Your Guide To Spain: Our verdict on the six best options in this traditional powerhouse of golf travel.
It is easy to target Spain for your next golf holiday... but where exactly in Spain? The options are actually bewildering. Part of the reason for this is that in addition to the huge mainland and all its myriad options, there are also the islands to consider... and these are packed full of great options - as well as having in some instances ever better weather.
Here is our six-stop trip taking in the very best of Spain's 300+ courses on the mainland and its islands...
Obvious, but we couldn't not include it. The most southerly area of Spain has more world-class courses than exist in the whole of most countries. They include some of the best-known courses in Europe – Valderrama, San Roque and Sotogrande – in addition to more recent additions such as Finca Cortesin and La Reserva. In Marbella, Las Brisas has just been renovated and it now welcoming golfers and there are other fine options nearby such as Aloha and Los Naranjos.
If money is no object, you will struggle to find a better option anywhere in the world. In addition to the courses being magnificent, the weather is also better than in any area of the mainland. Throw in superb flight options - regular, cheap flights from all areas of the UK – and you have an area that is an absolute dream for the travelling golfer.
#2: Gran Canaria
At least 20C and sunshine every month of the year. Excellent tourist infrastructure. Brilliant courses. What's not to love? That is what you get here, and when we say the courses are brilliant, trust us, they are. Our favourite is probably An Tauro, by Robert von Hagge. It is a spectacular course among Arizona-esque rocks with extensive elevation change that means incredible views are around every turn. It is not easy, as per Von Hagge's philosophy, but it is superb, and well worth not managing to card your best score of the year (you won't).
The two-course complex of Salobre – which is also a wonderful base for a stay given it has a Sheraton hotel at its heart – has distinctive and exciting tracks on desert-like topography, the verdant course contrasting perfectly with the Arizona-style mountains. Also in the south of the island is Meloneras – with nine holes looking to the mountains and nine out to sea – as well as Maspalomas. Designed by Turnberry's creator Phillip Mackenzie Ross, it is surrounded by a 400-hectare Nature Reserve, is full of natural vegetation and benefits from views out to sea.
For more info: http://grancanariagolf.com/
Headlined by an iconic resort This south-eastern region is headlined by the amazing La Manga Club, a sporting heaven that is blessed with hundreds of hours of sunshine every month of the year. You can go there in November and never see a drop of rain all week.... yet it is just a short flight from the UK (and if you can get into San Javier airport, rather than also-convenient Alicante, you are just 15 minutes from La Manga Club). La Manga offers a superb combination of classic resort golf in addition to a good helping of really classy stuff.
It has three courses – the popular North, the well-regarded South and the West, which is the often under-rated one but which is in the Golf World Top 100. Add in a five-star hotel, plus a wealth of townhouse accommodation, and a myriad of leisure facilities – from football pitches to tennis courts – and restaurants galore, and you have an idyllic sporting retreat. Also in the region is Hacienda del Alamo, a Dave Thomas resort course with an abundance of water and sand, as well as Mar Menor, attached to a good hotel.
La Manga Club
Mallorca Quality that matches the quantity Starting with Son Gual – a course consistently ranked in the Top 100 by Golf World – and located very close to the airport, Mallorca has loads to offer. There are courses dotted all over this island, in every corner of it in fact.
The championship track of Son Gual is the No.1 but in the north-east of the island sits Alcanada, which enjoys breathtaking views across Bay of Alcudia to the lighthouse. A Robert Trent Jones Jnr design opened in June 2003, it is aesthetically impressive. There is lots of golf in the south-west area around the fleshpots of Palma Nova but you can find good golf in the Sant Ponsa complex as well as Arabella.
The Jose Maria Olazabal-altered Pula has matured nicely, Son Antem has good resort golf, Vall D'Or is a proper hidden gem, Puntiro is a solid Nicklaus design among mature pine, olive and carob trees while Son Vida is the oldest course on the island, by Fred Hawtree. Majorca's strength in depth will amaze you – there are terrific courses here that you have never heard of.
#5: Costa Blanca
With two Top 100 courses, the Costa Blanca deserves a higher-profile reputation than it has. Fly to Alicante via numerous low-cost carriers from airports all over the UK and you have one to the north and one to the south of you – both very easy to access. One is actually in the top 10 of Golf World's Continental Top 100. El Saler is in a famous nature reserve on the outskirts of Valencia area and is a course that mixes seaside stretches with others among umbrella pines.
By the feted Javier Arana, it is an architectural pilgrimage for many. Las Colinas is a modern resort with a Campbell B Robinson design at its heart. This is a course not to be underestimated, and the whole resort, with stylish villas with pools, is majestic. Near to El Saler is El Bosque, a classic Spanish course that winds between mature trees over undulating land.
The perfect break Barcelona can host a fabulous trip on its own with El Prat, Sant Cugat and Terramar excellent options. But venture north of the city to Girona for an even better array of golf. PGA Catalunya has two courses and a new hotel. The Stadium is often regarded as Spain's nest while the Tour is a genuinely fantastic back-up. Emporda also has two fine and contrasting courses while Platja de Pals is one of the country's most historic and classy. To the south of the city are Lumine and Bonmont. Oh and Girona is the gastronomic capital of Spain...
➤ The Climate: Mainland Spain has a distinct difference between the north and south – in Santander in the north, expect the sun for six hours from April to the middle of September. The further south, the warmer and drier, culminating in Almeria’s desert climate. The Canaries get year- round sunshine
➤ When To Go: Canaries are great in winter but not uncomfortably hot in summer, when the courses are quieter. Spring is ideal for Sotogrande.
➤ Getting There: As most courses are near large tourist areas, Spain's courses are very accessible.
➤ Time: GMT +1
➤ Currency: Euro