Area guide: Costa Blanca, Spain
That the Costa Blanca is not the most prominent area for golf in Spain is hardly a black mark against the area, which sits on the country’s east coast.
Costa Brava and especially Andalucia have a higher profile among British golfers, but the Costa Blanca should certainly not be underestimated.
It features two three Top 100-calibre Continental courses, and two of those are part of complexes regarded among the Top 100 Resorts on mainland Europe.
Add in excellent accessibility – via two airports with lots of low-cost lights from Britain – and an outstanding climate and you have a low-hassle golf break with a guarantee of high quality. Oh, and the excellent year-round weather is also likely to be an attraction.
Here are travel editor Chris Bertram’s pick of the bunch…
El Saler is located by the sea and often to referred to as a links, but as is often the case on mainland Europe, it isn’t a links as British and Irish golfers would know it.
What it is, however, is an outstanding piece of course architecture. Javier Arana is the man responsible for El Saler and it is regarded as the famed Spanish designer’s most notable piece of work.
So, while you don’t have tight fescue fairways to strike from, you do get some bracing sea views, breezes off the Mediterranean and generally one of the more exhilarating experiences on the continent.
But in addition to the basic thrills of such a rare, invigorating seaside experience, you also get more nuanced enjoyment too, in a cerebral design headlined by magnificent green complexes.
That much is clear on the 2nd, which plays to a green in the shape of a skull whose tiers and run-off areas mean you never have a boring chip. In fact, you could quite easily throw 10 balls down and chip around this green for an hour of fun.
The course sways between wide playing areas and narrow ones, and many architects would advise some tree pruning. The growth of trees has made the onus on angles even more stark, and there are also proper bunkers to get stuck in too. Condition is good if not amazing.
The highlight for many will be the stretch that ends the front nine.
The 5th plays up and over the brow of a hill and opens up a classic seaside landscape and while the 6th plays away from the beach, you are then immediately returned to the sea with a fantastic hole. The 8th is alongside it on an undulating fairway, with the waves noisily crashing just yards away as you putt out on a superb dune-enclosed complex. Dare we suggest it is Silloth-in-Spain?
The cute 9th across scrubland towards the hotel ends the front half and while the second nine has less drama, you instead largely play consistently classy woodland holes.
Did you know?
Bernhard Langer claimed two Spanish Opens at El Saler, shooting a 62 to win in 1984. Robert Karlsson and Raphael Jacquelin also won here.
Play another 18
La Galiana is a neat course located in a valley isolated from any urban environment, within a perfectly preserved 200-hectare Mediterranean forest – 60 of which are used for golf. It was designed by Felipe Rodriguez.
Costa Blanca travel guide continues on the next page…