997 Ryder Cup matches between the USA and Europe. Team Captains were Tom Kite (US) and Seve Ballesteros (Europe). The first Ryder Cup to be hosted on mainland Europe was a tale of Europe’s five rookies who produced an impressive performance in the pairs during the first two days, giving Europe a five-point lead going into the singles. The US rallied during the final day, winning the singles 8-4, but it came down to the last match between Colin Montgomerie and Scott Hoch which ended in a halve after Monty sportingly conceded Hoch’s 15-footer on the final green. Europe 14 ½ - USA 13 ½. The Ryder Cup was played at Oak Hill in 1995 and at the Country Club, Brookline in 1999.

Everybody has heard about Valderrama “the Augusta of Europe” but its success is really down to Jaime Ortiz-Patino and a few of his golfing mates. In 1985, the industrialist billionaire bought what was then a fairly average course. He then spent an absolute fortune on it and now it’s one of the best courses in the world.

In 1975 Robert Trent Jones first laid out the course, which was originally known as Los Aves. It is located prominently on a hill above the old Andalucian village of Sotogrande. The layout remained relatively anonymous until 1985 when Jamie and his mates recalled Trent Jones to subtly reshape Valderrama and the club has not looked back since.

Many golfers will be familiar with Valderrama from TV coverage. The club has hosted a plethora of championships, including the Volvo Masters and the legendary 1997 Ryder Cup, which saw a narrow one point European victory under the captaincy of none other than Seve Ballesteros.

The closing holes are always described as tough with a capital “T” but if you choose your tee sensibly from the off, it’s an eminently playable course for golfers of most abilities (the maximum handicap allowed at Valderrama is 24 for men 32 for ladies). The 17th hole is naturally the most memorable. It’s called Los Gabiones and was once just a long par five until the water was installed just in front of the green. Now it’s a question of shall we lay up or should we go for it?

Despite the fact that Valderrama is an elite private members club, visitors can still obtain the key to the first tee. It’s certainly not the cheapest green fee in Europe but, because Valderrama is never overplayed, it’s always in tip-top condition. Valderrama is also completely in tune with nature. Apart from Loch Lomond, it’s is the only other European golf club to be awarded full Audubon status (Audubon's mission is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems). Play Valderrama and prepare to be impressed… very impressed.

Jaime Ortiz-Patino, the owner and honorary president at Valderrama, died in a hospital in Marbella in January 2013. The legendary figure played a key role in bringing the 1997 Ryder Cup to Spain. “Valderrama is his masterpiece, his legacy,” commented Jose-Maria Olazabal. “He wanted to make it a very special place, and he did it. He put Valderrama and that part of Andalucia on the map.”

In June 2014, Ortiz-Patino would have been extremely proud. A few days before his abdication, His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain, granted Valderrama the Royal title. Club de golf Valderrama was duly renamed to Real Club Valderrama. Four years later, the club completed an extensive renovation programme which has completely transformed the course.

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Description: Most golfers will be familiar with Valderrama from TV coverage. The golf club has hosted a plethora of championships, including the legendary 1997 Ryder Cup. In 2014 the club was granted Royal status. Rating: 9 out of 10 Reviews: 46
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MARIO BULER
We played in March and I keep telling my friends they must come back and enjoy the experience of playing such a course.Best condition I have ever seen plus top service from staff.One of the World's Iconic courses
April 06, 2014
10 / 10
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Craig
WOW what a brilliant golf course, best I have played by some distance. Tight driving holes, brilliant greens, water features and all in prestine condition. Played the course in the rain but it didnt matter, was still a wonderful experience. There was members of staff following us in buggies on the back 9 replacing our towels with fresh dry ones. Lovely touch I thoughHIGHLY RECOMMEND
April 01, 2014
10 / 10
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Javier Pintos
Some say second parts are not good ... All I can say is that in this case they are wrong! I first visited and played Valderrama in 2009 on late November on a rainy day and almost winter, so although I had a great time, I believed that the course would show a better "face" in Spring and so it did!! My second visit was last May 2013 leading a 32 golfers group from Argentina on a one week trip playing the Top 5 courses of the area on a Tournament. It was totally different, despite not hot it was a sunny (and very windy) day, and the visit lasted a lot longer as I had to be there early to organize de tee times, driving range, socrecards, prizes, etc. This time I had a better chance of admiring the course because of the nice weather and being taking pictures all the way from 1 to 18. The course was in excellent shape, bent grass fringes looked amazing and the greens rolled super fast, so fast that most of the golfers foundValderrama Golf Course - Photo by reviewer lots of troubles to make short putts, but in the end everybody loved not only the course, but the experience, the superve ProShop and the 19th Hole with it's huge burger. What can I say about the course? Can you really argue RTJ? Can you argue a European Tour venue? I believe you may like it or not, but you need to just watch, play and admire. That was my case. And played great despite 3 consecutive doubles on 5-6-7 and bogey on 8. About the course? Maintenance is out of argue, it is perfect, no one can deny that. Design? You may like it or not, but it is a great challenge, you need to put the tee shots on the fairway (an many times avoid the Driver), approaches need to be precise and putting has to be as accurate as you can. There are some great holes (2-4-7-10-15-16-17-18) and a couple I don´t like and believe they are unfair (5-8-14). The course maybe be too much challenge for high handicappers, but you just need to walk, play and admire, enjoying and not worrying about score (maybe playing Stableford). A special note about the greens: they are as fast as an amateur can play, they roll as true as a major championship course can get and sometimes the breaks are tough to identify, pure challenge and I loved it!!! And last but not least: the attention to detail from the crew starting with Golf Director Javier and the girls at the proshop, plus the Caddiemaster, everything was at the highest standards. Some may say that green fees are expensive. Or that the proshop is too much money? Don't you believe a venue of this level and that has hosted Major Events doesn't deserve to have a higher green fee? I believe it does, as to mantain this at this high level, money is needed. You may love it or hate it, I agree, in my case I loved it and will play it always, it is mandatory.
July 03, 2013
10 / 10
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Fergal O'Leary

My first impression upon entering the gates is that Valderrama is a place of tradition and pristine condition. The enormous mosaic of the club’s emblem echo’s the importance that this club has to Spanish golfing history. Manicured gardens and old-style Spanish architecture greet you as you make your way around the property. The cork trees ensure that each hole is its own private creation and massively influence your club-selection of the tee. Some of the trees are positioned in the middle of a fairway (eg: 2nd hole), some are positioned in bunkers (eg: 5th green) and each of them will just individually haunt you. This course is not extremely long, but length is completely irrelevant when playing a golf course which demands finesse, accuracy and a good deal of bravery.

The 1st green sits below towering cork trees which will rebound any shot which is not going straight at the green. They protect the flag from all wandering golf balls and remind you from the get-go that this course will separate the men from the boys. While sitting in the “Spike Bar” before/after your round, you’ll see photographs of the players who have won at Valderrama – and then realize the correlation with being able to hit the ball straight (thank you Monty!). The 4th hole is an iconic par 5 which currently is undergoing a project to expand the green behind the rocks. The club wants to create more available pin-positions, but also to entice more players to go for the green in 2 shots. I support the project as the hole is just over 520 yards but the risk with currently going for the green is far too great – maybe compliments to RTJ for that original decision.

The par 3 6th could quite possibly be the most beautiful par 3 I’ve seen outside of Swinley Forest. It’s framed by trees with 6 bunkers running around the green. Pine Valley eat your heart out. The 8th hole is just 290 yards but it’s called “El Bunker” for a reason. Again, the smart play is an iron off the tee which will leave you with an approach shot to a tiny elevated green with enormous cork trees over-hanging the green with El Bunker wrapping it’s way around the putting surface. One of the golf’s greatest holes.

The back-nine starts with a roll-coaster 10th hole. A hugely sloped fairway secretly takes your ball diagonally towards a massive water hazard which you don’t really see from the tee, and then climbs back up to a well protected green. Valderrama continually demonstrates that you don’t need to have length to separate the shot-makers from the one-dimensional golfer. The Spanish professionals of the last few decades all have common characteristics, namely “imagination” and “touch”. Their imagination graces the halls at this club and it’s courses like this that helped them hone their skills before taking on the professionals of the world.

There are significant changes in elevation on the 11th (uphill par 5), the 12th (downhill par 3), the 14th (uphill par 4), the 15th (long downhill par 3), each of which are lined with cork trees that offer an individual experience at Valderrama and makes the holes extremely memorable. Each hole is so uniquely crafted that you can immediately recall the layout. The routing of the course is magnificent. You might only appreciate the changes in direction and the design variety when looking at an aerial view. When RTJ brought his skills to the South of Spain in 1975, he left us with a golf course which architects will visit for decades to come and will witness how to create excitement.

Like all great match-play/Ryder Cup venues, holes 15 through 17 are a tough stretch and could be where the matches end up. The 17th hole at Valderrama has a legacy which just a handful of par 5s around the world can boast. We all remember the torment that each gladiator faced as they pondered their second shot with the pond silently waiting for its prey. Hopes of a successful journey can be bashed by a murderous green which escorts Titleist products to a slow watery grave. The holes at this venue are famous and it’s an honour to have seen them with my own eyes. I consider myself lucky to have experienced this Spanish jewel and watch it sparkle in all its European glory.

March 17, 2012
8 / 10
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steven Baker
Played this course 2 days ago and reading some of the reviews I'm almost embarrassed to write a bad review! Am I missing something here or did I just play a great golf course but not an outstanding one? All I will say is yes it was a great course but who the hell does Valderrama think it is? £60 for two electric trolleys £32 for a hat £30 for a handful of topflites (not that I play with them) not to mention the green fee! my advice to anyone considering splashing out to play at least one nice course on a trip to the costa del sol would be to go to Finca Cortesin, now that's what I call a golf course!
November 12, 2011
6 / 10
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Hugh
November 13, 2011
I agree with this review and think that Spain has a number of courses that are far superior to Valderrama, including its next door neighbor Royal Sotogrande and the underrated RSHE North and the Arriba at Royal Puerta de Hierro.
steve jonass
played course last year and very true test of golf people moan about how tight and unfair some of the fairways and greens are but i see it as real oldschool golf, i think it could be shortend a bit and mabye little tighter, yes even more if gets shorter, but the course has fast greens and i can see why seve liked it, it involves true imagination to win there, winner this week will be a good good player. the service is a plus too.
October 27, 2011
10 / 10
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Simon Prestcote
What a great course and a fabulous experience. I have seen others comment that the service was poor but I cannot agree. There were no restrictions on use of practice facilities, and everyone was perfectly courteous. And then there’s the course! I was slightly disappointed on reaching the first green to find that they clearly have a problem with it at present, but the rest of the course could not be faulted. The tees, fairways, bunkers and rest of the greens were outstanding. And best of all, it’s a fascinating course, with plenty of variety, and memorable holes throughout. My particular favourites – 4th, 5th, 6th, 11th, 12th, 13th and the 17th. It’s a tremendous challenge as well. Many holes call for such precise placement that it doesn’t need to rely on length. And best of all I had the course more or less to myself.Yes it’s expensive, yes it comes with a lot of hype, but well worth experiencing at least once.
October 15, 2011
10 / 10
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glpga
The course was in excellent shape. we played in winter and the greens were still fast. My lasting memories are however are from unfriendly staff and rules.For the price I would expect better service.We were only allowed to go onto the driving range 30 mins before our tee time and given the tiniest bucket of balls to warm up with.We asked for some more and were told "no"Before starting the round we were then told no cameras were allowed on the course to take photos.They should take a leaf out of "troon golf" book.course great. service well below par!!!makes me want to not go back.
April 29, 2011
6 / 10
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glpga
April 30, 2011
certainly not my no1 in europe. maybe just about top 10
Nick Mullen
Not as Tough as Pine Valley or Royal County Down,not as picturesque as Turnberry or Kingsbarns, nor does it possess the traditions of Muirfield or Merion, but there is just something magical about Valderrama. For it includes a certain element of each of the above categories without being overbearing.

Similar to Crump at Pine Valley or Fownes at Oakmont Patino has devoted a huge portion of his life towards Valderrama and what exists today is a true monument of his endeavours. He has strived to make Valderrama as sought after a golf course as the hallowed grounds of the above mentioned venues and immediately as you arrive at the Clubhouse and gaze down the hill onto the pristine practice grounds,one of the best I have encountered, it becomes apparent that he has achieved all his dreams and more.

I had been told for years about the attention to detail at Valderrama and its exemplary conditioning, but having been fortunate enough to have played some of the world's best tracks I did not expect it to be anything more impressive than I had seen before, however as soon as I reached the opening fairway I realised this was a place like no other. A couple of days before I played there had been extremely heavy rain, but if you had been unaware you would even had known it had rained, no wonder it received such high praise for its drainage after the Ryder Cup.

Comparisons with Augusta National are continuously drawn and although having not played the latter yet, given what I have seen these are easy to make given the conditioning,lack of any very penal rough and extremely slick greens. But after walking off the 18th and reflecting on the round I felt a more layout related comparison could be drawn with Pine Valley. For I believe they both possess the greatest blend/mix of holes I have encountered. Both have incredible long par 4's, tremendous par fives and 4 enchanting par 3's. But that is where that comparison ends, for however penal PV is, Valderrama is emmanently playable.

Trent Jones's moniker of "Hard par,easy bogey" is best illustrated here. I played Valderrama recently with my 14 h/cap father and he commented how much he enjoyed it in comparison to other Championship venues as he felt he could score around it, whereas I played from the tips and felt that it would be an extremely tough track to make birdies around under tournament conditions. One need only look at the scoring at the Volvo Masters down through the years as evidence of this.

The routing of the course is sheer genius with exceptional use made of the Cork trees, which Trent Jones refers to as his "bunker in the sky". Bomb and gouge is certainly not the order of the day around here and plenty of the 7500 yard obsessed "so called golf architects" would do very well to take into practice what has been created here. Positional play is very much the order of the day and the golfer who mindlessly steps out and reaches for the driver, looking merely at the length of the hole will find himself on the back foot sooner rather than later.

Many people are aware of the strength and features of holes like 4,,17 and 18 from tv coverage and enough has been written about these in glossy magazines, and there is a reason for this there are all tremendous design pieces of architecture. But it was the lesser known holes which really grabbed my attention. The 12th with its devilishly sloping green and dramatic fall off is right up there with the best one of one short holes. The 8th is an outstanding short par 4, that gets tougher the closer you drive to the green and its front to back slope propels only the sweetest strike. The second shot on ten is inviting but at the same time strikes fear into the player, even with a short iron in hand, the views from the 11th green is breathtaking. 13 and 14 are two tremendous par 4's one bunkerless the other littered with Muirfield styled traps, while 16 played into the "poniente" wind might just be one of the toughest par 4's in Europe.

Valderrama is a special place, as I said above it may not possess the defining traits which give other more fabled venues their noteriety but the place has just a little bit of them all which helps to make it what it is. If this golf course was located in the North East of America, I genuinely believe it would receive even more attention (but the all too heavily weighted American world rankings is a topic for discussion on another day). The charm of Valderrama is that it makes you want to play it over and over.....Hogan once said this is the sign of a good course, and who could disagree with Mr Hogan!
January 02, 2011
10 / 10
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Ivan
January 02, 2011
Absolutely, it does make you to want to go back and play it yet one more time! Truly outstanding course - and I have played 10 out of the TOP 100 and more than one hundred overall.
Will
i played here on 21st July 2010, and I have to say that it is without doubt the best course I have and probably ever will play by an absolute mile. Yes, there will be those people that will say that there are better courses such as the Ailsa course or Royal County Down, but unless you have played Valderrama and experienced the sheer mystique and beauty and just plain perfect architecture, I don't think you can say it is a second-class course. It is the best in Europe without doubt. The Practice ground is an excellent place, especially so seeing as though I spent an hour warming up next to Jose Maria Canizares. I think that pretty much gave me a preview as to what the course wil be like- world class.

The course is in perfect condition, the greens are unbelievable and the aprons muct be faster than my home course's greens in the height of summer. I was blown away. It is so lush as well which is am amazing feat because of how warm and breezy the course can get. Without doubt (after the briliant 17th) my favourite hole is a tie between the 4th and the 13th which is named sin bunker. The drive is so tight it's unreal, and the second shot has to be negotiated around some tight and intimidating overhanging trees to a small green. Ball striking test at its finest.

So, to sum my day up, I want to go back and play again. Right now. I would fly out for the day to play it again. It's that good. Is it worth 300€? Im my opinion, absolutely. Is it one of the best courses in the world? Yes, without doubt. Do i envy all of the people that get to play it week in, week out? Yes, they are possibly some of the luckiest people in the world, I normally get bored of golf courses, however this course is different, you get a different challenge every time you play it, and no two shots are the same (unless you are a tour pro who can stop the ball on a 1p piece). For pure golf, perfect golf, please do yourself a favour and go and play this course. You will NOT regret it. Guaranteed.
October 25, 2010
10 / 10
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Hugh
October 27, 2010
Valderrama is certainly not a second-class course but it's nowhere near as good as either RCD or the Ailsa in my opinion.
Will
December 30, 2010
If you read my hole review I said that I haven't played RCD or the Ailsa, but compared to the courses I have played, this is heads and shoulders above the rest.