Review Guadalmina North golf, Costa del Sol ($$$)

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The Guadalmina club

The Guadalmina club is very well established. This is a busy place, humming along nicely in a relaxed sort of way. With two full courses (North and South) and a small 9-hole course, it offers quite a bit of variety to members. Membership is large (a few thousand), approximately one-third Spanish, one-third Scandinavian, one-third British/other. Membership prices are average by standards here. The property surrounding the course is stable, mid-market and generally successful. There is a lot of this surrounding property in what is after all a central and built-up area of the Costa del Sol, but not much intrudes close to the golf courses. The whole development predates the extremes of the Spanish property boom/bust so everything about the operation feels settled and comfortable. The clubhouse is medium-large, but parking in the outside parking area is a bit cramped and limited. The service on the terrace is fine (enough staff to deal with the numbers of people using the facility). The small caddy-master office is friendly and helpful. Members tell me there are lots of organised competitions within the club and involving other clubs on the Costa. Clearly a club of that size is going to have some seriously good golfers, but overall I do not get the feeling that this is a club that is unwelcoming to mid-handicap and high-handicap players. On the contrary, the whole setup is ideal for 15-25 handicap players. The courses are medium-difficult, but still OK for all levels of golfer. In short, I can understand why Guadalmina attracts members who want quite a lot of variety in an operation big enough to be managed quite professionally to a reasonable level.

The Guadalmina North course

This is basically a mature parkland-type course, albeit quite undulating. No rough whatsoever – everything is mowed. There are no hole maps out on the course. 3 or 4 holes have high side-netting to stop errant golf balls heading onto someones garden or roof. Lots of full-grown trees of different species alongside the fairways. About 6 holes have some kind of water in play – either small lakes or a small stream/gulley running along or across the hole. There are green-side bunkers on most holes, but these have high-quality fine-grained sand, are not really deep and are not placed in very aggressive positions. Basically, the bunkers make the course interesting, but are not a severe challenge. Half the holes are dog-legs, but only one of those is acute. Several greens are invisible from the tee box, but come in to view easily enough once you are in approach-shot range. The greens are medium-sized, quite sloped but again not extreme e.g. none are really very large split-level. The grass on the greens I think is OK, tightly-mowed, consistent, but not what I can describe as really excellent. Good certainly, but a little bald and muddy. Most fairways are well-grassed and generously wide, with the exception of holes 14/15/16 where the fairways are narrow. Take a conservative club like a 4-iron off the tee on those holes unless you absolutely trust your ability to hit a very straight and accurate drive. The course is not big, so if you compromise with a short club, you can make it up on the next shot or two on the hole.

Guadalmina North has enough variety (up/down, slopes and cambers, mix of both straight and dog-leg holes, water features and bunkers) to be interesting. Not tough or long by any means. I get the feeling that if I played this course 5 times, I would know exactly where I wanted to be after every shot – and most hazards would be avoidable. A course where I definitely expect to play to my handicap. Any player up to 25-handicap will probably feel the same way. Higher handicap players will still enjoy the round, but might find more hazards seriously in play. So overall an enjoyable course, well designed and maintained. Not near championship level really, but then it is designed for the 'average' golfer. A course I readily go back to (particularly given the nice clubhouse and overall ambience), but not a top favourite course for me particularly.

The cost of a round I describe here as fair. High-end of medium-priced courses, but fair value-for-money. However one cost here is in my view way out of line – the cost of a buggy. That is around €45, when there is no good reason for any golf course down here to charge more than €30. That is definite mispricing and they should absolutely change it. The course is OK to walk and trolley rental is a standard price of about €6. But if you plan to take a buggy, factor in the cost before you arrive to play. As a visiting golfer you might well conclude that the buggy price pushes the overall cost from 'not cheap, but fair' into 'definitely overpriced' territory.

Review last updated: November 2013. Number of times played: 1.

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Guadalmina length/difficulty

Each dot represents a golf course on the Costa del Sol - when played off the Mens Yellow tees. Every course has two measures - length in meters (the X-axis) and difficulty (the Y-axis).

The Guadalmina North course is represented by the yellow dot and the South course by the brown dot. The North course is one of the easier courses compared to other courses on the Costa del Sol and also about 250 meters shorter than average. An 18-handicap player can expect to go around Guadalmina North between 15 and 16 over par.

The graph shows you 'at-a-glance' the approximate length and difficulty of each course relative to other courses on the Costa del Sol. The graphs are explained in more detail here.

Costa del Sol golf courses map 

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