This may be something of a backhanded compliment, but if you had a difficult piece of land on which to build a course, Cabell Robinson would be an architect you would be wise to choose.
The American with the impressive Iberian portfolio just seems to know how to handle awkward sites, and Finca Cortesin is one of the best examples of his skill in this regard.
His design and Gerald Huggan’s landscaping have combined to create uncommon harmony here, with lush surroundings including typical Mediterranean flora and forest.
Opened in 2006 and measuring 7,400 yards off the tips, the course offers five different tee positions so it is playable by players of all levels.
In July 2017, Finca Cortesin completed a comprehensive upgrade of its greens – becoming the first golf course in Spain to feature a new, environmentally-friendly, type of ultra dwarf bermuda grass on all of its putting surfaces.
The new greens are simply outstanding and naturally a key part of the reason it scores so well in our Top 100 in terms of conditioning. You will not play many – if any – notably better-conditioned courses in the whole list.
After a friendly opener the first of the par 3s arrives at the 2nd, playing up and over lots of bushes and framed nicely by bunkers in front and to the sides. There are villas beyond the green but they don’t spoil the look.
The 12th is a really good-looking hole played slightly downhill and has echoes of Monte Rei, with an angled green on a ledge and bunkers short right and back left.
Indeed all the villas are located higher than the course and pushed back so are not notably in the eyeline.
The short holes are all notable for different reasons. The 6th is a long, tough test while the 10th is an acute drop par 3 to a slim green that falls away towards bushes on the right and a shaved-back bank on left.
The 12th is a really good-looking hole played slightly downhill and has echoes of Monte Rei, with an angled green on a ledge and bunkers short right and back left. Only something well struck will hold this green.
Two holes later, with more elevation change on back nine, you keep climbing up to the 14th to play alongside the spectacular downhill driving range on the right. Like the 17th, the final par 3, this is a prolifically-bunkered short hole.
Finca mixes holes that give you a chance and – not least because of the dramatic terrain, which means uphill and downhill holes as well as narrow right-to-left sloping fairways – some seriously exacting ones.
So there is the wide open fairway on the 3rd, where the strong player can gamble and fly bunkers on the right to leave a much easier shot in by feeding their approach in from the right rather than have to fly the ball over water. In contrast, anyone short of the bunkers has to go over water.
And then to follow there is a sporty par 4 around a lake where you can get close with your drive but otherwise hit it 200 yards up the left.
Or the risk-reward 16th, which plays to a bottleneck fairway that is barely 15 yards wide at its narrowest point but to fly the bunkers leaves no more than a eight-iron approach to the heart-shaped green.
It doesn’t affect our ranking in the slightest, but it would be remiss not to mention the service at Finca Cortesin, which is peerless in this list.
But then there is the strong 7th, a right-to-left dog-leg over funky terrain with everything sloping left to right and a heart-shaped green turned on its side with swales on the left and a bunker right.
Or the 11th, which travels over a tumbling narrow fairway to an eight-shaped green that is long and narrow. A bunker down to the right and a bank higher on the left side add to the difficulty of hitting this slender target.
And then there is the 13th, a mix of the two. It has creek across the fairway to add to your calculations and then a different-looking second shot into a tiered green with water in front and trees guarding it on both sides. It is a pretty, Valderrama-esque scene.
It doesn’t affect our ranking in the slightest, but it would be remiss not to mention the service at Finca Cortesin, which is peerless in this list. Chris Bertram