What are the best golf courses in Spain? The Golf World Top 100 panel ranks and rates them.
Continuing our inaugural countdown of the best golf courses in Spain, we head into the top 25.
Head over to our ‘How we did it‘ for more information on exactly how we went about judging these extraordinary courses, including the scoring system and the panel.
And, once you’ve enjoyed this ranking, please do take a look at some of our others – from the best courses in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Europe and the USA, to GB&I’s best links, the most fun courses to play and the finest resorts in Europe and the World has to offer, we’ve got it covered.
Chris Bertram, Golf World Top 100 Editor
25. La Cala (America)
La Cala De Mijas, Andalucia
Design 32.0 Setting 11.5 Memorability 13.1 Playability 8.1 Consistency 6.9 Presentation 8.2 Total 79.8
The top-ranked track at this outstanding resort – but only just. La Cala has another entry on the next page and another later in the list, illustrating the depth of quality to its offering. America gives you a spectacular drive off the 1st and the dramatic shots and holes keep on coming after that.
24. Real Sociedad Hipica Española (North)
Design 31.2 Setting 12.6 Memorability 11.8 Playability 8.0 Consistency 8.4 Presentation 8.0 Total 80.0
A showcase of modern Spanish courses. Severe terrain compromises the quality a little but there are some standout holes. The baroque fairway shaping by Robert von Hagge divides opinion but nonetheless the North sits in a delightful natural setting.
23. Puerta de Hierro (Abajo)
Design 32.0 Setting 12.8 Memorability 12.1 Playability 7.3 Consistency 8.6 Presentation 7.2 Total 80.0
Some on the panel think the Abajo is so good it is better than its sister the Arriba. We don’t quite agree but it is outstanding. The routing is not as good, but it’s more demanding. A very tough set of par 4s and a hard finish make it the better players’ choice. Could easily be inside the top 20.
Design 30.0 Setting 14.1 Memorability 13.8 Playability 7.3 Consistency 7.0 Presentation 7.8 Total 80.0
One of Spain’s most scenic courses, with views of the Bay of Alcudia from the majority of its holes. Alcanada was set down on a hillside on the north-east of Majorca by Robert Trent Jones Jnr, the son of the legendary architect. Owned by the Porsche family, it opened in 2003.
21. Emporda (Links)
Torroella De Montgri, Catalonia
Design 32.4 Setting 11.9 Memorability 11.0 Playability 8.6 Consistency 7.9 Presentation 8.2 Total 80.0
While the Links does not offer the same playing experience you get at Portmarnock or Porthcawl, it sprawls over flat, gently undulating open terrain that is thus significantly affected by the wind. Very few trees and the open landscape ensures panoramic views of the mountains.
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20. La Manga (West)
Design 33.2 Setting 12.8 Memorability 13.9 Playability 6.6 Consistency 6.8 Presentation 7.0 Total 80.3
The West is very different from its sisters at this 54-hole super resort, playing between pines rather than palms because it is set in a huge protected forest that’s part of La Manga Club. We rate it as comfortably the best of the resort’s trio even though it is unforgiving; its playing corridors are slim.
19. Villa de Madrid (Black)
Design 33.2 Setting 12.6 Memorability 12.2 Playability 6.8 Consistency 8.0 Presentation 7.8 Total 80.6
VdM was threatened with extinction a few years ago by a golf-suspicious local council, but it is still going strong. The Black’s clever routing makes good use of severe terrain and there are a very good set of par 3s and interesting greens. A European Tour host that still manages to test the elite.
18. San Roque (Old)
Design 31.7 Setting 12.2 Memorability 12.9 Playability 7.3 Consistency 8.7 Presentation 7.8 Total 80.6
This may be a slightly false position within a year, because it is being thoroughly overhauled so the Dave Thomas design at the foothills of the Sierra Bermeja will have a sparkling new feel in 2021. We rank on what we have experienced, and that is a nice mix of exacting holes and aesthetic ones.
17. La Moraleja (No.4)
Design 32.0 Setting 11.9 Memorability 11.4 Playability 8.2 Consistency 8.7 Presentation 8.4 Total 80.6
This pedigree club was founded in 1973 but 37 years after the original course opened, work began on two new courses – No.3 and No.4. The latter is by Nicklaus Design and opened in April 2013. Its gently undulating terrain makes it an easy-walking parkland and provides interest to the golfer.
16. Anfi Tauro
Puerto Rico, Gran Canaria
Design 32.1 Setting 14.5 Memorability 13.6 Playability 6.0 Consistency 7.9 Presentation 6.9 Total 81.0
While this Gran Canaria course is at times jaw-dropping in its beauty, it is often brutal. The flatter front nine is a nice warm-up but the pulse immediately quickens on the uphill 10th and 12th that take you into the mountains, the latter with a huge rock amphitheatre green akin to the 1st at Doonbeg.
15. Las Brisas
Design 33.0 Setting 11.6 Memorability 12.0 Playability 8.1 Consistency 8.7 Presentation 8.0 Total 81.4
Designed by Robert Trent Jones near the start of the Andalucian golf revolution, it has hosted the great and good of the game – from Jack to Seve.
Kyle Phillips’ thorough restoration of the back nine in particular gets this Marbella course in the top-15 of this list as well as in our Continental 100.
14. Las Colinas
Design 31.2 Setting 12.1 Memorability 12.4 Playability 8.8 Consistency 8.1 Presentation 8.8 Total 81.4
Cabell Robinson was a master at laying out courses on difficult terrain and this is one of his best examples.
What we really like about it is the fact the American designed it for mid-handicappers to play – yes, they can host Tour players here, but it is a modern course with bite yet playable by all.
13. El Prat (Rosa)
Design 32.5 Setting 13.3 Memorability 13.3 Playability 6.1 Consistency 8.6 Presentation 7.6 Total 81.4
This historic club moved from its site next to Barcelona’s airport to this huge plot of gently undulating, forested land north of the city.
There are five loops of nine, all designed by Greg Norman. This is the best combination – Bosque and Arriba. Expect a serious examination among woodland.
12. La Reserva Club, Sotogrande
Design 31.9 Setting 12.3 Memorability 12.0 Playability 8.2 Consistency 7.7 Presentation 9.3 Total 81.4
La Reserva is a serious championship course and with a better variety of holes than some of the more established names. Cabell Robinson routed the course in 2003 on the same kind of rolling topography as its star-studded neighbours in the Sotogrande area, and as a result of advances in equipment and thus earth moving, there is a really nice flow to the round here.
The undulating land on which Robinson built the course literally gives rise to dramatic elevated tees from where views of the Mediterranean can be taken in – and no doubt photographed by the majority who visit this modern classic.
Robinson’s skill was in making the holes that play uphill not seem like a chore while maximising the effect of the ones that come tumbling back down. La Reserva has always been good and a Top 100 Continental course no less – but under the ownership of Sotogrande SA, its conditioning has risen to a new level – a level few in Europe come anywhere near matching.
Design 34.9 Setting 11.5 Memorability 12.2 Playability 6.9 Consistency 8.9 Presentation 7.7 Total 82.1
Jose Maria Olazabal laid out this modern course close to the centre of the beguiling city of Seville. It has frequently been a Continental Europe Top 50 entry, but didn’t quite catch this panel’s imagination. Nevertheless, a very solid modern course with water playing a key role.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Bertram is the Golf World Top 100 Editor.
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 before joining Golf World and Today’s Golfer as Senior Production Editor.
He has been freelance since 2010 and when he is not playing and writing about the world’s finest golf courses, he works for BBC Sport.
A keen all-round sportsman, Chris plays off 11 – which could be a little better if it wasn’t for hilariously poor lag putting which has to be seen to be believed.