Discover Costa del Golf’s Top Clubs,Aloha Golf Club, RCG Guadalmina

- golf

From Malaga to Gibraltar a myriad of superb golf clubs and courses dot the landscape from seaside links to the Sierra Blanca’s shadows over undulating terrain with breathtaking vistas. Two of the oldest are  the popular Aloha Golf Club located in the “Golf Valley” and  nearby Real Club de Golf Guadalmina stretching inland  from the shores of Mediterraean with its 36 holes yielding challenges galore. The “Golf Valley” is famed throughout Europe for its exceptional concentration of select, challenging golf courses in this heart of the Costa del Golf.

Aloha Golf Club, Nueva Andalucia

6325 meters, Par-72. Nestled near to Marbella, Aloha Golf Club was designed by Spain’s famed architect Javier Arana – designer of  Barcelona’s  Championship***** El Prat and Valencia’s renown El Saler layout. Unfortunately, this was Arana’s last work before his death in 1975. Aloha’s Par-3 course was added several years later by Enrique Canales.

Opened in 1975 with a kick-off by the Royal Andalusian Golf Federation, the Club was initially managed by Banco de Bilbao. Ricard Katz, an early Club President, Enrique Canales, Jose Luis Mangas, Gareth George were appointed Honorary Members for their extraordinary  services. Golf Professionals  popular famed Miquel Angel Jimenez and Diego Borrego are also Honorary Members.

In 1983 the property development was terminated adjacent to the golf course. 1500 shares were issued for  1200 villa owners; the remainder distributed to members of the Club. In 1986  Jose Maria Ibarrondo was elected the first President of the Club. Currently Mr. Rafael Fontán Zubizarreta is Aloha’s President  serving since his first election in 2010.

The Club  became “members only” instilling an open, international ambiance making it a second home for many   members. The warm welcome with guests, visitors is appreciated, as are their tips for scoring on Aloha’s testing greens. Very cosmopolitan with over 25 nationalities as members, the Club has always welcomed a variety of guests from Malaysia’s King to England’s Prince Edward and Holland’s Prince Klaus plus many global golfing stars. An active Bridge Club, Health Club, excellent practice facilities, and spacious  locker facilities, plus a top pro-shop are available. Aloha’s prize givings are popular, fun—with complimentary wine and tapas. Members and their guests rave, not only about the course and its great maintenance but the hospitality, relaxed ambiance.

The restaurant with its amazing terrace welcome all day plus elegant evening dining with international culinary selections. An outstanding cave is adored by the many members who are wine aficionados. Live music highlights  Friday evenings for all to enjoy. Guests may dine; verify with a reservation as Aloha GC is very social with lots of events for its members. Numerous charity events are also part of Club life.

Welcoming selected  DP World Tour events plus numerous Amateur and Ladies European Tour events has kept Aloha Golf Club at a pinnacle since 1978’s first Spanish Amateur Championship. Followed by Opens of Andalucia with winners – UK’s Lee Westwood (course record 64),  France’s Thomas Levet,  and Julien Quesne  for the men  followed. Ladies European Spanish Open was successful in 2016 with Spain’s star from  nearby San Pedro,  Azahara Munoz triumph to the delight of all the fans.  In 2019 the LET’s Spanish Open returned with Holland’s Anne van Damm claiming victory.

The course…6325 m, par-72 challenges from the first tee.  A long par-5 with trees, water on the left,  Aloha’s first hole is named after Miguel Angel Jimenez – very appropriate, a testing slight left dog leg from an elevated tee. Attack with a drive left center avoiding the trees, to  be able go for green and set up a birdie  hopefully. The main charitable event – Miguel Angel Jimenez Pro-am Memorial Andres Jimenez is outstanding annually.  The 2nd from an elevated tee needs to avoid water short on the right; beware as some trees can block the flag if too far left. The 6th is long; avoid the bunkers defending the dogleg. The 10th “Javier Arana “  kicks off the return which I felt was more testing of the two nines. The difficult 12th is memorable. Obelix – the  par-3 17th

181 m demands precision—left off tee is usually best depending on the wind.  Many golfers vote Aloha’s 18th as the Costa’s best finishing hole … great choices to be made – uphill too! Bravo, Javier a wonderful play. Tapas and the 19th hole await at Aloha’s sunny terrace and restaurant. Can’t wait to tee it up again…and enjoy the 19th  too.

Real Golf Club de Guadalmina

Campo Sur Par-72, 6081 m, Campo Norde, Par-72, 5600 m. Verdant undulating farm land was  discovered from his yacht –  “Serva La Bari” – by Norberto Goizueta. It  became agriculture land until he decided to build one of the first  golf courses on the coast near San Pedro. “Sur’s” first nine holes were done by owner Goizueta replacing the corn and wheat crops.  Opened in 1959, “Sur” designed by Javier Arana. The “Campo Norte” was completed in 1989  by Folco Nardi who was in residence on the estate as well as the great par-3 course  which opened later.  Additional facilities like driving range, chipping and short game areas were included and expanded over the years  including  “Aza’s Corner”.  Today Guadalmina offers ***** facilities for learning, training of players at all handicaps.  

Guadalmina is a history of a family and a golf club too. In 2008 HH. King Juan Carlos I granted the Title of Real. With nearly  2000 members the Club transitioned to a Members Club in 2021.  Spanish members are the majority, plus over 20 nationalities create a warm, family atmosphere. Charitable endeavors of the Club encourage this ambiance as well as attracting young families for growth and sporting success. Successfully hosting several European Tour Ladies Spanish Opens, Sur is a must play. Champions include in 2017, Spain’s friendly, personable Azahara Munoz (-19) from San Pedro  delighting all. In 2020 the season ending event again witnessed very in-form Dane  Emily Pedersen  win her fifth start in twelve events and her third in a row!

RCG Guadalmina offers top club services and activities…Tennis, Paddle, Croquet,  Gym with extensive facilities, swimming pool, Pro-shop, club storage, restaurants and attractive locker room amenities.  Their Croquet course is specially qualified to standards. The private members dining on the expansive upper terraces  with adjacent bar  delights with a great ambiance and views. The chef’s culinary creativity and  offerings enchant both members and guests. Annually RCG Guadalmina has an active social calendar for its  members – lots of activities and special soirees—delightful themes, ambiance for all as  several members enthused. General Manager Ignacio Del Cuvillo Cano assures one’s welcome, satisfaction from the courses, and contributes to Guadalmina’s top hospitality, management.

The Courses….

“Sur” – South consists of two different designs which are quite special. Historically,  the first hole – par-3 had no turf, only tee and green in front of the famed  Guadalmina Hotel on its opening. Another delight was the  unique par-6 hole which was called “Tipperary”. Played twice in early years the course delighted all…a par-74!

In 1965 the Goizueta family brought Arana back to design on the northern slopes of the estate another nine holes.  For this new project Goizueta sent  Arana his plan for  new holes to form a circle, allowing space for housing in and out of the circumference. Also, this terrain was rougher reducing Arana’s  choice of routings.  In February 1962, Arana laid out the nine new holes. Arana visited the course twice to put finishing touches on mounds, level out greens, and place sand traps; by March 1963, the course was complete and ready for sowing, despite delays caused by rainfall.  Goizueta’s requirement for a circular configuration added  steep gradients across the course; Arana integrated intelligently these to this layout.  Residential  developments were added.  Arana’s  design trademark -par-3 17th hole – was sacrificed like the par-6 reduced to a par-5 with these additions.  The 18-hole layout was a success and became a  top play on the Costa del Golf! “Sur” had a remodel in 2002.

Teeing it up on Sur, Andalucía’s second oldest course, many think its too testing, best for experienced golfers. The  1st demands a great downhill drive on this relatively flat terrain compared with Norte. Sur’s 11th hole is the most photographic on the entire Costa del Golf…Fairways  are guarded by trees and bunkers, and water in some areas.  Additionally, bunkers green side make it  a championship layout as evidenced by numerous events hosted.  One must select to  play the correct tees (5 sets) to score and enjoy. Undulating greens test one’s putting feel. The inward nine is more uphill moving away from the Mediterranean; it also requires precise irons. Breezy conditions test too on  windy days. Beware of   the pond on the 13th. The  15th‘s bunker gobbles up short shots to the green. The 16th tests…don’t miss the 19th – cheers !

Norte is shorter, hillier than  Sur with  more water hazards to catch wayward shots. Precision off the tee is  easier to wider fairways than Sur,  but center fairway is key to avoid not only rough but water. In 2002 some retouches were done to refresh both courses, tees, etc.;  The course starts in front of the Club House and returns  too; very popular with players wishing to do only nine holes. The  parkland design has  the Arroyo del Choppo influencing its layout  from holes 8 to the return’s 16,17,18.  Greens are more level in general; adjacent housing is a huge hazard with out-of- bounds. The par-5’s test with a variety of challenges. Great for walkers as the course is relatively flat and returns to the Club House.

Costa del Golf offers a variety of housing  and a myriad of sports, leisure activities and entertainment, spas, restaurants, beaches and nightlife. Golfers can profit  with a variety of short and medium term rentals in Puerto Banus,  Marbella, San Pedro  surrounding the “Golf Valley” – apartment  complexes and homes – from various real estate agencies rental operations  Panorama, Gilmar, etc. who know the market well; avoid unfortunate experiences with Gabriela Recalde’s Reality for La Alcazaba apartment rental – sanitary issues, poor service, booking changes,  etc. unfortunate as Alcazaba is attractive .  Golfers enjoy  San Pedro’s Dona Catalina Hotel – warm welcome, plus roof sun deck in charming San Pedro with restaurants and bars galore – a top three-star option,

More courses and clubs will be covered from the “Golf Valley”, Mijas’  special golf offerings and delights, plus Estepona and Sotogrande’s challenges and discoveries to tempt all golfers…Beaucoup de Birdies et “Hasta la vista” !

Photo Susanne Kemper

Susanne Kemper

Susanne Kemper has covered the US PGA Tour’s West Coast swing and key events, DP European Tour’s events, Ryder Cup since Valderrama, WCG, British Open, US Open, plus South African, Latin American, and Australian Major tournaments for 20+ years and numerous LPGA, LET and Solheim Cups.