Rod Bastard, a golf course designer and professional golfer, and hugely experienced as a golf course manager, continues his series of articles describing what he believes to be the best holes in Andalucía. This issue he selects the 18th at Aloha Golf and the 18th at Royal Sevilla Golf Club.
Let us carry on our journey looking at the different hole designs of some of the best courses in Andalucía by venturing inland to Sevilla.
Royal Sevilla Golf Club is a José María Olazábal design of the highest quality. While in my opinion many of the greatest golfers don’t design great courses, Olazábal for me does. I have enjoyed all the designs of his that I have played.
To be honest there is not a bad hole on this golf course, so I had many options for my choice, but when it came down to it I chose the 18th hole. This 395-metre par-4 is part of a very strong last three holes on this golf course. Maybe you have birdied 16 then managed to survive 17, but as you walk on the 18th tee you realise that your work is not done. This tee shot is a masterful test under pressure, with water down the left and a long bunker down the whole right side. There are 38 metres between the edge of the water and the left edge of the bunker to fit your drive into. You must hit your driver as laying up short of the bunker leaves 175 metres uphill to the middle of the green over water, not a viable option.
What most will do is find the right-hand bunker and from there, with a nice flat lie in the sand, you are faced with a choice: splash out short of the water or even better be tempted to have a go out of the sand over the water. This for me is a great design. If the bunker was deeper and more penal you would never have a go, always splashing out – which is boring. The feeling of pulling off a mid-iron from the sand into the heart of the green is why we play this game.
The lovely cascading waterfall on the left side of the green and the location next to the pretty clubhouse is just the icing on the cake of this top-quality hole. I have played this in competition and making a par here under pressure is one of the most rewarding experiences in golf. Royal Sevilla is a must play.
Moving back towards the Coast and down into the emblematic Marbella golf valley, we come to Aloha Golf. This design by Javier Arana is one of the most established on the Costa del Sol. It is not the longest course but the slopes on the greens defend it well and make positioning into the greens of utmost importance. Better to be 10 metres below the hole rather than two metres above.
Anyone who has read these articles can tell that I love holes that give the player options and different ways to play a hole. The 398-metre 18th at Aloha is a perfect example of this. The tee shot is lovely, and you get a full unimpeded view of the beautiful lake that takes up the left side of the hole.
At 215 metres off the tee you have an area about 100 metres wide to hit your ball into, but at 250 metres off the tee this shrinks down to a sliver of fairway about 30 metres wide. Choices, choices. Obviously, we just lay up into the wide part – safer right? Correct. but this then leaves you with a shot of about 200 metres straight uphill onto a two-tiered green. If I bravely pull out a driver and take on the narrow fairway I am rewarded with a much shorter shot in, maybe allowing a look at birdie – but at what possible cost?
I wish I could tell you which way is best but I don’t know. All I know is that this is one of the toughest closing holes of any on the Coast. There is no let up at all as the green is undulating and normally, with the course impeccably conditioned, very very fast. Most should play for a bogey and then they just might be rewarded with the odd par.
All the variety in these holes is what separates the game of golf from so many other activities. Boredom is never an option, as the possibilities are endless.