Fairplay Golf Review and Playing Guide

Built in 2002 this 6700 yard parkland course serves local golfers from nearby Jerez and the host town of Benalup. Fairplay Golf is part of the Fairplay Golf Resort.

The Fairplay Golf Resort is a five star venue and is a fabulous place. The golf course is the main attraction that brings the guests to this beautiful corner of Cadiz and is a very nice way of enjoying our beloved sport.

The ambience created by the Hotel and its staff make it a very special experience.The layout is fantastic. Many of the holes are tree lined which, from the tee, makes the holes appear to be framed , the effect also makes them look much wider than they actually are. You need to keep your tee shots within 25m either side of the centre line of the fairway. Miss them at your peril, there is much pain to be had trying to save your scorecard from within the trees!. Small elevated greens make accuracy a premium.

The playing surfaces are in excellent condition and a pleasure to play on. The greens whilst fast and true are difficult and do a good job of defending the integrity of the golf course.

This is a technical golf course and will reward those players who formulate and execute a strategy to deal with the challenges. The golf course and the hotel are perfect for each other and will provide a tremendous experience.

Contents show

Location

Facilities

  • Hotel
  • Spa and Wellness
  • Clubhouse
  • Restaurant
  • Pro Shop
  • Club Hire
  • Buggies
  • Driving Range
  • Short Game Practice Area
  • Putting Green
  • Opened: 2002
  • Designer: Baron Paul Rolin

Fairplay Golf Par 73 White Tees 6072m Yellow Tees 5616m Blue Tees 5201m Red Tees 4671m

Fairplay Golf Hole 1

Par 4 Stroke Index 3 White Tee 362m Yellow Tees 322m Blue Tees 297m Red Tees 277m

1st Tee 1

Trees line the right side of the hole immediately from the tee box all along the right flank of the hole, on the left a couple of lakes inhabit the the first cut covering the initial 180m of the hole where upon a line of mature trees take up the duty of framing this pretty opening hole.

At 362m it is not a long par 4, although the elevation from tee to green adds a club to your second shot.

The tree lined fairway makes it look unmissable from the tee, a very clever visual effect. I can attest to it being easily missable! The trees are set approx 10m off the fairway in the first cut of rough, as such they appear to add 20m to the width of the hole. Should you miss the fairway even by a few paces then the trees and their branches will harm your recovery shot. Missing the fairway almost certainly equates to dropping a shot.

JW’s opening tee shot ricocheted off the trees on the right finishing on the edge of the fairway 150m short of the green, I found the tree line on the left with 96m left to go

A nice big green with a pair of deep bunkers guarding the left and right sides. The front is open. The green itself has a sequence of mounds that surround it. Hitting your second shot over the back of the green is a very bad idea as the vegetation there is thick, lush and terminal!

JW found the front edge, I found the back edge, our long birdie putts did not threaten the cup but resulted in a steady pair of opening pars.

The sun is rising, looking back down the fairway where  the sun has crested the distant mountains and is bathing the countryside and the hotel in heavenly golden light.

Fairplay Golf Hole 2

Par 3 Stroke Index 13 White Tees 183m Yellow Tees 158m Blue Tees 143m Red Tees 122m

2nd Tee 1

This is a comfortable golf course to walk. The second tee is close to the first green.The boundary fence runs along the right side of the hole. It’s not a threat and will not impact how you play the hole.

The left side of the hole is lined with rough and thick bushes which do cause me concern as a hopeless hooker of the golf ball. The green is 60m wide and offers a very generous target. The real danger comes if you go over the green. The rough awaiting you back there will consume your ball without hesitation. 

I hit a five iron which made its way to the back edge of the green. JW hit his exactly in line with the flag and finished on the front edge. A pair of commercial lag putts gave us a pair of pars, a solid start to today’s round.

Fairplay Golf Hole 3

Par 4 Stroke Index 9 White Tees 343m Yellow Tees 321m Blue Tees 296m Red Tees 252m

3rd Fairway

A dog leg par four shaping to the left. The out of bounds continues along the right side, on the left a dense line of trees prevent tee shots from cutting the corner. In order to reach the dog leg and get a clear shot at the green you need to hit a tee shot of 190m to 220m. Beyond 220m and you run out of fairway, less than 190m and the trees on the left will block your view of the green. A bunker sits on the inside of the dogleg at 210m from the tee. A tee shot to the right and parallel with that bunker is a good result.

My 2 iron hooked badly and rattled about in the tree line on the left. I did not have a shot at the green, my best option was to punch an iron under the branches and hope to make it back to the fairway. In contrast JW hit a three wood for his tee shot, perfectly placed to the right side of the fairway bunker leaving him an elementary shot into the green from 140m. 

The green is elevated. A bunker is cut into the bank guarding the left front access. Access to the green is easier from the right, although missing the green on the right side can be detrimental to your scorecard bearing in mind the proximity of the OOB. This is a small target and indeed a tricky hole. A decent drive makes the whole thing a great deal less complex.

JW found the front edge of the green, the pin today was set in the back left leaving him the longest possible putt. With a firm bash his ball ran true, no bumps or skips, such is the quality of the putting surface and nestled within half a metre forcing me to concede a par.

Fairplay Golf Hole 4

Par 4 Stroke Index 7 White Tees 336m Yellow Tees 323m Blue Tees 311m  Red Tees 291m

4th Tee_

At 336m this is not usually thought of as a long par four, yet in this case the petite girth of the fairway combined with a brace of water hazards running along the left flank and the closeness of the OOB on the right edge serve to make this hole feel like an almighty struggle!

If you take a line directly at the green you will be aligned precariously close to the boundary fence on the right, in this case marked with red stakes denoting a lateral hazard. You have to aim to the left side of the green, and therefore,  directly towards the lake. 

JW hit a laser straight ball down the centre line. My golfing brain reduced to a scrambled mess when confronted with the demands of this tee shot, inevitably I blasted 2 balls over the fence on the right and spent the rest of the hole chauffeuring John.

Playing slightly uphill to the green from John’s position on the fairway he had 120m to go. The only obstacle being a bunker guarding the right access to the green. The green itself is shaped like a needle with tree lined trouble all around it. 

This is a tough hole, once again the key to unlocking it is finding a straight tee shot that covers 200m. 

Fairplay Golf Hole 5

Par 5 Stroke Index 5 White Tees 478m Yellow Tees 449m Blue Tees 427m Red Tees 409m

5th View towards Green

The first of the par five holes is an odd layout. It is a ninety degree dogleg to the left. The corner arrives 200m from the tee. The inside of the dogleg and the entire left side is protected by a pair of lakes which run all the way to the green making the left side a no go area.

The prudent way to navigate this hole is with the default tee shot required so far at Fairplay Golf, a straight tee shot of 200m. This will take you past the dog leg and leave you with 250m to go. That 250m can be broken down into a layup shot of 150m, to the widest part of the fairway and then a pitch into the green. There is plenty of room on three sides of the green offering some respite from the fraught danger on the left. 

The tiger line is not a good idea. Nonetheless I tried it. I reckon I can carry a good drive 240m, so I aimed  at the third tree over the lake on the right side of the fairway. A decent poke would leave me 180m to the green. If I overcooked the drive it would run into the rough on the right and maybe pop out into the adjoining fairway. Of course neither of these things happened. I hit a pull topped shot that covered the ground between me and the nearest point of the lake at Mach 2 before disappearing below the surface. It must be said that I do not perform at my best on tight driving golf courses! 

Once again JW hit a straight drive, exactly to the point of maximum prudence, placed his second shot 90m from the green and recorded a straight forward par. 

After 5 holes I had lost 3 golf balls and am considering taking up Dominos.

Fairplay Golf Hole 6

Par 4 Stroke Index 17 White Tees 289m Yellow Tees 263m Blue Tees 237m Red Tees 216m

6th Tee_

Trees line both sides of this short, uphill par 4. The left side rough is steeply banked which is helpful for nudging one’s ball back towards the fairway. You need to keep your tee shot within 20m of the fairway centre line to avoid punishment, the ideal line being in the left half of the fairway. 

On the left runs the third fairway behind a line of trees. That’s where my tee shot finished, leaving me with a 90m blind shot over the trees and the crest of the hill into an invisible green. My index finger is sore from repeatedly poking myself in the eye. Why oh why can I not leave the driver in the bag and use something straighter!

JWs drive traced a line to the left side of the fairway running with the terrain back to the centre. The remaining 80m was dispatched with one of his wedges being careful to allow for the steep incline up to the green.

A large step runs through the middle of the green, the front half being lower than the rear by nearly 1m. The banking rises above the green on the left side and the ground falls away on the right making a small target as you would expect on such a short par 4.

This was another hole that baffled me simply because I have been unable to find a fairway. The magic formula with which to master Fairplay golf is “Two hundred  straight from the tee is all you need, The birdies and the pars are made from the fairway, not from the trees.”

Fairplay Golf Hole 7

Par 4 Stroke Index 1 White Tees 401m Yellow Tees 358m Blue Tees 328m Red Tees 287m

7th Tee SL JPG

This is a long, narrow par four curving to the left and rising all the way to the green. A dense line of pine trees runs along the left rough making a corner cutting drive much harder. The tee box is set in an avenue of trees and makes the hole feel even tougher than it already is. 

The fairway is broad and the rough narrow with card-ruining rough on both sides of the hole just a few paces from the fairway’s edge. John and I agree that the fairways all look welcoming and generous when viewed from the tee, but that the slender line of rough between the fairways edge and the tree line make the course play tight.

A tee shot of 200m is required to get you past the corner of the dog leg, the right line is to aim along the left side and belt something 250m which is as far as you can go before running out of fairway on the right. JW hit a weak one off to the right leaving himself with a very long shot into the green. Mine flew along the left edge coming to rest on the apex of the dog leg, one metre from the cart path with a clear view of the green. A miracle!

JW’s second shot required a blast of 200m into the teeth of the wind adding 30m to the overall distance. I had 180m to cover and elected to bash my two iron. Neither of us found the green,both made a pitch and putt to save bogey. By far the toughest hole so far.

Fairplay Golf Hole 8

Par 3 Stroke Index 11 White Tee 193m Yellow Tees 163m Blue Tees 137m Red Tees 116m

8th Tee (1)

A behemoth par three of 193m absolutely dominated by water! The lake sits in the middle of the fairway, the nearshore  60m from the tee box and the far shore requiring a carry of 140m.

There is room all along the left to bail out. The green is large with a bunker defending the mid left and right sides. Clearly this is a difficult hole to par, but with thought it should yield an easy bogey.

Fairplay Golf Hole 9

Par 5 Stroke Index 15 White Tees 442m Yellow Tees 431m Blue Tees 414m Red Tees 363m

9th Tee JW

There are lakes on both sides of the fairway. On the right the water starts at 160m and requires 225m of flight to get over it.On the left the water begins at 220m coming to an end at 300m from the tee. The left hand water trap is the most dangerous as it is this water that lies online with the green.

A drive directly between the lakes is ideal. The narrow point of the fairway comes at 200m and does not open up until 260m. There the ideal tee shot will  be straight up the middle and 200m,

Another lake guards the left side of the green making access easier from the right side of the fairway. A decent drive can put you in range with the second shot, but I would counsel against it. Too narrow, Play it with three no-risk shots to the green’s centre. You will make more birdies this way!

Fairplay Golf Back Nine Holes Par 37 White Tees 3045m Yellow Tees 2828m Blue Tees 2611m Red Tees 2338m

Fairplay Golf Hole 10

Par 3 Stroke Index 18 White Tees 141m Yellow Tees 133m Blue Tees 116m Red Tees 104m

10th Tee

A par three from an elevated tee makes this a picturesque hole. Set far below you on the valley floor, the green, 140m away, is set in a horseshoe of trees 10m from the greens edge. A large bunker guards the front right, a smaller one the front left. Distance control is key here, if you hit the ball too far then a shot will surely be dropped. Missing the green on the front is the lesser of two evils. Both of your tee shots landed short of the green. A pair of clumsy chips resulted in a pair of clumsy bogeys.

At first sight this hole looks so simple. I can tell you from our experience it proved to be much more tricky than it seems. 

Fairplay Golf Hole 11

Par 4 Stroke Index 4 White Tees 308m Yellow Tees 288m Blue Tees 271m Red Tees 239m

11th Tee 1_

A dog leg to the right running uphill. The fairway runs away on the left, crossing the cart path on the left will find you in an area marked with red stakes, beyond that the OOB fence.  Trouble awaits on the banked rough on the right making this short par four quite a challenge!

A tee shot shaped from left to right is required to keep your ball on the centre line. The elevation makes the 283m play significantly longer than 300m which takes it out of range for all but the beastly.

JW, again, hit the perfect shape, starting on the centre line drifting towards the higher right half of the fairway where it pitched and rolled back to the centre with 40m left to the green.

I, on the other hand, was unable to muster such class and pimped two balls OOB on the left. Again, the tee shot is the key to unlocking this golf course. From JWs position an elementary wedge shot yielded a straight forward par.

Fairplay Golf Hole 12

Par 3 Stroke Index 6 White Tees 165m Yellow Tees 151m Blue Tees 130m Red Tees 124m

12th Tee

The view from this tee is humbling. The plain above which the Fairplay Resort is set is vast, running to meet the mountains 35 km distant. The epic scale of the countryside makes you feel very small. Watching the distant windmills, endlessly rotating, seemingly awaiting a Quixotic challenge on the distant horizon helps me to remember that it’s only golf. It doesn’t matter if I make an arse of it, nobody suffers as a result. Just relax and enjoy the moment!

A par three with trouble on both sides of the hole which serves to sharpen your focus. The hole looks longer than the 165m indicated on the tee box, and with the wind blowing dead against it certainly plays longer. I punched a low flying piercing 4 iron to the middle of the green, moments later JW joined me.

This is a big green and makes a welcome target. All of the par threes have been superb holes and this continues the trend. 

Fairplay Golf Hole 13

Par 5 Stroke Index 2 White Tees 524m Yellow Tees 470m Blue Tees 433m Red Tees 359m 

13th Green 1_

A giant par five of 524m that deviates to the right at 220m from the tee making it a very tough driving hole. The tiger line requires that you belt your drive as close to the right tree line as you can and shape it to the right. A conservative tee shot is straight up the middle of the fairway 200m. Any further than that and the trees on the left side will block your second shot. If you shape the tee shot to the right a little and manage something around 250m or more then you will have an option to attack the green with your second shot. Only the most skilled players will find themselves in such a position.

For most folks the ideal second shot will be a layup to the widest part of the fairway about 90m short of the green. A water hazard sits on the left of the green and crosses the front access making the putting surface inaccessible to any shots running along the ground. 

An exquisitely difficult hole that requires three well thought out and well executed shots to dominate it. Walk off with a par or birdie on this hole and your playing partners should be obliged to buy you a beer in the clubhouse and allow you to regale them blow by blow on how you  beat this monster hole!

Neither of us managed to record a score here!

Fairplay Golf Hole 14

Par 4 Stroke Index 12 White Tees 321m Yellow Tees 300m Blue Tees 277m Red Tees 249m

14th Tee SL

The hole drops away from the tee box crossing the same water hazard that we met on the previous hole before climbing into the distance. From the white tees the olive trees on either side of the tee boxes converge to form a narrow gap. This narrow gap is the only line you can play with your tee shot and points you straight at the green.

Both of us managed to fly our drives through the small gap and both benefited hugely from doing so. JW only had 80m to go and I just 40m.

A tight fairway leads to a small green guarded by a pair of large bunkers. A tee shot that finds the fairway is essential here to have any chance of making  par on this apparently short and easy par 4!

Life at Fairplay Golf is so rewarding from the fairway. A simple chip with my 60 degree wedge and a rare birdie is mine for the taking.

Fairplay Golf Hole 15

Par 5 Stroke Index 16 White Tees 450m Yellow Tees 42m Blue Tees 395m Red Tees 353m

15th Fairway 2_

The left rough banks steeply and will be helpful in nudging balls back to the fairway. A line of trees marks the right side of the fairway, beyond the trees is an adjoining hole. Not a huge disaster if you go there, just a minor one as it will probably cost you a bogey! The line to hit from the tee is directly at the flag half a kilometer away. 

A long slender par five playing into the teeth of the breeze. After two strokes each both JW and I had made little progress along this fairway and still had 155m to reach the flag. Allowing for the strong head wind we both hit 6 iron for our third shots and both found the centre of the green. A brace of pars was a great relief  for us both on the penultimate par 5 of the day.

Fairplay Golf Hole 16

Par 4 Stroke Index 8 White Tees 349m Yellow Tees 319m Blue Tees 298m Red Tees 265m

16th Tee_

A slightly elevated tee box presides over a straight hole. The first 60m of fairway are flat before falling steeply into a valley and climbs again to the green. Tree lined from 230m on both sides all the way to the green .

The best tee shot is aimed at the right side of the green and dispatched as far up the fairway as you can manage, the fairway is narrow, only 20 paces across, the trade-off is length versus finding the short grass. There are no good scores to be made on this golf course from the rough. It is fairway at all costs.

JW found the green in regulation dealing with the final elevation onto the green with aplomb. I missed the fairway on the left and from the tree line spent several minutes bouncing off branches and tree trunks, until, after four rapid fire shots, I retired!

JW has shown us today how to play this course in three words – FIND THE FAIRWAY!

Fairplay Golf Hole 17

Par 4 Stroke Index 10  White Tees 322m Yellow Tees 298m Blue Tees 274m Red Tees 253m

17th Green_

A good looking hole. The fairway falls gently from the tee and then climbs towards the green making the indicated 322m feel more like 400m.. A water hazard lurks in the left side rough, the tell tale sign being the line of red markers on the fairways edge. A tree on the right side at 280m makes a good aiming point in the narrow fairway. 

Once again JW found the centre of the fairway and I found the centre of the lake. Oh joy!  106m is all that remains for JWs second shot. Clubbing up allows him to make easy progress to the middle of the green. The green is composed of two tiers, the back being higher than the front. Another solid par for JW.

Fairplay Golf Hole 18

Par 5 Stroke Index 14 White Tees 465m Yellow Tees 445m Blue Tees 417m Red Tees 392m

18

The final par five of the day, a dogleg left. The white tees are set far back amongst the olive trees leaving a gap of 10 paces through which to propel your drive. The cart path runs along the left side of the hole and disappears at the inside apex of the dogleg where the fairway turns left and continues up the hill. The gap in the olive trees points you at the middle of the fairway on the optimum line. The fairway is the widest of the day making this the easiest driving hole. The task is simple, get as far up the hole as you can.

My drive reached the corner of the dogleg leaving me, with 225m to the flag. Other than an array of four bunkers guarding the front entrance to the green there is no significant danger between the target and I. The difficulty comes from the narrowness of the shot required. To hit the ball 225m in a straight line is a tall order for me!

The safe shot is to hit something that leaves a comfortable 90m wedge. Laying up proved to be the right thing for me to do. A seven iron lay up rewarded me with 90m into the green.

Finally I won a hole! An intelligent par on this final hole felt like a gift from the golfing Gods and in an instant erased the memory of the dreadful shots that preceded it! 

Summary

Fairplay Golf Golf is rather lovely. 

The golf course looks good and is designed to bring pleasure to players of all standards. The key to succeeding here is to find the fairway with your tee shot. Length is not an advantage. Most par fours and par fives are very playable if you can muster around 200m with your tee shot and keep it on the short grass. For John that meant choosing  his 5 wood, 3 wood or driver. For me sticking with my driver was not a good policy. I would have fared better had I simply followed John’s example and hit a straightest club  that can squeeze close to 200m. 4 Iron, 2 Iron and 3 wood should have been my battle order.

The whole golf course rewards discretion over valor. Even If it means taking mid irons from the tee in order to find the fairway, you will be rewarded with a great score accumulated in beautiful surroundings!

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