Former owner Jaime Ortiz Patiño took less than 10 years to create a legend. He took over Valderrama in 1987, applied the knowledge he had learnt at the USGA from its greens superintendents and agronomy sections and, by 1997, was proudly welcoming the King of Spain to the Ryder Cup opening ceremony. In the meantime, he had hosted nine Volvo Masters and gained respect from Europe’s top players who, it must be said, were at first sceptical about his efforts. Valderrama became Europe’s number course, and for Andalucía it is now the standard bearer, a prestigious resource that tourism authorities are proud to promote. The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr, who once observed, “I think Valderrama is a classic championship golf course. It’s like Augusta... in about as good condition as any golf course can get.” Valderrama’s challenge is limited to club members and 36 visiting golfers per day but it is nevertheless an irresistible challenge. In a Golf Digest world survey golfers were asked to name the one course they’d play for the rest of their lives. Augusta was first. Second came Pebble Beach. And third? Valderrama. Now known as Royal Valderrama, the club hosted the Spanish Open in 2016 and further extends its venerable European Tour history in 2017 with the third edition of the Andalucía Valderrama Masters, a tournament sponsored by the Junta de Andalucía (regional government) and continuing for at least another four years to 2021.
HOW TO GET THERE
From both Marbella or Algeciras turn off the N-340 at Km 133 and take the exit marked Sotogrande-Guadiaro-Castellar.