By Tim Cotroneo
Play 18 holes in Spain and you’ll meet golfers from all over the world. Enthusiasts from Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany, France, Ireland, Iceland, Belgium, Finland, Holland, and all points in between come to play in a land dating back to 138 B.C.
Speak with the golf professionals at the courses in Valencia, Spain, and you’re encouraged to hear the sport is alive and well. One course hosts 30,000 rounds in a year, another 40,000 and another 55,000.
There’s a respect, friendship, and joy that you can feel while playing golf in a land whose first course opened in 1891. The country that gave us Seve Ballesteros, Sergio Garcia, Jose Maria Olazabal, and Jon Rahm is a unique mixture of mountains, Mediterranean Sea, and after round celebrations.
Open Your Eyes, Mind, and Heart to Valencia
Valencia is Spain’s third largest metropolis and is located on the southeastern coast. The city in which the culinary treat paella originated is home to an eclectic mix of golf courses. Some are wedged inside villages, some are drenched in history, and others compare favorably with the most elite tracks in the world.
Let’s look at three Valencia, Spain golf courses that will open your eyes, mind, and heart to playing golf with an international flair.
Lo Romero Golf Course
Located in the Alicante province of Spain, Lo Romero Golf Course wastes no time in “wowing” newcomers to this lush former citrus orchard. Not only is Lo Romero the most manicured of all the Valencia golf courses, it’s also the most marketing savvy.
The Lo Romero clubhouse is perched on an elevated plateau that allows golfers to survey the ultra-landscaped terrain for miles. About 20 yards from the clubhouse is a giant golf ball that is positioned perfectly between the viewpoints looking out on the 9th and 18th greens. The golf ball happens to have the words “Lo Romero” emblazoned across its circumference, and this symbol draws photo happy golfers like bees to honey.
Lo Romero’s marketing prowess can also be found in this 6,200-yard layout’s abundant sand traps. The course’s long-time Superintendent Manuel Fernandez contributes to their marketing campaign by molding the name “Lo Romero” into the sand traps.
The 325-yard, Par 4, 9th hole, and the Par 4, 370-yard 18th hole run parallel to each other. They’re both great finishers and their positioning below the elevated clubhouse makes for great spectator theater. From Lo Romero’s majestic clubhouse patio and with local favorite Estrella Levante beer in hand, a festive audience enjoys a birds-eye view of approach shots and putts along the side-by-side greens.
The 18th hole is especially dramatic as it there is no bail out on its island green. Golfers navigate a walkway and then a 350-degree surround of water. The 18th’s ample and picturesque water is where Lo Romero’s “Island of Golf” tagline comes into play. Lo Romero is a must play for vacationers wishing to bring home a forever Valencia golf memory.
El Saler Golf Course
When researching Valencia golf, the name El Saler comes up again and again. El Saler is annually ranked as one of the best golf courses in all of Europe.
El Saler credibility grabs golfers by the shirt collar even before the first hole. You can’t miss the plaque revealing the course record of 62 that is held by none other than Bernhard Langer. To further elaborate on El Saler’s history as one of Europe’s best, consider that this 6300-yard nature reserve has hosted several Spanish Opens including two won by Langer.
For U.S. and Canadian golfers used to meticulous conditions, the raw environment that is El Saler may be an eye opener. The wild natural grasses golfers contend with throughout the course are highlighted and described on each tee box. In fact, El Saler is part of a natural park that includes rare species of birds such as Glossy Ibis, Flamingos, and Booted Eagles.
Throughout your round you can hear, but not necessarily see the Mediterranean Sea. On the 8th, 9th, 17th, and 18th holes, the ocean waves get up close and personal. On a windy day, El Saler may hint of Ireland or Scotland golf.
The total El Saler experience may include staying at the Paradore El Saler. This luxury hotel is one of several state-maintained lodgings throughout Spain who pride themselves in service, views, and stylish accommodations.
Club de Golf Altea
Charming is the best word to describe the Club de Golf Altea experience. Nestled within the hillside of Altea, this petite nine-hole golf course seems like it could have been a ski village in a previous life.
The Altea clubhouse towers above the golf course and offers amazing views. The course itself highlights mountain backdrops on several holes and demands precise course management throughout.
For those wishing to play 18, Altea proposes playing from different tee boxes on the back nine. Despite the elevations, Altea’s health-conscious audience is usually found walking, rather than riding the golf carts that Europeans refer to as “buggies.”
A great way to go all in after your round is by requesting a meal of paella. This centuries-old rice, meat, or seafood fare was born in Valencia. A locally brewed Botella Mahou beer is also a refreshingly local way to quench your thirst.
Small World- Great Golf
Whether you play Lo Romero, El Saler, Altea, or better yet, all three, you’ll find Spain to be a splendid tee to green golf host. The best part of playing under Valencia’s trademark electric blue sky is the people you meet from Sweden to Belgium and all parts in between. Return home and tell your buddies that their foursome now includes a golfer with an international flair.