By Luis Navarro Álvarez

Under the impetus of José Juan Hidalgo, founder and president of Globalia Group, the Estepona Golf course is set to be reborn and re-discover the place it deserves in Europe's number one golf destination. It has two of the most important qualities in order to be transformed into a success story: location and design.

Estepona Golf has always been a hugely popular course, especially among visiting players looking for an excellent golf option at very reasonable prices, but the course’s significant potential encourages even greater ambitions.

The design is well-varied – with no two holes alike– and the course is short (5,520 metres from the white markers) and a good challenge for all players. It is a layout that doesn't require great power, but it does call for a good strategy and accuracy. In short, it has all the main ingredients for the enjoyment of all.

The greens are straightforward and not excessively complicated, but their key defences are based on them being fast. Another feature that makes this course particularly special is that on practically all the holes you can enjoy sea views. In addition, the terrain is slightly elevated and the temperatures are always milder than in lower areas.

The course can be played comfortably on foot, with the holes featuring very gentle slopes, except at specific points and with some having slightly longer distances from green to tee. That is the case from the 2nd to the 3rd, the 11th to the 12th and, especially, the 7th to the 8th, as the latter was redesigned and changed from a par-4 to a par-3, greatly improving the hole and avoiding a tee shot that was over-complicated. In any case, I would recommend renting a buggy to fully enjoy the experience.

As a result of the redesign, the course now comprises five par-3s, four par-5s and nine par-4s, and the par is 71.

The clubhouse has an attractive and spacious terrace, where you can enjoy refreshments or lunch after a round, with sea views (once again) and pleasant surroundings.

The shop is well stocked and alongside are displayed models and presentations of the impressive real estate development that the ownership group is undertaking around the course and in other national and international locations.

As for playing the course, it has some fairways with side slopes that must be taken into account when deciding on the best shot. Also, on certain holes you have to carefully choose the right tee shot, which is not always to use a driver. It is a strategic course that demands you play with your head.

The holes are measured to the entry point of the green with double stakes on each side of the fairway: in red at 150 metres from the green and in blue at 100 metres from the point in the centre of the fairway on the line that joins the stakes.

Many greens are slightly elevated, but they are in excellent condition and there are no escape areas in the event of the ball not staying on the surface of the green. Furthermore, there are no hidden traps or artificial elements to punish shots that are not perfect. It is a very pleasant and top-class course to play, and one that can provide a good result and plenty of enjoyment.

The first three holes are a prelude to the course’s great diversity. The first, a short par-4 with a dog-leg to the left, is followed by a stupendous par-5 where it is advisable not to rush as an ambitious shot to the right may not reach the fairway. Hole three, with a steep downhill slope, provides a warning that on this course you have to make sure you hit the fairway, and it is the first hole where you can leave your driver in the bag.

Hole four is a short par-4 that turns to the right with a high green. After this you come to the first par-3 – the par-3s on this course are fantastic and impressively varied. The fifth is a beautiful hole with a high shot from a tee that you can view as you approach the clubhouse from the road. The other main feature is a bunker surrounding a palm tree to the left of the green. 

Another characteristic of the course is the scarcity of fairway bunkers. They are absent from most of the holes, which facilitates the pace of play. This situation is highlighted on the next hole, the 6th and the second par-5, where there is a penalty area with a lateral water hazard on the right that only comes into play for short and deflected shots. On this hole, as on many others on the course, excessive penalties are avoided for less experienced players.

The finish of the back nine is unusual, as the par-3 7th is followed by another par-3 due to the aforementioned remodelling. These holes are very different from each other and this uncommon configuration is not shocking by any means.

The 9th is an arc to the right where a decisive shot can be well-rewarded, although it is important not to overdo it as there is an out of bounds on the right side. If, instead of opening your shot, the ball travels straight, you might cross the fairway and end up in the penalty area on the left. Perhaps the best recommendation is to be more conservative. In any event, the hole has several playing options, which makes it quite interesting.

The 10th tee is below the clubhouse and it has a halfway chiringuito (bar hut) where you can restore your strength and energy.

This 10th has been selected by Andalucía Golf/España Golf columnist Rod Bastard as one of his favourite holes on the Costa del Sol. It is a par-4 with a very high shot and water on the right. A big-hitter can reach one of the best-defended greens on the course in one, but the recommendation for most would be to tee off with an iron or a hybrid to avoid risks. Great risk and reward hole…

The 11th hole is an attractive and straight par-5, starting from a long tee next to a lake and ending on an elevated green. After that there is a not too long walk to the 12th tee, a short par-4 with an interesting green.

The next two holes are slightly uphill, with the Sierra Bermeja mountain range in the background. The first is the par-4 13th hole and then there is a long and very good par-3 with a couple of platforms in the approach area and on the front part of the green. It is the only hole with greenside bunkers. If the flag is long it is better to go for the back of the green.

The 14th tee is the highest point on the course. As on almost all the holes you have a view of the sea and you can fully savour the natural setting. There is a rock in the centre of the fairway which is best passed on the right. A big-hitter can reach the green, although the shot from the tee is blind and you don’t see the ball until you get close to the green.

The 16th is a spectacular par-3, one of the most beautiful on the Coast, well-protected by bunkers but with a top-quality green that invites you to attack the pin for a birdie.

The closing holes are spectacular. First you head to the 17th tee for the longest par-5 on the course. The fairway slopes sideways from left to right and there is also an out of bounds area on the right, so it is better to aim to the left. Then the green slopes towards the back.

The par-4 18th is a dog-leg to the right with a bunker on the left of the fairway (as I mentioned previously, one of the few on this course). The green is very well-protected and has a different shape to the other greens, with a variety of flag positions.

A gently-sloping ramp takes you back to the clubhouse, where you can enjoy the fantastic terrace and its stunning views.

This is a highly recommended visit to a very entertaining and interesting course. In short, a pleasant golfing experience that should not be missed by anyone visiting the area.