Anthony Webber. Editor-at-Large. iGTN. Playing Golf In Spain. Save a fistful of dollars playing golf in Spain’s sunniest climate. Golfers heading to Almeria, the province in the far east of Spain’s Andalucía region, can enjoy playing in arid surroundings that might look very familiar to US South Westerners.
The warmest, driest and sunniest place in Europe, with more than 3,000 hours of sun each year, much of Almeria is semi-desert and its parched hills became the backdrop for many well-known films, including “Spaghetti Westerns” starring Clint Eastwood such as ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly’, ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ and ‘For a Few Dollars More’.
But with its hotels and green fees offering excellent value for money, golf holidays in the province definitely won’t have visitors paying out a fistful of cash. If anything, they will cost more than a few dollars less than golf vacations to other sunshine destinations. Thanks to the climate, golf is also year-round, with little rain and mild winters in which shorts and t-shirts are the order of the day.
There are nine courses in Almeria for golfers to choose from. They include Europe’s only desert course – Desert Springs Golf Club, close to the city of Almanzora. The fairways of the Peter McEvoy designed Indiana course is laid out amidst desert flowers, spiky cacti, boulders and arroyos (dry river beds), reminiscent of courses in California and Arizona. Desert Springs Resort also includes on-site accommodation, a spa, and fitness training mentored by Olympic decathlon champion Daley Thompson.
Aguilon Golf is another course in arid settings, located at the foot of the desert scrub-covered Sierra del Aguilon Mountains in the north-east of the province. But Almeria’s other courses offer a variety of different experiences.
Almerimar Golf Resort, close to Almeria city, is the only 27-hole complex in the province, with 18 holes designed by Gary Player in 1976 and renovated in 2007. Palm trees and several lakes line the wide fairways. The resort also offers a golf academy and a choice of four-star and five-star hotels.
At Valle de Este Golf Resort, golfers have a par-71 course plus a four-star hotel, spa, sailing club, shopping and golf school.
For golfers who prefer to walk, Playa Serena Golf Club is classified as Spain’s flattest golf course. It is also right on a beach, making it easy for golfers to join their families on the sands after a round.
Of Almeria’s other courses, Club Marina Golf Mojacar is situated in a marina close to the resort town of Mojacar while Alboran is the province’s longest course and gives views of the Mediterranean.
Because of Almeria’s location, away from the main tourist centers, its courses are much quieter than those of more popular areas, so golfers can be sure of getting the tee times they want while playing on beautifully-manicured fairways and greens that are well irrigated, despite the arid environs.
The province has much to keep golfers and their families occupied away from the fairways. Almeria City is rich in history, particularly its ancient center. The hilltop 10th century Alcazaba dominates the city and is the largest citadel constructed by the Moors in Spain. Other attractions include the fortress-like Cathedral of the Incarnation and the Wells of Jayran, underground Arab cisterns built in the 11th century to supply the city with fresh water.
The city is perfect for lovers of fine food, which can be found in a variety of establishments ranging from tapas bars and beach bars to gourmet restaurants. Dishes include local specialties such as tomato raf as well as Spanish staples and international fare from many countries.
The province encompasses wonderful natural areas. Among them is the eastern part of the Sierra Nevada National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that is the largest national park in Spain. Another is the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park which stretches along the coast and is home to several endangered species of birds and animals.
Several film sets created for the Spaghetti Westerns still remain as ghost towns that can be visited. Golf traveling visitors can get a feel of the Wild West, both on and off Almeria’s golf courses.
To find out more about golf in Andalucía, visit www.andalucia.org/en/golf