Spain Golf Tour - Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort
Alcaidesa Links Golf Resort has two great golf courses: Alcaidesa Links and Alcaidesa Heathland. The resort is in southern Andalucia on the Costa del Sol, near both Valderrama and Sotogrande. There are magnificent views over the sea to Gibraltar and on a bright day to the distant Atlas Mountains in Africa.
I was playing Alcaidesa for the first time with my son who is a member. I had not enjoyed a Spain golf tour for 8 years when we played as a pair at La Canâda. Fortunately, we had our game won before the 18th where I found out that Canâda actually translated to ‘Canyon’. The canyon was so wide going towards the green that I failed make it across. Now as a veteran of 82 with handicap creeping up I was happy to spend our first session at Alcaidesa on the practice facility.
The resort has a fantastic practice facility. There is a spacious fast and true practice green, a large area with two equally fast pitching and chipping greens, bunkers and a spacious 72 place driving range. After a good practice session, we booked to come back the next day to play the Links and 2 days later the Heathland. With the fast greens the wind factor can be significant. The second time that I practiced on the putting green the wind factor was having more effect than a modest slope. Until you adjusted for the wind you could roll one uphill and it would charge past and then uphill the reverse. On the course this gusting wind severely changed your clubbing.
Alcaidesa Heathland was designed by Dave Thomas, former Ryder Cup player and renowned golf course architect and is about 500 meters longer than the Links. The club is upfront on its website stating, ‘This course offers a variety of natural scenery ranging from the plateau area (holes 1 to 5, 17 and 18) where the course is similar to a heathland….’. Fair enough, do not expect springy heathland turf but look out for the Spanish alternative to gorse. I only lost one ball, just overshooting a green and some evil shrubs were so thick there was no point in looking for it. The fairways are generous but many have this thick shrubbery waiting for an errant shot.
There are superb views across the Mediterranean Sea and the local mountain ranges including the Sierra Nevada. Moving on from the plateau area the hole’s wander along a valley and the course has several water hazards. None of the holes are particularly long played from the yellow tees.
Total length 6,373 m (6903 yards), par 72.
Alcaidesa Links was designed by the golf course architects Clive Clark and Peter Alliss. It opened in 1990 and was remodeled in 1999 reducing some undulation and widening some fairways. This achieved a fairer challenge for all golfers. It is now an exciting, hilly course and you really need a buggy as it’s a challenging walk. The fairways are varied with some doglegs and water hazards. The location is truly unique with spectacular views of nearby Gibraltar and all the way to Africa. It has an out and back routing. The first four holes play towards the shoreline where there is a glorious long beach. Holes five to 14 play along the coast. The 5th tee is raised with a breathtaking view over the sea. If the wind is blowing it can be a real challenge along this stretch. The fairways then go inland and complete the round in front of the outstanding clubhouse.
I thought that Alcaidesa links was a clever choice of name as ‘links’ is a generic description that can be used for any golf course. It distinguished the course from all its eminent neighbours, good marketing. It should however never be described as a ‘true links’ and unfortunately I found one website that had made that assumption. Others stated it was the only links course in southern Europe which is misleading. Let’s face it the course is a great clifftop seaside course beautiful views, wonderful restaurant (try the crab tapas) and great fun. Why try to make it something else, play it and enjoy it.
Total length 5866 meters (6392 yards), par 72