- Resort golf in the Spanish Costas
Resort golf in the Spanish Costas
Resort golf in the Spanish Costas
With covid travel restrictions easing again at long last, we’re sure that many people will be looking forward to an overseas golfing excursion this year so we thought it might be a good idea to highlight a few of the main golf resorts located around the coastline of mainland Spain, starting in northern Catalonia and finishing in southwest Andalusia.
It’s so easy to fly to the main airports in Alicante, Barcelona, Malaga and Valencia, with alternatives always available at Girona, Murcia and Reus. And for golfers who prefer to travel light and can’t be bothered to bring their golf clubs, both Alicante and Malaga have club hire services located on arrival at the airport – what could be more convenient?
Located less than 50 kilometres from the French border in the northeast corner of Spain, Empordà Golf Club has just completed a €21 million investment in its golf and lifestyle facilities. The club’s Links and Forest courses – both designed by Robert von Hagge – have undergone an extensive makeover which included tree clearance and bunkers being rebuilt using the Better Billy Bunker method.
Off the golf courses, the on-site Hotel Empordà Golf rebranded as Hotel Terraverda at the end of 2021 and it’s been totally upgraded with a contemporary new look following the redesign and renovation of all the bedrooms. communal areas and restaurant. A new outdoor swimming pool was also installed.
One of the first tasks of Flavio Papa, the new Director of Golf, will be to look after hosting the 2022 Empordà Challenge tournament, with this European Challenge Tour event due to be held on the resort’s Links layout from 9th to 12th June.
A little closer to Barcelona, the 36-hole European Tour Destination at PGA Catalunya has also invested in its infrastructure. A new €5 million Wellness Centre opened last year and twice that amount of money will be spent this year on the property with the development of new wellness suites, a naturalised lake and residential area, and the renovation of the reception and retail shop.
Director of Golf Dirk Delfortrie has also overseen recent improvement work on both the Stadiumand Tourcourses, involving a large-scale programme to redefine the grassed areas of both courses. New trees and bushes were planted, white silica sand was added to all the bunkers, and natural lava rock was introduced to give greater definition to non-playing areas. 4.5km of new buggy paths were also constructed.
The European Amateur Team Championship was held here last July (with Denmark beating France 5½-1½ in the final), and this competition was the latest in a long line of elite golfing events staged here in the last twenty years.
Further down the Spanish east coast, on the other side of Alicante airport, Las Colinas Golf & Country Club is a relative newcomer on the Spanish golf scene, first opening its doors to players in 2010. The course lies at the heart of thirty residential communities, anchored by a clubhouse and restaurant that are fast building a reputation for their enticing dining options.
Located next to the clubhouse, Il Palco offers authentic traditional Italian cuisine while clubhouse restaurants umawa and unik offer something entirely different – the former inviting you on a sensory journey of flavours inspired by Nikkei cuisine and the latter presenting international dishes with a Mediterranean touch. And there are even more local ingredients to savour at the nearby beach club in the WOW Beach restaurant.
The Cabell Robinson-designed layout at Las Colinas is complemented by a short game facility which was developed by Miguel Ángel Jiménez working closely with the management team. The facility has also been used in the past few years for Stage 2 of the European Tour Qualifying School.
The Real La Manga Club needs little introduction as it’s regarded as one of Europe’s most popular golf resorts and residential communities, opening exactly 50 years ago now. Extending to 1400 acres, La Manga boasts three 18-hole golf courses, a 28-court tennis centre, eight football pitches, a cricket performance centre and gymnasium – if you’re in any way sports orientated then this is the place to be.
The North and South courses were first to appear in 1972, designed by American Robert Putman, and they were followed 25 years later by the Westcourse, which was fashioned by Dave Thomas adding nine holes to the former 9-hole La Princesa layout. Hesperia Investment Group bought the resort a couple of years ago, with the aim of revitalising the entire La Manga business.
Last year, the club signed a 3-year agreement to host Qualifying School for the Ladies European Tour, with competitors able to enjoy the luxury of on-site accommodation at the 192-bedroom 5-star Príncipe Felipe hotel which is conveniently situated adjacent to the original two courses.
Moving south and west from Murcia into Andalusia, La Cala Resort has welcomed visitors for more than thirty years now, starting out with the North and South courses, now called the Americaand Asia. Both were designed by Cabell Robinson and the prolific Spanish-based architect returned in 2005 to set out a third 18-hole layout on the property, namely the Europa.
All 54 holes were recently renovated. The greens on the Asia course were converted to Bermuda in 2019 and the same work has since been carried out on the Europa course, along with bunker enhancements. Rough and untidy grass areas on the Asia were also replaced with wood chips and pine needles, making for cleaner playing surfaces under the trees.
Off the fairways, La Cala features a refurbished 107-bedroom hotel, plus a selection of on-site properties for sale and rental. Residents also have the use of a modern spa and a selection of very good restaurants (such as the newly opened La Bodega) and bars.
An hour’s drive west from La Cala lies the 532-acre Finca Cortesin estate, set in the rolling hills between Marbella and Sotogrande. Like Las Colinas, it’s another modern golf and lifestyle destination resort with a Cabell Robinson-designed course that has not operated for too long, first opening its doors in 2007 to be precise.
The World Match Play Championship, held for many years on the West course at Wentworth, moved to Finca Cortesin in 2009 and a further two editions of the tournament were staged here. Of even greater importance, the Solheim Cup is due to be staged at the resort in 2023, when the top female professionals of Team Europe will defend the trophy against their American counterparts.
A few years back, the course became the first in Spain to install eco-friendly Ultra Dwarf MiniVerde Bermuda grass on all its greens and all the bunkers have now been reconstructed using the Better Billy Bunker method.
Complementing the par-72 layout are outstanding practice facilities, while the resort’s other impressive amenities include a luxury 67-suite hotel; a spa that includes a snow cave; and the choice of four restaurants.
Since purchasing four fincas and combining them to form the biggest private estate in Spain in 1962, Sotogrande SA, owners of La Reserva Club, has expanded its horizons. Sixty years on, the company has not only developed a number of gated communities, it also owns the local marina and has just opened the new 5-star SO/ Sotogrande hotel.
The community’s diverse leisure pursuits include polo, kitesurfing, paddle boarding, canoeing, tennis, padel, cycling, and running through trails in the Alcaidesa nature reserve. There’s also an award-winning Beach Club – featuring Spain’s only private man-made beach – which was unveiled a couple of years ago.
Currently, Sotogrande promotes a 4-night “stay & play” package which allows guests at the SO/ Sotogrande hotel to play at La Reserva Club, Real Club Sotogrande and Real Club Valderrama, with private transfer shuttles and an open bar with food and drinks available for the duration of the visit. As Marc Topiol, Charirman of Sotogrande said: “the on-course experience combined with a stay in the SO/ Sotogrande hotel is sure to leave guests with memories that will last a lifetime.”
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