By Brandon Tucker,
Spain's top region for golf, the Costa Del Sol stretches along the Mediterranean Sea coastline on the Iberian Peninsula, anchored by the port city of Malaga to the east, then heads west past coastal resort towns like Marbella and Sotogrande.
While the region is often portrayed internationally as an elite vacation getaway for Europe and the Middle East's ultra-wealthy, a golf trip here can actually be quite affordable with the right combination of golf courses and hotels. The majority of the 130-plus golf courses in Andalucia are on the Costa Del Sol, leading to much saturation and, in turn, competitive green fees.
Today, you can find golf courses ranging anywhere from €30 ($41) to Valderrama Golf Club's €300 fee, while most of the area's top destination courses range between €70-120 (green fees generally do not include a golf cart, though many courses here are too severe to comfortably walk).
Golf's high season here ranges from mid-March through May as well as October through December. It's mild in the winter months, with highs in the 50s, while July and August are in the mid-80s and humid.
Golfers will enjoy an abundance of sunshine and mountainous landscape. No golf course here is pancake flat, often set on extreme terrain featuring steep elevation changes. Most are perched up in the mountains high enough to offer at least a few glimpses of the Mediterranean Sea.
It's along this coastline that continental Europe's most famous course lies: 2002 Ryder Cup host Valderrama Golf Club, which offers limited public play daily between noon and 2 p.m. It's recommended you reserve your slot at least three months in advance.
Nearby are several more upscale resort golf courses that are easier (and cheaper) to get on: San Roque's Old and New courses, Almanara Golf Club and the new La Reserva Golf Club.
The Volvo World Match Play Championships, which host the world's top 16 golfers each fall, will be staged in the Costa Del Sol in 2009 thru 2011 at the new Finca Cortesin Golf Resort between Sotogrande and Marbella.
A golf trip to the Costa Del Sol should incorporate much of the region's cultural and gastronomical delights. Tapas bars abound and don't get lively until after 9 p.m. You can also drive about an hour up into the mountains to historic Ronda, take a day trip to Grenada and Alhambra, or head west toward Cadiz and the Rock of Gibraltar. A trip to Costa Del Sol should never center on golf alone.
Twelve million passengers from 60 destinations fly into Costa Del Sol's main airport in Malaga (AGP) each year. Most overseas travelers connect through Spain's larger hubs like Madrid (MAD) or Barcelona (BCN). Iberia Airlines is Spain's national airline and has competitive rates from east coast cities like Miami (MIA) and across Europe. Delta Airlines has non-stop service four times a week from New York's JFK Airport to Malaga.
Andalucia has a modern and efficient motorway system that weaves through and around its rugged mountainscape. When in the Costa Del Sol, the main highway along the coastline is the A7, running east-to-west, while the N-340 occasionally veers off closer to the coastline. To get around faster, use the AP-7 toll road, which has a series of tolls that range from 85 cents to about €3.50 every 10-15 km.
March 20, 2009
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management. The information in this story was accurate at the time of publication. All contact information, directions and prices should be confirmed directly with the golf course or resort before making reservations and/or travel plans.