Costa Del Sol, Spain: Great for golf, but tough to keep your eye on the ball
For a country that takes such pride in the traditional afternoon siesta, visitors to Spain may feel awash with regret for every daylight minute spent in bed on their golf vacation.
Spain's top golf destination (and arguably continental Europe's best as well), the Costa Del Sol on the country's southern coast serves up not only scores of resort golf courses along about 150 kilometers of mountainous coastline, but a wealth of stylish accommodations, a tapas bar for every taste, and postcard historic towns and sunrises - not to mention nightlife that may have you pushing back your morning tee time a few hours.
There's just not enough time in a day around here, which might explain why dinner isn't even an option until after 8 p.m. at many restaurants.
There's a golf vacation package for every budget here too. A week's stay-and-play can be had for $500 a pop (or $1,500) and the region's top golf courses stack up with any stretch of coastline out there.
The only real internationally distinguished golf club here is a doozy: former Ryder Cup host Valderrama Golf Club (which offers limited daily public play), set stately amongst a forest of cork trees.
Valderrama won't be the coast's only golf club on a golfer's international checklist for long, however.
About 16 kilometers down the A7 coastal route is the new Finca Cortesin, set to host the Volvo World Match Play Championships the next three years. Then add San Roque's Old Course, Almanara and the new La Reserva courses for a week's worth of top flight golf.
But at least a few days should be spent off course, exploring charming, historic cities such as Malaga, Marbella or Ronda, heading out to the Rock of Gibraltar, or going on a tapas-, wine- or sherry-tasting tour.
Ditching the sticks for a few days isn't a slight to the quality of golf in the region. Rather, it's a tip of the sombrero to the region's historic and authentic attractions. Spain's many traditions demand to be consumed.
All of them perhaps, except the siesta.
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