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  • Writer's pictureGolf on Costa del Sol

Azata Golf Review and Playing Guide

Updated: Feb 26

Azata Golf is the newest golf facility to open its doors on the Costa del Sol and I can state with utter confidence that this golf course is a winner! The design and layout have been thoughtfully overlaid onto the spectacular Andalusian terrain to produce  charming parkland golf of very high quality.


This is a quintessential members course designed to bring satisfaction to those who primarily play golf for fun. At 5700m from the back tees the course is technical enough to challenge highly skilled players. From the Yellow tees at 5332m the character of each of the holes and the challenge presented remain the same but remove the necessity to hit Tiger like drives.


Azata Golf frequently plays host to The Toro Tour, a professional golf tour based on the Costa del Sol used to develop the next generation of golfing super stars. The feedback from the professionals regarding the golf course is always highly positive. Azata Golf is unique in the area for being the only golf facility that allows players using the driving range to practice from grass. The practise facility is amazing. The playing surface is exactly the same as the fairways!


The practise chipping and putting area are close to the first tee which seems to me to be a stroke of genius! The putting green runs exactly as the main greens do. Having the opportunity to hit a few putts before tee-ing off will make a huge difference to your game. I don’t know why all golf courses are not designed this way!


The clubhouse has a warm informal feel. With a superb external terrace looking over the driving range, 18th green and out to sea, basking in 320 days of sunshine each year this is a great place to reflect on a wonderful day of golf. The upstairs restaurant terrace gives a stunning view down the mountainside and across the Mediterranean Sea!


Ideal for society days, visiting groups or single players, Azata Golf is a “no-brainer” if you want to add a great day of golf to your itinerary in the Estepona area.

Below we have written our playing guide to Azata Golf, we hope it gives you a feel of what it is like to enjoy this lovely place. We have also featured Azata Golf in the following article:


Location

Facilities

  1. Clubhouse

  2. Pro Shop

  3. Restaurant

  4. Driving Range

  5. Short Game Area


Azata Golf Front Nine Holes



Azata Golf Hole 1

Stroke Index 3 Par 4 White Tees 388m Yellow Tees 351m Blue Tees 336m Red Tees 290m


There is a practice putting, chipping and bunker area located right next to the first tee! A fabulously clever idea! I made good use of this whilst the helpful starter welcomed us and introduced us to our playing partners, a charming Dutch couple spending the winter in Estepona enjoying a few months of sun and golf before returning to their busy restaurant.


JW and I elected to play from the back tees (White), Paul and Leana from the Yellows and Reds respectively. Between us we will get a great perspective of what it is like to play this lovely looking parkland course.


A long par four is the first challenge of the day, and that challenge begins with a daunting tee shot, at least for me. Unlike John I am not the straightest of hitters and on any occasion where trouble sits on the left of the fairway I am commonly doomed! The out of bounds fence sits above and left of the fairway. The fairway is decently wide and for those golfers not afflicted with a hook there is more than enough room to swing freely. Missing the fairway on the right is the most common mistake and will result in an almost certain bogey or worse.


The best line to take with the driver is up the left half of the fairway. A drive curving left will be brought back to the fairway by the bank, a slight mis-hit heading to the right will have a good chance of staying on the fairway.


If your ball falls off the fairway on the right it will have to work its way down a steep bank of rough dotted with bushes and trees before it reaches the adjacent 2nd fairway. Most will reach the fairway. From this position 4m below the correct fairway and in John’s case 180m from the green with a large lake guarding the front right starting 50m out and running up to the side of the green it would be very easy to compound the poor tee shot by dunking a brave recovery into the lake. As you would expect from a seasoned player such as JW he hit a 5 iron at a large bush located on the left approach to the green about 80m short of the target giving himself a chance of saving par with a good wedge shot.


The character of the hole does not change from the vantage point of the shorter tees. The challenge remains the same, this is a mark of thoughtful and clever design.


A fairway bunker sits on the right half of the fairway about 120m short of the green, my “perfect” drive came to rest in this perfectly presented sand trap. From this range the lake will only trouble you if you make poor contact. Just in case I took a line on the left half of the green minimising the time my ball would spend flying over water and found the fringe of the green for 2.


With a fiver at stake JW zoned in on his 80m wedge and stiffed it! Miracle par! A half in fours.


Azata Golf Hole 2

Stroke Index 7 Par 4 White Tees 398m Yellow Tees 371m Blue Tees 350m Red Tees 304m


The 2nd hole runs in the opposite direction below and adjacent to the first. The first fairway, above you on top of its bank on the right, gives a sense of sanctuary from the tee. If your drive curves markedly to the right the bank will catch it and might even deliver it back towards the fairway, or like JW and I if you are wildly right you will once again find yourself on the first fairway!


Missing on the left of this vast fairway is death. Don’t go there! The best line to take from the tee is to aim at the driving range masts visible on the skyline. Beware, the fairway is slanted and runs from the right to the left. You need to start the ball on the right half of the fairway.


The green is slightly above you as you stand in the fairway. Red staked trouble adorns three sides of the green leaving plenty of room for a bail out on the right. The bail out area runs uphill from the green to the cart path and will reward you with helpful bounces back towards your objective. The green is 40m long and narrow making it a difficult target to acquire. This is an excellent golf hole. What a wonderful pair of opening holes to get the round started.


Azata Golf Hole 3

Stroke Index 5 Par 4 White Tees 372m Yellow Tees 333m Blue Tees 303m Red Tees 286m


Here’s one for you – before you tee off make sure to update your GPS device. Azata Golf is newly opened and not all devices will have it yet. My Garmin GPS did not have it much to my chagrin as I desperately needed to consult with it on this 3rd tee box.


A motorway bridge dominates the background view. We learned through trial and error (mulligans) that the best line to take from the tee is on the left edge of that bridge. Do not allow your ball to leak to the right. There is far more room and helpful terrain on the left.


JW bashed his drive too far right never to be seen again. I hit a corker on the perfect line finding a spot 70m from the dance floor.


Once again the hole plays the same from whichever tee box you use. It is possible at Azata Golf for each of your 4 ball to find the right tee box to allow all of you, the long and short, to play second shots from the same position – I like that.


The green is nestled at the bottom of a deep valley with dense trouble not far from the sides and rear. Hitting a lofted wedge into the valley green was quite disconcerting. As the ball flies off the clubface into the sky it looks for a moment as though you have hopelessly over clubbed. Once the ball reaches the peak of its flight it falls vertically onto another superb green.


If you can find the right line for the tee then this is the first birdie chance of the day and an opportunity to get one back!



Azata Golf Hole 4

Stroke Index 9 Par 3 White Tees 160m Yellow Tees 143m Blue Tees 132m Red Tees 128m


This is the first of a series of delightful par 3 holes. Playing from an elevated tee to a valley green with a river bed winding along the valley floor on the left of the hole. There is plenty of room for the nervous on the right, but really, the green is large and inviting, relax, trust your swing and enjoy the moment!


Interestingly, on the other side of the river bed you can see the 3rd and 4th holes of the neighbouring Valle Romano Golf Club. Another great golf course on the Costa del Sol!


There are no bunkers to confound you. The hole whilst asking for a confident strike from the tee is clearly laid out in front of you and is very well presented. The green is much bigger as you step on to it than it appears from the tee. The slopes and undulations demand your full attention. All in all a tremendous hole.


Azata Golf Hole 5

Stroke Index 13 Par 5 White Tees 425m Yellow Tees 423m Blue Tees 406m Red Tees 391m


Fairway canted from cart path on right running to bamboo and barranca on the left, missing left is terminal! A large white villa on the hillside in the distance is a good line to take. A gentle curve to the right on this line will yield the most pleasing result. Both JW and I chopped ours wildly to the right, probably an instinctive fear of certain fatality on the left! Both of our drives were never seen again!


On the other hand, Paul and Leana played the hole perfectly. From the Yellow and Red tees respectively their drives flew along the centre line running with the terrain to the left edge of the fairway as they came to rest.


They both played very sensible layup shots short of the lake which runs from 120m out right up to the green side on the left side of the fairway reducing the fairway width by half.


Their third shots both found the apron of the green, after a few moments of putting both Paul and Leana recorded confidence building net pars!

Golf does not have to be hard!


However, if you like to make it hard then the other way to play this hole is to crack a drive on the villa with a little shape to the right. You will be left with a long iron or hybrid into the green. There is a bailout area to the right of the green which is not immediately apparent as you line up the shot. Aiming your 2nd at the right edge with a little shape to the left will give you a scoring chance. Risk and reward. Make a mess of either the drive or the second shot and regret will consume you! Just remember how easy Paul and Leana made it look!


Azata Golf Hole 6

Stroke Index 17 Par 4 White tees 335m  Yellow tees 322m  Blue tees 294m Red Tees 254m


Dog leg right, bamboo and reeds along the left marking the river bed. The line to take is over the cart path on the right, a little shape to the right will do no harm, anything vigorously left will bring heartbreak and pain.


JW pumped his into one of the apartments above and to the right. I hit a nice one directly over the cart path. Paul and Leana hit to the dog leg taking the safe option.


Easy iron shots into the green were the reward harvested by our Dutch friends while my tiger line drive found a fairway bunker on the right side of the fairway 40 meters short of the green. In this case the risk and reward does not make sense. You will score more birdies and pars by hitting a short tee shot to the corner of the dog leg and then an easy iron in to the heart of the green

As is the norm here the green is superbly presented, rolling fast and true putting real emphasis on your ability to read the terrain.


We all agree this is a delightful golf course that brings satisfaction to all of us and different skill levels.



Azata Golf Hole 7

Stroke Index 11 Par 4 White Tees 336m Yellow Tees 307m Blue Tees 276m Red Tees 241m


On every hole so far there has been more room than you think waiting for your tee shot. In this case the opposite is true. This is a genuinely tight driving hole. The trouble on the left, the river bed replete with the dense Mediterranean jungle is very close at hand!


There is hope! The designers have kindly placed a large bush atop a stony knoll making a striking landmark and natural aiming point on the right of the fairway. Hit your drive directly at this knoll. Beware, this bush has an appetite for golf balls! So either go a little left or right of it, or even over the top if it is within your armoury. If you take a line on the centre of the fairway and catch a bounce to the left then, once again regret might be your companion.


The red staked hazard runs around the left edge and rear of the green, the right side is protected by a large bunker. JW hit his short second to 1 m for a birdie.

A very pleasing hole, which requires a little thought with the tee shot, if successful can be a scoring opportunity. The view from the tee box down the fairway towards the horizon is special. Today the Mediterranean Sea is calm with a deep metallic blue sheen. The view alone is worth the green fee!


Azata Golf Hole 8

Stroke Index 1 Par 5 White Tees 456m Yellow Tees 415m Blue Tees 365m Red Tees 364m


The white tee box on this hole is located just above the preceding green. The 8th fairway is a long way in front and above you. A more daunting driving hole I have not seen!


The other tee boxes are further forward and to the left taking away the long uphill carry to the fairway, yet the character and toughness of the hole are unchanged, outstanding design!


We both take a line on a pylon which is located at the dog leg of the uphill dog leg left hole.


The terrain runs markedly from the point of the dog leg on the left to the edge of the fairway on the right. Interestingly all four of us playing from the different tees ended up within 10m of each other on the extreme right in the first cut of rough.

From there the fairway ahead of you climbs immediately and steeply as it heads toward the green set on top of the hill far above you. Both JW and I took fairway woods in an attempt to reach the dance floor without second shots. So steep was the initial incline that both of us hit the ground a few metres in front of the ball and only covered 60% of the required distance.

The final 100m of this hole are extremely steep and will add 30m to the distance you need to hit. Bunkers on both the left and right flank of this final approach create a funnel effect. The frontal approach to the green is open giving good access to low running shots.


This is a great par 5 and from whichever tee you elect to play from will examine your game sternly!


Azata Golf Hole 9

Stroke Index 15  Par 3  White Tees 169m Yellow Tees 152m Blue Tees 145m Red Tees 106m


Playing uphill this hole points you at the sky giving an enormous sense of openness. A wide hole with an equally wide green imbues you with a “feel good” confidence, the view of the iridescent red mountains in the backdrop remind you of what a beautiful place this is. Golf on the Costa del Sol is a very special experience.


The incline from tee to green requires you to club up significantly. Today the actual playing length is closer to 200m rather than the 169m on the tee marker.

A challenging par 3 to bring the front nine to a close. The consensus from the four of us, all playing here for the first time, is that Azata Golf is utterly charming. A delightful parkland course perfect for fun or social golf. As we drive past the clubhouse heading to the 10th tee a multitude of smiling faces enjoying an apres golf beer on the terrace are testament to how pleasant Azata Golf really is.


Azata Golf Back Nine Holes



Azata Golf Hole 10

Stroke Index 18 Par 3 White Tees 124m Yellow Tees 122m Blue Tees 84m red Tees 82m


A pretty little par 3 to ease you into the back nine. The tee and the green are on the same level, the terrain drops away in front of the tee and slopes to the right before rising to meet the green.


A large putting surface makes a generous target. A run off area on the front of the green will repel efforts that lack conviction. The sculpted undulating green is the heart of its defence. You will need to hit it close to have a realistic chance of birdie unless you have the putting prowess of a Seve or Speith!


Azata Golf Hole 11

Stroke Index 10 Par 4 White Tees 256m Yellow Tees 252m Blue Tees 226m Red Tees 223m


This is a cracking par 4! This par 4 is only 250m from the back tees. Depending upon the wind either a driver or a 3 wood for me if I can summon a straight one. However a lake dominates the landscape between you and the green meaning that you would need to pitch your drive on the green and make it stop in order to have an eagle putt.


I thought long and hard about taking the shot on. I often have conflict between my sense of ambition and my actual ability. After a few moments of reflection I put my driver away and hit a 2 iron aiming to the right of the green following the line of the fairway.


I was left with a 40m pitch across a brook which flows from the massive lake. I hit the pitch pretty close but was defeated by the speed of the green and managed a par.


Unless you reach the green on the fly with a 5 wood or hybrid from whichever tee you choose to play from then the safe line is probably the best option. This is another good scoring opportunity if you choose the right strategy. On the other hand it could put an unnecessary double bogey on your card!


Azata Golf Hole 12

Stroke Index 2 Par 4 White Tees 370m Yellow Tees 364m Blue Tees 344m Red Tees 223m


This is yet another great golf hole!


Playing downhill from the tee, another lake dominates your view. Running almost the entire width of the fairway 200m from the white tees, the lake awaits eagerly to receive your ball.


Option A – Lay up with whatever club gets you 190m and then play a mid iron into the green. It is a tough second shot.


Option B – Gird your loins and carry the water leaving you a short pitch on to the green and a realistic birdie chance. You will need to carry 250m.


With the prevailing wind John and I both felt confident in carrying the lake. Unusually JW found a truly terrible swing for this occasion and his ball now resides in the freshwater equivalent of Davy Jones’s locker.


I could see from the tee a group of small stubby trees on the left side and well beyond the lake. To me it looked like hardpan rough and I hoped it would scoot my ball forwards and to the right kicking me towards the green. I was tragically wrong. Those stubby trees marked a depression in the ground within which is an annexe to the big lake. Bugger. For us the hole was over!


Paul and Leana hit hybrids from their respective tees stopping short of the lake. A similar shot took them safely over the water and left them straight forward pitches into the green. Once again our partners demonstrated how easy this game can be if you choose the right strategy!


The green is comparatively small and again well contoured making this a very satisfying hole. Take the risk of hitting a long accurate drive and an easy par or better is yours. Play safe and a par or easy bogey awaits. Brilliant design!



Azata Golf Hole 13

Stroke Index 12 Par 3 White Tees 159m Yellow Tees 144m Blue Tees 344m Red Tees 316m


A par three that runs sharply down hill. Nothing is in your way, just a big inviting green! I love the par 3’s here at Azata Golf. They have all been outstanding holes. No hidden traps, all with big greens – they have all been first class!


The greens on the back nine feel different to those on the front. They are all excellent, perfectly manicured, fast and true. Putt your ball on your chosen line and that’s where it goes, not even the slightest wobble! To me, it feels like the greens on the back nine are more curvaceous. Maybe it’s just my perception. I am a fragile putter at best, but the greens on the back nine have proved a greater test for me than the front nine.


I managed to hang on the left edge of the green. The pin is on the right. I can clearly see the break – it is huge. Sadly I lacked the courage to hit the ball on the correct line and my long range putt presented zero threat to the hole as did my putt for par! I walked back to the buggy , disconsolate at my ineptitude, poked myself in the eye and was ready for the next!


Azata Golf Hole 14

Stroke Index 16 Par 4 White Tees 290m Yellow Tees 282m Blue Tees 257m Red Tees 231m


Playing slightly downhill from the tee this is a real chance to grab a shot back from the golf course.


The cart path runs on the right side, beyond the cart path is a steep bank rising above you serving to keep your ball in play. On the left run some attractive semi detached townhouses which present no threat to your tee shot. The best strategy here is to get your drive as close to the green as possible to give yourself the easiest possible chip and putt!


JW hit a cracker at the pin coming to rest with only 50m to go. I pulled mine to the left of the green. As we drove towards the green a lake came into view silently and menacingly inhabiting the left flank of the green about 40 yards left of the putting surface. A wave of dismay was swept away when I saw my faithful old Taylormade glinting at me from the deep lush second cut of rough just a few metres from the water. I had 35m pitch to get back to the green. Sadly the lush rough caught me by surprise and it took me two attempts to get there.


Unless you hit it badly off line as I did, then there is no risk in this risk / reward equation. Take this chance to grab a shot back from the course – you deserve it!


Azata Golf Hole 15

Stroke Index 8 Par 3 White Tees 119m Yellow Tees 117m Blue Tees 109m Red Tees 94m

What a corker. It might only be little, but this par three is loaded with character. A lake guarding the front and left make this appear to be an island green. Outstanding! Everyone likes an island green!


In fact there is room on the right to bail out for the agua-phobic. An artfully constructed green does not offer many flat spots, therefore you need to hit it close to be sure of par or better.



Azata Golf Hole 16

Stroke Index 6 Par 5 White Tees 490m Yellow Tees 472m Blue Tees 381m Red Tees 350m


A good drive is required here. Out of bounds runs along the right side of the hole alarmingly close to the fairway. The lake and housing are present on the left. A large tree is visible on the left half of the fairway marking the inside of the dogleg elbow. This is the best line, it allows your drive to cut a little off the corner of the dogleg and takes away the danger on the right and the possibility of driving through dog leg and running out of fairway.


With a successful drive your second shot brings some options.


The gentle ascent up the hill to the green is verging on the narrow. Not the swathes of room on either side that instill me with confidence. The bamboo and densely vegetated river bed are marked with red stakes on the right. On the left runs the cart path and a gentle bank which might help keep you on the desired path. If you are not reliably straight with your fairway woods then a good plan might be to hit a couple 5 irons and plot a safe journey to the green.


With nothing to lose except for another ball I felt that having a lash with my 3 wood would build some character. It went straight! From my vantage point it looked as though it was on the front edge, in fact it was 40m short. In retrospect there was no advantage gained by me taking a high risk shot to a green that was simply out of range for me.


A bunker guards the front left, reducing the opening to the green to 15m before the red stakes on the right. The hazard runs around to the back of the green.

Beyond the front bunker there are a series of swales and hollows which offer safe haven for approach shots wary of missing to the right. Again the green is an exquisite artwork making 2 putts a satisfying result. This is a superb hole.


Azata Golf Hole 17

Stroke Index 14 Par 4 White Tees 314m Yellow Tees 276m Blue Tees 247m Red Tees 214m


A short par four made vastly longer by the acute incline of the fairway towards the green. Out of bounds reside on the left of the tee box for the first 100m or so of the hole before opening up to an adjacent fairway. On the right of the fairway a steep bank towers above helpfully marshalling errant drives back toward the fairway.


The left rough is densely planted with young trees. Finding this rough is not going to make the hole any easier! Just ask JW! A miserable drive in to this left rough followed by an inglorious 5 wood left him pin high in the swales and hollows left of the green.

I hit a cracker! On the right half of the fairway I found myself in a perfect position with 80m to the green.. Because of the elevation that short distance required and 8 iron meaning that the hole plays 60m longer than the score card suggests!

Stunning views reward you as you climb to the green. Truly a wonderful display of all the good things that Andalucia has to offer!


Azata Golf Hole 18

Stroke Index 4 Par 5 White Tees 542m Yellow Tees 486m Blue Tees 411m Red Tees 373m


The final hole. They saved the monster for the last! From the back tees it is hard to imagine even Bryson tackling this in 2 blows!


The drive is challenging. Initially running downhill from the tee, the climb to the green begins with the fairway. Any tee shots hit significantly to the left will be consumed by the same lakes that dominate the early holes on this nine. There is plenty of room on the right side of the fairway.


Ahead and to the right for the tee you can see the San Miguel pumps glinting in the clubhouse bar, to the right of that is the driving range protected by score card saving nets preventing sliced drives from becoming practise balls!


As you reach your drive you will appreciate the severity of the slope rising to the green. It is significant. Keep your second shot as far right as possible. The fairway looks vast from your vantage point addressing your second shot. it is not. Just over the crest of the hill on the left is that lake again reducing the fairway width by half. Any second shots tugged to the left may find a watery fate, beware.


I hit a cracking drive and striped a 3 wood. I barely made it past the end of the lake and still had an 8 iron to reach the green! There is no point in Quixotic heroism. This is not a hole that can be dominated. This hole dominates you. It will take 3 good shots to find the dance floor and a further 2 good putts to secure your par.


I cannot think of many par fives more robust than this one. A great way to strain the sinew and test the nerves. An outstanding finishing hole!


Summary


The greens are fast, the putting surface in excellent shape. With a curvaceous profile and a tight cut these greens are the equal of any of the prestigious golf courses on the Costa del Sol. The fairways and tee boxes are superb playing surfaces and inspire confidence. Closely cropped and well presented. The bunkers have dense sand and are consistently well filled making them most pleasing to play from.


Many of the fairways are tree lined. Currently these trees are young. In a year or two as they mature they will give each hole an avenue feel and will tighten up the course significantly, making it one the most beautiful courses of its type on the Costa del Sol.


Pleasingly on most of the holes the trouble is located to either side of the target and not directly in front. This means that those players hitting long irons and hybrids into the greens will not be endlessly punished. A refreshingly sensible and fair design feature. Azata is not intended to be the ultimate test for touring professionals, it is designed to be fun for us, the social and recreational golfers looking for happy times in the great outdoors pursuing our love of the world’s most frustrating game!


Agustin Alonso is an experienced and respected Golf facility director here on the Costa del Sol. At Azata Golf, Agustin and his team have a well designed practice facility that is the best in the area and they have a clear plan to serve the golfing community in and around Estepona and all of its golfing visitors.

The future is bright for Azata Golf.


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