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Real Club Valderrama from another point of view

This week is the Valderrama Masters, perfect timing to throw back some of the content we created last year for the event. Embark with us and admire the golf course with our 360º aerial panoramic. Ver a pantalla completa

McDivott visit Valderrama

Golf Club Valderrama


“Walking the same fairways as the world’s best”
On my third attempt I was allocated one of the elusive tee times at Valderrama and, with a keen sense of excitement, set out with my playing partner on a Monday morning in early January to try this world renowned golf course. What a difference the new motor-way makes to the journey, it took just 50 minutes of absolute trouble free motoring from Fuengirola. I knew the exit to take as Noelia, from the reservation service at Valderrama, had sent me full details, together with the rules of the golf club, when she confirmed my tee time some months ago. In these rules I was delighted to read that the use of mobile phones was totally prohibited within the precincts of the golf club,what a scourge these infernal things have become!

During the journey it dawned on me what a marvellous game golf is for shortly I would be walking the same fairways as the world’s best have done in recent years. What other sport offers this opportunity?Woods, Mickelson, Duval, Garcia, and Monty, to mention just a few,have all taken on the challenge of this course, with varying degrees of success. Pictures went through my mind of the recurring difficulties encountered by Tiger Wood’s on the 17th during his various visits and suddenly I felt very inadequate! “Relax Finn” I said to myself, “it is only agame” but the gremlins insisted on doing handstands in my tummy.

Having got through security at the entrance (first indication that thisis somewhere “different”) we were met by the General Manager, DerekBrown, who bid us a warm welcome and wished us a pleasant game.We then checked-in and were advised that Valderrama was a cash free zone and if we intended to purchase anything we would require a smartcard and any unused balance on the card at the end of the day wouldbe refunded as we departed. Then it was into the Spike Bar for coffee and a bite to eat and I would have to say the service was first class. The girls made us feel very welcome and everything was served with a smile.The bar displays many memorable photographs of the 1997 Ryder Cup(most of them by Jeff Kelly publisher of Andalucia Golf) while one wall is given over to Volvo Masters winners all lined up like soldiers on parade. I noticed that Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer, joint winners in 2002, have not yet received their recognition on this wall.

Our tee time soon arrived and when we collected the buggy our clubs were already onboard so off we went to the first tee where the starter checked that all the paperwork was in order. With tee times at 15 minute intervals the match in front which, incidentally, included Jose Maria Canizares, had departed the first green before we were given the nod to drive off. Standing on the tee everything looked immaculate and there seemed to be plenty of inviting fairway, in fact, the first hole did not appear to be in any way threatening. I soon changed my mind as I walked off with a 6 having done nothing spectacularly wrong other than being on the incorrect side of the fairway from my drive. The green was in superb condition although not as fast as I had expected.

The second has a big cork oak in the middle of the fairway and you soon realise that position from the tee is everything on this course. Valderrama is not especially long and, most certainly, is not the type of golf course where you jump up on each tee wield-ing your driver. Every hole requires careful thought which is not an ability most handicap amateurs are blessed with.

After the par 3 third comes the first long hole which was play-ing into a very strong wind. Straight hitting is the key on this hole and the green-side water feature was quite striking as it sparkledin the morning sunshine. The green has a big tier which divides it into two distinct levels while the left side is guarded by a lone tree which overhangs the putting surface and is sure to catch any pitch brought in from that side.

Standing on the seventh tee (a forward one I might add) the green seemed to be miles away and for us it is a par 5. It is hard to credit that in major events played from a back tee (a long wayback) this hole is a par 4 and suddenly I realised how far top golfers can hit the ball, a fact that does not really come across on television. Today,playing into a strong wind, the hole required three good hits to get near the putting surface and I can only marvel at the power and accuracy of players who have reached the pinnacle of their profession.

Playing Valderrama one’s eye is inclined to wander, such is the beauty of the trees standing sentinel over all and, as these majestic sentriesare something like 300 years old, one wonders if they approve of golfers traipsing around, what was for centuries, their private territory.
On the eighth tee the refreshment buggy arrived with a selection of sandwiches and drinks and we settled for sparkling water as we tackled this awkwardly shaped hole which has an elevated green guarded onthe front by a particularly steep-faced bunker.

Then it was back around by the putting green and club house to the 10th tee and memories of various play-offs during the Volvo Masters. Adog-leg right par 4 on which your drive must be down the left hand side otherwise you have no sight of the elevated green not to mention the fact that your drive will run the risk of toppling down a slope into the waiting lake.

With its marked banking from left to right the par 5 11th is a difficult hole particularly as we played into a very strong wind which felt almost gale force when we reached the green which is the highest point on the golf course.

Glad we were to get to the shelter of the 12th tee on a delightful par 3 hole played to a green closely guarded by bunkers while the 13th is a short tree-lined par 4 and, incidentally, the only hole on the golf course without a bunker.

The 14th is made difficult by the fact that the green is so elevated you cannot see the putting surface while playing your approach shot while the 15th fairway gently meanders to the right where you discover a large green well protected by bunkers.

Sufficient club is the secret on the par 4 16th as the fairway slopes away to the right and anything landing short will trickle away into places best avoided.

Every golf course has one hole which gets more mention that all the others put together and on Valderrama it is, without question, the 17th. Over the years this hole has come in for severe criticism from various top players one of whom had the temerity to suggest it should be “dug up”. I think it fair to say that even the President of Valderrama, don Jaime Ortiz-Patino, has not yet decided the final design of the hole as he has changed it, sometimes quite dramatically, over the years. Whatever one’s thoughts, the hole as laid out before you is the one which has to be played so off we drove, again into the wind! After two shots I was still 150 metres from the green and my eyes were completely invaded by the lake which gives the green such great protection. The ever present wind made this a long shot for me and I walloped a 5-wood as best I could. Without any hint of embarrassment I can tell you I was “over the moon” as I watched the ball carry the lake and land gently on the putting surface. After such an adrenalin rush the inevitable three putts followed on the frighteningly fast green but, despite this, I still walked off as pleased as Punch.

The 18th has a huge cork oak to the left front of the tee and what a crime it would have been had anybody listened to the cries of anguish from the players at the recent Volvo Masters Andalucia who suggested it should be cut down as it interfered with their tee shots. Thankfully the “Powers That Be” at Valderrama were totally deaf to these thoughtless outbursts and the tree remains where is has stood “since Adam was a boy”. Bearing in mind the amount of rain which fell in the Sotogrande area of Andalucia recently, Valderrama was in top class condition apart from a couple of tees which were very bare and, more or less, devoid of grass. Maybe somebody was a bit exuberant in their use of weed killer? We finished our day back in the Spike Bar with a light meal which was splendidly presented. A little bird whispered to me that Mr. Patino had sent his chefs to Paris recently in order to fine tune their skills and, that being so, I can assure him the effort was well worth while.

What a day! What an experience! A day on a golf course does notget much better than this.

Andalucia Golf

Article reprinted courtesy of Andalucia Golf  The views expressed do not reflect the opinion or verified data of Golf in Spain and are LIABILITY of their author/ s.


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