The Villa Padierna club
This course is part of Villa Padierna which has three golf courses - Alferini, Flamingos, Tramores. Tramores is a short course, so not reviewed further on this site. The villa itself (a 5-star hotel) is a large slightly faux Italianate design. Pleasant enough places to sit out and have a drink, modern design rather than old-style gracious. Beware parking here. The Villa has underground parking (dark and cramped but usable by day-tripper golfers). There is additional parking further past the Villa. Use it ! Careless parking on the road will get you ticketed fast. Allow time to walk between parking, clubhouse and buggy to start tee boxes.
Next to the first tee for the Flamingos golf course is the clubhouse for the Flamingos golf club. This is run separately from the Villa Padierna hotel. The golf club is less expensive for food and drink, although service there is a bit lower quality. As a local golfer I always use the golf club facilities (as opposed to the hotel facilities) whenever I can.
The Villa Padierna Alferini course
The Alferini course itself I think very nice. Long and big (scattered over a wide area). Clearly a lot of effort went into the construction of this course in the first place. They must have had really large earth-moving equipment, imported tonnes of earth to lay down the fairways, spent loads of money on a really good course irrigation network etc. Anyone spending that amount of money is going to demand a premium course at the end of the day. They got it. I particularly like the fact that most of this course is quite up in the hills. So scrubby land around each hole (not many trees, for example), but the wildlife is good and the course itself is very green. Virtually no property development surrounding the course - unlike many courses on the Costa del Sol where the golf is the reason to sell adjoining property (with wildly different degrees of attractiveness and commercial success). Maybe not important to all people, but I personally think a golf course should show respect to its environment.
The fairways are good quality – medium width, long but not particularly steep inclines (up/down along the fairway). Not much slope either (left/right across the fairway). This is not a course I recommend you walk. No one hole is very steep, but the whole course climbs steadily up before heading back down again. The 4 par 3s are all long (average 170 meters) and tight. Immediately off fairways there is genuinely tough natural rough. There is a deep canalised stream running down through the course and one large lake, so water hazards are in play on 6 holes – notably across the fairways, not just alongside them. Bunkers are often pot-holed and have high quality coarse-grained white sand (finer sand would blow away in the wind on an open course like this). Bunker positions along the fairways are not tough, but are quite aggressive around the greens. Many holes have a bunker just in front of the green, so approach shots from distance have to be very careful. The 9 par 4s average 360 meters in length, with the shorter ones narrow. The 5 par 5s average 470 meters and make total par on this course up to 73. The sheer length of the par 4s and 5s up to the greens really bring all hazards into play – simply because you are always going for distance on your shots. The scorecard has a small course map on the back but there are no hole maps out on the course which I think is a great pity for a course at this level. However the best line of play along each fairway is fairly obvious. The 16th hole (par 5, stroke index 1) is a genuine signature hole. It does not look too bad off the tee, but it is amazing how many players at all levels push balls right of the fairway into deep trouble.
The greens are large – some very large. Not much sloped and only a few have tiers. Medium fast, but the grass is very high quality so if they mowed them tighter they would be much faster. I thought pin positions quite extreme e.g. front or back pin positions were close to the edges of the greens, so you could be looking at some very long putts (8 meters plus) – especially because the length of holes means you really need big target greens to help you out. By that I mean your approach shots are likely to be from such a distance you will be grateful simply to hit ANY part of a large green. If you then have a long 1st putt left, you can live with that.
Alferini is quite tough, but fair. For a mid-handicap player like me, that is pleasant whatever my score. This is really not a course for high-handicap players (25+). It is too long and unforgiving if they miss fairways. Even players with handicap 20-25 are going to find this course demanding, and it is really only a good course for players with handicap under 20. Low-handicap players can 'let rip' on the longer, easier holes then just be content with bogey on the more difficult holes. So a course I go back to happily. A beautiful and majestic course. I do not describe it as fully championship level, but very close. Alferini occupies a price/quality position just below the recognised championship courses on the Costa del Sol and just above the mid-level courses, so suitable for both sets of golfers playing those two types of courses. This is genuine 'big' golf. You have to hope you are hitting your drives long and straight on this one ! I think it good value for money. Recommended.
Review last updated: February 2014. Number of times played: 3.
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).
Alferini is one of the longest courses on the Costa del Sol. Almost 6400 meters off the Mens Yellow tees. That length, plus the difficult nature of the holes, means that an 18-handicap player can expect to go around this course 24 over par. See graph to right where Alferini is the yellow dot. The other Villa Padierna course (Flamingos) is represented by the brown dot. It shows Flamingos as significantly shorter and more easy than Alferini.
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.