Spain is nothing if not a country of sports lovers. The passion (and success) of its football clubs and national side, the fervour at another Rafa Nadal victory at Roland Garos or the flag waving hysteria whenever Alonso pops the champagne on another F1 podium.
And, within all of that, Spain has had a deep and tempestuous love affair with golf. An affair which began the moment that a swarthy young Seve Ballesteros strode onto the tee in the 1970s and wielded his driver with the same romantic dash of Zorro flashing his sword.
Following in Seve’s blazed trail has come a legion of Spanish golfing greats, each with their own inimitable style and character: the fleet-footed genius of Olazabal, the overtly emotional Garcia and the cigar chomping laconic grace of Jimenez, to name a few.
So, with such golfing pedigree, it’s really no surprise to find that the country is rich with wonderful venues to test your own prowess on the links, fairways and greens. Championship courses can be found throughout the length and breadth of the country (as well as its popular island hot-spots) offering challenges and amazing days out for golfers of all standards.
Here we’ll take a look at a some of the best around Madrid – a chance to combine great golf with a weekend of city-based ribaldry in the country’s capital.
Centro Nacional De Golf
Within easy reach of the city the Centro is a popular course for locals and tourists, offering a fair challenge and some spectacular views. An undulating parkland course of 6622 metres in length with a clubhouse which looks down upon the final holes to form an excellent amphitheatre feel to the close. Centro was host course for the 2009 Madrid Masters.
Club De Campo, Villa Madrid
Situated on the outskirts of the city, Club De Campo is one of the most famous sports clubs in Spain with an incredible 10,000 members enjoying facilities such as divers as tennis, hockey, equestrianism and of course, golf.
There are 2 championship courses at the venue which has been a host to many European Tour Events in the past forty years, including 8 Spanish Opens and was the course where the late great Ballesteros won his 50th and final tour event in 1993 – fitting given that he had help design part of the Amarillo course at the site.
If you’re staying in Madrid then the history of the venue and the quality of its course and facilities makes this a course to add to the schedule.
Located a little further out from the capital – approximately 20 miles away – this is a classy and challenging course for any golf enthusiast visiting the area. Set up to cater to all standards the course ranges from monstrous (over 7,500 yards off the back tees) to the more sedate (5,400 yards) from the front of five tee settings.
Generally regarded as a top quality course for visitors, set in peaceful parkland surroundings offering an excellent day away from the pace of the city.
Another course with links to Seve (who co-designed the course with Rees Jones) this is a course regarded by many as one of the top golfing venues in Spain. Like El Encin it can play to differing standards with 6 different tee settings – off the back tees it’s just about the longest course in the country.
Still relatively young, it opened in 2005, the course is already growing in repute and hugely popular for golfers visiting Madrid – just 10 minutes away.
A beautiful parkland setting with ever maturing trees and plants adding to the challenge and appeal this is a course that, in years to come, is hoped to challenge the likes of Valderrama as a premier course in Europe.