The 18-hole layout at Rioja Alta is one of three good courses located close to the city of Logroño. If you were visiting the area with your clubs in tow then you’d really want to play them all over a couple of day (though I don’t know if the three facilities have an arrangement that allows you to pay one discounted greenfee that gains you access to a round on all three courses).
One of the more unique sights you’ll ever see from a teebox on a golf course is the little clusters of pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago, routed just a few hundred metres to the north of the 4th hole, which is a really decent downhill par three played to a heavily sand-protected raised green.
The following two holes are also very good: the left doglegged 5th bending gently to a shallow raised green that’s set out in two distinct levels and the uphill 6th playing every centimetre of its 361-metre length from the regular tees to a back to front sloping green.
On the back nine, the early holes are played out on a higher level and the artificial ponds that predominate in that section of the course really didn’t fill me with any great joy, I’m afraid, though things improve dramatically after walking back down from the plateau area to play the last three holes.
I’m surprised that Rioja Alta currently occupies a position in the Spanish Top 100 when neither Logroño or Sojuela get a look in at the moment. If this course truly deserves to be quoted as one of the best in the country then at least one of the other two should also be held in the same esteem.
Date: April 11, 2018