Every weekend, thousands of British golfers head to their local club in order to renew their regular battle against the course, the conditions, their friends and of course themselves. Anyone who has played golf on a regular basis will know all about the frustrations that this wonderful game can bring, but they will also acknowledge the addictiveness that it holds, a fact that is usually enough to bring them back every seven days or so.
If you ask most UK players about their experiences, the chances are the inclement and unpredictable weather conditions will feature prominently in many of their stories. For many, there’s nothing more unpleasant than being out on the course in the middle of a sudden downpour of heavy rain, especially when it’s accompanied by a mad scramble to find their waterproofs at the bottom of their bags.
This is one of the reasons why golf in Spain has become so popular among the expatriate community, as well as travelling Brits who are on the lookout for the finest golfing holiday locations. In most areas of Spain, the weather is kind enough all year round to make that regular Sunday four-ball a constant pleasure. Playing with the sun on your back week in week out is almost unimaginable for UK-based players.
In recent decades, the Spanish golfing scene has changed beyond all recognition, undoubtedly spurred on by the international success of players such as Sergio Garcia, José María Olazábal and of course the finest and most enigmatic of them all, the late great Severiano Ballesteros. The country is now rightly regarded as a major player in world golf, and it has the venues to prove it.
Power or placement?
For newcomers to Spanish courses, there are several immediately noticeable differences from the more traditional British venues. For example, most UK courses, especially the parkland and heathland varieties, generally feature tight, narrow fairways, but a sizable number of Spanish tracks tend to be more open. However, this doesn’t therefore mean they are any easier.
Standing on the tee-box, especially an elevated one, a new visitor could be forgiven for thinking all he or she has to do is open the shoulders and go for glory. On many courses in Spain, the inclusion of strategically-placed bunkers, ditches and water hazards means that accuracy is just as important, perhaps even more so, than power. As always, a little care can go a long way towards registering a good score.
And once you’ve managed to get your ball onto the putting surface, you should avoid any thoughts that you’ve already done the hard part. Thanks to hard ground and a baking sun, the greens are generally very firm and exceptionally quick. Many first-time visitors find their putts fly past the hole during the early part of their rounds, as they become accustomed to the pace. You have been warned!
David Rice is a UK golfer who always enjoys playing on continental Europe. He works for comparecarhire.co.uk.