Los Arqueros Golf & Country Club in San Pedro de Alcantara the first course designed by the late and the great Severiano Ballesteros. It’s also one of the best value courses in the region.
To set the stage I am an average golfer, I have a handicap of 18. It could be lower if only I could drag myself away from the office to play a little more frequently. Los Arqueros is a favourite course of mine, it is a tricky, idiosyncratic golf course with lots of challenges. There are some easier holes but there are plenty that have been created to catch you out. It is a course I always make time to play.
As you take the road up to Los Arqueros it might be a good idea to buy some balls from the road side golf ball seller. If you play Los Arqueros more than once in a week there is a good chance you could be buying back the balls you thought you had lost.
The club house is friendly, the staff know what the course can do to you.
Walk or buggy?
I like to walk the course, but I play most of my golf in S.E.Asia where golf courses dictate you take a buggy. Walking makes a nice change. Having said that most of my friends look at the hills and ask, “buggy?”.
Hole 1. 347 meters, par 4, handicap 11.
As you look down the hill from the tee, the driving range netting is to the left. Forget looking to the right, it’s out of bounds. It’s tempting to play a 3 wood here, the sensible option; take a long iron. Too often I ignore the advice I give myself and take a 3 wood. A 5 iron off the tee is fine. If all goes well, the second shot gives you a sight of the green, down the hill. It’s not a long hole but the first shot off the tee is important. The hole is one of the more forgiving. Tip, don’t over hit your second shot, if you do, you’ll be in a world of pain.
Hole 2. 156 meters, par 3, handicap 17.
At the bottom of a steep slope you come to the 2nd hole. The view opens up to the 2nd, 3rdand 4thfairways. Hole 2 is relatively simple. The website at Los Arqueros says ‘aim to the left of the green’, I just hope to get to the green without dropping into the bunkers that Seve created to defend the green. A 5 iron normally gets me there. If you land in the bunkers, the big green gives you a chance to remedy the first shot.
Hole 3. 361 meters, par 4, handicap 5.
To the left there is a big lake. To the right the 4thfairway. Don’t go left. I go with a driver at this tee. There’s plenty of room on the 4thfairway to make amends for a wild shot to the right. The green is on a slight hill, so take a longer club for the second shot, it will help you get past the stream that lies 10 meters infront of the green.
Hole 4. 311 meters, par 4, handicap 13 – dog leg left.
Aim to the right of the fairway. I always take a driver. It suits my game. There’s room to the right on the 3rdfairway for the slice or fade. Just don’t go left. On the dog leg you will see a small tree infront of the green with bunkers left and right. They are quite tame.
Hole 5. 154 meters, par 3, handicap 15
Uphill, so take a longer iron. I should heed my notes here, I always think I will get there with a 6 iron. I never do and leave the tee cursing myself for not using a 5 iron.
Hole 6. 519 meters, par 5, handicap 3
This hole and the next 2 are the 3 holes that make Los Arqueros memorable. Play them well and you can be forgiven for talking about it in the club house, ad nauseam.
At the tee you see water infront of you. If that’s not hard enough don’t go left, a stream runs the length of the hole. Just go right. The second shot is another tricky one down a very narrow fairway. Go middle…left or right is horrible. The first and second shots are crucial to make a good score on this hole
Hole 7. 304 meters, par 4, handicap 4
A short climb up a steepish hill to the 7thtee. If you are walking you might think, “why did I not take a buggy?”
If you thought hole 6 was narrow! At only 30 meters wide, with hazards left and right there is only one thing you do, pray! Take a 5 or 6 or 7 or a putter off the tee. Just play straight. The score card says the hole is a handicap 7, I have always made it play like handicap 1. It’s the hole to catch out all club golfers. It’s not a long par 4 it’s just very narrow and you have to play to the fairway, there is no left or right on this hole.
Hole 8. 480 meters, par 5, handicap 1
The 3rd in a series of 3 tricky holes. The golfing ego always gets the better of me on this tee. I always take a driver and aim to the left, My fade brings the ball back into the fairway.
Do not go right. The only way you will see that ball again is when you buy it back from one of the numerous lost ball sellers that dot around the course.
The decision you make on the 2ndshot dictates how well you play this hole. Do you take a 3 or 5 wood and clatter over the big gully? Or, do you lay up and play safe.
Hole 9. 283 meters, par 4, handicap 9
All up hill. I like walking this course but at the end of this hole you do tend to think ‘why?’
One of the easier holes, a 3 wood followed with a seven iron to the green, that is if all plays well. If?
Hole 10. 330 meters, par 4, handicap 4
The temptation is to take the driver, put it away. To the left, out of bounds, to the right a lump of rock. All this makes the landing area narrow. Take a long iron or hybrid. The tee shot is the make or break shot for this hole, get it right and the rest will be strawberries and cream. It’s only a handicap 4 because golfers make it so by not thinking through the first hole properly.
Hole 11. 144 meters, par 3, handicap 10
My bogie hole and I don’t mean I always hit a bogie here. From the bottom of the hill It does not seem like a long par 3, but don’t let that fool you. I agree with the club website, ‘play a club that is 2 clubs longer than you first think’.
Hole 12. 320 meters, par 4, handicap 2
A magnificent view. Stretching below a big fairway that narrows towards the top. I like to take a driver but too often it lands me in trouble. Out of bounds to the right and a bunch of trees to the left. Take a 3 wood, it will pay to be shorter off the tee. If you land to the right the green can be unsighted. To the left there are trees and potentially no sight of the green. It’s handicap 2 for this reason.
Hole 13. 458 meters, par 5, handicap 6
My handicap 1. A good drive off the tee will clear the gully infront of you. Your second shot is just as tricky, another gully cuts into the fairway on the right. It eats balls for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like hole 6, your first two shots are important if you are to beat this hole.
Hole 14. 289 meters, par 4 handicap 18
Like all holes on this course there is a degree of difficulty you have to manage. Drive well and the hole is easy. Go right from the tee and the ball is gone. No rescue. No second shot. Gone. Go left and you hit trees.
Hole 15. 376 meters, par 4 handicap 8
The big driving hole. Lots of space left and right. You can be caught by the bunker placed mid fairway but that’s as tricky as this hole gets.
Hole 16. 140 meters, par 3 handicap 16
A few years ago the water played to the left. You now tee off over the water to the green. Those who are spooked by water, play an old ball.
Hole 17. 350 meters, par 4 handicap 12
Another good driving hole. Go left for what you will see as the obvious reasons. The second shot is up hill, so play a longer club. Just don’t go right on any part of this hole as the ground falls away down a hill into messy rough.
Hole 18.335 meters, par 4 handicap 14
If you are still with me, well done.
From the tee you are looking up hill. If you are in a buggy ‘nice’, but if you are walking just think of the beer that’s got your name on it in the 19th. I aim left up hill, it’s a nicer way in from the left than playing out of trees on the right. A decent drive should leave you with a shortish iron to get on to the green.
Los Arqueros is a lovely course to play. It’s got character. You could imagine Señor
Ballesteros designing the course with a smile on his face knowing it will catch out and reward the golfer in so many different ways.
Don’t take my word for it, go play it and see if you agree.
Los Arqueros Golf & Country Club
Ctra. Ronda A-397 km 44,5, E-29679 Benahavís, Málaga, Spain
Phone: +34 952 78 46 00
Fax: +34 952 78 67 07