Santana Golf & Country Club is situated slightly inland from the Mediterranean coast between Mijas and Fuengirola. Set amidst 140 acres of oranges and avocados groves – part of the property was once an avacado farm – and with the backdrop of the majestic Mijas Mountains, Santana really is an outstanding natural beauty.
Designed by Cabell B. Robinson and opened for play at the beginning of 2004, it has taken a year or two for Santana to become recognised as one of the Costa del Sol’s leading courses. Measuring fractionally more than 6,200 metres from the back tees, Santana is not the longest course in the area but it’s a potentially dangerous layout, especially if you find yourself stymied behind one of the multitude of avocado pear trees which line many fairways.
The routing is intelligent and the bunkering truly magnificent with brilliant white crushed marble-like sand. The deep greens are devilishly tricky, some are unusually shaped and not a single one could ever be described as flat. Factor in the odd water carry and stunning tee to green conditioning and you have the recipe for excellence which is evident throughout Santana Golf and Country Club.
The gently rolling, former farmland makes for easy walking, unlike one or two other notable courses in the area, for example La Cala. Undoubtedly Santana is maturing rapidly into one of Robinson’s finest layouts and will soon be sitting at the very top of everyone’s must-play list. Keep your eyes peeled for the occasional Calzada (or Booted) Eagle which can be seen soaring on the warm Spanish thermals. But we suspect you won’t have time to spot one on the 4th hole as you’ll be unable to take your eyes off this incredibly spectacular long par five with its profound bunkering, ball gobbling stream and treacherously sloping green. The 4th is perhaps one of the best, if not the best par five in Spain.
Santana, alongside Finca Cortesin, is another Cabell Robinson Costa del Sol design and they couldn’t be more different golf courses in terms of topography. Finca features dramatic elevation changes and requires a buggy, Santana is routed across relatively flat, slightly undulating terrain and is an easy walking course with wide fairways and large greens. I thoroughly enjoyed Santana but found the facilities somewhat lacking so was pleased to hear that the club is planning a new clubhouse which will overlook the course. The current clubhouse is basic and detached from the course itself. No weak holes at Santana make for an engaging experience and the wide fairways and short rough make the going relatively easy. Play here if you have a group of mixed high and low handicappers as all levels will enjoy the course without feeling too beaten up. The starter was very helpful and with fresh fruit available from the on-course delicious orange groves I’d come back here any time to enjoy an honest and “relatively” affordable round of golf.