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  • Writer's pictureGolf on Costa del Sol

Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course

Updated: Feb 26

San Roque is a prestigious name in golf, not just on the Costa del Sol but globally.

Comprising two courses, this venue is steeped in golf culture. The Old Course designed  by Dave Thomas and built in 1990 is currently being refurbished. New fairways, greens, irrigation, drainage , driving range, pro shop and clubhouse are all under construction and on schedule  to open in December 2020. When the renovations are complete the San Roque Club will be a resort that is the envy of Europe.


Today we are playing the New course, designed by Perry Dye and opened in 2002.

Great names and events have graced The San Roque Club. Seve Ballesteros was the club chairman, Tony Jacklin the club Professional. The Open de Espana was played here a couple of times and the San Roque Club was home to the European Ryder team during the historic matches at Valderrama.


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

With a premium on precision rather than brute force this course has broken the hearts of many tournament professionals over the years and equally been the scene of great jubilation. There is no need for it to break our hearts, we only play for fun and for the challenge of beating our friends or building a good score.

The San Roque golf club allows visiting golfers the chance to walk in these great footprints and face the same challenges. This is what makes the San Roque Club such a great experience and why it contributes so much to the fabric of golf on the Costa del Sol.


Located close to Marbella, Estepona, San Pedro and Gibraltar this premium golf course on Costa del Sol will bring you a great deal of pleasure.


Location



Set in the exclusive Sotogrande Golf region of the Costa del Sol the San Roque Club is easily reached from Gibraltar (15 minutes) and 1 hour from Malaga Airport.

Ideally situated for golfers based in Sotogrande, Estepona, Marbella and Jerez de la Frontera.

Clubhouse and Facilities

The Clubhouse, changing facilities, practise facilities and restaurants are all being totally refurbished and will reopen in December 2020 along with the much awaiting Old Course.


San Roque Golf – The New Course – First nine holes.


Hole 1 Par 4 Stroke Index 13 White Tees 408m Yellow Tees 365m Blue Tees 322m Red Tees 302m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

We are on the first tee of the new course at San Roque. Today John and I are playing from the Yellow tee boxes. The first is a par 4 stroke 1 365 meters. I cannot see the green, but what I can see ahead of me is a fairway rising away from the tee. There is a fairway bunker on the left 60m or so up the fairway ready to catch those of us suffering from 1st Tee Nerves!


More fairway bunkers await on the left side of the fairway at about 180m. Cork trees stand sentinel along the length of the fairway on both sides. It gives the impression of being a narrow fairway and has truly focussed my mind on my first swing of the day!


John, as usual hit a low draw up the middle, whereas, intimidated by the trees, my ball described a banana shape as it clattered amongst the cork. My ball was easy to find and due to the spacing between the trees I was able to make a swing. The problem that you will face if you miss a fairway here is not having a bad lie – there are no bad lies here, but that the canopies of the cork trees mean you will need to fabricate a low and often shaped recovery shot.


Unless you have a short game like the former club President, Seve Ballesteros, then venturing off fairway is likely to cost you a shot. Now is a good time to point out that this course has hosted the world’s best players competing in the Spanish Open and the European Tour Qualifying School. This course will test every aspect of your game.


From the fairway John has an elementary wedge shot into the green. The peanut shaped green is bunkered front right and also centre back. It is a small target putting the emphasis on distance control.


A notice in the pro shop informed us that the greens are running at 9.7 on the Stimpmeter today. John’s birdie putt was downhill from the back of the green, clearly he did not notice the sign as he will require a Taxi to help get the ball back to the hole with his return putt!


Hole 2 Par 5 Stroke Index 15 White Tees 483m Yellow Tees 473m Blue Tees 454m Red tees 418m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

Number two is a Par 5, we’re playing at 473 meters with a stroke index of 15 from elevated tees.


A great-looking hole it gives a tremendous feeling of space and openness. The line to take with the tee shot is the furthermost fairway bunker on the left. The fairway runs from left to right so if you hit the right line you will finish in the middle of the fairway. There is a complex of fairway bunkers on the right which will catch errant shots. The fairways are textured with swales and hollows which look wonderful, reminiscent of a links course, perhaps a nod from Seve to his Open Championship wins.


As you contemplate your second shot you will see pot bunkers dotted along both sides of the fairway beckoning you. There are two cork trees in the fairway, one on either side which add a further challenge. I have 230m remaining for my 2nd shot. My 3 wood would get me there, but the green is a small target and the density of bunkers leads me to rethink. I aim at the left hand cork tree on the side of the fairway and hit something straight leaving myself 85m for my approach. From this distance you have no hazards between you and the hole. It feels like a relief! It is a small green not at all easy to hit even with a small edge shot!


The green is sculpted and runs discreetly in all directions. With a 3m birdie putt missed I walk towards the next tee with a bogey!


Hole 3 Par 4 Stroke Index 9 White Tees 339m Yellow Tees 316m Blue Tees 289m Red Tees 271m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

A Par 4, 316m with a Stroke Index of 9. Playing downhill from the tee through an avenue of cork trees this hole is very pleasant to the eye. Fabulous views across the valley and on to the backdrop of mountains do not deflect your attention from the decision you have to make. There is a wide landing area about 180m up the fairway, or do you hit the driver and hope to keep it straight as the fairway narrows to a pinch point where a complex of bunkers eat into both sides of the fairway?


The second shot points you at a narrow but very long green, at least 50m long and maybe only 10m wide with the signature pot bunkers on either side.

Hole 4 Par 3 Stroke Index 7 White Tees 177m Yellow Tees 164m Blue Tees 144m Red Tees 112m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

A Par 3 of 164m from the yellow tees. This might be considered the signature hole for this San Roque Club New Course as it has a very special place dedicated to a very special person. Severiano Ballesteros has a special tee box built here from which he would play this hole. Just as you might imagine Seve’s tee box is further back and tucked behind a line of trees which means that you need to hit a high draw of around 200m to find this green!


Left of the green and over the back are dense bush and ,marked as a lateral water hazard. Between the left of the green and the hazard is a set of terraced bunkers which look amazing from the tee. There are a couple of pot bunkers on the right of the green. There is no bailout area. You need to find the green! It is a very large putting surface so the task is not hopeless!


A Beautiful green welcomes you. Bunkers at the back are a problem, do not miss the green long, don’t miss it left, you can miss it right but even that isn’t great.


Fantastically good Par 3. Thankfully all of the rough is marked with red stakes which means a ball in the deep rough can be dropped out sideways for a penalty. This is a good idea, otherwise this hole has the power to break your spirit!


Hole 5 Par 4 Stroke Index 17 White Tees 347m Yellow Tees 334m Blue Tees 307m Red Tees 283m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

The fifth is a Par 4 of 334m and Stroke Index 17, considered one of the easier holes on the course/. Let’s see…


We are playing directly towards the sea in the background which makes the hole very pretty. The green is straight ahead of you, both sides of the fairway are gently banked making the fairway a bowl shape which is going to help keep your ball in play.


Hit a good straight drive and you will have a short shot into the green. I managed to hit a cracker and find myself just short of a fairway bunker which runs about 70m up to the front of the green.


John is in the left half of the fairway with 110m left to the green. He is blocked by the canopies of the cork trees that sit in the left hand rough. Quite by accident I found the best line from the tee – right half of the fairway as close to the fairway bunker as you can get!


The very long hitters might find themselves reaching that fairway bunker, but that’s not a disaster. It’s a flat bunker and it’s comparatively easy shot in.

Missing left or over the back are exceedingly bad ideas – don’t do it! The right side of the green is a good place to miss, you will find a large grass bunker which still demands a lofted shot to escape but does not have a further punishment of playing from a shifting surface. An act of kindness from the architect towards the club golfer!


6th Hole Par 4 Stroke Index 5 White Tees 331m Yellow Tees 316m Blue tees 284m Red Tees 257m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

Par 4, 316m from the Yellow tee’s, Stroke Index 5.


We have another beautiful view across “Millionaires Row” of villas. What a beautiful place to wake up in the morning!


The hole is flat, straight and heavily bunkered – everywhere! From the tee I can see just 2 stripes of fairway! The best line is at the left side of the green, give it a good bash and see what happens!


As I walk up the fairway I can see that there is more room up here than is apparent from the tee. Dense thickets of cork trees line the right and left side of the fairway before you reach the first of the fairway bunkers. If you find the cork trees you will be able to make a swing, the trees are not tightly packed, but you will have to manufacture a shot that keeps below the canopies and also bends back towards the green.


Both John and I found the fairway and have short wedges on to the green. The very long hitters could reach this green, there is no penalty for having a go, the fairway does not get any harder to find as you progress to the green, the bunkers are everywhere, you have as much chance of finding a bunker no matter what strategy you adopt! Just be aware of the consequences – if you miss the fairway you are likely to make a bogey.


There is a little room over the back of the green and to left, missing on the right will leave you the most difficult scramble to save par


Hole 7 Par 5 Stroke Index 1 White Tees 524m Yellow Tees 513m Blue Tees 479m Red Tees 432m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

Whilst this Par 5 looks narrow from the tee it is reachable in 2 strokes at 513m for the big hitting and youthful!


The fairway forms a saddle shape with raised rough on both sides which help to channel your ball back on to the short grass. The best line to take is the roof of the villa you can see in the background, right up the centre line of the fairway. Length is more important than straight here – the terrain will help to keep it straight. Stand tall, relax the shoulders and deliver a mighty blow to the back of the ball!

The green is protected by a lake with a natural stone wall on the left, to the right of the green and about 60m short are 3 more treacherous pot bunkers.


With the water making such an inviting target only the most confident golfers would take on this green with the second shot. For most of us the obvious lay up is to play short of the pot bunkers leaving your preferred wedge distance into the green and have a putt for birdie.


The green is large which is a great help for those having a tilt at it with their 2nd shot, the entrance very narrow. It’s up to you to balance the risk and reward!


Hole 8 Par 3 Stroke Index 11 White Tees 206m Yellow Tees 188m Blue Tees 161m Red Tees 132m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

Par 3, 188m from the yellow tee’s, 206m from the back tees. Running from the left side of the tee all the way to the green is an enormous bunker. My only thought is “How on earth am I going to stay out of it!” This bunker dominates the hole, you have to play over the entire length of the bunker to reach the putting surface, what a tremendous par 3!


You can bail out to the right if the sand is too much to contemplate leaving a chip and putt for par. There is no way around it, you will need to find an outstanding shot to hit this green.


It is a very large green which means if you are hitting a 3 wood into the green you have enough room for the ball to stop.


There are more pot bunkers pin high on the left and also on the right and desperate trouble over the back. This Par 3 will test your ability to manage adversity! Great hole!


Hole 9 Par 4 Stroke Index 3 White Tees 395m Yellow Tees 372m Blue Tees 359m Red Tees 326m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

A Par 4 of 372m. Just ahead of us on the tee at around 20m out there is a ditch populated by trees, bushes and all manner of fauna that crosses the fairway. It does not come into play, but in conjunction with the dense corks trees on the left and right of the fairway the framing effect makes the tee shot feel more difficult. I cannot see the green, so I elect to pick a line up the middle of the fairway, make my best swing and see what happens.


My drive clipped the Corks on the right and dropped into the rough, my ball is sitting on one of the many mogul types hillocks which are abundant here adding a little more complexity to my next shot. Looking towards the green the sight is spectacular, this is the most challenging hole so far in my opinion. On the left of the green is water. On the front left on the corner of the lake is a bunker. Right of the green are bunkers set amongst the swales and rolls. More sand awaits at the back of the green. The front of the green is protected by two grassy knolls which will randomly deflect any shot that connects with them. In the midst of this defensive armoury sits a large green. It dares you to gird your mental strength and take on the challenge and unleash your inner Seve! Yet for almost all of us club golfers those defenses will prove too effective.


This is a defining hole. Many great players have been faced with exactly this shot during the course of The Spanish Open or European Tour Q School or one of the many elite events that are regularly played here. From my position under the cork trees I fought valiantly, visiting a greenside bunker and then the lake before gracefully accepting I salvaged a 6!


Hole 10 Par 4 Stroke Index 16 White Tees 341m Yellow Tees 318m Blue Tees 297m Red Tees 267m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

There is a short buggy drive to the 10th tee along the route complementary water is provided. It’s 33 degrees centigrade today, the cool water is most welcome. As I stand on the 10th tee the golf course has a different feel, it’s like starting afresh. The view is very special, looking across the valley to the mountain range on the horizon which today is shimmering in the heat haze.


The hole runs downhill from the tee with an enormous bunker that encroaches almost all the way across the fairway from the right.


The safe drive is to hit whichever club gives you 220m, keep to the left of the fairway. If you execute your tee shot well then your reward is an elementary wedge shot into the green giving a chance for birdie. A gentle start to the back nine holes!


Hole 11 Par 5 Stroke Index 2 White Tees 565m Yellow Tees 515m Blue Tees 481m Red Tees 439m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

This 550m Par 5 again offers terrific views across the valley. From the tee I can see the green but not the fairway! Seventy to eighty metres ahead of me are bunkers on the left and right which clearly do not come into play from these tees.


Because I can’t see the fairway the hole feels narrow. I hit my drive on line with a radio mast that is visible on the distant hillside. As the fairway reveals itself to us it creates images of the rolling fairways that you might expect at Scottish seaside courses like Carnoustie or Troon, a canvass of swales, hollows, peaks and troughs.. Wonderful!


Both John and I were in the fairway with our drives. The fairway ascends a gentle slope to the green. I can see a large greenside bunker on the left and a fairway bunker on the right side which is about 80 metres short of the green and a smaller greenside bunker on the front right of the green.


I hit a 3 wood second shot and found the apron of the green on the right. John was less fortunate. His ball was consumed by the large bunker on the left of the green. Only upon arriving at the bunker did we discover that it is about 3m (10 feet) deep! John’s 2nd shot had run close to the colossal face leaving him with a very demanding bunker shot.


Outstanding hole! Perfect balance of risk and reward. If you take on the green with your second shot you have a fair chance of success and a birdie, but, if you do not execute it well enough the hole will exact a punishment upon you! The safe option is to layup short of the right hand fairway bunker and leave yourself a 100 or so with your 3rd shot.


Hole 12 Par 4 Stroke Index 18 White Tees 312m Yellow Tees 279m Blue Tees 252m red Tees 215m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

This is very inviting. From the Yellow tee it’s a 279 metre Par 4. There is a pot bunker right in the middle of the fairway not far from the green. On the right edge of the fairway and for most of its length is an enormous bunker, 20m wide and 100m long. If you miss the bunker on the right you are out of bounds.


The fairway has dips and hollows all over it which makes the ball run unpredictably. John hit a cracking drive just short of the green and slightly right of the pot bunker. With an approach shot of 50m into this large green John picks up a comfortable birdie. This is a good hole, there are many ways to make a mess of it, the key here is to hit the right shot from the tee.


It is Stroke 18 and considered the easiest hole on the course. I think it plays harder than that. You are going to have to accept that from time to time you’re going to hit a great drive and it will take a harsh bounce off one of the little moguls. That’s golf. That’s how it defends itself.


Hole 13 Par 3 Stroke Index 14 White Tees 167m Yellow Tees 160m Blue Tees 137m Red Tees 113m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

Par 3, 160m, Stroke Index 14. From the tee looking down the hole I can see a bunker on the right running from the tee boxes all the way up to the right side of the green. A line of cork trees on the left of the fairway. Other than laying up short there is no bail out area. It strikes me that all the Par 3’s here are tough, this is no exception. You need to find the heart of the green with your tee shot.


Hole 14 Par 4 Stroke Index 4 White Tees 416m Yellow Tees 403m Blue Tees 367m Red Tees 335m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

The fairway is again set in a valley with banked rough rising either side. Very useful for keeping your tee shots straight!


The green is not visible from the tee. The line I chose for my tee shot was left of centre of the fairway, It is a generous hole in terms of width, makes it easy to swing freely with the driver.


We’re very high up here.The views give a sense of space and openness. It’s a very very pleasant place.


John’s drive went a little left and mine a little right, but thanks to the bowl shaped fairway we are both back in the middle ready to attack the green! Perhaps attacking the green is a bit hopeful, John has 190m to go, there is a lake on the right of green which begins behind the green and runs 100m up the right side of the fairway. On the left of the fairway are hillocks, swales and bunkers which combine to make this a most daunting shot! There are no greenside bunkers on the left which makes it the obvious bailout area, the grassy peaks and hollows are a nice feature and give the club golf some relief.


This is a small green which forces you to choose a shape when playing to it . Do you go for a high draw off the water, or take the safe option of aiming left and hoping for a gentle fade towards the putting surface? Another excellent hole.


Hole 15 Par 4 Stroke Index 8 White Tees 418m Yellow Tees 403m Blue Tees 358m Red Tees 335m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

Par 4, 418m from the back tees, we are playing it at 403m. Uphill slight dog leg to the left. From the tee I can see four pot bunkers on the left of the fairway, three on the right, For me the bunkers on the right are in driver range, the left side bunkers are not a threat. There is a prominent cork tree which appears right in the middle of the fairway on the horizon, that’s the line to take.


I hit a nice drive right online. The left side of the fairway is preferable to the right as are bunkers on the right which I did not see from the tee. Another 100m ahead on the right side on the corner of dogleg is a group of cork trees, if your drive is on the right side of the fairway you might find yourself having to shape your 2nd shot around those trees to reach the green.


The green is small making it a tough target to find, a greenside bunker adds to the challenge whilst the steep bank on the right might be a good bail out area. There are no hazards in front of the green which is handy as I topped my 7 iron second shot all along the ground coming to rest just off the right side of the green!


Hole 16 Par 5 Stroke Index 10 White Tees 457m Yellow Tees 433m Blue Tees 405m Red Tees 367m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

Another fantastic view across the valley. You’re looking at a very nice looking hotel complex set in the mountains in the distance. From the tee this looks like a very long and narrow Par 5, I can see bunkers and trees along the left side of the fairway. I can see a long bunker on the right which is obviously placed to grab errant 2nd shots. That very helpful saucer shaped fairway helps mitigate the view of the narrow fairway. Visually this is a good hole – you can see exactly what your task is.


This Par 5 is a birdie opportunity, it is reachable in 2 strokes. There is a pot bunker defending the front left of the green making you aim at the right half of the green with your second shot. If you choose to play it as a three shot hole then that too is straight forward, the widest part of the fairway is 120m short of the green making an obvious layup point.


The green is narrow, around the periphery of the green you have 5m of apron before the undulating terrain of rolling peaks and troughs comes into play giving you a little extra lateral room for your shot into the green. The green is very deep meaning that distance control is a premium if you want that birdie.


Hole 17 Par 3 Stroke Index 12 White Tees 197m Yellow Tees 166m Blue Tees 137m Red Tees 111m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

What a fabulous Par 3! 166m form the Yellow boxes Stroke Index 12.

From the tee I can see disaster awaiting me everywhere! The hole slopes down to a water hazard running across the fairway about 50m short of the putting surface before rising steeply to the green. A large bunker sits on the right of the fairway directly over the water hazard and runs to the front edge of the green. Two more large bunkers protect the right flank of the green while cork trees and bunkers protect the front left.


The green is a decent size, all you have to do is pull the right club out of your bag and execute one more good strike and none of the hazards will bother you. But, the thing is, as you stand on the tee it’s the hazards that grab as much of your attention as the green!


Anything that’s a little short is going to roll backwards. Consequently, you’ve got to fly the ball all the way to the green. The front pin is the most difficult to get to.


Hole 18 Par 4 stroke Index 6 White Tees 414m Yellow Tees 387m Blue Tees 332m Red tees 296m


Players Guide and Review of the San Roque Golf New Course Cadiz Andalusia Spain

387m, Stroke Index 6 , A long Par 4 to finish with. A blind tee shot will test you one last time! The fairway is clearly visible, banked rough on the right will help your ball back to the fairway, too far right and you are amongst cork trees. On the left in the distance a pair of fairway bunkers.


The line to take is just right of those fairway bunkers.


My drive was the best of the day! Exactly on line leaving an 8 iron on to the green. The green is small and difficult to hit. There is a large lake on the right of the green you don’t need to be far off line to find it! The left of the green is elevated by 1m above grassy swales forcing you to play a lob shot towards the water! This is another hole that becomes complicated only by the fear within the player!

The San Roque Club – what a marvellous experience!


Summary


This course demands total focus, To get the best out of yourself you need to immerse yourself into the game, to read and visualise how the swales and breaks are going to make your ball run. San Roque demands your full attention and rewards you in turn.


 A place of stunning beauty, as I stood on the 10th tee today the view took my breath. Looking across the valley to the mountain range on the horizon made ethereal by the shimmering heat haze. I enjoyed my round here enormously. You will too. I highly recommend it as a destination for golf holidays on the Costa del Sol. 


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