Your Essential Guide To A Golf Break in Spain...
A vast expanse of land that welcomes some 50 million visitors each and every year, what you experience in Spain depends on where you travel – particularly when it comes to golf. Recent estimates put Spain's golf course numbers at around the 350 mark, so clearly you won't struggle for options.
But where to go to ensure the very best experience? We've broken this vast country down into five easy-to-digest chunks – four on mainland Spain, the other the island of Mallorca. All options are blessed with fine sunshine for much of the year and superb golfing opportunities. So, in no particular order...
Obvious perhaps, but obvious for good reason. Andalucia is the most southerly area of Spain, a vast stretch of land divided into eight provinces, from Huelva in the west to Almeria in the east, with Malaga slap-bang in the middle. Tapas, flamenco, sherry and bull fighting – each is synonymous with Spain, but all originated in Andalucia.
More importantly, this vast stretch of southern Iberia is home to 120 or so golf courses, many of them the type of heavyweights that should be on every travelling golfer's wish list. Valderrama, San Roque Club, Sotogrande and Finca Cortesin should dominate your thoughts, not to mention majestic Montecastillo if you head west towards the Algarve.
But even if your budget forces you to aim slightly lower, La Reserva, Aloha, Los Naranjos and the newly renovated Las Brisas offer exceptional strength in depth. Add in year-round sunshine, plenty to see, do and experience off the course and into the night, plus flights that get you into the heart of the region fast and affordably, and you have everything you need for a dream golf break destination.
Click here to find out more about La Reserva: www.lareservaclubsotogrande.com
While the south-eastern region of Spain lacks the sheer volume of golfing options enjoyed by Andalucia, it does hold a trump card in the shape of Spain's most celebrated resort. La Manga Club opened in 1972 and was the original 'super resort', a game-changing ode to scale and ambition. Getting on for half-a-century later, its most impressive trick is to have stayed out in front of a chasing pack and to have stayed as attractive now as it was back then.
True, it has stern competition from Belek and Terre Blanche, but if Spain is your preference, nowhere else ticks as many boxes as La Manga. To overdose on golf, three courses make it possible to play 36 holes every day. To pamper the very life out of you, the five-star hotel, world- class restaurants and sleek spa options will make you drool. And for families who don't want to sit still for a moment, there's the tennis, the horse riding, the pools and the so much more.
While we should mention that other golf options are available in Murcia, including the excellent Hacienda del Alamo and Mar Menor, you've had your head turned too far round to see past La Manga Club. You wouldn't be the first and you won't be the last.
La Manga Club
The Wild (or Rough) Coast is the coastal stretch in Spain's north-east which runs from the town of Blanes, just east of Barcelona, up to the border with France. It's close enough to the Catalan capital with its myriad charms and the excellent golf options at El Prat, Sant Cugat and Terremar, but you'll most likely fly into Girona, the medieval town at the heart of the region. From there you're within an easy drive of Emporda, home to two very fine and contrasting courses, and also the historic and classy Platja de Pals.
Star of the show, however, is the PGA Catalunya Resort, home to two of Europe's nest golf courses (if you only play one, make it the Stadium) and all the modern luxury you'd expect of a five-star hotel, the recently opened Hotel Camiral. The fact that Girona is only a two- hour flight away, blessed with fine weather all year-round and also happens to be the gastronomic capital of Spain should only add to its appeal as a wonderful golf break destination.
Deserving of a higher profile than it enjoys, the White Coast is a 200km stretch of Mediterranean coastline in the Alicante province on Spain's south-eastern coast – sandwiched in between Murcia and Costa Brava. Blessed with a micro-climate that delivers more hours of sunshine than almost anywhere in Europe.
Two even more compelling reasons to visit lie close to the airport you'll fly into. Just south of Alicante is Las Colinas, a modern resort with a Cabell B. Robinson design at its heart. A little to the north sits El Saler, the closest thing you'll ever find to a Spanish links – sandy, lined with dunes, blustery and exceptionally designed by the feted Javier Arana. Those two courses alone make the Costa Blanca worthy of your time.
The biggest of the Balearic islands boasts a wealth of golfing opportunities, most of them dotted close to the classy capital Palma and up the eastern coast towards Port de Pollença. Pula, Alcanada, Son Antem and Son Vida are all worthy of your time and euros, while Vall D'Or is a genuine hidden gem.
But the pick is undoubtedly the Son Gual in the north- east of the island. A course consistently ranked inside Golf World's Top 100, with breathtaking views across the Bay of Alcudia, its finishing holes alone will convince you of its place.
Logistics: Flights from the UK to southern Spain take between two and three hours. The courses here are close to main tourist areas, making them easily accessible.
Time difference: GMT +1
Find out more: www.golf-escapes.com