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What a great way to get away from the almost blizzard-like conditions of the UK in February, 2009. The credit crunch is bearing its teeth and hard earned disposable income is at a premium.
I had the pleasure of visiting the Costa Del Sol at this time and the weather was an incredibly satisfying for our four-day stay. Our objective; to play four rounds of golf keeping the overall spend under €250 each. It's a difficult feat when trying to achieve a balance between quality and value, or at least that is the initial thought before you discover the wealth of golfing opportunity that awaits you within this Spanish region.
Monte Mayor (opens in new tab) (played twice) Par - 72 Length - 5345m (Yellows) Cost - €57, including buggy
Memorable Hole - Par-3 3rd. Miss the green and you are in no man's land. At 165m there are no bunkers and no fringe, just jungle, rocks and red stakes in abundance. A par score here is very welcome indeed.
Not a punishing, long course and rightly so as accuracy is the order of the day. An iron for accuracy from many of the tees will not leave you with an unreasonably long approach shot. A stunningly authentic piece of golf design that oozes the charm you would associate with the more traditional Spanish courses.
Monte Mayor does not experience high levels of golfing traffic and is a delight to play. Patience and a healthy supply of golf balls is must. At the price you will not be disappointed. And, it is less than half the price of its neighbour Marbella G&CC (€130).
Food - 7.5 (out of 10) Welcome - 8 Value for money - 8
La Cala (opens in new tab) - Campo Europa Par - 71 Length - 6014m (Whites) Cost - €50, including breakfast and buggy.
Memorable Hole - Par4 4th. With the river Ojen running straight through the fairway and on the left from the teeing ground you are invited to be conservative. Two accurate long irons will find the putting surface provided the greenside bunkers are safely negotiated.
The newest of the La Cala courses offers the less experienced golfer wider fairways and larger greens than the America or Asia courses. I found the course in very dry and hard condition although I would put that down to age of the course more than anything else.
Campo Europa is an eclectic selection of 18 holes that offers everyone a challenge. To master it you would definitely need to come back again, because you will make mistakes. On the plus side I wouldn't find coming back a problem at all. La Cala is a fantastic place to go and play golf and is the first on the list when I am playing golf in the Costa Del Sol as I known exactly what to expect. Value, service, and good golf are guaranteed.
Food - 7 Welcome - 9 Value for money - 8
Los Arqueros (opens in new tab) Par - 71 Length - 5306m (yellows) Cost - €58, including buggy
Memorable Hole - Par-5 8th. The fairway undulates relentlessly from tee to green creating the need for a sensible three shot approach. Once at the putting surface you will find a slope running from back to front. To be blunt, any length of downhill putt that misses the hole will leave you slightly embarrassed and the likely benefactor of what at first seemed an unlikely three putt!
Los Arqueros may not be as well known as the aforementioned courses. However, designed by Seve Ballesteros this course offers a great deal to the visiting golfer. The course is not long by anyone's standards but it is protected by subtle elevations and discreet bunkering around the greens and on the fairways. I would have to say that Los Arqueros was my favourite course of the week. I found it effortlessly charming in its presentation, playability and infrastructure. There will be no hesitation on my part to return to, or recommend, this little known but wonderful place to play golf.
Food - 7.5 Welcome - 9 Value for money - 8.5
With our currency begging for mercy against its foreign counterparts you will be forgiven for steering clear of the European Union but there is great value to be found. In this southern Spanish region there is a wealth of golf to explore. There is also a vast array of fine restaurants to be found in the back streets of Fuengerola and Puerto Banus. Sadly, however, some things never change. Such as the authenticity of those sunglasses or the reliability of the watches available on the seafront!
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