Marbella is the nerve centre of the ‘Costa del Golf’, a haven for golfing enthusiasts, drawn to its warm weather, the quality of its hotels and food, and the natural surroundings that spread out towards the mountains and the sea. This town is an absolute must for keen golfers, as it offers up to 16 courses. Below we will take a look at the most emblematic holes from five of its internationally renowned clubs, capable of satisfying the needs and demands of any player.
Los Naranjos: picture postcard perfection
In the heart of Golf Valley we find Los Naranjos Golf Club. Since opening in 1977, it has hosted major events and is classed as one of the best courses in Spain. Robert Trent Jones designed this classic championship course, with long wide fairways and greens, perfect for international tournaments as well as for intermediate golfers.
According to the Club’s director, Julián Romaguera, hole 18 is the most emblematic, a 480-metre par-five hole from the yellow tee, and 497 metres from the professional tee, offering players a demanding tee-off with a slight dogleg to the left. The green is well protected by three interconnected lakes to the front and a bunker to the left. On either side there is also a lake and an out-of-bounds area.
Hole 18 at Los Naranjos is probably one of the most photographed golf holes on the Costa del Sol, offering picture postcard perfection on account of its beautiful views from the fairway to the clubhouse, and from the clubhouse to the green, which are particularly stunning as the sun sets in summer.
Aloha Golf: at the foot of El Pico de La Concha The Aloha Golf Club is a pioneering club on the Costa del Sol, combining tradition and renovation. Set in Golf Valley, by Puerto Banús, its has hosted the Andalusian Open on three occasions. It was designed by Javier Arana, who left his own distinctive mark not only on the splendid layout of the course, but also on the varieties of trees and plants chosen for the course.
The stunning surroundings make a playing a round of 18 holes here a truly delightful experience. One of the highlights of this course is hole number 8, known as Peñablanca. It is a 178-metre par-three hole from the white flags and 159 metres from the yellow flags. It is the only hole without any bunkers, and the greatest difficulty posed is the fact that the green slopes heavily to the right.
It has some magnificent views of the Mediterranean, and it sits at the foot of the Pico de la Concha de Sierra Blanca, the mountain featured on the logo of the Aloha Golf Club.
The ‘Amen Corner’ of Santa Clara: Located in mountainous terrain that respects the native flora and fauna of this area, Santa Clara Golf is a par-71, 18-hole course designed by Enrique Canales Busquets. According to the club manager, Ignacio Apolinario, the ‘jewel in the crown’ is hole 14, a handicap 1, par-five hole, and the longest on the course, at 524 metres. The design is orthodox and perfect, and it is a favourite among professionals on the circuit, since they can play without any houses around them.
On the second swing the fairways becomes narrower. To the left there is a stream that makes playing trickier, and on the right-hand side there is a woodland area, while the large green is protected by bunkers. Together with hole 12 (a 400 metre downhill par-four hole, offering views of the bay of Estepona and Gibraltar from the tee) and hole 13 (a 182-metre par-three hole, well protected by a lake in front of the green), it makes up the so-called ‘Amen Corner’ of Santa Clara, emulating the Augusta National Golf Club.
Guadalmina: a beachfront green: Located in an old farmhouse, the Real Club de Golf Guadalmina is the doyen of Marbella and has two magnificent courses. On the South Course, designed by Javier Arana, number 11 is an outstanding hole, located right by the sandy beach. Players can tee off to the wonderful sound of the waves breaking on the shoreline.
It is a spectacular 160-metre par-three hole by the Mediterranean, with views of the Rock of Gibraltar and flanked by the mouth of the River Guadalmina and by the hotel of the same name. On the original course, it was hole 1, and it has a gigantic natural bunker created by the beach that sits between the tee and the large green, which slopes heavily from left to right.
Río Real: a hole caught in the embrace of the Mediterranean: Grass merges with the sand from the beach on hole number 4 of the Río Real Golf course, considered by the Spanish Royal Golf Federation to be an emblematic course and one of the best in Spain on account of its layout and singular beauty. Designed by Javier Arana and set on land that slopes gently down to the sea, it offers magnificent views of the Mediterranean.
Hole 4 is a spectacular 392-metre par-four hole that slopes to the left, symbolic on account of its proximity to the sea, lined by pines, palms, cypresses and olive trees. The roll of the ball is protected by a bunker on each side, and by a second swing to a three-tiered green, defended by bunkers on the sides and at the back.