Valderrama has been ranked the number one course in continental Europe since 1988 and is on many golfers’ bucket lists. It was opened in 1974, before being remodelled and reopened in under the ownership of Jaime Ortiz Patiño in 1985. It came to the attention of the world when it became the home of the Volvo Masters from 1988 to 1996 and again from 2002 to 2008, hosting the Ryder Cup in 1997, the AMEX World Championships, the Andalucia Masters and the Spanish Open.
It is a 6,356 meter 18 hole, 71 par undulating parkland course with a huge number of native cork trees which punish any mistakes. It was designed to require thought and precision and offer a real challenge, with extraordinary facilities and great service.
The layout is described as challenging but enjoyable and as a perfect golf course, with immaculate fairways and true, fast greens – a real golfer’s paradise. Looking at the TripAdvisor reviews, almost everyone loves the course and feels that the quality justifies the cost of the green fees. Reviewers call the greens the best they have ever played, and being “one of the most amazing golf experiences”, others call it “1st class” and “perfect in every respect”.
It is an exclusive member’s club, but visitors are allowed to play the course with limited tee times from 12 to 2pm each day. Guests must meet the maximum handicap (24 for men, 32 for ladies) and are not allowed everywhere, only the bar and pro shop and the driving range 45 minutes before start time.
Staff are friendly and service is good, so although there are restrictions, visitors are made to feel welcome. However, check the rules of etiquette and dress code before you arrive as they are rather strict. Green fees are the highest in the area, at 350€ during the week and 370€ Friday to Sunday.