Best Golf Courses on Costa del Sol

Costa del Sol is the birthplace of the golf package holiday.
With over 70 golf courses located across the stunning southern Spanish coastline, it is no wonder it is often referred to by the nickname ‘Costa del Golf’.

Lovely all-year round sunny weather and easy airport access, it is easy to see why Costa del Sol remains one of the most popular places for golfing tourists in Europe. Whether you are keen to play championship standard golf courses or enjoy a relaxed round of society golf, there are plenty of options available.

 

The boom of golf in southern Spain has led to many modern golf courses being built. However, golf courses in the Costa del Sol are certainly not short of history and professional pedigree. Different courses have hosted numerous events on the Men’s and Ladies European Tours, a Ryder Cup at Valderrama and in 2023 Finca Cortesin will host the Solheim Cup.

 

In this article, we will take a look at our choices for the best golf courses in the Costa del Sol.

Without doubt the most famous golf course in Spain. Valderrama has hosted several professional golf tournaments throughout its history and is currently hosting the Andalucia Masters on the men’s European Tour. However, it is best-known for hosting the 1997 Ryder Cup, where the European Team was captained by Spanish legend Seve Ballesteros. Designed and redesigned by one of the greatest ever golf course designers, Robert Trent Jones Snr., Valderrama consistently ranks among the top few golf courses in Europe.

Surrounded by natural beauty, Valderrama is a stunning course known for its immaculate conditions and exceptional service. Well placed trees, water hazards and tough greens all combined provide a really difficult challenge for even the best golfers in the world. There are shorter tees available to make the experience more enjoyable for slightly more casual golfers.

 

One of the most expensive green fees you will pay in Europe, but Valderrama is a course that all golfers should try to tick off their bucket list at least once.

Finca Cortesin only opened in 2007, however is already considered one of the best in the Costa del Sol. Another modern design by Cabell Robinson, it is building an excellent reputation for hosting Professional Tour events having already held multiple World Match Play Championships and is now scheduled to host the 2023 Solheim Cup.

Measuring almost 7,500 yards from the back tees, this is a championship course that can test the best golfers in the world, but there are plenty of forward tees for handicap golfers. Due to its length and sloping layout, you will enjoy the course best when using a buggy.

 

Beautifully set through the valley of the mountains, Finca Cortesin has some of the best views of any golf course in the Costa del Sol. The course is well maintained and has superb practice facilities. Also with a five-star hotel and great service, this should be a must-play course for all golfers when in the Costa del Sol.

It is difficult to categorise a course that has hosted three PGA Tour events as a hidden gem, but compared to its more popular neighbour, Real Las Brisas, it feels as though Aloha may fly under the radar. Opening for play in 1975, it was the last course ever designed by well renowned Spanish course architect Javier Arana and it is arguably one of his best.

It is a slightly shorter layout for a championship course, measuring just under 6,900 yards. But don’t let that yardage lull you into a false sense of security, because tree lined fairways, well placed hazards and blind approach shots all provide more than adequate defence for this challenging course. Large multi-tiered greens usually kept in great condition are a standout feature of Aloha and good approach play is required to avoid costing yourself three putts.

 

A picturesque golf course set within mountainous terrain, it includes several beautiful lakes and eucalyptus tree-lined fairways as well as lovely views of nearby Marbella and Puerto Banus. Set in the heart of the Costa del Sol, Aloha is definitely a course not to be missed.

La Reserva is another excellent golf course located in the Sotogrande area of the Costa del Sol, with Valderrama and Real Sotogrande also on this list nearby. La Reserva is one of the newer golf courses having only opened in 2004, but is already considered one of Costa del Sol’s best. The Ladies European Tour even hosted an event here as recently as 2019.

Measuring 7,051 yards La Reserva is a long course when played from the back tees, but it does have generously wide fairways that allow golfers to open their shoulders. The greens are also large, but with difficult slopes you will want to find the right area of the green.

 

Set in the hills among two valleys, La Reserva boasts stunning views of the Medditeranean Sea and surrounding mountains. It might not have the same level of golfing pedigree as its neighbouring courses, but if you are in the Sotogrande area then La Reserva is well worth a visit.

Real Club Sotogrande is one of the oldest golf courses in the Costa del Sol and the first in Europe designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr. in 1964. Every year it still consistently ranks as one of the best courses in Europe, which is testament to the timeless design and excellent condition of the course.

Located less than 5km from Valderrama, there are noticeable similarities in the designs. Real Club Sotogrande is not the longest course, but there are lots of water hazards and well placed bunkers as protection. Fairways are surrounded by native trees and the raised greens are undulating to also provide a good challenge for any golfer.

 

Flatter and shorter than nearby courses, there is an element of understated elegance to Real Club Sotogrande. The Club has a beautiful clubhouse and you find yourself surrounded by natural Spanish beauty everywhere you look. Sotogrande is a course not to be missed.

Another one of the Robert Trent Jones Snr. designed courses in Spain, Real Las Brisas opened in 1968, so is one of the older courses in the Costa del Sol. A championship course that has previously hosted the Spanish Open, it measures 7,069 yards and rewards long straight hitting. Recent renovations in 2014 by renowned course architect Kyle Phillips have improved the bunkering and irrigation to maintain the immaculate conditions.

There are a total of ten lakes on the course, which allow for plenty of risk-reward decisions throughout your round. The front 9, in particular, is renowned by many as being one of the best stretches of golf in all of Spain. 

 

Many of the greens are raised and well protected by bunkers, so accurate approach play is needed. Las Brisas is an attractive golf course with lots of beautiful fauna and white sand bunkers. Regularly ranking in the top 10 courses in Spain, Las Brisas should be considered an absolute must for golf aficionados when visiting the Costa del Sol.

Rio Real is the oldest golf course in Marbella, but is still considered one of the best. Designed by the well-renowned Javier Arana in 1965, it is a compact parkland golf course with tree-lined fairways. Set alongside the River Real, the coastline is the backdrop to many of the holes at Rio Real. This provides some beautiful views out over the Meditteranean Sea.

A shorter course measuring less than 6,700 yards from the back tees, it will still present a challenge for any golfer. The layout has been well designed with strategic and accurate golf required to score well. Trees will consume errant tee shots, bunkers guard several greens and you must cross the river on many of the holes.

 

Usually kept in good condition year-round, Rio Real is a course that will provide enjoyment to any standard of golfer. Overall, there may be slightly less frills than some nearby premier courses. However, with picturesque views and some great holes, Rio Real is exceptional value for money and a course golf societies should consider a must visit when in the Costa del Sol.

Santana is another modern golf course on this list designed by Cabell Robinson. It opened for play in 2004 and is set on old farmland among the natural beauty of orange and avocado groves near Mijas. Robinson has done remarkable work with the design and the par-5 4th hole is the standout signature hole.

A lack of quality when it comes to the clubhouse and practice facilities possibly explains why Santana does not rank higher among the best courses in Spain. However, the golf course itself is always excellently maintained and is quickly becoming a favourite among golfers in the Costa del Sol. To accompany the natural surroundings of fruit trees, there are also amazing views of the surrounding Mijas mountains to add to this course’s beauty.

 

Santana is not the longest course and it is relatively flat, but there are sufficient water hazards, plenty of lovely marble white sand bunkers and difficult greens to protect the course. It is a layout that will suit a varying standard of golfer and it is relatively easy to walk as well. Add on a very reasonably priced green fee and Santana should be considered a must-play for groups of golfers visiting this part of Spain.

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