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Finca Cortesin

Resort spotlight: Finca Cortesin, Spain

Chris Bertram flies to Andalucia to assess one of Europe’s elite golf resorts, where ordinary just isn’t in the vocabulary
 

The course opened in 2006 and was designed by Cabell Robinson on terrain landscaped by Gerald Huggan and decorated by typical Mediterranean flora and forest.

This is a 7,400-yard championship course able to challenge the world’s most skilled players, but the five tees on every hole make it playable by all level of player.

Everyone who plays Finca also benefits from the expensive greens upgrade the club undertook in July 2017, becoming the first course in Spain to feature a new, environmentally-friendly type of Ultra Dwarf Bermuda grass on all putting surfaces.

Finca Cortesin

These greens have to be experienced to be believed; they are the real-life ‘billiard table’ surfaces we all often speak off. If your putt misses on these, it is definitely your fault.

Robinson, an American who worked for the famed Robert Trent Jones Snr in Europe before striking out on his own, is adept at working a difficult site and that is the overwhelming feeling of what he left at Finca Cortesin.

The hillside landscape could so easily have resulted in an awkward routing and too many labourious holes, even allowing for the difficulty of the site. But it is hard to imagine many could have used it more astutely than Robinson. 

It begins with an inviting fairway that tumbles right to left on a steady opener before the first of the short holes, a really nice par 3 that plays up over bushes and is framed nicely by bunkers.

Robinson asks strategic questions throughout, witnessed early on at the 3rd – do you try to drive the bunkers and make the approach to the lakeside green much easier?

There is the first sight of villas here, beyond the green but all higher above the course and pushed back so while they are in your eyeline, they do not spoil the aesthetics.

Of the other short holes, the 6th is long and tough, the 10th an acutely drop par 3 to a green that falls away towards bushes on the right and 12 a really good-looking downhill hole to an angled green on a ledge and an angle with echoes of Monte Rei. The 17th is a prolifically bunkered, visually strong hole.

Finca Cortesin

Robinson asks strategic questions throughout, witnessed early on at the 3rd – do you try to drive the bunkers and make the approach to the lakeside green much easier? – and 4th, a sporty par 4 around a lake where you can get close with your drive.

Then notably at 13, where a creek across the fairway gets you thinking on the tee and then on an approach to a green that has the look of Valderrama; water in front, trees guarding entry right and left to a green that has folds in it that resemble mini tiers. A pretty but potentially penal scene.

What Finca Cortesin lacks in comparative quantity it more than compensates with quality.

Or at the risk-reward 16, which features a bottleneck fairway so you have to fly the bunkers in order to leave just 150 yards in to the heart-shaped green.

There are several holes where good drives are required to hold the fairways, such is their sloping nature, notably the 8th and 15th. Yet Robinson has disguised the hilly terrain expertly. There is a lot of ascending and descending between greens and tees, but playing the holes themselves does not require too much stress relative to the vastly undulating site.

So, ‘only’ 18 holes, but 18 good ones, and sitting just yards away from arguably the best ‘golf hotel’ on the continent. What Finca Cortesin lacks in comparative quantity it more than compensates with quality.

Essential information for your trip

Off the course

Finca Cortesin is just a two-hour drive from the Alhambra Palace, one of the great Wonders of the World, the historic city of Ronda; Malaga and its museums; the wineries of Jerez; Seville and its world-famous Feria de Sevilla.

The exotic city of Tangier lies a mere 30 minutes away by speedboat. Without leaving the resort you can take part in the following activities: tennis and paddle, sailing, fishing, kitesurfing, windsurfing, swimming, horse riding, trekking, mountain biking… and, in winter, skiing in Sierra Nevada.

Finca Cortesin

Price point

Finca is, obviously, a high-end destination – but they have some nice deals. The Play & Dine Experience package includes: one green fee with buggy included; golf welcome gift on arrival; dinner at signature restaurant Kabuki Raw, awarded with one Michelin Star in 2015, for the special rate of €325 per person.

Or enjoy a three-night stay in a suite with daily breakfast, access to the beach club and spa plus four green fees per person from €1,926. For five nights with six green fees it starts at €3,162. Prices correct 2019.

Getting there

This is gloriously easy because of Finca Cortesin’s close proximity to Malaga airport. It’s almost quicker to list the UK airports that do not fly to Malaga, but here are the ones that do: London Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Nottingham, Newcastle, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, Edinburgh, Exeter, Cardiff, Belfast, Bournemouth, Aberdeen, Doncaster, Norwich and Southampton. Then once you are in Malaga it is an hour’s drive along the AP-7 in the direction of the Algarve to get to the resort, next to Casares.

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Chris Bertram

Chris Bertram is a specialist in all things golf courses.
He was born and brought up in Dumfriesshire and has been a sports journalist since 1996, initially as a junior writer with National Club Golfer magazine.
Chris then spent four years writing about football and rugby union for the Press Association but returned to be Editor and then Publisher of NCG.
He has been freelance since 2010 and spends the majority of his time playing golf and writing about the world’s finest golf courses.

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