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  • Writer's pictureGolf on Costa del Sol

Almenara Golf Club Playing Guide and Review

Updated: Feb 25

Sotogrande is a region of Andalucia located 100km west of Malaga and close to Gibraltar. Sotogrande is the mecca for high end golf in Europe and is on the bucket list of discerning golfers from all over the world.


There are a collection of golf courses in this area that are simply breathtaking. Each could be considered amongst the best in Europe, to have them all within a few kilometers of each other is a staggering piece of good fortune for golf lovers everywhere!


Almenara Golf Club Playing Guide and Review Sotogrande Cadiz

The SO Sotogrande is a 5 star luxury Hotel and wellness Spa located high in the hills of Sotogrande offering the very best hospitality, gastronomy and wellness experiences to its guests and a perfect location from which to enjoy the best golfing break that money can buy!


With internationally regarded courses like Valderrama, La Reserva, Real Club de Golf Sotogrande, San Roque and Finca Cortesin all within a few minutes this is a golf trip that will never be bettered.


There is another golf course in Sotogrande that serves its guests very well. With its first tee just a few seconds walk from the hotel, Almenara Golf Club is set resplendent in the beautiful hills, valleys and lakes that surround the Los Alcornocales Natural Park and make a thoroughly pleasing golfing experience.

Almenara Golf is not a championship venue in the style of the big six mentioned above, but it does offer a charming experience and the chance to enjoy a beautiful golf course in a beautiful location and have an easy day! An ideal way to recharge the batteries after playing one of the great 5 tournament venues nearby.

Initially designed by David Thomas the recent remodelling was handled by Manuel Pinero. Almenara Golf has benefited hugely as a result. Pinero is famous for the 3 nine hole courses at La Quinta, he brought the same feel to Almeneara. The A Course at La Quinta and the Lagos Course at Almenara whilst set on radically different terrain share the same feel and give similar playing experiences. The highest praise for a golf course of this type.


The Pinos course at Almenara is a little tighter than Lagos, shorter and truly rewards precision from the tee. It can be compared to the B Course at La Quinta or Cabopino Golf with which it shares some physical similarities.


Almenara Golf offers three nine hole loops, each different in character each bringing a feel good factor. Alemanra Golf sits very well in the exalted company of its championship brethren, it offers a taste of simple pleasure. Where Valderrama, La Reserva can be likened to Michelin starred gastronomy, Almenara is a home cooked paella – comfort food – and very satisfying!


The clubhouse is located close to the 1st tee of the Pino course. There is no better clubhouse terrace than this! The view over the National park and across the Mediterranean is awe inspiring. 



Location



Facilities

  1. 27 holes 3 Circuits of 9 Holes

  2. Los Lagos

  3. Los Pinos

  4. Los Alcornocales

  5. Hotel

  6. Gymnasium

  7. Clubhouse

  8. Bar

  9. Buggies

  10. Club Hire

  11. Practise Green

  12. Terrace

  13. Changing Rooms

  14. Lockers

  15. Showers


Almenara Golf Club

Opened: 2001

Designer: David Thomas

Remodeled by: Manuel Pinero


Almenara Golf Lagos Course

Lagos Par 36 White Tees 3030m Yellow Tees 2841m Blue Tees 2630m Red Tees 2442m



Lagos Hole 1

Par 4 Stroke Index 9 White Tees 346m Yellow Tees 344m Blue Tees 317m Red Tees 314m

It’s a 3 minute buggy ride to the first tee, walkable if you allow enough time so as not to keep your playing partners waiting.


My first impressions are of the view. The first fairway runs toward the green below you. There is nothing higher than your vantage on this tee. The view over the golf course, the nature and then the Mediterranean Sea is inspiring. This might sound odd, but the sky is immense. I think it appears so big simply because we are so close to it! If you have any “flat earther” friends bring them here for a friendly game of golf. You will not need to say anything. They will inevitably notice that the horizon is not flat, that’s how big the panorama is. A very special way to start the day!


The cart path runs down the left side of this hole and marks the edge of the golf course. Venture over the cart path with your drive and you will need to reload! There is plenty of room on the right. if you go right of the pine trees please shout a warning as your ball might finish on 2nd green.


The ideal line is on the right half of the fairway just inside those pine trees. I hit a dreadful 4 iron to lay up and left myself 170m to the green. The greens are small and often well guarded. My second shot bounced on the front and ran off the left hand side of the green onto the apron.


JW’s drive was right in the pine trees coming to rest close to the 2nd green, a 9 iron left him on the front apron.


The green sits close to the cart path on the left side set in a horseshoe of protective Cabopino Pine trees. Sat on a plateau the ground falls away to the right giving the green an elevated face if approaching from the right side. A bunker is cut into the front right face.


Not much room to miss the green on the left, plenty of room to the right. A long thin green, 8 paces wide and 30 paces long, uphill from the front to the back with a hogs back profile meaning the centre line of the green is the high point with green breaking away on either side. An intricate green. Nicely cut, today running close to 8 on the stimpmeter.


Lagos Hole 2

Par 3 Stroke Index 17 White Tees 171m Yellow Tees 153m Blue Tees 124m Red Tees 120m

The second tee is tucked below and behind the first green. Playing downhill to the green with a line of trees marked with red stakes on the left side this is a picturesque hole sitting easy on the eye.


Plenty of room on the right, not that you should need it, A medium iron will take care of the work required with the tee shot. Bunkers guard the left front of the green, the front of the green is open and inviting. The green is the centre of your focus.


My tee shot blocked to the right leaving me on the far side of the trees that separate the first and second holes. Sitting above the green I have two choices, try to flop a wedge over the trees, difficult from a downhill lie or hit a pitch and run allowing it to run down the bank. I chose option 2 and found the middle of the small green with a 2m putt to save par.


From the front apron JW cosied his birdie putt close to the hole for an easy par and a win.


The greens are in good shape running true. An absence of pitchmarks is a sign of either committed greenkeepers or courteous guests or both!


Lagos Hole 3

Par 4 Stroke Index 8 White Tees 380m Yellow Tees 351 Blue Tees 340m Red Tees 321m

On the tee I can see the three tee boxes descending in steps in front of me.

There is a lake on the right side of the hole which begins at 265m from the tee and extends all the way to the back of the green making the right side a no go area!


The danger on this hole is keeping the tee shot dry. If your drive is good then the second shot becomes a great deal more straightforward.The cart path runs up the left side of the hole and makes a tempting line. The first 150m or so is lined on both sides by pine trees. On the right runs a stream that feeds into the lake all marked in red stakes. None of these distractions affected JW, his drive was nicely placed on the fairway.I selected 3 wood for my tee shot and hooked it wildly over the cart path into the banking beyond, deeply out of bounds.


A well struck iron from JW found the front of the green, a couple of putts and another par gave John a two hole lead.



Lagos Hole 4

Par 5 Stroke Index 11 White Tees 449m Yellow Tees 422m Blue Tees 390m Red Tees 381m

The first of the par 5’s. This one is reachable. You simply need to gird your loins to find the confidence to ignore the lake on the right and strike two good shots.

A staircase of large stone blocks leads to the tee box. Once again the cart path runs along the left side of this wide fairway, a dogleg to the right with the elbow arriving at 127m from the tee. The hole is dominated by the lake on the right.

Take a line on the left half of the fairway just to keep a safe distance from the water and pull the trigger. A good drive here will set up a birdie chance.


JW has 240m to go, from the right side of the fairway the water will make the risk reward equation too dangerous to take on the challenge. A sensible layup gives him an easy wedge with which he can pursue his birdie.


From my position 60m further up the fairway on the left I have a straightforward 6 iron into the green. Once again the mere presence of water foiled me. A nasty restricted swing caused a dreadful pull hook to the left. Whilst still in bounds it came to rest pin high but in the middle of some succulent plants on a grassy bank above the cart path on the left . A number of stubbed chips did not help my cause. JW pitched his chip to the centre of the green, a conceded birdie and I am three down!


Several holes on this nine hole loop encircle the lake. The lake is totally natural and teeming with life. The air is rich with bird song, as you get to the waters edge the frog chorus keeps perfect metronomic time! Golf course operators have become more nature friendly over the last few years and it is a change for the better. Above us are a pair of Eagles wheeling across the sky, their focus on the natural wild areas in search of prey. The vegetation around the lake is lush, verdant and natural. Almenara Golf Club and nature coexist and benefit each other perfectly.


Lagos Hole 5

Par 4 Stroke Index 2 White Tees 392m Yellow Tees 368m Blue Tees 343m Red Tees 301m

This is a big dog leg to the right. The lake sits on the inside of the dog leg but is far enough to the right that it is not in play. Just the way I like it!


If you take a line directly at the green you are certain to have a miserable hole. The terrain on the direct line, whilst dry, is sloped, dotted with large rocks and trees. Also remember that the green simply is not reachable, the elevation makes the hole play much longer than the number suggests.


Instead the best line is to play along the line of the fairway, sufficiently to the left so that you are not blocked by the mound and trees at the corner of the dog leg. The question is what club to hit. Today the wind on this tee is howling! We both hit drivers and both find the fairway but do not quite get past the corner which means we both have horrendous shots into the green.


I bashed my 3 wood to cover 190m uphill into the wind, of course I made a total arse of it and barely made the green after 3 strokes. Luckily for me JW similarly could not find a solution to this challenge. Without doubt this is the toughest hole on the golf course.


Lagos Hole 6

Par 4 Stroke Index 7 White Tees 342m Yellow Tees 312m Blue Tees 253m Red Tees 248m

This is another hole that shapes to the right around the lake that dominates this loop of nine holes. A stone monument sits on the left of the fairway and makes a good line for the tee shot. Missing the fairway on the right is a disaster.


JW hit a cracker up the middle. As we stood and admired, the wind went about its terrible business and pressed the ball to the right until it disappeared off the fairway into the hazard. Rigid with fear, I topped my drive miserably but managed to stay in play. My second shot hung on to the back edge of the green and reduced the deficit to 2 down.


The ideal drive will be around 210m aimed at the monument. From there a 110m short iron is the next challenge. The second shot also has to contend with the lake which encroaches from the right making life rather difficult. Take heart, there is plenty of room at the back of the green.


This is a demanding hole. A difficult tee shot is followed up by an equally difficult second. This par 4 when looking at the scorecard looks as though it might be an easy scoring hole. Nothing could be further from the truth. This hole is as aggressive as a Honey Badger.



Lagos Hole 7

Par 3 Stroke Index 5 White Tees 183m Yellow Tees 160m Blue Tees 150m Red Tees 136m

A fabulous par 3. The setting is delightful. Again the lake is the dominant feature and gives the hole its beauty. From the tee the picture before you is intimidating. Water resides directly in front of the tee box and appears to extend all the way to the apron of the green. A spit of land extends from the green reducing the amount of water to carry from 140m to 105m. A bunker guards the front right of the green although most golfers will barely notice it. All attention will be focussed on the lake!


As you drive the buggy across the bridge it becomes clear that there is plenty of room between the front of the green and the lake to accommodate shots that come up a little short. The green is set in a horseshoe of trees with 10m of apron all around. The green is a small target, the apron is a big help.


Sadly I was not able to finish this hole. Two shots into the water meant an early concession. I was able to enjoy and admire this beautiful hole from the buggy whilst JW toiled to earn his par.


Lagos Hole 8

Par 5 Stroke Index 13 White Tees 432m Yellow Tees 413m Blue Tees 407m Red Tees 353m

A dog leg to the left of 434m. A stone feature 260m on the right side of the fairway makes a good target. OOB is present on both sides of the fairway. The seat of the saddle shaped terrain with high banked rough on the right can assist in keeping the tee shot in play. This is a good looking hole.


JW hit a safe one at the stone feature, I took a slightly more aggressive line a little further to the left and cut a little off the dogleg as I had nothing to lose! The inside corner of the dogleg is home to a pair of bunkers not visible from the tee. Luckily I missed them, another reason to take the safe line.


The green is elevated, rising 5m above us with a false front. You need to carry it all the way to the green centre. JW has 207m to go, with the elevation he needs to find 220m. I can see a stone wall behind the green, the cart path along the right. If you are confident that you will not hit a curly one from this kind of distance then it is worth having a go at the green with your second shot, otherwise lay up towards the right half of the fairway and leave yourself something simple with your preferred wedge.


Both of our second shots fell short of the target, a pair of 5s tied the hole. This is a cracking par five that rewards aggressive golf.


Lagos Hole 9

Par 4 Stroke Index 3 White Tees 335m Yellow Tees 318m Blue Tees 306m Red Tees 268m

To say that this 9th hole plays uphill is an understatement. It plays towards the sky running up an escarpment. There are four tiers cut into the fairway. Tree lined with OOB on both sides, this fairway is not troublingly narrow.


The strategy here is to bash your drive up the centre of the fairway with all of your might to reach the furthest most step. The beginning of the fairway is set in the bottom of the valley from where it climbs up the hillside. The left side of the fairway is festooned with huge 5m cubed orante rocks. The right of the fairway is lush with rough, replete with mature trees that will make any golf ball disappear.

The tricky nature of some of the tee shots have eroded our confidence.

Inexplicably JW missed the fairway on the left and lost his ball. I managed to hang on to the right side of the fairway leaving 126m for my second shot. Severely uphill and into the wind I adjust my ciub to play 160m and find the centre of the green. This apparently straightforward par 4 is nothing of the sort. It demands all of your attention!




Almenara Golf Pinos Course

Pinos Par 35 White Tees 2873m Yellow Tees 2689m Blue Tees 2462m Red Tees 2282m



Pinos Hole 1

Par 5 Stroke Index 10 White Tees 455m Yellow Tees 440m Blue Tees 434m Red Tees 421m

It’s a few minutes’ buggy ride from the 9th green of the Lagos loop to the first tee on Pinos loop. We take a break in the clubhouse and enjoy a coffee on the fabulous terrace. These are the best views in golf. If time allows, I urge you to spend a little time on this terrace.


This first hole on the Pinos course is a markedly downhill, narrow par five of 445m. Banking planted with mature pine trees climbs on the right shielding the 9th tee and fairway. beyond the tree line on the left is out of bounds. This pencil slim fairway winds serpentine downhill towards a distant green. JW has no issue finding the fairway. I on the other hand stand on the tee with no idea in which direction I will lose my ball. As it turns out it was to the right. My ball made a beeline for the 9th tee and was brought to rest by the copse of pine trees.

JWs drive bounded down the hill and left him with just 128m metres for his second shot! This par 5 can be unlocked with a straight drive!


A small green, slightly elevated, is triangular in shape with the apex at the front and the wide base at the rear. A generous amount of apron surrounds the green. A great birdie chance to begin this nine hole loop.


Pinos Hole 2

Par 4 Stroke Index 4 White Tees 380m Yellow Tees 355m Blue Tees 300m Red Tees 300m

A par four of 380m. playing steeply downhill . The flag is visible from the tee. The fairway slopes from the right to the left. The tiger line is to aim over the corner of the slight dogleg over the trees on the right side of the fairway. A successful drive will leave you with 80m or so and create another scoring chance.A safer option is to hit the tee shot 200m to the wide part of the fairway avoiding all risk. Again a narrow fairway with attention grabbing OOB on both sides.


JW hit a fade down the left moving back to the centre to the fattest part of the fairway. Mine took the tiger line over the trees on the right. There is no room right of the cart path. My ball has vanished! With hindsight the only sensible shot to play here is a lay up as chosen by JW.


Missing the green on the left will leave you a very difficult chip up the bank. Any more than 20m left is terminal.


This is another hole where your fate is decided with the tee shot. It is imperative that you find the fairway. There is no reward for playing aggressively here.


The setting of the Lagos course is very different to the Pinos. Lagos is all about the mountain views and the beautiful natural hinterland. Pinos is all about the dazzling Mediterranean Sea!


Pinos Hole 3

Par 4 Stroke Index 6 White Tees 369m Yellow Tees 335m Blue Tees 300m Red Tees 300m

The tee is tucked away to the left and below the previous green. OOB waits menacingly beyond the cart path on the left. Trees line both sides with the fairway sloping from the high ground on the right towards the cart path on the left. This is a gorgeous looking hole.


The best line is on the right half of the fairway which will allow the ground to run your ball back to the centre. The fairway looks narrow. It is. The saving grace is that you have 80m between the OOB on the right and the wooden boundary fence on the left. Forty of that 80m is fairway. Provided that you don’t hit banana like ball shapes there is plenty of room for you to find the fairway.


After a decent drive JW has 104m. The green sits atop a promontory of land falling away on both sides. A small target surrounded by trees is going to require a confidently struck short iron to get the job done. JW does not make many mistakes; his wedge landed adjacent to the pin offering him a straight forward birdie putt.



Pinos Hole 4

Par 3 Stroke Index 14 White Tees 131m Yellow Tees 125m Blue Tees 109m Red Tees 101m

The wind is swirling as we step on to the tee of this exceedingly pretty par 3. The green sits a couple of metres above the tee. On the left is a tree lined valley marked with red stakes. On the right the cart path and then a further 15m before the red stakes.

A bunker is cut into the front face of the left half of the green.


The par three holes offer respite for me from the daunting accuracy demanded by the tee shots on the other holes. It’s not that the golf course is punitively narrow, it’s more to do with my inability to play “percentage” golf from the tee boxes.


Pinos Hole 5

Par 4 Stroke Index 16 White Tees 329m Yellow Tees 301m Blue Tees 257m Red Tees 257m

Red stakes and deep forest lay in ambush on the left. The green is directly ahead of us. On the right of the cart path is 20m of banking before crossing the boundary and peppering the beautiful homes. This is a tight driving hole. If you have the confidence the ideal drive is to aim at the trouble on the left side of the fairway and shape the ball back to the middle. I am told that it is easier than trying to hit a straight ball. Not my forte!


The fairway is at its widest 111m from the green, that is the place to aim for. The way to master this course is to play the tee shot always to the fat part of the fairway, you will always have a short shot onto the green and almost certainly a chance of par or better. I can tell you from experience that no pars or birdies can be made by driving the ball OOB or into hazards as often as I have today.


Pinos Hole 6

Par 4 Stroke Index 1 White Tees 377m Yellow Tees 369m Blue Tees 357m Red Tees 296m

This is the hardest hole on the loop of nine. The high side of this fairway is on the right. The angle of slope down to the left side of the fairway is close to 30 degrees. It also plays significantly uphill with terminal trouble on both sides. The green is straight ahead. A tee shot shaped from left to right is recommended.


After a perfectly shaped drive JW had 194m to the green.The green is cut into the hillside with bunkers set in the face on the left . Plenty of room on the right. The shot to play is at the right side of the green.


A five wood left John on the front right of the green. A two putt par. Very well played JW.


A long thin green. The centre right is the highpoint of the green. The contours make this green a satisfying two putt.



Pinos Hole 7

Par 3 Stroke Index 18 White Tees 168m Yellow Tees 150m Blue Tees 114m Red Tees 89m

The hole runs downhill from the tee. The tee box tucked into an alcove of red flowering hedgerow. The cart path runs on the left edge of the hole, beyond which is out of bounds. The preceding fairway runs on the right below the green at the foot of a steep bank. A smattering of trees on the bank make it a bad place to miss. Five meters of apron on the left gives a small cushion, plenty of room at the back of this long slender green with bunkers on the left front and left flank.


I tried to hit a gentle cut shaped from left to right in order to quell my nemesis hook. It worked the ball shaped left to right a little too enthusiastically and ran down the bank on the right. My pitch up the bank caught the tree branches and found the bunker. I finally reached the green with my third stroke and recorded an absurd double bogey. Golf is hard.


Pinos Hole 8

Par 5 Stroke Index 15 White Tees 484m Yellow Tees 449m Blue Tees 410m Red Tees 376m

A ninety degree dog leg to the left. The tiger line is to aim at the white house set in the hillside adjacent to the golf course, the safer line is the neighbouring yellow house. The cart path again runs up the left side, beyond which is OOB.


JW and I both hit poor shots curving much further to the right than we had intended. John’s ball fell off the right side of the fairway into the red staked area 30m before reaching the outside apex of the elbow. Mine hung onto the fairway exactly in the furthest most point of the elbow leaving me a monstrous second shot uphill to a distant green.


With 270m to go I gave it a mighty lash with my 3 wood and topped it up the left side of the fairway it bounced up the cart path, diced with the OOB markers and made its way back to the right finishing in the first cut of rough 98m short of the green. Unintentionally I had hit the ideal lay up shot finding the most generous area of the fairway providing welcome safe haven leaving me with just a simple wedge into the green for a two putt par.


Pinos Hole 9

Par 3 Stroke Index 12 White Tees 180m Yellow Tees 165m Blue Tees 145m Red Tees 126m

A great par three to finish. Playing slightly uphill back towards the SO Sotogrande Hotel this par three is a fearsome closing hole. With the wind against us today I elected to punch a 2 iron towards the green. I had stopped aiming at the flags some ago; the greens are small, therefore aiming at the middle of the green gave me the largest target with the largest room for error and often , a short putt!


Bunkers guard the front entrances meaning that tee shots need to fly all the way to the putting surface. The back of the green is an amphitheatre of banking rising away from the putting surface and serves to halt tee shots that run over the back. One of the largest greens makes the task more than fair. Nonetheless a high quality strike is required!


Once the green had been reached a sloping green with treacherously fast downhill putts may yet foil your efforts for par.


All in all this is a great par three. I was lucky enough to hit the green with my tee shot. What a great feeling to walk off the golf course with a par!




Summary

The Lagos nine holes really suited my game. I took enormous pleasure from all of the holes crafted around the lake. Some of those holes were truly memorable! The countryside is a delight to look at and the golf course has been wonderfully set into that scenery and looks to be at one with nature.


Almenara Golf Club Playing Guide and Review Sotogrande Cadiz

The Pino course took me a few holes to adjust to. It puts a premium on fairway finding over length. Once I figured that out then I started to make some pars. Its maturity suits it well. It is a serene place to enjoy our sport and soak up nature.

Almenara golf is a great foil to its majestic neighbours. La Reserva, Real Club de Golf Sotogrande, San Roque, Valderrama and Finca Cortesin are internationally admired championship courses and are fabulous. Most golfing visitors to this part of Spain come with the intention of playing these ethereal championship courses. Inserting a day or two at Almenara Golf Club between championship rounds is a good way to recharge your golfing batteries, recording a few birdies and pars will flatter and provide you with the golfing therapy required to prepare for your next round at one of the big five!


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