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Villa Padierna Golf Club – The Alferini Course Challenge Match

Updated: Feb 25

Two years ago, just before the Covid virus wreaked havoc upon us all JW and I had a cracking 4 ball match around the Villa Padierna Flamingos course. One of our opponents on that day was my old friend and regular visitor to the Costa del Sol, Nicholas Brouseau. A Canadian diplomat from Quebec. Nico is an avid golfer with a good competitive spirit.

Two years elapsed and finally Nico was able to return for another tough match. “‘Ow is your golf big boy?” he asked. “Covid has been tough on you. I can see that the fridge has provided you with comfort in these difficult times”. Nico is clearly on form.

The setting for today’s challenge match is the peerless Alferini Course at Villa Padierna Golf Club. A monster of 7300 yards (6641m) with ribbon like fairways set in the most inspiring landscape, this golf course is revered by all who play it.

The French Connection

Nico needed a partner. An experienced golfer of high standard who could channel the inner Nico and unleash that talent on this great golf course. There was only one contender, our long time contributor and all round good fellow, Frank Spies.

Villa Padierna Alferini Golf Course Andalusia Costa del Sol Spain

Nico is currently based in Brussels. Frank a native of Belgium and well known professional golfer based at Cala Nova here on the Costa del Sol, is the perfect man to get the very best out of Brousseau!

We entered negotiations of wager and handicap with noble spirit and a sense of fairplay. The french speakers on the opposing buggy would have none of it! “There is nothing to negotiate! It is very simple! Your ‘andicap is your ‘andicap that is all you are getting” Frank was still sore having been turned over in our previous match at San Roque Old Course. “Nico is our guest therefore he must ‘ave 4 courtesy strokes giving him 22 in total”. As you might expect from the Bruxellois the negotiations finished very much in their favour giving JW and I a modest 3 shots and 1 shot each. Frankie and I played from the back tees with JW and Nico playing from the white boxes.

The bet is on, the prize today at the expense of the losers is the bar tab, which will be a significant number of exquisitely presented artisanal Belgian Pilsners served in the fabulous setting of the Villa Padierna Golf Club. This has the makings of a classic international sporting event The Franko-Phones vs The Brits, Caribou vs Rostbif!

Book your tee time at the Alferini Course


Park underneath the Hotel, for green fee guests the first 5 hours of parking are complimentary.

The pro Shop and Caddy Master are accessible from the car park. Check in is easy, a large service area sits centrally in the Pro Shop. Smiling helpful staff will greet you, give you buggy keys and make sure you have all that you need to get the best out of the day ahead.

Villa Padierna Alferini Golf Course Andalusia Costa del Sol Spain

The Roman Villa themed pro shop is a very attractive place to be and very well

stocked with clothing.

Adjacent to the first tee of the Flamingos course is the clubhouse and a good chance to grab a coffee on this fresh February morning.


  1. Clubhouse

  2. Pro Shop

  3. Driving Range

  4. Buggies

  5. Changing Rooms

  6. Showers

  7. Lockers

  8. Club Hire

  9. Halfway House

  10. On Course Refreshments

Alferini Course

Designer: Antonio Garcia Garrido

Opened: 2007

Alferini Course Par 73 Gold Tees 6648m White Tees 6217m Blue Tees 5841m Red Tees 5239m

Alferini Course Front 9 Holes

Alferini Course Hole 1

Par 4 Stroke Index 5 Gold Tees 332m White Tees 308m Blue Tees 288m Red Tees 274m

From the Hoyo 55 Clubhouse Bar and Restaurant we mount the brand new buggies and drive up the hill towards the first. The significant ballast in our buggy enabled the Gauls to win the first contest of the day- the race to the tee box.

Frank has had the pleasure of playing the Alferini course many times in professional events and sportingly is acting as our group caddie today offering generous advice on line and club.

His 3 iron tee shot bi-sected the fairway on a bearing just to the left of the fairway bunker on the right side of the fairway. “And that gentlemen is the perfect line” he informed us while picking up his tee. My nervous spasm-like movement which I call a swing managed to promote my golf ball somewhat up the fairway along with a good chunk of the first tee. Happy not to have blocked it into the huge ravine on the right I watched with schadenfreude as Nico waggled his 4 wood in preparation to drive the ball. I could see no outcome on this first tee for Nico other than the ravine on the right or the mountain on the left.

The man from the frozen north confounded me! His 4 wood was perfect and landed level with the bunker on the centerline of the fairway with no more than 120m to the safety of the green. And he has a shot. Serves me right!

JW, as always, smoked a five wood up the middle leaving himself a similar shot to Nico.

All four of us found the green in regulation. The secret to this second shot is not to be mesmerised by the tiny opening to the green or the horrendous methods of ruining your score card that abound all around, but instead focus on the lush, vast tableau of the main body of the green just beyond.

A four net three saw the bond grow strong between the Canuck and Walloon as they walked toward the second tee 1 up.

Alferini Course Hole 2

Par4 Stroke Index 1 Gold Tees 375m White Tees 359m Blue Tees 349m Red Tees 329m

Frank was agitated on the tee. “This ‘ole is brutal” he warned us. “The tee shot is very important. You need to aim to the right ‘alf of the fairway the ball will run down. Don’t go too far or you will find the ravine at the far end of the fairway. You ‘ave to carry at least 160m from the tee to carry the ravine where it crosses the front of the fairway. Go left – ravine. Go right – trees, And then, even if you are still alive after the tee shot the second shot is even ‘arder!”

Needless to say Frank left me quaking as he once again dispatched his 3 iron with ease into the perfect position. This time I had a lash with a 3 wood and blocked it horrendously to the right, a helpful pine tree nudged it back to the first cut of rough high on the undesirable right edge of the fairway.

From the White boxes the visual spectacle proved too much for Nico as he was even further off line than mine, again the helpful foliage saved him. JW with firm resolve belted another laser 5 on the tiger line following cusp of the fairway and ravine coming to rest the farthest edge of the fairway just 30cm from disaster and with by far the shortest shot into the green.

Nico with 2 shots was faced with an impossible task. Option 1, the unthinkable, was to chip the ball 70m to leave it short of the ravine and 150m to the green high above him, or Option 2, take the biggest weapon from his arsenal, in this case a 4 wood and set about it like a matinee swashbuckler.

Despite a fair impression of Errol Flynn the swashbuckling failed and his shot plopped miserably into the ravine just 80m ahead of him.

John’s countenance immediately brightened.

Another out of sorts swing from me saw my ball reach the front bunker, which frankly was the best I could hope for. The shots into the green from anywhere on this fairway are tough. The green is 20m above you. Red stakes on the right , mountain on the left, bunkers guard the front face and left flank. The plateau green is the only safe haven.

Frank hit a glorious fairway wood at the left edge of the green, the safest way to the putting surface. It caught the bluff face just before the putting surface causing the ball to immediately arrest its progress and drop into the front left bunker.

JW faced with the shortest shot into the green still required a 5 iron to cater for the steep inclination. Quite simply he was unable to flight it high enough to clear the crest of the bunker and he joined me in the copious frontal trap.

Nico managed to find the dance floor with his 4th stroke and endured three more before the ball finally found darkness. JW, Frank and I all managed to salvage bogeys, which actually felt like a bonus, our shot on this stroke one beast put us back to all square.

Alferini Course Hole 3

Par 3 Stroke Index 17 Gold Tees 224m White Tees 183m Blue Tees 167m Red Tees 116m

From each tee box the story the hole tells you is a vision of almost certain cock-up in your immediate future. It is this ability to induce fear that has created Alferini’s reputation as a fearsome track. I have fallen into that trap.

A terrifying par 3 of outstanding beauty runs gently downhill to the green. The last few meters are elevated as it reaches the green. The hole is dominated by the ravine which crosses in front of the green 30m short of the putting surface. With almost no bailout areas other than the steep banking between the ravine and the dance floor this hole invoked in me a feeling of hopelessness!

JW came to consult on clubbing. “Ignore all the trouble” he said. Take enough club to reach the center of the green.” The green was huge. He was right, ignore the trouble, focus on my desired result, play for the center of the huge green and maybe I will be OK!

Frank hit a glorious looking 3 iron five meters left of the flag which with Hoganesque grace worked its way back to the pin. With bated breath I watched his ball descend. It looked so pretty I was sure it was going in! It came up 10m short in the banking between ravine and green .

Back to my golf bag I went to pull my 2 iron. With no confidence I addressed the ball wondering where it might go. This golf course is good. It does that to you.

When faced with a demanding shot I tend to hit a predictable flat hook over the boundary fence and far away. Today I excelled myself. The biggest hook in recent memory! It flew further left than it went forwards. JW would have to take care of business on his own.

180m from the forward tees JW hit a little fade to 3m of the cup our rejoicing was short lived. Nico popped his to within 1m and with a shot! His subsequent birdie reinstated their lead.

Alferini Course Hole 4

Par 5 Stroke Index 9 Gold Tees 486m White Tees 447m Blue Tees 418m Red Tees 358m

This is a good looking par five demanding courage from the tee. The ravine runs from the left crossing to the right at 180m. Frank warned us that anything blocked right of the fairway will be forever lost in the depths of that primordial chasm that has haunted us on every hole so far.

Left of the cart path is a line of trees and an adjoining fairway and tee box, the 16th, nothing terminal. The best line to take is on the 200m marker which from the tee is visible at the point where the cart path disappears from view on the left.

Frank, on a mission to make us pay for the beer, splits another fairway in two. Finally feeling a little less over awed by this magnificent golf course I found a rhythm and tempo and produced one of my finer pokes.

The white tees have a forty meter advantage but offer an identical challenge. Such is the thought that has gone onto the design. I overheard Frank offering Nico motivational words, no doubt recanting the victorious french invasion at the 1066 Battle of Hastings. Nico pumped one off to the right crossing the line of red stakes using up his shot. My old mate JW rattled a long raking drive up the center again. The advantage was ours after the tee shots.

Our drives did not travel as far as we had hoped. The gentle incline from the tee box makes the hole play longer than it looks.

Having consulted with JW we decide that it’s worth having a crack at it with the second shot. The fairway does not tighten at any point. provided that horrendous hooks or shocking slices can be avoided there is no downside to having a tilt at it.

With 270m to go I had no real hope of getting up, but if I could get within 50m then I would fancy my chances of a birdie. I topped it and only made it halfway to the green!

Frank’s second shot was a cracker which left him with a chip and putt for birdie.

JW’s drive was 20m ahead of us. With 240m to go he had a chance of reaching in 2! ”Don’t go right Johnny boy or your ball will spend eternity in that damned ravine” I whispered inaudibly not wishing to suggest negative thoughts to my partner. Straight and true was the theme of the prayer I uttered in John’s name. Straight and true he delivered. Topped, straight and true. The advantage immediately handed back to team Caribou!

The hole got worse for JW and I as we hacked our way to the green both making totally unnecessary bogies handing Frankie a win with a par. Nico, exhausted after having many many shots along this seemingly straightforward par 5 lavished praise upon his partner as they increased their lead to 2 holes.

Alferini Course Hole 5

Par 4 Stroke Index 7 Gold Tees 361m White Tees 336m Blue Tees 318m Red Tees 298m

The valley wall running along the left flank of this hole has a magnetic effect upon me. The fairway is generous, and if that alluring out of bounds were not present I would have no qualms about finding it. However, Alferini is a golf course that uses its layout and terrain to intimidate, which it does very well.

Frank pulled out his driver. “The second shot here is tricky”, he told us. “It is an elevated green and is hard to get at. The best line is on the left side of the fairway.Its not great to be on the right. A lot of rough to carry and it is uphill all the way!”

Initially running downhill from the tee, this slight dog leg turns slightly to the right and climbs steeply towards the green. The elevation makes the indicated 361m feel more like 400m.

A pair of mis-hit drives from Frank and I have left our drives on the right half of the fairway which has made our second shots far more complex than they needed to be. The boys have a 50m advantage from the Golden Globes to the white tees, although the challenge remains the same. A superb strike from Nico has split the fairways asunder. Never have I seen such a warm smile from Frank!

JW strode onto the tee box, two holes adrift, this is John at his most dangerous, he is a real battler from behind. Right on cue JW launched a drive aggressively up the left half of the fairway into the perfect spot. Outstanding! Take that my friends!

At 361m it is not such a long hole, but as we reach our drives it is clear that we still have a long way to go to reach the green, this is the effect of the incline.

Both Frank and I sit in the first cut of rough in a depression that in the old days we would have called a grass bunker. We are exactly at the apex of the dogleg on the inside elbow with 160m to go which due to the incline plays like 180m. Our line to the green takes over the rough and raised apron which must be carried in order to reach the green.

Franks 6 iron finished short and right. The mistake here is to leave it short, so I took far more club than I needed. With my focus on the quality of the strike and the back of the green I find the center of the clubface and my ball gracefully arcs towards the flag leaving me a birdie putt!

Nico’s drive is far in the distance and he has a chance to dominate the hole. Sadly for him the moment proved too much and he duffed a simple shot into the green. Silence emanates from the Gallic buggy as they ride towards the green.

We are high on the 5th green and we can see the rich vegetation spread over the valley walls around us, above, the immense sky of iridescent sapphire.

Nico has 70m pitch in and makes a great success stopping 3m from the pin and suddenly looking good to save his par, which would be a disaster for us! Frank is the boy we fear. He has a nasty habit of chipping in from the edge of the green. Our fear was well judged, the boy from Brussels stiffed it for a gimme par. Bugger!

Juanito has an unfortunate lay in the bunker. Classic technique allowed him to splash out to within 4m and a chance to save par.

A complex green of plateaus and swales. From above the cup I had a difficult putt which I misread dreadfully and missed the cup by 2m. Seconds later I missed the cup again for a bogey!! JW, having played a magnificent bunker shot, has some kind of seizure over his par putt and knocks it an awfully long way past the hole, three putts for him too.

Nico had an evil downhill putt to win the hole from 3m. Frank looked tense and soothed the nervous Canadian with some positive reinforcement in one of the many languages at their disposal.Nico did not buckle and trundled his par putt to within a few centimetres of the cup and took the French Connection to 3 up!

Alferini Course Hole 6

Par 4 Stroke Index 15 Gold Tees 407m White Tees 365m Blue Tees 342m Red Tees 323m

A downhill par four of just over 400 m with the valley wall looming on the left feels like the least intimidating drive of the day so far! Frank has the honor. Again. A brace of unattractive pushes into the adjoining fairway on the right was the best that Frank and I could muster from the back tees.

Nico, buoyed with confidence and gelling extraordinarily well with Frank, takes his place on the tee brimming full of confidence and smashes another monster drive miles down the fairway. These guys are giving us a beating! JW knows in his heart that we can win this and matches Nico with a belting tee shot of his own.

Both Nico and JW have hit monsters each with about 120m into the green. By taking the wrong line from the tee Frank and I have elected to make life much more difficult for ourselves. I take my golf bag off the buggy and walk from JWs ball in the optimum position back to mine on the far right in the sand. I discovered my ball in the face of the bunker, there is no club in my golf club that will propel my ball to the green. I need 2kg of TNT. With a mighty heave I advanced the ball 30m closer to the green still behind my partner’s tee shot. Frank found a better spot than me and he from a similar dreadful position came up a few metres short of the putting surface, outstanding golf! I missed the green again, I am having a real stinker today, and with that revelation I elected to retire from further endeavour on this hole. JW from 120m hit the extreme left of the green whilst Nico, who has found form today placed his second shot in the center of green.

Another big green to go at, bunkers at the back, front centre and left. Over the back and the terrain falls away to the next tee. This is a good hole, plenty of room from the tee, just don’t be intimidated by the disaster shot, in this case missing the fairway on the left. The secret is to acknowledge the no go area, not to get defensive and have the confidence to play for the right part of the fairway. This is a truly masterful design.

JW from the extreme left lagged his birdie close and made a solid par . A rare short game error from Frank saw him miss an easy up and down to record a bogey. Nico bashed his birdie putt with the aggressive swagger that made Palmer so great, although in this case it made Frank audibly wince as the putt roared past the hole and de-greened! With a par putt now double the length of his first putt the odds were not in Nico’s favour. A few putts later and a certain loss became a surprise win brings us back to 2 down.

Alferini Course Hole 7

Par 5 Stroke Index 11 Gold Tees 489m White Tees 477m Blue Tees 430m Red Tees 401m

Oh dear. All I can see from the tee is water. A vast lake sits in front of the back tees and runs up to the front and front right of the fairway. A statue of Julius Caesar marks the far end of the lake and the beginning of another which runs for a further 60m making the water irresistible to golf balls!

My drive here, again inspired by my fear of the water, was a semi topped drive that ran along the cart path on the left, up the valley wall out of bounds, down the valley wall back into play and finished in the left hand fairway bunker! I am ashamed to say that I was quite pleased with it.

Frank hit a cracker well past the bunker leaving himself a realistic chance to get on in 2 strokes.

From the forward tee JW’s drive left him in the right half of the fairway in good shape, Nico a little further right in the right hand bunker. At this point Frank is looking as though he might do some damage.

From the ideal drive between the 2 bunkers the hole narrows dangerously as it winds closer to the green. Out of bounds on the left and a line of pine trees on the right below which is the 14th fairway. So imposing is the view to the green that it makes you question the wisdom of attacking the green in two. So much so that from a perfect position Frank drew a mid iron and played a safe lay up.

Luckily for me from the bunker there was no other option than to just get it out. Which I barely managed! My dreadful hack out of the fairway bunker still left me 160m in the green.

John, from a good position hit what can kindly be called a “commercial” second shot. Rather scruffy, it did not trouble the center of the club face, but had enough energy to scamper decently towards the green. Nico once again with the longest drive, poised for greatness hit a horrible hook out of bounds. It bounced up the valley wall, ran back down and like my drive came back into play, he had 130m left for his third shot.

A bunker guards the front left, access to the front is open, a bunker sits about 60m short on the right side of the fairway, beyond the bunker is death. Behind the green is death. Left of the green is death. It became clear to me that I was in a lot of trouble as there were many

more ways of cocking it up than there were of finding the target based on my game at that point. My negative thoughts were rewarded with a chunked 6 iron and another retirement from battle. I did something useful and went to attend the flag.

The green is a huge oval shape, 40m wide and 50 m deep with a 3m apron surrounding it. The left and right flanks of the green are raised and the center depressed creating subtle contours everywhere but generally running towards the middle.

Nico hit a lovely iron from 130m and carried over the back edge of the green. JW and Frank were both on the green in three strokes. My poor old partner halved the hole, alone, in par.

Alferini Course Hole 8

Par 3 Stroke Index 13 Gold Tees 206m White Tees 173m Blue Tees 152m Red Tees 135m

This 8th hole is a humdinger! A large lake sits on the front of the green, the only way into the green is to fly it in from 206m!

There is a Plan B. You could elect to lay up short of the water and have a 60m pitch across the lake into the pin. If I elected for Plan B I would have difficulty looking at myself in the mirror each morning!

Frank hit the prettiest golf shot I have witnessed in a long time, a high cut 3 wood that settled like a sore footed butterfly just 2m right of the pin. My own 3 wood showed none of that grace and in my now typical aversion to the “no go” zone was blocked wildly 60m to the right of the green close to the rest rooms. Poor John.

Nico, inspired by his Belgian buddy, replicated Frank’s tee shot! “Vous êtes le meilleur partenaire de tous les temps” enthused Frankie, “It’s that voodoo that you do to me” espoused Nicholas both were clearly in the throes of a passionate bro-mance! Someone pass me a bucket!!

JW with Churchillian resolve simply refused to accept seemingly inevitable defeat on this demonic hole and manufactured a 5 wood so pure that it too threatened the flag. If only he had a partner!

Disconsolate in my ineptitude, I grabbed a wedge from my bag and trudged towards my ball far far from the green. I saw the irony in that my tee shot, fittingly, had finished next to the toilet. I chopped out of the horrendous lie I found myself in and watched as my ball raced across the green, bounced, rattled the flag and vanished down the hole like Alice searching for Wonderland! A birdie! Finally I made a contribution!

With great generosity Frank congratulated me on a fine shot, with great diplomacy Nico suggested that it might have gone some way past had it not struck the flag and John said “Thank !!!! for that!”

Utterly shattered Asterix and Obelix could not summon the putting Gods and were unable to save the hole. The gap closed to 1 hole, we are back in the game!

Alferini Course Hole 9

Par 4 Stroke Index 3 Gold Tees 390m White Tees 371m Blue Tees 348m Red Tees 331m

It’s amazing how a stroke of luck can change things.

A challenging tee shot from the back tees does not faze me. I am back in business! The clear no go area in on the left, out of bounds, a buffer on the right in the shape of the 10th fairway tempts you towards the lesser of two evils. The ideal line is on the left half of the fairway. A big one, more than 240m is required to get past the narrow part of the fairway.

My honor from the back tees. A striped drive on the right half of the fairway sets the bar for Frank to follow. Frank had briefed us that the ideal drive is long enough to leave a lofted iron into this well protected green. Anything short will fall into the lake that guards the approach. A straight hole made challenging by the demands of the second shot.

Now that the game is getting tighter the concentration has become sterner and four great drives from four great combatants are the result on the ninth hole.

There is always something special about France vs England. Usually the French batter the Brits at the Stade de France at this time of year during the 6 Nations Championship Rugby. Today the plucky Brits are determined to defeat Le Blue to give our boys in the Lions shirts a little encouragement.

JW’s drive has left him 175m into the green allowing for elevation, no mean feat. He has an option to lay up short and left. A great 5 wood left him on the extreme left of the green.

Nicholas with 2 strokes faces the most demanding shot that he has faced today. At this point I had never seen Nico play so well, this could be the day where Nico figured out his game of golf!. Nico hit a glorious 7 wood to the left fringe of the green.

All I have to do is beat the boys, not the course! A two putt par net birdie and we are all square at the turn.

Frank has 150m . A miss hit fell short of the putting surface and hung in the rough grass on the bank between the lake and the green. I have 140m to go. Full of vim after my staggering birdie of a few minutes ago I hit a perfectly judged 6 iron and admired its flight as it flew close to the cup.

Nicos stubbed his putt for birdie from the fringe and required a further three putts to finish the hole with a 6 net par. From 3m above I made no effort to get the bird. This is match play, not stroke play.

Alferini Course Back 9 Holes

Alferini Course Hole 10

Par 4 Stroke Index 18 Gold Tees 343m White Tees 321m Blue Tees 301m Red Tees 286m

Great looking hole from the tee. Out of bounds left of the cart path. This danger area dominated my view and mental preparation for this tee shot. From the tee the green is tucked away on the extreme left of the hole adding more tension to the tee shot. The optimum line is on the right side of the green. Bunkers await on that right side for players like me who are too afraid to take the tiger line!

Frank’s tee shot looked good in the air, flying up the right edge with a hint of draw; its first bounce was a nasty affair a nasty skidding bounce deflecting it to the right. With luck he will be in the clear on the other fairway, without luck he is in the tree line. My own effort was more than passable, reasonably bashed down the right half of the fairway dicing with the bunkers. JW did not find his usual quality and hit a left to right slider. Nico hit a stone cold top barely making it past the ladies tee. None of us look in great shape after the tee shots.

The intelligent shot from the tee is to leave yourself 130m into the green, just before a pair of bunkers located on either side of the fairway form a narrow pinch. None of us have played the intelligent shot. We are all over the place!

JW and Frank are off the fairway on the right. I wound up in the right hand bunker of the fairway. None of us have played the intelligent shot. We are all over the place!

I can see from my vantage point that the green is twice as wide as it is deep and more than that even from 130m away I can see the undulating swales and hollows that form the fabric of the putting surface.

Bunkers guard the front right and left. Green terrain falls away to the right of the green making it important to find the middle of the green. Distance control is what this hole is testing, you can be 25m offline and still have a putt, but if your distance is wrong it is going to make you struggle. Cracking hole.

I made a total pig’s ear of my second shot from the fairway bunker and managed to leave myself 70m short of the green from where I pitched the ball to 2m and a decent chance of saving par.

After his topped tee shot Nico found an inner John Daly and belted his second shot to within 25m of the front edge! Frank from the other fairway sat next to his partner after two shots. Frank chipped first to give Nico a line and help Nico make good use of this shot. Frank fluffed it! Nico followed suit!! What is going on??!!

After an embarrassing 17 minutes of hacking we finally halved the hole in bogey! Stroke 18, apparently the easiest hole on the mighty Alferini course. It’s not easy if you play it like us!

We remain all square.

Alferini Course Hole 11

Par 4 Stroke index 6 Gold Tees 426m White Tees 391m Blue Tees 368m Red Tees 329m

Frank hit a cracking drive up the centerline of the fairway. I succumbed to the suggestion of danger on the left and pumped my drive to the right towards the bunkers. Amazingly my drive is in the fairway, just.

Nico flushed another monster tee shot on the perfect line heaping pressure on my dear old partner. I did not see JW’s ball flight, so I asked him where it went, “Do you really need to ask that?” came the reply. Clearly my man Walker is well up for giving the Frenchies another “Agincourt”!

Both Frank and I have 220m left for our second shots. That’s a big par 4! As the hole runs towards the green, the tree line on the right develops into thick barranca rising 13m or so above the adjoining fairway, equally as deadly as the out of bounds on the left!

I considered laying up with my second shot as my confidence and form were low. As I pulled my 7 iron I caught a glimpse of Frank and Nico grinning hugely. The inner Winston immediately ignited and 7 iron was swapped for 3 wood. I gave it an imperious lash complete with club twirl, all to no avail. My ball vanished at high speed deep into the boonies right of the fairway. Dangerously low on ammunition I am in danger of not having sufficient golf balls to finish the round. I must stop decorating the scenery with Taylormade TP5s! I elected to sit in the buggy for the rest of this hole.

After 2 shots Nico was 60m short of the target, JW about 30m and Frank reached this immense par 4 with his second shot, excellent ball striking from the Walloon.

John bladed his 30m pitch shot, his AVX last seen as it broke the sound barrier vanishing over the back of the green. We concede the hole!

Alferini Course Hole 12

Par 5 Stroke Index 16 Gold Tees 511m White Tees 490m Blue Tees 468m Red Tees 429m

Frank’s tee shot was perfect, bold, aggressive and perfectly executed just inside the bunkers that mark the inside elbow of the dogleg on the right side of the fairway. For once I had him matched. Nico blocked his drive to the right into the first cut of banked rough that separates the 12th and the 11th, he will need some climbing gear to get access to that one! JW fired another laser beam, Blackpool’s finest never lets us down.

Fate is a fickle mistress, and on this occasion she was unkind to JW. His drive came to rest so close to those bunkers guarding the corner of the dogleg that it necessitated one foot in the sand,his ball almost at waist height when addressing his second shot which scuttled across the fairway into bushes on the left. Bugger.

Frank, on the other hand, enjoyed a passionate embrace with lady luck, his drive bounced on the cart path close to those same bunkers and bounded a further 70m beyond the dog leg into the center of the fairway!

I have 233m to go. I selected that damned 3 wood again. Running fearfully low on golf balls I had a pretty good idea that this shot is not going to end well. It didn’t. I hit a hook so far to the left that it went further out of bounds than it moved forward. The Brits are falling apart, our prospects of victory receding with every stroke! Consecutive holes where both of us made a total cock of it!

Frank hit a 6 iron to the green centre and made an easy elegant birdie.

We are 2 down.

Alferini Course Hole 13

Par 5 Stroke Index 14 Gold Tees 467m White Tees 457m Blue Tees 438m Red Tees 389m

“Caribou, Caribou” chanted an ecstatic Belgian as Nico hit the drive of the day! After the tee shots the Franko Phones have a distinct advantage. Frank kept his on the fairway, JW and I each found a bunker on the right edge.

The green is tucked away on the right meaning that to get up in two strokes firstly you need to be on the left of the fairway to make the shot easier, from the right side you need to fly the ball over the entire length of the water hazard and carry the ball to the green. In my case that’s 244m from the sand, clearly not an option.

Nico from the center of the fairway with 240m to go is in the perfect location. Nico made a good choice and hit a six iron leaving him something short and sweet for his third.

Frank drew his 3 wood intent on having a go at the green. Brave. A glorious strike saw his ball come achingly close to the safe surface of the green. It did not quite make it and stayed 15m short in the first cut . Should be an easy up and down for back to back birdies.

I played a conservative 4 iron from the sand trap and left myself 100m which I knew I needed to convert simply to halve the hole against Frank’s certain birdie.

Poor Nico made a mess of his third shot having hit such a glorious drive. The disappointment and frustration is written upon his face. I feel for him! This golf course is beating us all up equally.

John and I made solid fives, Frank’s 3m birdie putt lipped out to earn us half. Lucky escape!

Alferini Course Hole 14

Par 3 Stroke Index 8 Gold Tees 179m White Tees 149m Blue Tees 133m Red Tees 117m

Let it be known that Frank Spies is a gentleman. In the heat of battle he called a cease fire as the beer cart came into view and manfully stepped forward to equip us all with a cold can of something golden, fizzy and lovely!

Having taken a moment to view the hole and the omnipresent danger I searched for the positives. It is a big green. That’s the only positive.

The green is 180m away. The lake is that same lake shared with the 7th over which Julius Caesar keeps watch. The only land access to the green is the cart path and a slender strip of grass adjoining it. Left of the cart path is marked with red stakes.

Frank, striking the ball so well today and full of confidence, saw nothing of the water, he could only see a scoring opportunity. His 3 iron was an exceptional shot covering the flag coming to rest on the heart of the green.

I need to hit a 4 iron. I must have hit thousands of 4 irons over the years. If I were hitting a 4 iron as a lay-up on a par 4 I would have no doubt about hitting it straight up the middle. This is just another 4 iron. The difference with this shot is my perception of the danger. Alferini has me scared! Paralysed with fear, I said a brief goodbye to one of the few remaining Taylormades in my possession and pulled the trigger. I was delighted with the result. It was only a little bit out of bounds.

From 30m further up the challenge is no less daunting. Both Nico and JW managed to find the green. A 6 iron was the club of choice for Nico which landed 1.5m from the pin. The shot of the day!! JW found the heart of the green leaving himself the longest of the three birdie putts.

JW and Frank carded easy pars. Nico went one better and scored a birdie net 1 to put us in terminal trouble. 3 down with 4 to play.

Alferini Course Hole 15

Par 4 Stroke Index 4 Gold Tees 355m White Tees 342m Blue Tees 317m Red Tees 305m

Frank hit another peach, So straight and true was his blow as to warrant a moment’s silence on the tee to fully appreciate it. I hit a scruffy 3 wood but managed to keep it in play. I have a shot here. This is my chance for redemption. If we can just manage a par here then we are still in the game!

This is a difficult tee shot with terrible trouble on both sides. Instant death on the right marked by out of bounds stakes on the steep valley on the left a thick line of trees.

Nico pumped 2 into the mountains on the right. Retirement is Nico’s best option on this hole. He has played outstandingly well and inflicted upon us much damage. Well played Nicholas!

JW has been stalwart off the tee today, and the drive on this hole was no exception, taking an aggressive line, he hit his driver just on the right of the distant bunker and will have something short into the green.

Both Frank and I have 150m for our second shots, the green is slightly above us on a plateau, a big bunker guards the front left, another on the front right, death and disaster on the left, a bail out area on the right. What a great hole! This closing stretch makes you feel as though you are hanging on by your fingertips!

Both Frank and I hit crappy irons. I finished short of the green, Frank scraped onto the front edge. JW hit a shocker too and scraped onto the front edge. A three putt bogey was a rare blemish on Frank’s scorecard but gave us a needed win.

Alferini Course Hole 16

Par 5 Stroke Index 10 Gold Tees 492m White Tees 470m Blue Tees 450m Red Tees 414m

The view from this tee is extraordinary, the hole looks impossible. Is there a fairway on this hole? Clearly I am a broken golfer. Disaster awaits along the left flank of the fairway. On the right the steep slope of the barren valley wall is also marked as a water hazard. From the vantage point of the tee box the fairway appears only a few paces across.Terror has me in its icy grip. I have only 2 balls left and face the real prospect that I may not have enough to finish this hole!

Frank offers calming counsel. “This is a difficult drive mon amis” No shit Sherlock I thought to myself. “The best line” he continued “ is on the fairway bunker set in the right side of the fairway. Hit it straight you ‘ave no problem, cut it a little and you ‘ave no problem. Whatever you do,do not go left. If it goes into the left hazard to have to drop your ball at the very beginning of the fairway”.

His comforting chat was not bringing much comfort.

“I will put mine on the bunker and just turn it over a little” he said. And he did!

“You can hit a little draw too, it is perfect here” said Frank cheerily, as cheerily as a man that is 2 up with 3 to play! He is right, I can hit a baby draw, a big draw, a fade, a push, I can hit any shape, thing is it happens randomly and never at the right time.

I set up for a little draw, chant positive affirmations to myself and bid my penultimate Taylormade a safe flight. This time the random shot generator gave me a pull to the left which cut back to the fairway. Frank was impressed, he thought I meant it!

A 25m advantage to the white tees, JW smashed his driver on the perfect line directly at that bunker. Nico, like me, has developed a confidence issue since his glorious birdie a few holes ago. He peppered the hillside on the right with his drive and will take a penalty drop from the point where it crossed the red stakes. Nico’s tank may be running on empty!

Once we reach the fairway the perspective changes, from the tee it was pencil slim, from the fairway it is 30m wide which whilst not a rolling prairie is more than generous. The fairway is canted from the high side on the right to the low side on the left. I have 240m to reach the green, not worth an attempt. I select my 2 iron and hit a decent shot leaving me 80m . I can get up and down from there. Maybe!

Frank’s 3 wood is sublime today, his second shot perfectly struck left him 30m to the green. His eagle chip came agonisingly close, the birdie just a tap in and the match closed.

Frank brought the best out of Nico today around a golf course that is rightly considered amongst the most difficult on the Costa del Sol. It was a great win for the boys from Bruxelles.

John played some lovely golf. Today his handicap was a 1.86m, 95kg lump of ballast – me! I allowed myself to become totally intimidated by this fantastic golf course.

The Villa Padierna Golf Club’s Alferini course is amazing. I want to play here again and again! This has been a golfing experience that I will remember with fondness for a long time to come. I enjoyed every moment! This is golf at its most exhilarating!


This golf course talks to you. It’s rather like reading a Stephen King novel. As long as you remain calm and logical you are not scared. The moment it gets into your imagination is when the fear grips you. This golf course is an epic test of technique and strategy, but more than that it can ignite within you a far greater battle of beating your own inner demons!

Most golf courses have one or two holes that frighten the bejeezus out of you from the tee. The Alferini course has 18 such holes! You have to find the resolve to look beyond that first impression and Alferini will whisper to you exactly how to successfully navigate your way round.

A masterpiece of design and layout, the Villa Padierna Golf Club is stellar with the Alferini course most definitely the star of the show.

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