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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Reviews for Real Valderrama

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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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Andy Newmarch
I first played Valderrama in June 2008 and looking back then I certainly was not blown away by the course as I hoped. I played again in November 2009 and this time the feeling was different, I took time to enjoy my day and it was a real 'stop and smell the flowers' experience. I have written many times that it is very special to play the famous courses and here at Spain's No. 1, that is true also. As well as the wonderful course, Valderrama is an experience that visitors from all around the world always remember; ours included the relaxing coffee and air of anticipation ahead of the move to the ultra professional practice ground, the 18 holes and then the welcoming cervezas on the terrace post-round.It would be easy to speak about most of the holes here but I'll limit my praise to my favourite four; the 2nd is a par-4 under 400 yards but with an imposing cork tree in the middle of the fairway at landing point - this is actually a perfect line with a slight draw (for the right handers!) - definitely need to be left of the tree for a chance to attack the green. The 4th hole named La Cascada (Waterfall), is one of Europe's finest par-5's - a tough drive, a demanding lay-up and then a precise approach with the obvious waterfall at the tiny green. The toughest par-3 is at the 12th and is also my choice as best one-shotter here - trees and bunkers have the green surrounded, there is out-of-bounds to the right and a huge drop-off to the left. The last hole for me to mention is the famed par-5 17th; an inviting drive favouring a slight fade, then the decision to either lay up or try for the green...both the drive and lay-up have to be accurate as there are bunkers placed at the landing points. A mention here to my playing partner in 2009, who after a poor drive on the 17th and then a chop out of the trees to exactly 204 yards from the hole, then proceeded to hole a 4-wood for the most unlikely eagle you will see!The last couple of things to mention about Valderrama is the very secret executive 9-hole hole course; if you have a spare hour try and play it, great fun and lastly, do try and see Derek Brown the General Manager; who is one of the true good guys in the golf industry.
August 02, 2010
8 / 10
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Alex Westenfield
Played twice in Oct. 2009 on holiday with my father. We received a nice welcome after being introduced to the club. Great playing surfaces and the holes with elevation changes were very beautiful, especially #3,4,5,6,10,11,15. I also liked 17. Wonderful greens to putt on and pitch to. Clearing some trees to open up views even further may help the scenery as well. Fun course to play and an enjoyable challenge.
June 21, 2010
8 / 10
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Johnny Lawrence
I have played Valderrama a number of times,and on the last visit after paying a large green fee,I felt treated like a real second class citizen. We had arrived early hoping to enjoy the practise facilities but were told by some "jobsworth" Spaniard that we were not allowed onto the range until 12.30, half an hour before tee off. Thank G-D I knew Derek Brown,he told us to enjoy our day and to use the facilities at our leisure. Once out on the course,yes it's in immaculate condition apart from the greens being scuffed up by soft and metal spikes. The "PISTE DE RESISTANCE" was being told we were TWO MINUTE'S behind time as we stood on the 7th Tee.The verbal explosion that came out of my mouth will remain a secret. The round was okay but it is like a "FACTORY".Churning out groups every 8-10 mins. Give me a Les Bordes or a Queenwood anyday. Highly unlikely will be going back for a return visit.
March 15, 2010
8 / 10
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Javier Pintos
I played the course last November 19th, under some rain in the first 9 holes. It was during the 2009 IGTM Show invited by my friend Andy. I was scheduled not to take my clubs to Spain, but when he confirmed our visit to Valderrama, my plans changed!

A solid approach shot from the reviewer at Valderrama The course cannot be better: some of the best US features under RTJ Sr´s design plus a lot of charm and tradition only featured in the UK, so a really perfect combination. The course is in pristine shape, greens run a speed of 12 feet and every detail is where it has to be. Almost all tee shots are really tough, so there you have the clue to score (plus a hot putter, which I didn´t have!). Some holes are really astonishing (2,4,5,7,10,17).

We decided to walk the course and couldn´t have been a better idea. I really enjoyed the walk, the details, the history, everything. We played a fourball match and we tied! My game was not the best (scored 82 from Championship tees) but all the same I will always be grateful for being allowed to play a piece of history. Hole 4 is said to be one of his best designs by RTJ, I can assure you he is completely right!!!!
December 03, 2009
10 / 10
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Marcus Lovelock
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Valderrama more than once and when I say lucky I mean lucky because it is never less than perfect in condition. If you combine the best layout I’ve ever played with the serenity of golf course with not a hint of traffic noise with conditioning that is unparalleled and a welcome that makes you feel like the first customer that’s ever walked through the door. Add to that a history that includes Volvo Masters ,WGC events and a Ryder Cup and knowing you are treading the boards with the best golfers who ever played the game.

I have not played enough golf in the States to compare it with the best in the US but forget the best in mainland Europe - Valderrama is without question the best course In the whole Europe. When I finally pass please insure that part of me is left in that perfect spot at the top of the hill behind the 11th green – but don’t let it be yet as I still have more golf to play!
December 01, 2009
10 / 10
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Shaun
December 02, 2009
Obviously not played a deal of links golf either
marcus
December 02, 2009
Sorry - this is based on playing some of the best links courses in the UK and Ireland - I confess to an ignorance of best US courses but not links courses of which I've been blessed to play the very best - should Valderamma not be number 1 because it's not a links course? As a link enthusiast maybe you should say "obviously not played a royal cinque ports of links golf"!
Shaun
December 06, 2009
An interesting retort Marcus, what would be your top 5 courses you have played in GB&I?
marcus
December 07, 2009
Oh Shaun - I'm so glad you responded - As i say i've been blessed in my golfing life so far and plan to review all the courses i've played at some stage. The reason I was so keen to get my thoughts down regarding Valderrama is that a recent UK Golf magazines top 100 European courses had Valderrama at NO3 which having played their NO2 rated course I felt was unfair.I love Valderrama as you can tell from my review but only because it is such a good golfing experience. As for my top 5 GB&I they would be as follows. 1. Waterville 2. Royal St George's 3. St Andrews Old Course (although I really like the Castle as well) 4. Ballybunion(Old) 5. Bearwood Lakes (Best greens I played on all last year) Interesting debate - because there are fair amount of links courses up there!!! I'd like to hear yours when you have time.
Cedric
December 07, 2009
I believe Marcus is referring to the November issue of "golf world", where Valderrama is no 3, Morfontaine no 2 and Les Bordes no 1. Having played those 3 recently, there is little to choose between them. I love all 3 of them. If you look for challenge, I'd say that Les Bordes from the very back tees takes it. On a perfection point of view, difficult to beat Valderrama, yes the conditionning is that brilliant. Morfontaine is a gem, especially if you add the marvelous 9 hole course! I'd still rank those 3 courses below my top 5 which include 1. RCD and then 2. Royal St George's, 3. Royal Birkdale, 4. Muirfield, 5. Turnberry (Ailsa).
Shaun
December 12, 2009
Marcus, I am not as well travelled as you and Cedric within Continental Europe as I have focussed my efforts on GB&I. My top 5, in no particular order, would be RCD, Royal Portrush (Dunluce)St Andrews Old Course, Ballybunion (Old) and Turnberry (Ailsa). Choosing favourite tracks is such as personal thing, I would not have the Castle or Bearwood Lakes in my Top 50!
Keith Baxter
December 23, 2009
We’ve drawn a line under this particular debate as it has precious little to do with Valderrama and instead we’ve connected Shaun and Marcus via email. So the debate goes on. One interesting point for those who have read this far is that Shaun has played the entire Britain & Ireland Top 100 and we published an article about Shaun’s remarkable achievement in our book Top 100 Golf Courses of Britain & Ireland.
Ivan Lipko
This course sucks, it deserves a half ball mark. Now, seriously, - the course is the best I have ever been happy enough to play and here is WHY (in no special order): The course is beautiful: yes, it looks like a magic forest from a fairy tale in sun light. The perfect, emerald green fairways are outlined by olive and cork trees which look 100s year old, and in fact I suppose they are. The atmosphere on the course can be described by two words - peace and serenity. - the piece of land on which the course was built is a perfect example of extraordinary golfing terrain. Look at your typical golf course - it is (depending on the location) either hilly/mountainous or flat. Not so at Valderrama - the terrain is perfectly undulated and ideal for golf, the way golf should be. Most guys nowadays tend to forget that a golf course shouldn't look like a lawn tennis court, nor should it resemble the FIS ski piste (ok, I am exaggerating it here but a ski piste anyway). What should it be like then?,- will you ask. The answer is go to Valderrama and have a look. - the course layout/architecture. The masterpiece of Trent Jones Sr. - and this says it all.

Want more details - here you are. Every hole has a strategical merit to it, every hole is fair and true (more on this later), every hole is at least a VERY GOOD golf hole and some are perfect (no.4, 17 to name a couple). Risk and reward - you have it here, accuracy on every shot - check up. - conditioning of the course. Great. The tee-boxes and rough are just good but the fairways are better than greens at most resorts and the greens are flat out perfect (more on that later).

The first thing you'll notice is that there are no divots on the fairways. Every flight is accompanied by a group of staffers who are repairing all the damage after each and every shot. The surface of the fairway looks so thick that it is unbelievable, like one meter thick. The fringes are like greens, running at about 8 on the stimpmeter, well, seriously. The greens are at about good 10-10,5. - the course is FAIR and TRUE. The fairest course I have ever played - if you make an excellent shot you will be golden, that is you'll have the best position for your next shot, if you hit a good shot - you'll have a good position for your next shot, if you hit an OK shot - your position will be OK, the bad shot will provide you with a bad lie and bad position and the very bad one - figure it out yourself. And this simple rule always works on Valderrama no matter what.

The greens are also FAIR and TRUE- they look flat and have only minor slopes and breaks but they all work. While during my visit the greens were not that lightning quick and were pretty receptive in fact, they were still a big challenge in the best sense of word. Make a good putt and you'll be there, make a bad one and you're missing. All in all, Valderrama is an outstanding golf facility and every true lover of the game should come here and enjoy it.

PS.: Some guys like to speak about "other golf courses" which are almost the same as Valderrama but way cheaper. They also say that Valderrama is not all that different from a course X or Y. Do not listen to those fellows. Comparing the course like Valderrama to ANY ordinary course and talking about minor differences is like comparing a Bentley or Rolls Royce to Hyundai stating that they are pretty similar because they both have four wheels. Golf is all about those peculiarities and tiny things and if you can not understand this and appreciate the outstanding beauty of Valderrama you better choose another sport. If a course is among world's best it is there for a good reason.
October 29, 2009
10 / 10
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David Jones
October 29, 2009
This has to win most excited review of 2009? i have a friend who lives in Gibraltar who never seems keen to play it, i know where i'm heading next time i visit.
Craig Morrison
Valderrama is glorious. The holes are interesting and they’re beautiful. It’s an inspiring place to play the game. The seventeenth is a fabulous hole. I was surprised that a previous reviewer described it as out of place. I didn’t understand that. The sixteen previous holes (and the one after) seem to have some sort of reward on offer for bravery or skill or strength. The seventeenth is precisely the same, offering risk and reward aplenty. I also loved the fifth. But hey, everyone loves the fifth. Man, I loved them all…

The greens are superb, supremely difficult. That they’re so little meant I was always missing them and pitching from around them. And those pitches, given the speed and sometimes slope of them, are about as much fun as you can ever hope to have. The putting surfaces have to be attacked from the correct angle; or at my playing level they have to be missed on the correct side.

I suspect that to play this course more is to understand it and love it more. That said, one visit is enough to leave a significant impression. I know my playing partner left a significant impression. Unused to these things, he stood up on the practise ground and tried to take the top ball off of the pyramid. The shame… For all its grandeur though, it’s a happy place to spend some time. Like lots of the best clubs it’s quite easy going. As Jeff Bezos (or similar US billionaire) might stroll around the clubhouse at Loch Lomond or Skibo in his jeans, so you can feel fairly relaxed behind the security gates here, unlike maybe Muirfield (can I say that?). ANGLOSCOT
August 20, 2009
8 / 10
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Rob Brightman
Valderrama, a true test of any golfers ability, the scores from the volvo masters prove year upon year that courses do not need to be long to be difficult. Valderrama is perfect in every department.
June 25, 2009
10 / 10
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Cédric
I know this is all about personal opinions but the review dated 15 june 2008 leaves me a little confused. If Valderrama is a "4 ball" course, then only a handful in the world will ever get 6! Had this reviewer a bad day at the time?? Let's be serious, most of the holes a really memorable, especially the par 3s and of course the 17th. As an actual fact, I thought all were memorable in their own right (either because of water, trees, views, you name it) apart from the par 4 14th, played uphill all the way, which is not really my cup of tea. Everything at Valderrama is top notch, from the minute you enter the property. Service was very good indeed, and staff very nice. This is such a classy place! Yes, few people play the course every day, but I don't think this is a reason to take the fantastic conditioning for granted! This is a huge amount of time and money spent, for the priviledge of members and visitors alike. Indeed, conditioning is as great as it gets, the pre greens probably better looking than most of the greens people ever play on! The greens are tiny and slopy, difficult to read and provide a real challenge. I actually expected them to be faster than they actually were, but that was tough enough in places! Only minor criticism I would mention is the quality of the sand in the bunkers, with its really thick grains which didn't provide the usual sand feel. But then again that's a false excuse as you're not supposed to be in them! Cedric
June 09, 2009
10 / 10
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cc
June 10, 2009
Can't agree with your opening comments. I know a good few people who take their appraisal of courses seriously and who would mark this course heavily down, mainly due to holes like 2, with the centre-fairway trees, or 17, (enough discussion elsewhere), or to generalities about whether it is just too tight for most golfers. Not everyone will warm to this course. Having said that, I did and would also give it a six-ball rating.
Cedric
June 16, 2009
Which of my comments don't you agree with exactly? The tree on 2 seems a little disturbing indeed, but aim your tee shot left and you won't have to worry about it. The same could then be said about the 5th hole that had a tree on the exact right edge of the green. What do you do when the pin is back right just like when I played? Valderrama is definitely too tight (or call it too difficult?) for some golfers, and it never pretended to be otherwise. But giving it a 4-ball rating sounded a bit inappropriate, to say the least, and you seem to agree on that! As for the 17th, it will remain the highlight of my round there, getting a birdie after sending my tee shot straight into the left bunker, all that from the back tees with the wind in my face all the way. Love the 17th!!
cc
June 21, 2009
The comment I disagreed with was the way you dismissed somebody else's opinion because they 'only' gave it 4 balls, which is still, after all, saying it's worth playing. My point was that while I agree it's worth 6 balls, it's the sort of course that I can imagine other people not liking. I like the quirkiness of the trees at the 2nd, and elsewhere for that matter, but let's be honest, many will not.

Furthermore, Valderrama, while pleasant, doesn't have the wow factor that some other courses, eg Loch Lomond, RCD, Kingsbarns, have, and for some, this is an important consideration. Many of the holes, while in great condition, do look like nothing special, and only by playing them a few times will the true nature of the challenge be revealed.

If I'd only been round it once I don't know if I would have rated it a 6. It's like Muirfield, Carnoustie or Troon in that respect. It's not hard to find people who find those courses disappointing yet to me they're comfortably Scotland's best tests of golf. People seek different things from golf, so no course is going to please everyone.
Cedric
June 23, 2009
At least, we seem to have the same taste as RCD is my favorite course anywhere, and Muirfield in my Top 5 too... Get your point about Valderrama. Not sure though what holes "look like nothing special"... Just 14th for my taste.
Mike Dennis
I have played some good courses in my time but this one takes your breath away. From the moment you approach the estate to entering via the gateman to your clubs being whisked away before you can stretch your legs from the hour long drive. There was a quiteness about the place, then as you approach the clubhouse the practice ground is right in front of you. All this and you haven't seen the first tee. I strongly recommend you pay a visit to the practice putting green before you step onto the first tee, the greens were at 10.5 when we played and that is on the flat. Frightning when you have a downhiller for your first putt!!. The course is magnificent in every dept. You can make it more difficult by playing of tees further back, we played of the yellow as it was our first visit and we wanted to enjoy the day without being terrified of the course. The greens were like velvet, the fairways like a carpet, even the rough was combed and to make it complete the sun shone all day. I highly recommend this course to everyone. Thank you to all the staff who made our day memorable.
April 29, 2009
10 / 10
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