History is on Tiger’s side as he makes Masters bid
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Renowned for its beautiful landscapes, the sun-drenched, fiesta-loving region of Andalucía is bursting with history and culture. The birthplace of Spanish golf, the area is also one of Europe’s leading golf destinations. Golfers from around the globe flock to the region to enjoy some 120 courses, including some of the country’s finest layouts.
Real Club Valderrama is the most well-known course in the region, and consistently ranks among the very best in Continental Europe. Almeria boasts two fantastic desert-style courses, while the provinces of Malaga and Cadiz offer delightful greens and long coastlines. This is one of the few coastlines in the world where you can enjoy the beach, golf, and snow over the course of the year! Whether you are a beginner, amateur or professional golfer, Andalucía serves up challenging courses, great weather, and enjoyable landscapes.
Robert Trent Jones would return to the Sotogrande area in 1974 a decade after his triumph at Real Club de Golf Sotogrande. His task? To design a new course at Real Club Valderrama that could rival its acclaimed neighbour.
The fledgling “Sotogrande New” course was at first considered inferior to his original design. When Bolivian industrialist Jaime Ortiz Patino acquired the property a decade later however he set out on a mission to transform the course into one of Europe’s finest layouts.
Jones was brought back and given an unlimited budget. His success can be measured by the fact that Valderrama quickly began to attract major tournaments. The club hosted the Volvo Masters annually from 1998-2008, and most notably staged the first Ryder Cup ever held on the Continent in 1997. The signature hole is the par 5 4th, known as La Cascada, which plays past a pond to a double-tiered green.
The long-standing chief of operations for Robert Trent Jones’s European projects, Cabell Robinson has built a fantastic reputation of his own in Spain and France over the past twenty years. The acclaimed Finca Cortesin outside Marbella may be his most noteworthy work yet. The 2009 Volvo Match Play Championship, held four years after Finca Cortesin’s opening, proved the layout was equal to the very best that the Costa del Sol has to offer.
The course is certainly a long test and has over 100 bunkers to navigate. Nonetheless, the luxury resort remains one of Spain’s most exciting layouts. With greens comparable to Augusta, according to legendary Spaniard Sergio Garcia, and glorious hillside views, this is a course not to miss.
Jack Nicklaus created the course at Barcelo Montecastillo Golf and Sports Resort, a resort in the highlands outside Jerez not far from the airport (though there is a helipad on-site).
The setting is like something out of a spaghetti western. The feeling of remoteness, however, is tempered by the occasional roar from the nearby Circuito de Jerez speedway.
A five-time host to the Volvo Masters, Nicklaus took full advantage of the spacious setting to design a course of tournament dimensions.
Apart from the scenic peaks in the background, Montecastillo might be mistaken for a club outside Orlando. The course is pure Nicklaus, with extremely generous fairways and greens and sprawling bunker complexes. The practice facilities include a driving range and putting and chipping greens. In addition to golf, the resort has three swimming pools, soccer fields, tennis courts and a spa.
La Reserva Golf Club occupies a bird’s nest position high amongst the trees in the exclusive resort of Sotogrande. Since its inception in 2003, the course has played host to several world-renowned tournaments. The European Nations Cup, the MENA Tour, and the Copa del Rey de España, just to name a few. La Reserva is the course that epitomises the contemporary Sotogrande experience more than any other.
Designed by the famous American golf course architect Cabell B. Robinson, the course affords expansive views of Sotogrande and the Mediterranean Sea. Meandering its way upward onto the mountains and trees of Gran Reserva, Sotogrande’s highest point, the view from the top is also sublime. With wide fairways, golfers are free to open their shoulders from tee-off and take aim at this generous course. With an abundance of water features, La Reserva manages to balance an aesthetic surrounding with a course suitable for novices and pros alike.
Los Naranjos Golf Club is a classic Robert Trent Jones Sr. design. Generous wide fairways belie a tough challenge with strategically placed bunkers and several water hazards testing the golfer throughout. The greens are spacious and slightly undulated. With the tees stretching anywhere between 5.131 metres to 6.532 metres, the course poses a fair test for all levels. Since opening in 1977, Los Naranjos has been the host of several major competitions, including the Spanish Open. The course continues to rank as one of Spain’s finest layouts.