The Sojuela golf course is located less than half an hour’s drive south of Logroño in La Rioja, close to the Parque Natural Sierra de Cebollera and the Peñas de Iregua, Leza y Jubera, a series of rock formations within the geological transition zone that separates the fertile EbroValley from the Sistema Ibérico mountains.
Set within the Moncavillo Green Residential Complex, the 6,296-metre Sojuela course was designed by none other than Seve Ballestros, working alongside Julián García-Mayoral of Aymerich Golf Management. Surrounded by a landscape of natural beauty, this varied and versatile layout was first unveiled to the golfing public in 2006.
Highlight holes include the long par five 2nd, played to a small, two-tiered green and the downhill par three 7th, featuring an unusual L-shaped green. The back nine starts off with the two toughest holes on the card at the par four 10th and 11th and it ends with a plunging par five that careers steeply downhill to the home green.
Sojuela is a rather hilly layout so a buggy is probably advisable, though I did manage to prove it could be walked. Standing on the first tee, you can sense you’re in for a rollercoaster ride as you survey the fairway tumbling away to the left. With such rugged terrain, you just have to hope that for every fairway that climbs, another will fall!
That said, the par five 2nd hole also plays downhill from a gun platform tee position to a little triangular-shaped green with a sneaky raised shelf at the back for a championship pin placement and this was an early indication that putting surfaces on the course would be anything but bland. Most of the fairways are tree-lined but there’s ample of width on most holes to ensure you remain in play even after hitting shots a little off target.
The 6th and 8th are similar kind of par fours, doglegging left and up to the green and the second of these holes starts Sojuela’s own “Amen Corner” of three really tough par fours, rated stroke index 4, 2 and 1, with holes 10 and 11 two of the best on the scorecard.
Hole 10 is by far the tightest on the course, played left and down to a rectangular-shaped green that runs away from front to back, and it’s immediately followed by an uphill hole that veers right to a green fronted by a wide, menacing arroyo.
The same steep-sided gully comes into play in a similar fashion two holes later in front of the green at the par five 13th so golfers can’t afford to breathe too easily after playing the opening two holes on the back nine.
Make your score on the front nine if you can because the inward half is way more difficult, apart from the freewheeling 18th that plunges severely downhill to the clubhouse, bringing a very enjoyable romp in the mountains to a satisfactory conclusion.