Santa Maria Golf and Country Club lies just outside Marbella on the Costa del Sol and it offers its members a number of sporting pursuits from bowls and tennis to golf.
The course here started out as a 9-hole layout in 1991, extended five years later to a full 18 holes – in fact, to play holes 7 to 13, golfers have to use a tunnel to cross to the new fairways on the other side of the Malaga-Cadiz motorway!
The architect Dave Thomas is said to be involved in the construction of an additional 18-hole course which would really take the club to the next golfing level amongst the big boys on the Costa.
Set in a hilly location, Santa Maria is a parkland track routed in an out-and-back formation, extending to a length of 6,144 yards (par 70) with water in play at many of the holes.
The five par threes are the best holes at Santa Maria and because there are four of these short holes on the back nine, the yardage on the inward half is some 500 yards shorter than the front nine.
I was welcomed to this very friendly Club by GM Mikel Artaza and experienced not only the course but some very friendly members from UK, Germany and Spain. It was a very fun morning with the perfect climate to play golf. Course has recently renovated holes 9-10 to move from par 70 to par 72 and the changes are very good although I have not played the course before them.
This Club started in the early 80s with current holes 1-5/15-18 and expanded some years later in the mountain direction. You continue to go up with hole 6, then 7 is a fantastic downhill long 3 and after 8 is a dogleg 5 which is pretty flat before dramatic uphill new 9. That is almost the highest point on the course (tee 10th) although 11th is also high and par 3 12th has a very nice “Mirador” facing the Ocean.
It is not very long from the white tees (just over 6600yds) but as you know yardages in courses of the area cannot be taken literally as uphill holes play way longer and downhill ones play shorter (if you get your tee shot rolling down the fairway!)
1st looks like an easy opener but go to the white tees … a 190 yds carry and the stream on the left, not that easy. First 3 holes not so dramatic except second shot at 2nd were shorter hitter might be demanded by the stream on the left side. 4th is a good short one, money or hell and it is reachable but lateral miss is penalty. 5th and 6th up a little bit, on both there is room for the tee shot and both approaches are up the hill and semi blind. 7th is a dramatic 3 of 220yds down the hill with a big green sloping left to right, there is more room than it seems off the tee to miss right.
8th is a three shot 5 for most of the players, don’t take unnecessary risk. 9th up the hill and double dogleg left is not easy and most ladies are not happy with it, it is very sharp and you need three good shots to make a par. 10th comes like a very nice tee shot downwards to a green with space only short to miss. 11th another dramatic tee shot, despite short not worth to go for it. 12th is a par 3 and from the back tee some trees hide the green, I would cut some of them and show the beauty of the hole. 13th is a good 5, dogleg left and up the hill, not as demanding as the other par 5s on the course. 14th plays like 10th but no dogleg, difference between tee and green is 40-50mts I believe. 15th and 17th are 2 par 3s, first one down the hill and the other one up. 16th and 18th are similar tee shots, the best call is a fade and then a little bit up, last one facing the nice Club House which used to be the home of the family who owns it.
The course although technical is not as narrow as Monte Mayor or Los Arqueros, there is room for missing and greens have slopes but not as sharp as other courses nearby.
Definitely a good course and worth to be played. The end was in the parking lot due to the Covid lockdown, many members sharing drinks and laughs (with social distancing of course!) and I had the chance of knowing more about the Club with the Club Captain and GM. It is very important to state that when Clubs treat visitors as they did to me, they know what they are doing.
First course we played this holiday and we were all set to play on arrival day - so with flight delays and car hire delays we ran onto the tee with seconds to spare. So lets just say that we started a little rusty...
This certainly isn't my favourite course in the area, but it's not a bad little track. The condition is better than okay, but not great. The greens almost seem to be seeded with the wrong kind of grass which makes them slow and inconsistent with a nap that seems to affect the direction of the ball - the only hole that doesn't seem the case is the new green on around the ninth hole where I think they've changed it from a par 4 to par 5 (although not on the website and my tom tom watch didn't know about the change either. This is also the hole that my buggy ran out of juice, but they soon bought a replacement one on the course for us.