There are a few courses in the world where you stand on the first tee, soak in the surroundings, and completely drift away from reality. La Reserva Club is one of them.
Be sure to spend time taking in the impressive clubhouse, because the moment you set foot onto the perfectly-manicured putting green, the views across Sotogrande will take your breath away.
But don’t spend too long daydreaming about uprooting your family and moving this the sun-kissed golf haven, the opening hole is firm test your first-tee nerves.
Not every day you get to stand on the tee with Gibraltar peeking over the horizon… pic.twitter.com/urEcn4AoT6
— Alex Perry (@AlexPerryNCG) May 9, 2017
I’m struggling to think of a tee shot where you aren’t offered stunning panoramas of the region.
I’m always keen to take a photograph or two when I’m playing – if only to make friends and family jealous – but I became that guy I hate, taking photos at every turn.
Here’s a select few…
Slow play isn’t an issue here. How can it be? This is millionaire’s golf at its finest.
The highlight is the par-5 sixth. A spectacular view across to the glistening Mediterranean and a dramatic tee shot that absolutely must stay left to avoid finding the woodland area.
Here’s me getting ready to take on the tee shot…
Right edge of the fairway, if you’re interested.
That’s not your only concern here, though. A large lake to the right of the long, narrow green makes going for it a real risk. Go on, you know you want to.
There’s still enough time on the front nine for another water-heavy hole. A lake protecting the entire length of the fairway on the signature par-4 eighth waits to gobble up anything slightly wayward.
In fact, water comes into play on no fewer than seven holes, while the elevation changes across the Costa del Sol valleys place particular emphasis on club selection throughout the round.
With the front nine offering you views of the ocean, the back nine takes you into the foothills with stunning landscape scenery. You’ll spend a lot of time on the tee gazing at the stunning properties nestled in the trees than you will watching your playing partners hit their shots.
From the 11th onwards, the course feels a lot more open than the front nine, allowing you to open up a bit more with the big stick.
It’s a really tough course, but in no way unfair. If you drive well here, you’ll score well. As you make your way up the hill at 18 and towards that architecturally outstanding clubhouse, you will already taste that cold beer and tapas.
— National Club Golfer (@NCGmagazine) May 9, 2017
The Cabell Robinson design, at a beastly 7,400 yards, is the perfect mixture of challenging but interesting holes on a course that’s manicured down to almost every blade of grass, this beauty is worth every penny of the green fee.
There’s a reason it’s starting to be mentioned in the same breath as neighbouring Valderrama.Here’s a gallery of photographs from someone slightly more skilled with a camera than me…
After going 18 rounds with La Reserva, the 27-hole Almenara is the perfect antidote. With three loops of nine – Los Alcornoques (cork oaks), Los Pinos (pine trees) and Los Lagos (lakes) – there is a lot of fun to be had here in a sublime and tranquil location.
The Los Alcornoques loop was a particular favourite. Nine really interesting holes, most of which can be played in so many different ways. There’s a really nice run from the second to the seventh. The tee shot at the sumptuous third leaves you two options – take on the stream of lay up shy of it and eliminate your chance of getting to the green in two.
The fifth is a 150-yard flick of a wedge over a sheer cliff face to a large green a hundred or so yards below the tee, while the sixth demands pinpoint accuracy off the tee with a huge lake tempting you from seemingly every angle.
— National Club Golfer (@NCGmagazine) May 10, 2017
The par-3 5th on the Los Alcornoques course was a particular highlight. You can see why… pic.twitter.com/M4fq5uBhxf
— National Club Golfer (@NCGmagazine) May 10, 2017
There is currently a winter break deal that will see you play La Reserva, Valderrama, and the equally heralded Real Club Sotogrande. Prices start at £815 and include green fees at all three courses that are regularly ranked in the top 100 in the world. The price also includes three nights at the four-star Hotel Almenara – but why not stretch it to five nights and squeeze in some golf at Almenara too?
For more information, visit the Sotogrande website.
Where to stay
The Almenara Hotel offers great deals and is perfectly located for all of the Sotogrande’s best golf courses. The hotel boasts 145 village-style terracotta-roofed rooms, all with views out across the golf course, the lush gardens, or the Mediterranean, as well as two restaurants, a gym, and spa.
For more information, visit the Almenara Hotel website.
The region also offers a variety of villas. If you really feel like living the life of luxury for a few days, Villa Oasis, with its six deluxe suites, ample living areas, indoor and outdoor pools, spa and gym facilities, cinema and fully-stocked wine cellar await inside, needs to be seen to be believed.
For more information, visit the Villa Oasis website.
Monarch Airlines fly from Gatwick, Luton, Manchester and Birmingham to both Malaga (around an hour from Sotogrande) and Gibraltar (20 minutes). Flight times are between two and two-and-a-half hours.
Visit NCG’s Courses & Travel section for more reviews.