THERE are some golf courses that beguile you immediately: you understand what they are about and can deduce how to approach them to record your best scores.
Alhaurin offers a different challenge.
There are subtle tricks and traps to ensnare the unwary, there are risks and rewards to be balanced. Few holes are what they seem. It is very intriguing.
It is useful to play the first time with someone who knows the dangers that are out there: beware of the hole that seems simple – few of them are. But, find out the best lines and you will be well-rewarded by shots that roll and roll.
The second saw two of our four balls leave their drives just 20 metres short of the green – 325 metre shots – although the balls probably bounced at about the 190 metre mark.
Most holes have red stakes lining the fairways so that, should you stray – heaven forbid! – then at least you do not lose stroke and distance.
And there are wonderful views to compensate when your golf is less than inspiring. Dramatic mountains are backdrops on the earlier holes and then the Mediterranean glistens in the distance from the challenging 6th tee.
But all is often not what it seems – for example at the 280 metre par 4, 17th. Hit a good long drive and a large tree in the middle of the fairway can completely stymie your second. What looked like being an easy four became a tricky six. Here, as in many other places, the green is raised and the apron is a steep slope that will punish any shot that is even a metre short of the dance floor.
It is also interesting to watch young Jake, a 16-year-old member of the Alhaurin Golf Academy, with a handicap of four. He unleashed a drive from the white tees on the 515 metre 15th and his local knowledge left him a second of less than 75 metres – a contour-assisted smack of about 440 metres!
After 20 years of life there are lots of lovely mature trees including umbrella pines and the water hazards which complicate the closing holes are very pretty but with an exasperating magnetism. Balls splashing in ponds are very irritating.
So you will probably need to head to the practice ground first. As you would imagine at a course with a Youth Academy attached, the facilities are very good. There is a full driving range with covered tees as well as extensive chipping and putting areas.
And why not sharpen up your short game on the par three facilities? Small targets demand accuracy and there is variety in the challenges here too.
Apart from a number of apartments on the approach to the course, there is a 38-bed four star hotel a short, free transfer away from the clubhouse. Here you will find spacious rooms and grounds with a pool and tennis courts.
There is also an inviting restaurant called ‘La Ventilla’ offering a whole array of tempting options for terrace or interior dining in what was once a simple roadside venta.
Amazing accommodation deals are on offer too – bed, breakfast and golf from 65 euros per person.
To summarise; don’t plan to play here just once. Learn how to plot your way round and look forward to overcoming the challenges that are on offer when you are well-prepared.