Rod Bastard, a golf course designer and professional golfer, and hugely experienced as a golf course manager, continues his series of articles describing what he believes to be the best holes in Andalucía. This issue… the 14th at Parador de Málaga and the 7th (Guadaiza) at La Quinta.
Let's take a trip down the coast towards Málaga city and visit one of the oldest established courses in Spain. Built in 1925 by renowned designer Tom Simpson, it was always going to be great, beautifully land-shaped by the hands that built Muirfield among other emblematic courses.
Parador de Málaga is indeed a golfing gem, and a must-play on your next stay in Andalucía. Built on links land, even though it doesn't play like a links, the test is fair but interesting and the variety of holes is impressive. Its Parador counterpart in Valencia, El Saler, gets a lot of the recognition, but Parador de Málaga has the exact same rustic natural beauty and is well worth a visit. Its manicured nature does indeed go through cycles, but every round there is a challenge and very pleasurable.
As many of you know, I love a hole that gives options. The 430-metre par-5 14th hole is a great example. Playing from a slightly elevated tee towards the sea, the tee shot is wide and inviting, but don't get tempted to fade the ball or try to hug the right side as the trees over there quietly creep into play and can block your second shot. A straight drive down the left side will open up the hole and tempt you to go for the green in two.
The large putting surface is inviting but don't be fooled as there is a water hazard that wraps all the way around the green. Plenty of room until you hit a loose one. The aggressive lay-up is down the right but getting the third close is not a given. The green is very undulating, and you are often made to hit a high soft wedge shot that lands on a downslope. A birdie chance for sure but not without work. Oh, and don’t forget those sea breezes as this hole can be a beast into the wind.
Sticking to courses that are the backbone of golf on the Coast, let's pop over to La Quinta. A top-class facility boasting 27 holes which offer different combinations of 18. The complex has a huge variety of holes on offer, tight and claustrophobic, massive changes in elevation, and some fantastic classic holes. Their facilities and service are top-notch, as is the hotel. The course was designed by legendary golfer Manuel Piñero and Antonio García Garrido, who got the most out of a spectacular but challenging piece of land.
One of the best holes is the 7th on the C (Guadaiza) nine-holes layout. It is simply a lovely and classy long par-4 (432 metres) that sweeps downhill and around to the left. It offers plenty of room off the tee but if you play it safe down the right you are left with a very long second. Bravery is rewarded, as with so many great designs, and a strong gentle draw down the left earns a healthy bounce forward down the hill onto the flat.
As it should be, a long second shot is greeted by a huge green fit for a long to mid-iron or even a fairway wood. That green size is welcome but beware the pin position, as two putting from 25 metres is not easy. No gimmicks – just a solid, classic, big, beefy par-4. Par is indeed a good score here.