Best Golf Courses in the Costa del Sol | Golf World Top 100

The Costa del Sol has almost too many options for the traveling golfer, so Golf World Top 100 editor Chris Bertram guides you through the best courses Spain’s gold coast has to offer…

It is in the Costa del Sol that the concept of a golf holiday abroad for British golfers really took off.

The stretch of southern Spain was the early pioneer and from that game-changing start, nowhere else on the continent has such a vast portfolio for the traveling Briton to choose from, many of which feature in our rankings of Europe’s best courses.

It’s not known as the ‘Costa del Golf’ for nothing. Such a choice means difficult decisions though. There are 60 courses to choose from, so which are the best and which will suit your particular taste?

Finca Cortesin will host the 2023 Solheim Cup

Well, that’s where we come in. Here we present the first ranking ever devoted solely to the Costa del Sol. You will recognize the early names of course, but as you move through the list, we think we will throw some insight into the best places to play and therefore help you plan your next golf holiday in the Costa del Sol.

And if you want to plan a golf break that incorporates some of the country’s other courses, we’ve ranked the best golf courses in Spain and the best golf resorts in Spain.

Please do feedback on where you feel we’ve got things right and wrong. We’d love to hear from you via email, on TwitterFacebook or Instagram.

Best Golf Courses in the Costa del Sol

60. La Resina

This private club has nine very different holes mixing par 3s par4s in a prestigious residential development. With magnificent gardens and landscaping, it meanders through lakes and tropical gardens, smells incredible and is kept in impeccable condition.

59. El Higueral

Marbella Club’s picturesque nine-hole resort course is nestled on the slopes of the foothills in Benahavis. Well-presented greens and lakes.

58. De Noche

Nine-hole course built in 1991 and close to the party town of Puerto Banus. Lighting enables it to be played at dusk.

57. La Noria

A flat nine-hole course located in Cala de Mijas bay, between Fuengirola and Marbella. La Noria comprises four par 3s, four par 4s and a single par 5. Well-defended greens, including three lakes and a gully.

56. Casares Costa

A nine-hole course on flat terrain running through a valley, with a varied design and spectacular views. A variety of indigenous vegetation offers color and definition. Water features on a well-maintained course.

55. Lauro (19-27)

This loop might actually have two of 27-hole Lauro’s best tests. The 26th is arguably this club’s prettiest hole, a short par 3 with views across the Bay of Malaga to enjoy as you hit across a ravine to a green sandwiched between sand and vegetation.

The view on 26 is possibly surpassed on the next hole, on a downhill par 5 that is stroke one. Two lakes on the right make you think.

54. Villa Padierna (Tramores)

Tramores is ensconced in a lovely landscape between two valleys, with impressive views of the Mediterranean Sea. It is Villa Padierna’s third course and part of its Golf Academy. It’s short yet still entertaining and demands good shots.

53. Almenara (Lagos)

All three loops here are by British architect Dave Thomas. The Lagos loop naturally has some large lakes and moves through pine and cork trees. Its Pinos and Alcornoques combination are high (25th) on our list.

La Quinta C.

52. La Quinta (C)

The ‘other’ nine from La Quinta is arguably the most technical course at the resort. Strong players enjoy its shot-making qualities.

51. Baviera

This is terrific ‘holiday golf’ in Sierra de Almijara, east of Malaga. Designed by Jose Maria Canizares, Baviera’s valley setting offered the kind of interesting landscape that made it easy to create a variety of holes.

Best Golf Courses in the Costa del Sol: 50-41

50. Antequera

Designed by Jose Maria Canizares in 2003, Antequera stands at the base of the Natural Park of El Torcal de Antequera. Expect a demanding course in majestic surroundings of native vegetation, with olive trees, herbs and local plants. There are 10 lakes.

49. Los Arqueros

Los Arqueros is only 10 minutes from Marbella and was the first course in Spain to be designed by Seve.

It is situated among the mountains of the Serrania de Ronda mountain range and is regarded as forgiving.

As well as views of the sea and mountains, expect big greens, big bunkers and numerous water hazards.

48. Santa Clara

Santa Clara was opened in 2001 after being built by Enrique Canales Busquets, right next to Marbella G&CC. He set it down on typically undulating Andalusian terrain, interspersed with indigenous wildlife and vegetation. 

Highlights include a self-styled Amen Corner, from the 12th to 14th holes, offering a par 4, 3 and 5 combination.

47. Miraflores

Originally laid out by Robert Trent Jones Snr in 1990, Folco Nardi redesigned Miraflores just before he died.

It is set down among the rolling hills of Calahonda and offers a varied challenge as the routing tracks the natural contours of the valley and incorporates several water hazards. 

46. Anoreta

East of Marbella, Anoreta was designed with water to the fore by former Ryder Cup player Jose Maria Canizares in 1990. There are mature trees lining most of its fairways but they do not obscure the views of the Mediterranean.

45. Lauro (1-18)

Sits inland, north of Mijas and north-west of Torremolinos. Animals and birds populate the thousands of trees and 14 lakes on the course.

Designed by Folco Nardi, it is technically challenging without being too difficult.

44. Dona Julia

An Antonio Garrido design from 2005 with panoramic views of the mountains of Sierra Bermeja and Serrania de Ronda. It has bite, with mature trees at times make the playing corridors fairly narrow. The last is a super par 3 whose green is horseshoed by water.

43. Santa Maria

The initial nine holes here were designed by former Ryder Cup player Antonio Garrido, with a second nine added in 1996 using nous from within the club. In excellent condition, it has a characterful woodland feel and interesting holes.

42. La Duquesa

Designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr in 1986, La Duquesa sits south of Estepona and has nothing tricked up or overtly difficult.

It begins as it means to go on, a downhill drive from an elevated tee to a wide fairway to get you away feeling good about your game. In good condition and with several Mediterranean views.

Valle Romano.

41. Valle Romano

Valle Romano in Estepona is a Cabell Robinson that enjoys sea and mountain views and has been cleverly routed among the undulating, desert-like landscape that is typical of the area.

Holes are all given names of famous Spanish golfers and it starts with the classy 1st, ‘Alvaro Quiros’. ‘Seve’ winds things up at the last, a nice par 3 set into land sloping left to right.

Best Golf Courses in the Costa del Sol: 40-31

40. Atalaya (New)

This 36-hole complex’s Old opened in 1968 and the New followed in 1990, laid out by Paul Krings. While we have a few places between them in our ranking, there is not a huge amount to choose between them. 

The New is similar to the Old but faces inwards, towards the mountains, offering terrific panoramic views. Notably forgiving.

39. Estepona

Sits in the hills close to Finca Cortesin, Estepona opened in 1989 and was designed by Jose Luis Lopez Martinez.

It uses the natural hillsides well – as well as expertly framing the breathtaking views of the Sierra Bermeja mountain range and the Mediterranean. Notably wide fairways and large greens, while palms, eucalyptus and olive trees dot the landscape.

38. Villa Padierna (Flamingos)

Flamingos’ holes are all routed near the world-class hotel, and that includes the first par 3 – the super cute 4th. It has a spectacular 150ft drop in the style of Woburn’s 4th.

There are bunkers front-left of a big, flat green, which is snuggled among huge rocks and with residences above. It is this natural feel that characterizes the Flamingos, as well as the kind of rolling topography designers would kill for.

37. Cabopino

Located to the east of Marbella, just a few streets inland from the well-known, eponymous beach, Cabopino was designed to take advantage of its position facing the yachting marina and on to the Mediterranean. It winds among pine trees and native vegetation with a pleasingly tranquil feel. 

36. Guadalmina (North)

The South at Guadalmina was built in 1959 and features high in this ranking (21st), while the North was added in 1973, laid out by Folco Nardi. While it is the second course here in all respects, it still deserves a strong position.

35. Mijas (Olivos)

Robert Trent Jones Snr designed both courses at this celebrated club, Los Lagos opening in 1976 and Los Olivos following in 1984.

They are aptly named; Olivos is all about olive trees, with just one lake on it. Its greens are also smaller, with more movement in them, and well guarded by sand. It’s a strategic, plotter’s course.

34. Calanova

It’s a few miles inland but the views of the Mediterranean are still a feature, just as there are panoramas of the Mijas mountains on almost every hole.

Calanova is well-presented and enjoyably tranquil, with residential development only fleetingly in view. Expect a variety of holes on terrain that ranges from gently rippling to more significantly undulating. A real find.

Alcaidesa Heathland.

33. La Hacienda (Alcaidesa Heathland)

Dave Thomas designed the Heathland, which is a solid partner to Alcaidesa’s Links. It sprawls across generally open
land that has plenty of movement in it to provide natural entertainment that Thomas has exploited nicely.

The first third and final couple sit on higher ground, with views of the Mediterranean as holes roam over wide, undulating fairways. The valley section is punctuated by water hazards.

32. El Paraiso

This neighbor of Villa Padierna, Atalaya and Guadalmina was designed in 1973 by Gary Player, with input from respected American architect Ron Kirby. They laid it out to take advantage of the slope of a hill which runs down to the sea.

Expect well-groomed fairways cut through by streams, lined by palm trees and with an abundance of exotic fauna, including oleander, jacaranda and mimosa.

31. La Quinta (A&B)

La Quinta is a large Westin resort in ‘Golf Valley’, just off the AP7 motorway. It has three loops of nine, each designed by Ryder Cup player Manuel Pinero.

We think you’ll have the most fun on Course B (Yellow). It’s tricky and very quirky; little is flat here as the round progresses, either uphill, downhill or side to side. Course A is a bit more open and a nice complement.

Best Golf Courses in the Costa del Sol: 30-21

30. Marbella Club

This is a very high-caliber sports club in the hills of Benahavis, and the golf course is its prime offering.

Dave Thomas chiseled Marbella Club out of undulating land that is at times delightfully quirky and perfect for fun and interesting holes – including funky green complexes. 

Mature trees frame the holes, along with water features and a number of large, white-sand bunkers.

Villa Padierna.

29. Villa Padierna (Alferini)

One of the leading golf resorts in Europe, with 54 holes and a truly magnificent hotel. The Alferini is a modern course that is a good test with consistent holes – the lack of residences is also a real boon.

On the back nine, 14 is a true gem, the shortest par 3, and with water dominating the scene. Two holes later comes Michael Campbell’s favorite hole on the Costa del Sol, a right-to-left dog-legging fairway that narrows as you get closer to the green.

28. Alhaurin

Set inland, half an hour north of Fuengirola, but Alhaurin enjoys lovely views of the Mijas mountains as well as the Mediterranean and has a different atmosphere to lots of Costa venues.

Designed by Seve, we love the feel of this mountain course and the fact it asks you all kinds of questions as it journeys along its undulating topography among pine, oak, cypress and orange trees.

27. Guadalhorce

Unusually for southern Spain, this is a fairly private club. Guadalhorce sits is an ancient country estate dating back to the 16th century.

Finnish architect Kosti Kuronen laid out the course, close to Malaga airport, but it was redesigned in 2009 by Malaga’s favorite son, Miguel Angel Jimenez, himself a member here. It’s a course of consistency, class and fine conditioning.

26. Marbella G&CC

Located five minutes drive from the center of the famous town, yet Marbella has a feeling of tranquility. It’s also a proper test, with bunkers, rough, and several lakes requiring good shots and good course management to keep your scorecard tidy.

It sits on familiar rolling Andalucian topography, which helped Trent Jones Snr create a course of varied holes. Views of the Mediterranean, and a fine par 3, solid par 5, and cute par 4 finish off in varied fashion.

25. Torrequebrada

We have Torrequebrada in the top 25 of our Costa del Sol ranking, in front of some more widely lauded names. But we are certain we’ve got it right; this is a terrific and all too often underrated course.

This Benalmadena course was opened in 1976, its elevated tees and undulating fairways laid out by Pepe Gancedo. Expect large greens with plenty of movement in them and risk-reward holes around water hazards.

24. Almenara (Pinos & Alcornoques)

Almenara has recently been bought by new owners (who also own La Reserva) and they have undertaken a multi-million-pound redevelopment of the course and especially the accommodation.

The original course was created by British architect Dave Thomas, with the three nine-hole loops very evenly matched as they move through pine and cork trees, punctuated by deep bunkers and two large lakes.

23. La Canada

Opened in 1982 with nine holes by Dave Thomas and nine by Robert Trent Jones Snr, La Canada rubs shoulders with the great names of Sotogrande and does not suffer unflattering comparisons.

Here, the emphasis is firmly on fun and enjoyment. You can expect holes that don’t beat you up with their length but
also fast greens and mature trees to keep you honest. Oh, and it’s all played out with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea from its elevated fairways.

22. Atalaya (Old)

The Old at this 36-hole complex in the heart of Marbella’s golf hotspot opened in 1968 and was designed by the feted German architect Bernhard von Limburger.

Atalaya was established as a golf club rather than part of a real estate development, which gives it a different, pleasing feel in contrast to others in the area.

‘Limmy’ was a master of his craft and the celebrated architect left generous fairways for us all to hit here. 

21. Chaparral

This is a Pepe Gancedo design among lush native vegetation and pine forest with views of the Mediterranean, being at times barely 1km from the beach.

Enjoying a tranquil woodland location in the ‘Mijas Golf Valley’, Gancedo’s design has worked the landscape impressively.

There are lovely coastal views and a fine variety of holes in a six par 3s, six 4s and six 5s configuration.

Best Golf Courses in the Costa del Sol: 20-11

Rio Real.

20. Rio Real

Rio Real was designed by the legendary Javier Arana in one of the well-heeled areas of Marbella in 1965. It is a classy course among a myriad variety of trees – from pines to palms and olives to Cypress. It runs alongside the eponymous river which plays an often key part in the strategy.

Highlights on the front nine are the back-to-back holes at the 7th and 8th, a fine par 5 followed by a scenic two-shotter.

On the back nine, the 11th tee is close to 100 yards above the fairway, offering one of the region’s most exhilarating tee shots.

La Cala (Asia)

19. La Cala (Asia)

The first of La Cala’s three courses to open in 1989, it is shorter and cleverly routed by Cabell Robinson, the American architect who has left such a mark on the Costa Del Sol and still lives in the area.

While it is probably La Cala’s No.3, a major renovation – with all greens upgraded to Bermuda grass to guarantee smooth surfaces all year round, plus all the bunkers being refurbished – means it is good enough to be inside the top 15 of this list.

Asia is a cute, entertaining and now exceptionally well-presented older sister to the resort’s big two. Indeed, it has never been better presented.

Bradford Benz’s New offers even more drama than the Old, with lots of risk-reward holes, not least on those featuring lakes.

18. Guadalmina (South)

Guadalmina ‘Sur’ was built in 1959 and within six years hosted the Spanish Championship.

A second course was added in the ’80s but the South remains its No.1. It starts among residential areas but becomes much more tranquil on the par-5 6th.

La Zagaleta New.

17. La Zagaleta (New)

The New course at this uber-exclusive club opened in 2005 and blends in extraordinarily well with its natural surroundings.

You can expect sharp dog-legs and acute changes in elevation on an imaginative routing across raunchy terrain.

16. Mijas (Lagos)

Los Lagos opened in 1976 (followed by Los Olivos in 1984). As its name suggests, water hazards play a key part on Lagos. There are nine in all, with seven appearing in the first 11 holes.

But, there are no challenging slopes to tackle and few trees to stay out of. There are large, flat greens and wide fairways. Lagos was overhauled impressively in 2012, including the 15th changing from a par 3 to a par 5 and the 16th from a par 4 to a par 3.

Los Naranjos

15. Los Naranjos

The nines here are acutely distinct but share the same superb conditioning. The front nine encompasses lots of elevation change and the buttressing of tall palms is evidence of the wind’s influence.

With a stream cutting also across some holes, there’s much more interest on the front nine than the back, where the only definition is provided by spindly palm trees.

14. Parador De Malaga

A Harry Colt design that had input from Tom Simpson on the Costa del Sol. No, you didn’t read that incorrectly…

That is the rich history of Parador Malaga, and while many of those original features are long gone, there are still hints of their work.

It isn’t always as well presented as others in the top 15, and the airport is a distraction, but its pedigree gives it real fascination.

Alcaidesa Links.

13. La Hacienda (Alcaidesa links)

You are actually less than 30 minutes from Gibraltar when you play here – and thus so close to Africa that you can actually see it on a clear day. It has recently been renovated and is now a class above where it was.

Peter Alliss and Clive Clark designed the Links, which opened in 1992. It enjoys a terrific site, the land falling gently down towards the sea, with a beachside run of nearly a mile.

You see the coastline from the elevated 4th green, but it is on the 5th that the panoramas really hit you between the eyes. One of the best settings on the Costa del Sol and a course sufficiently well-routed and designed to take full advantage of it.

12. Santana

Santana sits close to the Mediterranean, between La Cala de Mijas and Fuengirola. Set in 138 acres of tranquil parkland, it enjoys fabulous views of the Mijas mountains across its 6,800 yards.

Cabell Robinson is a master of working land and he has made another superb job of setting down a course, this time on a former avocado plantation.  

Expect wide, well-defined but flat fairways, a sprinkling of water features and a solid all-round design and routing.

La Cala (Europe) is ranked at 30

11. La Cala (Europa)

The Europa has, in our opinion, 54-hole La Cala’s finest nine holes – namely its second half.

This was the final course of the three to open and we reckon 50 percent of golfers will come here and think it is the
No.1. The other half will likely go for America – although, we can imagine some picking the Asia too!

That’s why they are all ranked so highly in the Costa del Sol; the consistency across the courses is what makes La Cala so good. The back nine on the Europa is really good; Continental Top 100 good. Like its sister courses, it has brand-new Bermuda greens and is in wonderful nick.

Best Golf Courses in the Costa del Sol: 10-1

10. San Roque (New)

The New followed the Old a decade later, with Perry Dye invited to design it. And like the Old, it has been newly refurbished.

It also sits on much the same land and offers much the same tree-top views as its sister, but this 7,000+ yard track is a notch up in difficulty.

Tight fairways penalise the wayward driver, likewise the big, steep bunkers – made even more daunting by the use of railroad sleepers.

La Zagaleta Old.

9. La Zagaleta (Old)

Part of a members-only (effectively residents-only) club, this 18-hole course was designed by Bradford Benz in 1991 and redesigned by Marc Westenborg in 2016. This championship-standard course is never boring, following a raunchy landscape and offering one unforgettable challenge after another.

Aloha is one of the best courses in Spain.

8. Aloha

Aloha is revered in Spain because of its designer, Javier Arana – regarded as the country’s greatest architect.

Surrounded by neat, whitewashed residences, this is a course of great variety, laid out on interesting and often acutely undulating terrain.

The 1st is ‘Miguel Angel Jimenez’, named after the local boy who made good. It begins a nice first section with La Concha, the area’s handsome mountain, often towering behind as a backdrop, not least on the 9th, which sits next to a cool little halfway house.

Aloha can be narrow in places and rises and falls significantly at times, but it’s very hard not to love it.

La Cala American.

7. La Cala (America)

One of Europe’s most comprehensive golf resorts has three wonderful Cabell Robinson 18-hole layouts – the America opened in 1990, a year after the Asia, with the Europa following in the mid-2000s.

America has usually been regarded as the No.1, but there is not much in it. It gives you a spectacular drive off the 1st and the dramatic shots and holes keep on coming.

It had its 4th and 15th holes enhanced and all bunkers upgraded as part of La Cala’s huge investment into its courses.

6. San Roque (Old)

The San Roque name carries with it a lot of pedigree, having been a popular venue for British golfers since it opened 25 years ago.

In 1997, for example, while the Ryder Cup was played at neighboring Valderrama, San Roque hosted both the European and American teams and their families. In addition, the Old hosted European Tour Qualifying School Finals for 10 years from 1993, with the likes of Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Justin Rose earning their first cards there. 

Designed by Dave Thomas at the foothills of the Sierra Bermeja, where the mountains meet the sea, it is a well-balanced mixture of exacting holes and aesthetic holes.

It has undergone a thorough overhaul in the past two years and we have had nothing but good reports.

Las Brisas is ranked at 15

5. Las Brisas

Las Brisas was one of the original courses on the Costa del Sol, built by Robert Trent Jones Snr in the 1960s.

It has been regularly ranked in the Top 100 in Continental Europe, but the club did not rest on its laurels and asked RTJ protege Kyle Phillips to oversee a renovation. It has been a resounding success.

Las Brisas has no rough and is characterized instead by palm trees, water, and an amazing area of flowers and bushes, a result of the influence of famous botanist Gerald Huggan when the course was first built.

The closing stretch is now especially strong and taking it on is to follow in the footsteps of the great names who’ve played here, among them Jack Nicklaus, Bing Crosby, and even General Franco!

La Reserva Club is one of the best golf courses in continental Europe.

4. La Reserva de Sotogrande 

Another of the top five to have hosted the European Tour, La Reserva is a serious championship course too. It boasts a better variety of holes than a number of Spain’s more established names.

Cabell Robinson routed it, in 2003, on the same kind of rolling topography as its neighbors, and there is a really nice flow and maturity to it.

Downhill short holes at the 6th and 14th are two highlights of a course that deserves its place alongside its illustrious neighbors.

Robinson’s love of jigsaw puzzle piece bunkering is witnessed frequently, and these large sand traps combine with water hazards and mature trees to keep everyone honest.

Finca Cortesin is one of the best golf courses and golf resorts in continental Europe.

3. Finca Cortesin 

Next year’s Solheim Cup host was skilfully routed on tumbling land in 2007 by Cabell Robinson, whose work was enhanced by the landscaping of the renowned Gerald Huggan, with 20 varieties of flora in evidence in addition to typical Mediterranean trees.

Robinson set the course down in sections, starting with an opening six that is a perfect introduction to the round. It mixes scoring holes with fun ones – the sporty par-4 4th from an elevated tee with water front-left being the perfect example of that.

The middle section is more exacting, and will test even those playing in next year’s matches between Europe and the USA – although home captain Suzann Pettersen is confident her side can come out on top.

Finca is a fine all-round test, with Robinson incorporating deep swales around many greens, so you are often chipping up to table-top greens. Oh, and we need to mention the greens; they were relaid in 2017 with Bermuda grass and are as slick as they are flawless.

Real Club Sotogrande is one of the best golf courses in continental Europe.

2. Real Sotogrande

This grand old club of Europe dates back to 1964 and is the moment this corner of Spain got a foothold in golf.

The following year, the Robert Trent Jones Snr-designed course held the Spanish Open Championship, with Roberto de Vicenzo triumphing. It later staged the Spanish Amateur of 1983, won by a youngster, Jose Maria Olazabal. Seve won the Spanish Professional Championship in 1987 here, while World No.2!

As the first course in the area, the owner and architect enjoyed the luxury of choosing the best land on which to work. RTJ’s creation, after a thorough renovation in the last decade, is rising and rising in our continental list.

It is a proper examination, as per RTJ’s mantra, and the ‘pushed-up’ greens will be difficult targets for higher handicappers with a low ball flight. But all standards of players can enjoy Sotogrande, and strong players absolutely adore it.

Valderrama is one of the best golf courses in continental Europe.

1. Valderrama

Was for many years the No.1-ranked course in our Top 100 Continental Europe and while it has been usurped by courses from France and the Netherlands, it remains in the top five and is indubitably one of the most desirable courses in mainland Europe.

The 1997 Ryder Cup has much to do with that of course, as do the numerous Volvo Masters that have played out on its breathtakingly flawless fairways.

Valderrama is one of the best golf courses in continental Europe.

It was initially laid out in 1974, by Robert Trent Jones Snr, and known as Sotogrande New. But the course as we know it today was developed over a decade later when Jaime Ortiz Patino bought the club and lured Trent Jones back to redesign his original. Within three years Valderrama hosted the newly-launched Volvo Masters.

There is a real sense of being somewhere special here, a combination of the private nature of the club, its event-hosting history, and the immaculate nature of the course.

American Kyle Phillips has modified RTJ’s 1985 course with predictable nous, but the essence remains the same – a course defined in every sense by the iconic cork oaks.

Valderrama is ranked at number one!

There are plenty of outstanding individual challenges, such as the par-5 4th – played to a two-tier green with waterfall – and the exquisite following par 3.

Of course on the back nine memories come flooding back of 1997 matches, but you shouldn’t wish to get to the iconic 17th too quickly because in holes such as the short 15th there is much to enjoy first.

2023 will see Valderrama play host to a LIV Golf event having been named as one of 14 venues to welcome the controversial Saudi-backed series during its second season.

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