Southern Spain has lots of golf courses, some good, some bad, some legendary, steeped in the history and lore of the game. San Roque is surrounded by famous neighbors like Valderrama, home to a memorable series of Ryder Cup matches. Sotogrande, home of the Spanish elite. The opulent luxury of La Reserva and Finca Courtesan, yet San Roque Old can hold its own against the very best, and that was before a recent million-dollar renovation to tweak its’ classic layout.
Two famous British players, Tony Jacklin and Dave Thomas. Both members of Ryder Cup teams and accomplished architects collaborated in the early nineties to produce the first iteration of The Old Course at The San Roque Club. Nestled at the foothills of the Sierra Bermeja Mountains, the course is set in a 340-acre estate that was formerly the summer residence of the Domecq sherry dynasty. It is a challenging, rolling layout framed by mature trees. It’s long and tight off the tee and has lots of elevation changes with dramatic views of the mountain. Despite the ups and downs, the course is walkable, and on our round, well over half the players were doing so even with the famous Spanish sun beating down.
Walk in The Footsteps of Legends
Immediately acknowledged as an excellent piece of golf architecture, the course was an instant success hosting 15 consecutive European Tour Schools from 1993-2007. Plus, two Spanish Opens in 2005 and 2006, both won by Swedes. Many of the greats on the European Tour look back with fondness on where it all began. Seve Ballesteros was chairman of the club for many years, and he kept a fairway home on the property.
The course is surrounded by luxury homes, although they are set well back from play for the most part. In some cases, they even add a little architectural interest to your round as you fantasize about what you might build with a couple of million in change.
The course went through a major renovation starting in 2019. Clearing out many trees to open up the fairways enhance the views and make the course more enjoyable to play. In addition, some penal water hazards were removed, the number of bunkers reduced, and drainage was massively improved. Conditioning all round was brought back to Tour quality with tees and fairways rolling as fast as the greens at most courses.
With the fairways more open, the emphasis has been put back on the quality of the player’s approach shots. Several of the newly shaped lakes feature steep, shaved banks where the player will watch agonizingly as his ball makes the slow descent to Davey Jones locker should it miss the putting surface. Tightly mown run-off areas around most greens will test your chipping ability to raised greens with plenty of speed and undulations. The course really does test all parts of your game.
The par4, 17th is typical of the course an elevated tee, a sweeping dogleg right to a raised green, and a hole that looks perfect from tee to green or looking back from green to tee.
The Patio Buzz’s With The Sound of a Dozen Languages
The lively patio outside the clubhouse is always buzzing with conversation and is one of the best in golf. Not just for the quality of the food but for giving the dinners a commanding view of the comings and goings on putting green, driving range, 1st tee, and 9th and 18th holes.
There you will hear conversations in English, Spanish, Swedish, German, French, and maybe even Russian for San Roque boasts one of the most international mixes of members and guests on the Costa Del Sol. While you are here, you might want to pop across the road and play the New Course, designed by P. D. Dye and opened in 2002. It’s every bit as challenging as you’d expect from a “Dye” layout.
At a Glance:
- 36 holes of championship golf
- The New course by P B Dye is a tough test
- Excellent conditioning
- Mountain and vista views
- Wonderful patio for dining
- Excellent range facilities
- Spanish sunshine year-round
- Near Sotogrande Marina with plenty of great restaurants and boutiques
- Plenty of excellent courses within a 30-minute drive
- Close to Gibraltar worth seeing the tunnels
About Andrew Wood
Andrew Wood is a golf writer, magazine publisher, world traveler, and Marketing Legend. Author of over 4O books including; The Golf Marketing Bible, The Hotel and Resort Marketing Bible, Fame – How to Build an Iconic Personal Brand and Life Well Lived . His Latest book, Under The Radar – The World’s Best Golf Resorts You Never Played will be available soon.
He is considered the world’s leading expert in golf, resort and real estate marketing and has spoken to hundreds of audiences worldwide. Living in Central Florida, the UK and everywhere in between you can contact him at directly at 1-352-266-2099 or at [email protected]