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Spain


Marbella Country Club


competence ahead of our round. Aſter two seven iron shots into the bushes, the club pro was shaking his head but fortunately it was third-time lucky — when my own moment of truth came the gods were kind. Marbella, in the middle of what was swiſtly dubbed the Costa


del Golf, is more user-friendly for British club players looking for varied and affordable golf breaks. The Marbella Country Club, another Robert Trent Jones


design from the 1960s, has fairways defended by threatening rough, while higher handicappers are warmly welcomed at manicured Santa Clara round the corner. Provided you can avoid the rocky stream that winds along the valley floor, this course is a picturesque ego-booster, with views of the Mediterranean from the higher tees and greens, surrounded by strategic palms. Rio Real, a pioneer in these parts when it opened in 1965,


is equally popular for a similar blend of dramatic beauty and atainable challenge. Designed by Javier Arana, Spain’s premier architect of the time, it follows its namesake river towards the


162 ABTA Golf 2017


sea at the picturesque 4th and 5th holes, before veering back towards the clubhouse. Neighbouring Los Naranjos also scores highly. Trees


dominate here too but surprisingly, given its name, there are only a couple of token oranges. Numerically speaking, the Valencia area is not golf rich, but


no aficionado would miss El Saler, a regular host to the Spanish Open, located between the rice fields that surround La Albufera lake and the Mediterranean, it is at its most impressive when swirling winds sweep in from the sea. The early and middle fairways track through forest before bursting out into magnificent dunes on the finishing stretch. Another credit to Javier Arana, the course rivals Valderrama


for the title of best in Spain. The El Bosque Hotel & Country Club, with a hilly Robert Trent Jones track in the Valencia hinterland, is a satisfying contrast for a double-header. There may be less sunshine on the Bay of Biscay, but legacy


is important too — and Neguri, the midway point near Bilbao, home to the Guggenheim Museum, is also worth a visit.


IMAGE: ISTOCKPHOTO


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