Finca Cortesin Golf Club

Spain, Costa del Sol, Marbella
4.5 (6)
Designer: Cabell B. Robinson
Course Opened: 2006

One of the more highly rated tournament courses in Spain, Finca Cortesin is part of a luxury resort and residential development near the southernmost tip of the Costa del Sol. The course was designed by Cabell Robinson, and opened for play in 2006. It achieved notoriety as host venue for the Volvo World Match Play Championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

While the hotel at Finca Cortesin is one of the worlds finest, the golf course is less compelling and somewhat disappointing for those who walk when they play or have experienced some of the premier Golden Age courses in Europe. The biggest issue with Robinson’s design is the routing, and the manner in which holes are disconnected from each other or forced to fight against the sloping terrain. The opening six holes are completely separated from the rest of the course, and the transitions are not only awkward from the clubhouse to the 1st tee or from the 6th green to the 7th, but internally on holes like the 3rd to the 4th and the 5th to the 6th. In each case you walk, or more likely drive, a full shot backwards to get to the next tee.

The main parcel of land enjoys a slightly better flow between holes, but there are areas with very dramatic elevation changes that probably render the course unwalkable for the majority of golfers. One such example is the 15th hole, which crosses a creek and features an angled fairway cut into the side of a hill. The land here is so steep that competitors during the World Match Play had to be driven from the tee to their ball in the fairway. Though unflinchingly punitive, the hole is certainly memorable, as is the par five 18th hole, with its strong crested tee shot and mountain views, and the cross-creek mid length 13th. The 10th hole also sticks in the memory for the extreme downhill nature of the tee shot, and an anorexic green site wedged between an extremely penal ravine on the right and an almost vertical hill on the left.

Earlier, holes like the 7th and 8th are cruel for the manner in which they bend one way but occupy landforms that lean in the opposite direction. The downhill, drivable 4th which doglegs around a lake is perhaps the pick of the front nine, less for its originality as for the sort of conventionality that is sadly lacking elsewhere.

Given a number of the longer holes are narrow and slope against the hills, this is a very difficult course to drive long and accurately, or even comfortably, but there are several greens that compensate by featuring generous feed-in contours that you can use to bounce an approach onto the putting surface. The course does have some very pleasant Mediterranean views, particularly from around the clubhouse precinct, and is maintained to such a high standard as to remain popular with many visitors to the Costa del Sol.

Golf aside, the development at Finca Cortesin is beautifully integrated and the hotel about as luxurious a place to stay as exists anywhere in the game. Although unlikely to get architecture aficionados overly excited, for high-end golf tourists Finca Cortesin remains a desirable stay and play option.


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