A hole-by-hole course guide of Finca Cortesin, home of The 2023 Solheim Cup.
Sat just back from the Andalucian coast in the shadow of the Estepona Mountains, Finca Cortesin is a Spanish gem with everything a course needs to play host to a thrilling Solheim Cup, especially with some of the strongest European Teams and US Teams we have seen.
With danger everywhere you look and challenging greens located around the golf course, the world’s best are in for a treat. Said to have the best greens in the south of Spain, Finca presents a tough challenge with the flat stick.
Tough greens and hard approach shots will certainly be humbling and is set to make for an entertaining competition, Finca Cortesin is without a doubt a course made for matchplay.
We sat down with Francisco de Lancastre, the General Manager of Golf and Leisure at Finca Cortesin, who gave us the inside track on the course, the strategy, and the defining holes…
The course is made for matchplay, it’s very strategic with lots of risk and reward holes. We’ve got four par 5s, a few driveable par 4s as well. It’s not the type of course where you’re going to see lots of holes halved in pars. There’s a really good stretch – 12, 13, 14, and 15 – where you could see some swings in some of the matches.
When you look at courses in California, like LA Country Club, with the barrancas and the mountains, we have elements of that here. But when we have the golf course firm and you look at the run-offs, the tight lies, and the way the greens are designed, I would say it’s more of a links type golf course in Scotland. We are close to Gibraltar, so the wind is also a massive element.
You have to putt very well. Everything around the greens is the biggest challenge. It’s fairly open from the tee and the fairways are quite wide. But the greens have quite a lot of movement and we always have them running very quick. That’s why it’s a great matchplay golf course. We had the Volvo Match Play here for three years and they all talked about the second shot.
Suzann (Pettersen) has an advantage because she controls the course set-up. She knows Finca very well as she has a family property in the Marbella area. But then the golf course will probably suit the eye of a lot of Americans because of the style and the Bermuda greens. They should feel comfortable
Finca Cortesin Course Guide
HOLE 1 | PAR 4 | 280 YARDS
A driveable par 4 to start, with 1,300 fans sitting in a grandstand around the first tee. The drive plays over a large lake that runs all the way up to the entrance of the green.
The sensible play is to lay-up, leaving a small wedge in, but expect differing strategies in the fourballs as players go hunting for birdies and possible eagles.
HOLE 2 | PAR 3 | 238 YARDS
The first par-three of the round. It’s hard to believe but it’s not the longest par-three hole on the course at 238 yards. The hole demands a precise tee shot with the narrow green surrounded by several bunkers that make getting up and down a real challenge.
The shape of the green is unique to the course since it has several small landing areas, on here it’s always better to leave a putt short of the hole or you will have yourself a challenging downhiller. Beware of the wind since the tees are slightly elevated, making clubbing tricky.
HOLE 3 | PAR 5 | 541 YARDS
A beautiful par-five with all the assets needed for a great golf hole, a wide fairway, a big lateral water hazard, great views, and can be a rewarding hole if you hit a great shot if you decide to go for the small green and are successful.
Beware of the bunker right of the green as finding it will leave a difficult bunker shot with the threat of water behind. For the shorter hitters, be careful with the lay-up as water comes into play at all times. The hole also offers beautiful views of the Mediterranean which will live long in the memory.
HOLE 4 | PAR 4 | 334 YARDS
A great risk-and-reward par-four, long hitters must decide whether to take on the challenge of going for a green which is very much in range, whilst knowing a huge lake awaits your tee shots that are not perfectly struck.
For those golfers choosing the safe option choosing to lay-up, a long iron or fairway wood is the right choice. With your approach watch out for the severely sloping green and difficult pin positions when playing your approach else the water can be brought back into play.
HOLE 5 | PAR 5 | 575 YARDS
Another one of Finca’s fantastic collection of par-fives, the fairway gets tighter and tighter as you get closer to the green leaving a tricky approach.
Very few players will reach in two but many will be tempted and caught out. The green is extremely narrow for a long hole and demands great accuracy when attacking the flag laying up and leaving a short approach will benefit a good score.
An array of attractively shaped bunkers protect the green while beware of the big slope on the left-hand side of the putting surface.
HOLE 6 | PAR 3 | 247 YARDS
A very long par-three with a huge flat green, avoid leaving your tee shot short of the green as a collection of deep bunkers lie in wait for any under-hit shots.
At this yardage off of any tee box, a par is always a good score here. Make sure you take a long enough club and try to stick to the left-hand side as that is the better miss leaving you with a chance still to get par a birdie here will be nearly as good as a hole-in-one.
HOLE 7 | PAR 4 | 494 YARDS
The longest par-four on the Costa del Sol and the hardest hole on the golf course. Hole 7 is stroke index one at Finca Cortesin, and is simply a “monster” of a par-four.
The hole features an inviting, wide fairway, which should be friendly to most tee shots. However, you will need to avoid sending tee shots into some cleverly placed bunkers if you’re to have a chance of reaching the green.
The approach requires a long iron to a big green and there is plenty of room on the left-hand side, but that will leave a tricky downhill chip shot requiring the deftest of touches. The best option is to keep it short with your second or third shots to leave an uphill putt on this fast green.
HOLE 8 | PAR 5 | 574 YARDS
A very difficult par-five with a tight fairway. The ideal shot off the tee would be a fade to avoid bunkers on the left-hand side, and the long hitters should probably go with a fairway wood from the tee to be safe and keep the ball in play.
The second shot requires some thought thanks to the lay-up area being surrounded by bunkers and bushes on the left. If you take advantage of the right-hand slope to keep your ball in play that would be the shot as all the balls will roll down to the fairway or green.
The views from the green to the hotel and clubhouse, with the Mediterranean in the background, make for a spectacular view and is worth getting the camera out for.
HOLE 9 | PAR 4 | 352 YARDS
Unless they move the tee up and invite the big hitters to go for it, this hole is all about the second shot to a small and slightly elevated green. Most players will be going in with a wedge, but too much spin can easily send the ball flying 60 yards back off the green. A slight miscue can leave a treacherous chip.
HOLE 10 | PAR 3 | 188 YARDS
This is one of the most spectacular holes on the course, with the Estepona Mountains as the backdrop. The tee shot plays steeply downhill to a long and narrow green, cut into a hillside. A large bank, sited to the left, is a popular miss, with a bunker and lateral hazard on the right.
HOLE 11 | PAR 5 | 627 YARDS
This double dogleg features one of Finca Cortesin’s widest fairways and has a slightly hidden second shot to a small landing area with is protected by bunkers on the left side and a water hazard on the right. Keep the second as far left as you can as the fairway strongly slopes to the right.
A beautiful natural stream runs along the right side of the hole. The 11th measures at 627 yards from the back tees, with only the best players who can keep it in the fairway having a chance to putt for eagle.
HOLE 12 | PAR 3 | 224 YARDS
The 12th hole is one for the picture book, with great views from the tee box this hole looks more intimidating than it seems. This hole is a very fair par-three. The tee shot is taken from an elevated tee to a huge green complex which is guarded by several deep bunkers. The putting surface is the largest on the course but is one of the most difficult to read.
HOLE 13 | PAR 4 | 402 YARDS
The signature hole and a spectacular par 4 defined by a stream which runs down the left side of the fairway and cuts across in front of a large, sloping green.
The tee shot rises over a ridge and plays to a wide fairway, with two gaping bunkers on the right. Most players will be coming in with a wedge shot to a target framed by bunkers left and right. Look out for the two olive trees overhanging the edges of the green.
HOLE 14 | PAR 4 | 353 YARDS
Depending on wind, this is another driveable par 4 if they move the tee up. The smart play is to lay-up left and take the ravine (and three fairway bunkers) out of play on the right.
The green is particularly small and surrounded by six bunkers, though there is a small entrance that could tempt players in the fourballs.
HOLE 15 | PAR 4 | 430 YARDS
A sweeping dog-leg left, this daunting tee shot needs to clear a vast ravine to find a fairway lined with five bunkers on the left. A long second shot is played off a hanging lie to a shelved green, surrounded by bunkers on all sides.
The putting surface slopes backright to front-left and is renowned for being one of the toughest on the course. Anything long or left is doomed.
HOLE 16 | PAR 4 | 417 YARDS
This is a beautiful par 4, coming at a critical stage in the matches. The tee shot is particularly demanding and challenges players to find a small landing area between two large bunkers.
The approach shot plays uphill to a kidney-shaped green with bunkers protecting the entire left side. There’s plenty of room to miss on the right, but it can leave a very fast chip or putt over one of two mounds.
HOLE 17 | PAR 3 | 177 YARDS
The shortest par 3 on the course has the potential to catch a lot of players out. The undulations are so pronounced that three putts are common if you find the wrong portion of this large green.
Four bunkers lurk on the left half of the green, with one more on the right. A back-left pin is devilish, so precision is key.
HOLE 18 | PAR 5 | 492 YARDS
An easily reachable par 5 to finish and a brilliant matchplay hole. Players can be aggressive off the tee as the fairway is the widest on the course. The second shot is where the difficulty starts to ramp up.
The green is small and the entrance is guarded by bunkers that wrap around both sides. There are also out-of-bounds on the left, so don’t be surprised to see players bailing out right. Anything from an eagle to a double is possible here.
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About the author
Golf Equipment Writer
Will Shreeve-Peacock is a golf equipment writer for todays-golfer.com, specializing in golf shoes, GPS watches, rangefinders, and training aids.
He has a degree in journalism from Sheffield Hallam University and four years of experience working in golf retail with American Golf. Will was part of the sales and fitting team, making him the perfect man to review golf equipment.
Will started playing golf more than a decade ago at Thorney Lakes Golf Club, Cambridgeshire and is now a member at Burghley Park Golf Club in Stamford, Lincolnshire. His handicap index is 5.8, largely thanks to his scratch-standard short game.
Away from golf, Will enjoys going to the gym, cooking, spending time with his friends, and watching his beloved Manchester United.
Will uses a Cobra LTDx Driver, Cobra LTDx 3-Wood, TaylorMade P790 2-iron, Callaway X Forged 18 Irons (4-PW), Wilson Staff Model Wedges (52°, 58°), TaylorMade White smoke IN-12 Blade putter and the TaylorMade TP5x Golf ball.
When he’s not testing golf shoes, he chooses to wear FootJoy Hyperflex or Under Armour Charged Phantom. He uses a Shotscope Pro L2 rangefinder, and his favorite training aid is the PuttOut Pressure Putt Trainer and mat.