Championship Golf Returns to Spain’s Finca Cortesin 

By Tom Mackin

How fitting was it that Carlota Ciganda of Spain played a key role in Europe narrowly retaining the Solheim Cup this past September? Her clutch play in her home country was on full display, as was the beauty of Finca Cortesin, the host course designed by American Cabell Robinson at one of the continent’s finest resorts.

Located on the Costa del Sol, a region on Spain’s southeast coast, Finca Cortesin’s course debuted in 2007 and previously hosted the Volvo World Match Play Championship in 2009, 2011, and 2012. A road divides the lusciously-manicured layout: the first six holes unfurl in a valley while the remaining 12 flow over rolling topography on the other side. Elevations changes, uneven lies, and sneak peeks of the Mediterranean in the distance are common throughout.  

One significant routing change was implemented for the Solheim Cup. The regular fourth hole, a potentially drivable par 4 requiring a daring carry over a lake, was the opening hole. Amphitheater seating around the elevated tee created a lively atmosphere, not to mention an exciting risk/reward opportunity to kick off each day’s play. With the Solheim Cup completed, the first six holes of the course return their regular (and much quieter) routing. But it was the second nine, with a trio of strong par 3s, plus one particular par 4, that played a pivotal role in the Solheim Cup and presents resort visitors with plenty of challenge and long-range views.

“The 15th is one of the toughest par 4s on the course,” said Francisco de Lancastre David, General Manager, Golf and Leisure Operations, Finca Cortesin. “You can easily three putt that green.” That uphill hole, which can require a carry over a ravine depending on which tee is used, is followed by another stellar par 4, a short par 3 at 17 where hole locations can be especially tricky, and a slight dogleg left finishing par 5.

“This a real ball-strikers course because pretty much on every hole you need to hit a fade or draw, and often both on the same hole,” said de Lancastre David. “You have to be comfortable shaping those shots. Chipping around the greens is also tricky due to the Bermuda grass. You have to have really good touch.”

Both Solheim Cup teams stayed at the ultra-luxe resort, which has 67 suites, 8 multi-bedroom villas, three delightful restaurants, and memorable architecture throughout, all in an intimate and very private setting.   

“The main leisure season here is June, July, and August when people come for the sun,” said de Lancastre David. “Golf season is normally September until the middle of November, and then March through May. There are roughly 80 courses on the Costa del Sol, so golf is really important for tourism because it extends the season on both sides of summer.”  

While the Solheim Cup teams didn’t have much time for sightseeing, other visitors have an array of options to choose from. “When you fly into Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport, there is the Málaga city center with the Picasso Museum and Pompidou Centre,” said de Lancastre David.  “Then it’s a 50-minute drive south to where we are in the Sotogrande area. We have the best hotel by far in the region. And with our golf course, Valderrama (venue for the 1997 Ryder Cup), Real Sotogrande, La Reserva, and The Old Course at San Roque, you have five of the top 10 courses in Spain. Also, within two hours there are places like Granada, Cordoba, Seville, Cadiz, and Ronda to explore. It’s a golf destination in a very cultural area.”

And now Finca Cortesin forever has its place in Solheim Cup history. 

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