Ulzama - Northern Spain - Spain

Club de Golf Ulzama,
31799 Guerendiain-Ulzama,

  • +34 (0) 948 305162

  • Golf Club Website

  • 20km N of Pamplona, off the N121 then NA424

  • Welcome, contact in advance.

  • Not known

  • Javier Arana, Francisco López Segalés

  • Rogelio Echevarria

Pamplona, located in the north east corner of Spain, near the French border, is famous throughout the world for its “running of the bulls” during the annual San Fermin festival. Not so widely known (except to the more discerning Spanish golfer, of course) is the fact that two very good golf courses – Castillo de Gorraiz and Ulzama – are situated just to the north of the city.

With an inaugural nine holes laid out by Javier Arana in 1966 and a further nine holes added by Fransisco Lόpez-Segalés twenty-three years later, Ulzama lies in the Navarrese valley of the same name, within an old oak forest. The hilly terrain here is such that blind shots are an inevitable feature on the course, with trees framing every single hole on the card.

One of the more memorable holes on the front nine is the 330-yard, short par four, 4th where water protects the front right of the green. Arana’s back nine is considered to be tougher than the outward half, and it features a couple of testing par threes at the 210-metre 12th and 185-metre 15th. The putting surface of the latter, in particular, is cunningly protected by three bunkers, all of them positioned to give the illusion that the green is smaller and closer than it really is.

Ulzama has been largely overlooked when it comes to hosting national or international competitions. In 2004, however, the course was chosen as the venue for the 13th edition of the International European Ladies’ Amateur Championships and this prestigious event was won by local woman Carlota Ciganda, who would go on to reclaim the title four years later. Carlota turned professional in 2012, winning Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and the Order of Merit in her inaugural season on the Ladies European tour.

The following edited extract is from “The golf courses of Javier Arana” by Alfonso Erhardt Ybarra and is reproduced here with kind permission from the author:

Arana finally visited Pamplona in May 1964 to mark out the course with pegs and start the forest clearance work. Although eighteen holes had been laid out, the club intended to build only nine of them for the time being and wait for the popularity of the sport to become entrenched before completing the course. These first nine holes were inaugurated in the summer of 1966: as usual, Javier chose not to attend the festivities.

Right up until 1989 the club continued to function just with the nine holes built by Javier (the back nine today). In that year, the course was finally completed with a further nine holes designed by Fransisco Lόpez-Segalés (the front nine). Notwithstanding the time elapsed since Arana created the original layout, the routing of the new holes faithfully follows Javier’s design of 1964, demonstrating how, even twenty five years later, his ideas retain their original strength and appeal.

In December 2014, Javier contacted us to say that hole 13 requires a demanding draw shot and hole 12 needs a fade (presumably assuming a right-handed golfer).
The Ulzama course is perched on a hill dominated by the clubhouse, from which you can see a majestic oak forest flanking the fairways – and demanding high accuracy off the tee. The layout bears all the usual signatures of an Arana design. Wide fairways orientated at an angle to the tee and plenty of doglegs, forcing the player to fade (10th, 13th) or draw (12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 18th) the ball to achieve the best line for the second shot.

The gentler slopes at Ulzama were used for several purposes: impairing visibility for the approach shot (10th, 11th), narrowing the effective width of the fairway with a steep camber (13th) and placing greens atop two small raised mounds (14th and 16th). All the greens are large and relatively flat. Their defence, however, is their placement – almost all of them are elevated, the apron being flanked on either side by large sand traps.

None of the par fours on the course is particularly long or short, all falling within the range 350-370 metres. Yet the apparent monotony of yardage is an illusion, because the intelligent use of doglegs and slopes means that some are effectively shorter and others longer than the nominal figure printed on the scorecard, this imparting variety to the course.

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Description: Originally designed by Javier Arana in 1966, Ulzama lies in the Navarrese Valley of the same name, within an old oak forest. Rating: 8 out of 10 Reviews: 1
Mariano Martinez de Azagra
Ulzama is without any doubt one of the best courses in Northern Spain, and one of the most outstanding works of Javier Arana, the architect of El Saler, Valencia. It is located in an impressive forest of beech and oak trees in wetland Navarra, whichUlzama Golf Course - Photo by reviewer gives character and beauty to the course. And, moreover, it obliges to go straight off the tee, as any misdirected ball runs the risk of going to rest among the trees, forcing a difficult recovery. There are many memorable holes in Ulzama, being able to highlight the 5th, a demanding par 5 which second and third shot are conditioned by an oak that divides the street, or the 8th, which doglegs sharply to left and whose second shot is almost totally blind . When we played there, the spring rains made the ball roll with difficulty; indeed, drainage is possibly the biggest problem of the property, but this does not mean that it is not a fantastic course, mandatory on any trip to the North of Spain. MMA, Barcelona, Spain.
December 17, 2014
8 / 10
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