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  • Writer's pictureGolf on Costa del Sol

Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Review and Playing Guide

Updated: Feb 26

Whilst having a coffee with Francisco De Lancastre, the Head of Golf Operations at Finca Cortesin, he explained to me that “Finca Cortesin has a straightforward brief. We intend to deliver to each guest an outstanding experience, second to none.” From being welcomed in the car park as we arrived, clubs whisked away only to reappear on a buggy, to the cordial welcome from everyone we encountered it is clear to see that Francisco’s team are focussed on delivering.


Ranked by magazines such as Golf Digest as being amongst the very best courses in Spain, and endorsed by players like Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia as being a tremendous course with great facilities then you can be pretty certain that your day at Finca Cortesin Golf Club is going to be rather special!


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Review Andalusia Spain Costa del Sol

Located in Casares on the Costa del Sol, Finca Cortesin is close to Marbella and Sotogrande. Ideal for visitors taking golf holidays on the Costa del Sol.

The green fee rates are amongst the highest you will encounter on the Costa del Sol. The question I asked myself is “Does the experience justify the cost” The answer is an emphatic YES! On every level and in every respect my day at Finca Cortesin was fabulous. I urge you to try it for yourself.


Book Your Tee Time

Booking enquiries via email here – send an enquiry to “bookings@golfoncostadelsol.com”.


Location



Club de Golf Finca Cortesin,

Ctra. Casares s/n, km. 2,

29690 Casares,

Málaga

Facilities

  1. 5 Star Hotel and Spa

  2. Jack Nicklaus Academy

  3. Complimentary driving range and practice balls

  4. Trackman

  5. Short game area

  6. Complimentary fruit and water


Clubhouse

  1. 6 Eating venues

  2. Bar

  3. Snack and a la carte menus

  4. Changing rooms with showers and complimentary towels


Finca Cortesin – First Nine Holes

From the Black or White tees this is a monster of a golf course at 6735m from the Blacks and 6350m from the Whites. Today we are on the Yellow Tees, 5883m.


1st Hole

Par 4, Stroke Index 9 White Tees 395m Yellow Tees 374m Blue Tees 312m Red Tees 286m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Review Andalusia Spain Costa del Sol

Chatting to the starter as he very kindly topped our buggy up with fruit and water he told us that there are 120 bunkers on this course, and that they have a team of six greenkeepers dedicated only to maintaining the bunkers!


As we prepare to get started my feeling on the tee is of what a special day lies ahead.


Looking from the tee up the fairway I wonder if they have another word for “rough” here. The flora that surrounds the fairway is nothing short of beautiful. I don’t fancy trying to play out of it, but it is a pleasure on the senses!


You have a direct line at the green from the yellow tee. However discretion is the better part of valor in this case. Aiming directly at the green is going to take you perilously close to the out of bounds on the right. A more prudent line is on the furthermost fairway bunker on the left. The fairway is not narrow, but because the rough adjacent the fairway it does add a certain tension to the drive!


John has about 120m left into the green. A large bunker protects the front left of this plateau green. The right of the green has a bank from which a difficult chip on to a very fast green awaits, if you miss left you will be pitching up to the green some 2 metres.


The greens are considered to be the jewels of Finca Cortesin Golf Club. Subjectively it feels like they are running at about 11 on the stimpmeter today  with trueness you might otherwise find on a billiard table.


Hole 2

Par 3 Stroke Index 7 White Tees 197m Yellow Tees 173m Blue Tees 148m Red Tees 125m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Review Andalusia Spain Costa del Sol

With a large frontal bunker on the left and another bunker about midway up the green on the right you can see almost as much sand from the tee as you can grass! The front of the green is open and will allow a running shot access to the front right of the green.


From the tee you have a carry of around 100m to reach the fairway and a generous lay up area before the front left bunker.

The green has three distinct areas where they can place the pin, front right being the easiest. Remember to keep your tee shot below the hole, what you don’t want is a fast downhill putt!


Whilst chatting with Pepe, the gentleman who welcomed us on to the first tee he shared with us an anecdote from the years that Finca Cortesin Golf Club hosted the World Matchplay event. He told us that in the first year it was here all the Pro’s headed to Black tees to play their practice rounds. In year two 4 or 5 of them moved forward to the White tees and in the 3rd year here all of them played the practice rounds from the White tees!



Hole 3

Par 5, Stroke Index 3 White Tees 457m Yellow Tees 450m Blue Tees 435m Red Tees 408m

Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Review Andalusia Spain Costa del Sol

A dogleg left with a lateral water hazard running along the left of the hole. The water will not affect your drive. The best line is to aim at the two fairway bunkers on the right. This takes you into the widest part of the fairway. Directly opposite the bunkers is where the lake begins and runs the length of the hole and green too.


A decent drive can put you in range with your second shot. Not an easy shot though. That lake is hard to resist. There is also a huge bunker guarding the right of the green. My 2 iron found that bunker and presented me with a downhill bunker shot playing directly towards the water, a signature of the designer, Cabell Robinson!


A breath taking hole with a perfect trade off of risk and reward. After 3 holes I am smitten!


Hole 4

Par 4 Stroke Index 15 White Tees 299m Yellow Tees 256m Blue Tees 215m Red Tees 192m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Review Andalusia Spain Costa del Sol

This is another chance to attack. For the stout of heart the green is reachable from the tee. The risk of failure is high with a lake guarding the left of the hole and green. In fact you have to fly your drive over the full length of the lake if you choose to accept the challenge. The wide point of the fairway sits at around 190m leaving a short wedge into the flag. A bunker guards the right, but should not come into play.


If you are playing here with your pals then this is the perfect hole to allow a mulligan. You have to have a go at the green, just imagine the euphoria if you made it!


Hole 5

Par 5 Stroke Index 11 White Tees 516m Yellow Tees 462m Blue Tees 447m Red Tees 424m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Review Andalusia Spain Costa del Sol

We drove past the White tees enroute to the Yellows. I had a quick peek at the hole from the big boy’s tees. What a hole! It must be 200m of carry just to reach the fairway!


The valley between the tee boxes and fairway is filled with the most beautiful plantlife. The views across the mountains and then across the seas are inspiring. Somebody with a terrific vision chose an amazing place to build this golf course!

Take a line directly at the green. There is a fairway bunker on the right side and at the beginning of the fairway, another one at about 190m on the left. The best drives will pass this bunker and reach the widest part of the fairway. The fairway narrows as you get closer to the green. A 240m drive will give you a 3 wood into the green. However, be warned this is a very narrow green. The safe option might be to play a lay up shot to leave you with your favorite wedge in.


This is another spectacular hole. I am enjoying every moment of my time here, this is golf heaven!


The secret to getting the maximum pleasure out of this course is to select the tee box that suits your game. Obviously very few of us can match the professionals from the tee. But we can walk in their shoes if we select the tree box that leaves on parity with the next shot. If you find yourself playing your second shot more or less from the same distance as the touring professionals then you will be playing the course  making the same decisions that they do, playing some similar shots too. I know it’s fun sometimes to play off the Tiger tees, but Finca Cortesin Golf Club has so much more to offer, its thoughtful design allows you to make comparisons between elements of your game and the heroes of the sport we watch on TV.


Hole 6

Par 3 Stroke Index 13 White Tees 205m Yellow Tees 178m Blue Tees 151m Red Tees 122m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Estepona Marbella Cadiz Malaga Spain Costa del Sol Andalusia

Playing across a valley to a slightly raised green. The vegetation on the right is strikingly beautiful.


The entrance to the green is open. Bunkers cut into the embankment on the right will catch offline shots, a further bunker about mid green on the left adds to the demands upon your tee shot.


You have an option to lay up and hope for a chip and putt par. In order to find the flat part of the fairway you need to lay up about 60m short of the green. For me today it is a 5 iron to reach the heart of the green.. It is a big green. If you can flight your ball past the threats at the front of the green you make the hole a lot easier. The green runs uphill from front to back with a large Mackenzie-esque slope in the middle, a recurring theme in Cabell Robinson designs.


Finca Cortesin Golf Club is just a higher echelon in terms of warmth of hospitality service, attention to detail this is an extraordinarily positive experience.  The golf course is nothing less than breathtaking from the mountains to the views across the Mediterranean.


Hole 7

Par 4 Stroke Index 1 White Tees 429m Yellow Tees 409m Blue Tees 372m Red Tees 351m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Review Andalusia Spain Costa del Sol

A dogleg right to left.With bunkers along the right side of the fairway and another perfectly located in the elbow of the dog leg on the left. The wide point of the fairway comes before the corner of the dog leg but will leave you with a very long shot into the green. The courageous line is to aim directly at the left hand bunker and either carry it or shape the ball a little to the right.


The view from this fairway across the valleys and mountains lets you know that this is a big country. The AP7 road bridge, a four lane motorway, is visible set in the hill side and looks little more than a discarded ribbon.


Short of the fairway bunkers and you may have something like 200m for your second shot. If you carry the left hand bunkers that can reduce to 160m. This is the longest par 4 on the Costa del Sol. Most players will lay up with her second shot and chip and putt for par.


The right side of the green is bunkered, the left side open giving a big landing area for those long second shots. Missing on the left will leave you with a tricky downhill chip. This is a great hole, very tough but absolutely fair.


Hole 8

Par 5 Stroke Index 5 White Tees 513m Yellow Tees 486m Blue Tees 445m Red Tees 430m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Review Andalusia Spain Costa del Sol

The third par 5 on the front nine holes. This dog leg right looks formidable from the tee. There are bunkers everywhere along the left of the fairway and it’s narrow!. The next thing to catch my eye is alongside the cart path on the right, the vegetation, shrubs and bushes have been cut to form a sheer wall about 8 feet high – it looks like an impeccably presented tsunami of rough!


The fairway slopes from right to left. The best way of getting your ball into a decent position is to manufacture a left to right shape, the terrain will roll the ball back to the left, it is imperative to keep out of those fairway bunkers. To add to the complexity at 210m the fairway significantly tightens. For me at least the only option is to poke a 3 wood down the fairway and try desperately to cut it!


With that drive out of the way, by far the most technical so far, one would hope that the hole gets easier. No! The second shot needs the same thought and accuracy of the first! There is a complex of bunkers ranging from 90m short of the green to 150m all perfectly positioned to absorb lay up shots.


The right of the green is unprotected. Some kind of running shot towards the right half of the green will work as the terrain will roll your ball to the left towards the green centre.


Extremely difficult hole. There are many different ways of making a mess of it!


Hole 9

Par 4, Stroke Index 17 White Tees 322m Yellow Tees 311m Blue Tees 265m Red Tees 253m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Review Andalusia Spain Costa del Sol

Trouble off the tee if you go left. Firstly a complex of 4 fairway bunkers, and if you are further left than that you will be dropping out of the rough for a penalty! Whilst you are taking that penalty drop take a moment to soak in the most incredible view. This part of Spain is beautiful. Viewing from here accentuates what splendour surrounds you.


It is a well laid out hole, and it makes it very clear what it wants you to do. Hit it into the generous landing area. Today I hit a 2 iron and am left with 107m into a small green. Pretty straightforward. Missing the green is a bad idea, not an easy task to chip and putt.


After the previous hole this one feels very kind! I gladly take a par and move on!


Finca Cortesin Golf Course – Second Nine Holes


Hole 10

Par 3 Stroke Index 10 White Tees 203m Yellow Tees 172m Blue Tees 140m Red Tees 107m

Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Review Andalusia Spain Costa del Sol

This par 3 looks absolutely fabulous. You’re playing steeply downhill into the valley. The green is cut into the hillside. On the left of the green is a bank that rises three or four meters and gives you probably 20 meters of landing space. Short of the green is unguarded so if you can’t reach it you can lay up short.


The terrain runs from left to right and will coax your ball into a vast bunker on the right side of the green. From this bunker you have “the most difficult shot in golf” the dreaded 30m uphill bunker shot! If you miss the right hand bunker then you reach the shrubbery and so forth. If you are going to miss the green, miss it on the left!


It’s a big green, I estimate that there are 2 club differences from the front to the back of the green.


It’s a fabulous looking hole and again the scenery we’re looking across is just breathtaking. Absolutely. Breathtaking.


Hole 11

Par 5 Stroke Index 2 White Tees 548m Yellow Tees 510m Blue Tees 434m Red Tees 427m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Estepona Marbella Cadiz Malaga Spain Costa del Sol Andalusia

This is a tough hole playing 630 yards from the Black tees this double dog leg which presents a tremendous challenge even from the Yellow boxes.


The widest part of the fairway is 220m to 250m for the tee. Avoid the bunker on the left, that might turn this into a 4 shot hole to reach the green! Be aware that the fairway runs from left to right.


The next lay up point comes just before the big bunkers on the left leaving about 90m to the green. A long narrow green awaits you with 3 large bunkers defending its right flank!


I would say for most of us it is close to impossible to hit this green in 2, you will need to find 3 well planned and well executed shots to maximise your chances of par.


12th Hole

Par 3 Stroke Index 6 White Tees 202m Yellow Tees 163m Blue Tees 140m Red Tees 118m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Estepona Marbella Cadiz Malaga Spain Costa del Sol Andalusia

The view from the elevated tee is dominated by a huge green. This gives a lovely feeling of supreme confidence. I cannot imagine missing this beautiful manicured target, and indeed I don’t miss it, Dead on line and about 5m short.

The gleaming white bunkers that surround the green are not at all worrying such is the size of the target, in fact they serve to frame the green and present it to you in perfect relief!


Hole 13

Par 4 Stroke Index 16 White Tees 335m Yellow Tees 322m Blue Tees 274m Red Tees 243m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Estepona Marbella Cadiz Malaga Spain Costa del Sol Andalusia

Absolutely beautiful hole. The setting is superb. The generous fairway is inviting from the tee. There is a water hazard running along the left of the hole which crosses the fairway in front of the green about 70m short.


Swing freely with your driver, get yourself as far up the fairway as possible,  enjoy a long walk or ride and take the time to absorb the incredible surroundings! This hole has been so gently etched into the landscape that it looks like it has always been there. There is no question in my mind that Finca Cortesin Golf Club is the most immersive golf experience I have enjoyed. 


The fairway narrows a little at 230m just parallel with the fairway bunkers on the right. From here it is a comfortable wedge into the green. Greenside bunkers right and left and a bailout area short and left for those who need it.


Finca Cortesin Golf Club is a sublime fusion of design, architecture, agronomy and fastidious maintenance. No matter what your standard of golf you will appreciate this course for all of those things. To play well here the course asks you to play a technical game of golf, that is to be in control of your shots. Any bad shot will be punished. Equally any well played shot no matter if it is a drive from the Black tees of 320m or a hybrid from the Yellows into a Par 3, all well played shots are rewarded. This is a course where despite our lack of talent club golfers like you and I can think and navigate our way around.


Hole 14

Par 4 Stroke Index 14 White Tees 318m Yellow Tees 275m Blue Tees 235m Red Tees 221m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Estepona Marbella Cadiz Malaga Spain Costa del Sol Andalusia

From the tee the first thing I see is how many different ways I can make a mess of it. Breathe deep. Take a second look and you will see that this short Par 4 whilst reachable for the monsters amongst us does not need to be dominated in order to make your birdie. Decide how long you would like your wedge shot to be, hit whichever tee shot will give you that number.


There are 6 bunkers guarding the front of the green, clearly to dissuade the big hitters from taking it on. Three bunkers mid way up the fairway on the right add to the drama. With a little guile this is a good birdie hole!


Hole 15

Par 4 Stroke Index 4 White Tees 408m Yellow Tees 393m Blue Tees 342m Red Tees 339m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Estepona Marbella Cadiz Malaga Spain Costa del Sol Andalusia

As the holes go by I find myself in increasing awe of this golf course. From my perspective today, it feels like the golf course is building towards a golfing Nirvana. Each hole feels more spectacular than the last, each green more nuanced.


Rather like a Ferrari Finca Cortesin Golf Club delivers huge satisfaction to its patrons on different levels, it’s beautiful to look at, it makes you feel great when you drive it to the shops and if you have the talent of a Schumacher you will get the very best out of it.


This is another outstanding hole. A dog leg left requires 150m of carry to reach safety. The elevated tee gives the most incredible view over the valley to the fairway which rises towards the horizon.


The beginning of the fairway is guarded by a line of 5 bunkers. The first bunker is 150m from the tee, the furthest away 230m. You decide which one you can carry and hit your drive accordingly.


An uphill second shot which will play considerably longer than it looks will take you to a small, lightning fast green protected by another 5 bunkers. You have to carry the ball all the way to the green as the front bunkers will not allow a running ball to pass.


Hole 16

Par 4 Stroke Index 12 White Tees 381m Yellow Tees 373m Blue Tees 306m Red Tees 283m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Estepona Marbella Cadiz Malaga Spain Costa del Sol Andalusia

A slight dogleg right the main obstacle to avoid from the tee are a pair of fairway bunkers at the corner of the dog leg 210m from the tee. At the point where the bunkers converge the fairway is narrow. Your choice is to lay up short of the bunkers with your drive or hit the ball past them. The fairway widens immediately after the bunkers.


If you make it past the bunkers a mid or short iron second shot into the green is your reward. It is a narrow and long green. The pin is in the front right today, however I can see that they have a special place to tuck it away in the back left where it is protected by 2 frontal bunkers and another behind making it extremely hard to get close to.


If you miss the green on the right you have plenty of room but will have a difficult chip to deal with. Easy bogey, difficult par. Exactly how Cabell Robinson planned it!


Hole 17

Par 3 Stroke Index 18 White Tee 144m Yellow Tees 127m Blue Tees 112m Red Tees 109m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Estepona Marbella Cadiz Malaga Spain Costa del Sol Andalusia

The shortest hole on the course!


Sixty metres of brush to carry before you reach a wide fairway short of the green. The brush is not going to affect your tee shot, what is going to affect your tee shot is the landscape of bunkers that surround the front left of the green and the back left of the green. The front of the green is open whilst a large bunker defends greenside right.


It’s only a short iron, but it has to be right, and if the pin is tucked away i

n the top left of this kidney shaped green then you need the precision of a neurosurgeon!

This is a large contoured green. If you find yourself in the wrong part of the green with a downhill or side hill putt you are almost certainly doomed to three putt. In theory this is an easy par 3. In practice it can quickly become a bogey!


Hole 18

Par 5 Stroke Index 8 White Tees 479m Yellow Tees 450m Blue Tees 442m Red Tees 414m


Finca Cortesin Golf Club and Resort Estepona Marbella Cadiz Malaga Spain Costa del Sol Andalusia

This might be the finest hole on the golf course. A reachable par 5 that gives you a complex equation of risk and reward to consider. A brilliant matchplay hole that will produce many cliffhanger finishes for every four ball that plays it!


From the tee you are playing towards the most beautiful mountain, glowing a deep iron red it could be a Martian landscape. The fairway is wide like a prairie, I cannot imagine how to miss it. There are fairway bunkers on the left which are on the crest of the hill at 200m from the tee.


Widen your stance, make sure your shoes are tightly laced and blast the ball towards the mountain peak. A decent blow for the tee will put the green in range. This is where you have to start making decisions.


The green is small, a difficult target to hit from 200m+ with OOB on the left. There are 2 bunkers guarding the front entrance to the green diminishing the chances of a 3 wood or long iron threading their way through. Big bunkers on the left of the green forcing big hitters to bail out to the right if attacking the green.


For those laying up, a strategic bunker in the left half of the fairway blocking the frontal approach is eager for your company 80m short of the green. Don’t go in it, 80m out of sand into a tight green is not a good prospect! You will need to lay up 110m before the green which leaves a long ish approach into this narrow green.

A perfect finishing hole where anything from an eagle to a double bogey is on the menu!


Summary


My overall impression of the Finca Cortesin experience is one of extremely high quality, fantastic attention to detail and absolute professional hospitality.  This is an expensive golf course to play but you will be extremely well rewarded by the experience.  If you are planning a golf holiday to Marbella or anywhere along the Costa del Sol then this might be a highlight of your visit. 

Book Your Tee Time

Booking enquiries via email here – send an enquiry to “bookings@golfoncostadelsol.com”.


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