Located a mere 10 minutes from the centre of Spain’s capital city, Golf Santander is the realisation of an idea conceived by Grupo Santander – the third largest bank in Europe – to provide a world-class golfing facility for the bank’s staff. Additionally, Golf Santander meets some of the Bank’s priority environmental objectives.
Part of the site on which the course is routed was an ugly rubbish dump and the aim was to create an ecologically friendly environment for Spain’s rich fauna and flora. Move than five million cubic yards of earth was moved to create the Rees Jones and Seve Ballesteros co-designed Santander and the result is an impressive natural environment and the ideal habit for hares and red partridge.
Seve Ballesteros commented: "I co-designed this course with Rees Jones and I should point out the great job done in achieving an appealing course in a land with no outstanding features. These are 18 highly versatile holes where the numerous tees produce very demanding holes for professionals also playable by all kinds of players."
The architects have fashioned Santander into an extremely tough and long course which stretches out to almost 7,500 yards from the back tees. It’s one of Spain’s longest courses and provides a demanding test for even the top professionals from the tips but, with six tees from which to choose, Santander is an eminently playable course for golfers of all abilities.
Santander opened for play in 2005 and the tens of thousands of shrubs and 5,000 trees which have been planted need time to mature but the layout is already a fine golfing test and the tee to green conditioning is first class. Key to scoring well here at Santander is to keep on the straight and narrow avoiding the rough and the numerous lakes and streams.
We feel sure that Santander will eventually become a course of some repute and is already more than capable of hosting top-level tournaments.
I played this course after a long haul flight and 36 holes at Real Hipica the day before and even after this it was the best round I have played so far this year and due to some lack of putting and 2 very silly mistakes it was not a low round but at least a very good one.
Since I started played the course looked very familiar and after some holes I remembered the look and feel at Son Gual in Mallorca and this plays very similar. I even thought it was the same designer but later during the round found it was Seve and Rees Jones.
It is a great piece of land and very scenic. And trying not to be influenced by my good round I really liked the challenge the course presented to me but not sure if it is a great design after all or something most good golfers will find unique.
Please don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful course, mantained in championship conditions and it presents a very demanding challenge to golfers. But it is something I have seen before and that you can find many of these around the world.
Said this, I found great challenge in many tee shots especially and some par 3s over water where it was black or white, no chances of landing safe if it was not on the green.
Par 5s were maybe the biggest surprise and higher challenge, with 12th from the tip tees something like 670yds with a 250yds carry over water with OB on the right side! I played all 4 in a disappointing 1 over.
Greens were rolling extremely good and fast, every blade of grass was just perfect and if you seek for challenge and maintenance this course is at the top.
All the same I found some special holes not needing length to be great like par 4 10th with a creek crossing fairway at 270yds from the Medal Tees which I played. Both par 3s 6th and 17th were maybe the best ones, with forced carries over water but not so long. Par 3 3rd like 220yds up the hill not from the longest tee was just too much and with nothing special in it.
One of the best, if not the best, was par 4 13th from elevated tee shot to a green sorrounded by water. And par 5 18th with another lake protecting the green where if going for it you need distance and also precision to stop the ball before bunkers or even OB.
Said this, a truly great experience and very recomendable for golfers with food at the very nice terrace at the highest quality.
The Sports part has maybe the best facilities in Spain, I couldn't count the paddle courts and tennis ones, many football fields and just everything at the highest quality. Golf in Madrid gave me a good surprise with both courses at Real Hipíca which I played plus just site inspections at La Moraleja, Puerta de Hierro and Centro Nacional de Golf were Jon Rahm won the Spanish Open just weeks ago.
This is clearly a very demanding and challenging Golf course, not only because of its length (as some reviewers say), but also because of its strategic bunkering and undulations. A lot of the holes look open and straightforward, but you need straight drives or one gets caught in the myriad of fairway bunkers. The Greens (especially on the 2nd nine) are also tight and demand precise iron play. Because there are lots of undulations you find yourself often playing and lying slightly up- or downhill. Some of the water holes are spectacular (7, 10, 12, 17, 18)
The course is very open, so you almost never look for your ball, even when hitting it all over the place, but it plays a lot harder than it looks at first sight. I think this can make it frustrating for some players (see reviews below). Still to me there is no doubt that it is a fantastic course. One can argue whether it should be no 11 or 14 or so, but it clearly should be in the top 15 in Spain.
It is also in perfect condition. I Played the Course on Easter Friday, I teed off at 8.30 and did not saw another player until I was at the 14th hole(2 guys on the 9th)! Where else in the world can you play on a weekend for 68 Euro greenfee without a member or any special deal on a great golf course in perfect condition which is almost empty! (the 68 Euro are for shareholders of Santander though, but they did not seem to check that and as a Santander shares costs 5 Euros it is a good investments as it basically halves your greenfee if you are one).
It is beyond me why not more people come to Madrid to play great golf courses while on the Spanish coasts or in the Algarve during the spring 5 hour rounds with fourball after fourball of hackers and extraordinary high greenfees for mediocre courses in overplayed conditions are the norm.
Sure it is a great course, always in great shape and with second to none facilities, but it is nowhere near the Top 10 in Spain.
Most of the holes ar alike, without personality, and its only challenge is its length from the back tees. When the lake comes to play, the holes get a little bit more interesting, but not enough to be talking about such a high ranked course.
Despite this, it is fun to play. Also the new management is promoting many reasonably priced amateur tournaments and doing a great job.