With over 70 golf courses, the region of Andalusia has the highest concentration of golf courses in all of mainland Europe, earning it the nickname of the ‘Costa del Golf’.
By Kathy Synnott
The Costa del Sol is the perfect destination for golf lovers. Located in the south of Spain, in Andalusia, it has the highest concentration of golf courses in all of mainland Europe, earning it the nickname of the ‘Costa del Golf’.
Due to its exceptional location, beside the Mediterranean Sea, it has an average temperature of over 20 degrees and more than 320 days of sun each year. This is why the Costa del Sol is a sure bet for both enthusiasts and professionals who want to play golf at any time of year.
The Costa del Sol is easy to reach, as the international airport of Malaga has connections to all the major cities in the world and its superb infrastructure connects you to your final destination in minimum time. From most European destinations and on average within a 3 hour travel time. With excellent infrastructure and top notch facilities on offer, it is easy to see why the area attracts over 12 million tourists per year.
Málaga’s fine weather encourages golf all year round, especially in winter and the golf courses and resorts make long stay deals very attractive but any time from autumn to spring is ideal for golf in Malaga.
The destination offers such a variety of golf to choose from.
The region itself is home to the well-known. Valderrama – the only golf club in Spain to have been home to the Ryder Cup (1997) and Finca Cortesin will host the Solheim Cup in 2023. The fact that the golf courses in Costa del Golf are chosen for the most important tournaments in Spain and Europe gives an idea of the World-class golf courses on offer.
You do not have to look far when planning your trip to find your ideal playlist of golf clubs as the region has over 70 courses, among them are some of the mentioned courses below. With the region, they are four main cluster locations to play golf – they are broken down into:
Malaga city/ Axarquia: Antequera, Lauro Golf, Baviera Golf, Guadalhorce Club Golf, Parador Malaga Golf, Anoreta Golf.
Torremolinos Benalmadena-Mijas: Torrquebrada Golf, El Chaparral Golf Club, Mijas Golf, La Cala Resort, Miguel Angel Jimenez Golf Academy.
Marbella – Benahavis – Estepona: La Quinta Golf & Country Club, Los Arqueros Golf & Country Club, Villa Padierna Golf Club, Golf Dona Julia Golf Club, Finca Cortesin, El Paraiso Golf Club, Estepona Golf, Valle Romano Golf & Resort, Cabopino, Los Naranjos Golf Club, Rio Real Golf Hotel, Santa Clara Golf Marbella, Santa Maria Golf & Country Club, Royal Club Golf Guadalmina
Sotogrande: Alcaidesa Golf, Almenara, Valderrama Royal Club, Real Royal Club Golf Sotogrange, La Reserva Golf Club.
‘Costa del Golf’ is a haven for golfing enthusiasts, drawn to its year-round good weather, the quality of its hotels and Spanish cuisine, and the natural surroundings that spread out towards the mountains and the sea. Beyond the greens, the Costa del Sol has a wealth of cultural and leisure activities on offer. Golfers can make the most of their stay by visiting some of its 103 villages, discovering its museums, walking around the streets of some of its liveliest city centres, soaking up the culture and enjoying a unique atmosphere.
On a recent visit, our team of golf journalists visited seven popular golf courses:
1. PARADOR MALAGA GOLF
For those who love both golf and the sea, Parador is ideal – the hotel is located on the water, with direct access to a magnificent white, sandy beach. Strength and strategy are the keynotes to successfully negotiating the oldest course on the coast. Inaugurated by the Spanish Royal Family in 1925 it was designed by Scottish architect Tom Simpson, of Turnberry and Muirfield renown. In 1992 the Royal Club de Campo hosted the inaugural Turespaña Masters Open de Andalucía won by Vijay Singh. State owned and run in conjunction with the adjoining Parador the club is part links, with natural lagoons formed by sea water and part parkland where the holes form avenues between stands of trees which are home to flocks of colourful parakeets. Although the course is flat with wide fairways the trees make things more difficult. The 12th is a good example of lurking danger with its stand of eucalyptus to the right requiring a perfect drive to reach the green in two.
The Parador de Málaga Golf is a two-storey building with spacious, comfortable guest rooms that offer lovely sea views. Golf is this hotel’s insignia: it boasts an 18-hole course; golf school; three putting greens; two approach greens; and club, cart and electric car rental. Some guest rooms have private access to the golf course and you can enjoy breakfast or lunch outdoors on the exclusive terrace, beneath the warm Málaga sun. The Parador is located 10km from Málaga, near traditional summer destinations such as Torremolinos, Mijas, Puerto Banus and Marbella. It is the perfect spot for enjoying sports, sun, sand and the nightlife of the coastal towns.
2. SANTA CLARA GOLF
Enjoy one of Marbella’s most exclusive golf courses, located in the heart of “Costa del Golf”. Close to the many amenities of Marbella and ideal for the golfing enthusiast, Santa Clara has become one of the finest courses in the Costa del Sol. The golf course at Santa Clara is designed by Enrique Canales Busquest, which is regularly complimented for its superb condition and presentation. The large greens and a variety of tees are complimented by a design that is respectful to the natural environment of indigenous wildlife and vegetation. The par 71 layout is 5,878 metres long but has different tees to cater for all types of golfer.
The course is cleverly 80 per cent free of rough, further making it the ideal course for less experienced golfers. That said, beware of some tricky greens that can run up scores. Santa Clara has a spectacular corner (holes 12-14) and another advantage is that from every tee the correspond green is visible. Overlooking the first and last holes and the driving range with views over the Mediterranean Sea, the huge sun-drenched terrace is a focal point for the Clubhouse. A comprehensive range of amenities offers everything for even the most enthusiastic golfer.
3. MARBELLA GOLF & COUNTRY CLUB
Designed by the legendary Robert Trent Jones Senior, and located just a short 5-minute drive from the cosmopolitan town of Marbella, the course at Marbella Golf Country Club provides one of the best and most challenging golfing experiences in the whole of Europe. Opened in 1994 and occupying one of the largest remaining green areas on the Costa del Sol, the 6,000 meter long 18-hole course with a par of 72, has been imaginatively designed to respect the natural terrain. The facilities the Magnificent Club House and surrounding ground offer are The Restaurant at Marbella Golf with its beautiful terraces and sea views, Pro-Shop featuring the latest golfing fashion and supplies, Golf Academy, putting green and short game area and a tennis academy.
4. SANTA MARIA GOLF
“Santa Maria Golf & Country Club”, as the name suggests, is far more than a Golf Club. Based around an 18th century “Cortijo” which is currently the Club House, the grounds boasts stunning gardens and fine leisure facilities including tennis and lawn bowling. “Santa Maria” prides itself on being one of the friendliest international clubs on the coast and the existing membership which is currently held to about 350 members is made up of 14 different nationalities. Set amidst unparallel beauty of the Andalucian countryside, the course traces the contours of two valleys in which the natural vegetation, streams and four lakes form natural hazards. The course is not long but full of interest and with each hole having its own character. Many of the tees are elevated and the views from the 10th hole to the 16th are breathtaking on a fine day. Santa Maria Golf is situated in a superb location on the Costa del Sol, close to the Hotel Don Carlos between Malaga and Marbella. Santa Maria is not only considered one of the most exquisite Golf and Country Clubs on the Costa del Sol, but also one of the friendliest.
5. CHAPARRAL GOLF
Chaparral Golf Club is one of the most symbolic courses on the Costa del Sol, with exceptional facilities to include a driving range, clubhouse, pro shop and restaurant. Since its reopening, it has established itself as a quality course with the unique layout of six par 3’s, six par 4’s and six par 5’s. The 6000 metre layout offers great variety and demands high levels of skill and accuracy, which is perfect for all levels of golfer. It is set in unique surroundings of local vegetation and pine trees, with magnificent sea views. The lively bar and excellent food menu make it one of the most popular “19th holes” along the Costa del Golf. The course is located close to the sea and the charming village of La Cala de Mijas, which makes for a great day out.
6. ATALAYA GOLF (OLD)
Opened in 1967, Atalaya Old Course opened for play in 1966. Although it has undergone a few changes over the years, it prides itself on being a mature golf course that has been nurtured and maintained by skilled ground staff over the years. It’s richly-coloured flower beds and atmospheric club house, provides a different kind of golf experience on the Costa. Extensive practice facilities include one of the largest driving ranges in Spain. The Ryder Cup bar is the perfect place to unwind with a drink on the new terrace with views of the 9th and 18th holes.
7. ATALAYA GOLF (NEW)
Atalaya New Course offers spectacular views of the Mediterranean and Gibraltar and is seen as one of the most natural courses on the coast. Created in 1990 by Paul Krings, the New Course is set further inland, but has a similar parkland feel about it – with gently undulating fairways and large, fast greens. It would be fair to say that, in general, hazards are obvious but still manage to trap the unwary. Care is needed off the tees and the wild hitter will soon encounter difficulties. The New Course is rapidly catching up with the Old in terms of quality and in the summer months there are great bargains to be had for the holiday golfer.
Another of the main attractions in Málaga province is the cuisine. There is a total of seven Michelin Star restaurants, tapas bars, establishments offering haute-cuisine, international and traditional menus, and wineries etc. Wherever you choose to visit you will enjoy a fantastic culinary experience.
Promoting the fine weather in the region, Costa del Sol based golf clubs and resorts offer long stay deals, so that you can spend anything from a weekend to a month enjoying your favourite sport.
There is no shortage of accommodation options along the coast, so can golfers can choose between any of the Costa del Golf’s many prestigious hotels and resorts with plenty of budget options available too, many of who have their own golf courses on the doorstep.
On this visit, our team stayed at Sunset Beach Hotel. Located just 15 minutes from Malaga airport and within 30 minutes of many of the Costa del Sol’s favourite golf courses, the four star Sunset Beach Club offers an outstanding service to golfers visiting the Costa del Sol. Rooms are all apartment-style, with kitchenette (fridge, kettle and also cooking facilities) and own balcony. With twin bedroom and lounge with double sofa bed they are ideal for two golfers sharing.
They also have air-conditioning/heating, telephone and international satellite TV.
A dedicated Golf Desk provides complete services for golfers and is open 6 days a week. Offering pre-booked tee times at preferential rates at most Costa del Sol courses, arrange car hire/ transfers, and more. The Golf Desk can also help any accompanying non-golfers get the most out of their stay, by providing extensive information on local area and also by booking day trips and excursions or even golf lessons!
A hearty buffet breakfast provides the perfect start the day, and the popular evening Happy Hour in the hotel’s Panorama Bar is where golfers meet to compare notes over a relaxing drink, or two! There are also many bars and restaurants nearby. The award winning Benalmadena Port, and the nightlife of Fuengirola and Benalmadena, are only a few minutes away by taxi. Sunset Beach Club offers great value rates especially in the autumn/winter golf season. Website: www.sunsetbeachclub.com
Located in the south of Spain, The Costa del Sol is the perfect destination for golf lovers. Malaga airport is easily accessible due to its exceptional location, beside the Mediterranean Sea, it has an average temperature of 20 degrees and more than 320 days of sun each year.
In short, there are plenty of reasons to take a golf break on the Costa del Sol and getting to Malaga Airport, the gateway to winter warmth, is easy from most cities in the world. Costa del Sol invites golf travellers to escape the winter gloom and to immerse themselves in an environment which offers so much more than just great golf courses, blue skies and superb restaurants. Now is the perfect time to start planning your winter golf getaway – check out some stay & play options on the main tourist board website.