Playing at Barcelo Montecastillo Golf Course and Sports Resort

Each year the Sandgrownuns Golf Society organizes an “away weekend” to sample something different. This year is special, mainly because of one of the names on the roster – Jack Nicklaus.

Sadly Jack is not playing with us, rather we are playing at his fantastic Montecastillo Golf and Sports Resort. Our group of 16 ladies and gentlemen will be enjoying two days and nights at the Barcelo Montecastillo Golf and Sports resort.

We chose the Barcelo Montecastillo Golf and Sports Resort firstly because of the facilities it offers the non-golfers in our group, the pool, spa, etc. Secondly, to enjoy the wonderful restaurant and bars that made the Barcelo Golf Resort a perfect 19th hole and thirdly, with some reservation, to send our flock of golfers around a formidable championship golf course penned by the great Jack Nicklaus. As a group, our handicaps ranged from 3 to 30 when considering the slope rating. Would this beast of a golf course prove to be too tough for the long handicap players to enjoy?

Not at all! We loved it! Our group unanimously agreed that Montecastillo provided a fantastic experience for our golf societies’ summer break.

If you want to skip directly to the summary to read our closing thoughts please do so, otherwise please enjoy our playing guide and review of this fantastic golf course.

Contents show

What makes an ideal destination for the golf group or golf society to enjoy a golfing break?

  • Apres Golf
  • Good organisation
  • Easy transport solution between golf courses
  • A great golf course that suit all of the players

Location

Facilities

  • Hotel and Villas 
  • Tennis
  • Football
  • Golf Academy
  • Health and Fitness Center
  • Clubhouse
  • Pro-shop
  • Buggies 
  • Club Hire
  • Driving Range
  • Short Game Area
  • Putting Green

Opened: 1992

Designer: Jack Nicklaus

Montecastillo Golf Course Par 72 White Tees  6456m Yellow Tees  6043m Blue Tees 5554m Red Tees 5230m

Montecastillo Golf Course Front Nine Holes Par 36

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 1

Par 4 Stroke Index 17 White Tees 354m Yellow Tees 293m Blue Tees 271m Red Tees 254m

1st Fairway towards Hotel

The Hotel terrace looks across the 18th fairway and green making great viewing for those in repose after a testing round, and equally giving those players playing the last a chance to impress the galleries.

The caddy master is located just a few metres walk from  the  hotel terrace. Having checked in and mounted the clubs on the buggy there is time to get warmed up on the driving range close to the first tee and then a few putts on the putting green before we head to the first tee.

My partners today are Mike Roberts, a great golfer and long time friend currently playing off 3 handicap, Ted Mate 18, and Pete Jolly 30. A wide range of handicaps pitted in combat over 36 holes of stableford around the beautiful Montecastillo Golf Course.

The tee on the first hole sits below the fairway. The driving range is out of bounds beyond a row of bushes on the right. A series of three bunkers mark the inside of the dog leg to the right and make a good aiming reference.

Opposite those bunkers on the left is a steep bank clad in first cut of rough which makes a safe target from the tee. I imagine that very long hitters might elect to carry the complex of bunkers and cut the corner of the dogleg, but none of us was long enough to attempt it.

I hit a pleasing drive, always a relief on a competition weekend. The severity of the incline was such that my driver only covered 206m passing the crest of the fairway leaving me ideally placed on the left side with straight forward 90m into the green.  

The target is small and guarded by a large bunker on the left side. The pin today is on the front of the kidney-shaped green. My wedge finished 3m from the stick. With sky-high confidence I struck my first birdie putt of the day only to watch it run 3m past the hole. These greens are shatteringly fast!  A three-putt bogey did nothing for my confidence on this excellent opening hole.

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 2

Par 3 Stroke Index 11 White Tees 202m Yellow Tees 163m Blue Tees 140m Red Tees 129m  

2nd green JPG

The view from the tee on this par three is all about the vast complex of bunkers guarding more than half of the access to the green on the right. The hole looks amazing set in the gorgeous parkland in the midst of nature. Pleasingly we are not surrounded by houses but are in nature. Trees line both sides of the hole focussing your attention on the job in hand. Today the wind is blowing stiffly from the left to right pushing tee shots towards those capacious sand traps.

The only task to accomplish here is to avoid the bunkers Anything else is a positive. In order to counter the wind I took a line to the left of the putting green, hoping that my swing would not double cross me and hook it into the trees I made my swing, the ball moved 4m or 5m on the wind pitching on the centre and running to within 2m of the pin located on the back. I enjoyed that one! 

Pete, an ammophobe, was inexorably drawn to the sand, fearing that he might be in there for a while we were astonished when his splash shot did exactly that and arrived at the centre of the green! A sensible lag with his first putt giving a tap in bogey added to his points tally.  At this early stage it was clear in Pete’s demeanour that he was here to win!

Still nervous after the last green my 2m birdie was appalling. A tight nervous twitch which did not come close to the cup but thankfully left just a few centimetres to record a par.

The greens are fast, very fast, with a dense root bed there are no pitch marks or blemishes of any kind. Like all great golf courses there are two aspects to scoring well, firstly have a strategy that gets you to the green, once you arrive at the green the fun begins, the breaks and swales are everywhere, subtle and difficult to read. Any green that you can navigate with two putts is a success.

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 3

Par 5 Stroke Index 3 White Tees 516m Yellow Tees 494m Blue Tees 466m Red Tees 436m

3rd tee

A long straight par five running slightly downhill from the tee. A large bunker is visible on the right requiring a 250m drive to reach it. Beyond that bunker is a lake which runs all the way to the green side making the right side a no go area.

A copse of tall pine trees on the left made a good line for the tee shots today as the wind pushed the drives to the right, back towards the fairway and for the unwary towards that fairway bunker. All four of us managed to hit drives towards the safe haven on the left. A decent drive left me 230m to the green, the maximum I can manage with a three wood. For me the risk versus reward did not make sense, the water on the right would prove to be almost unmissable and the out of bounds on the left of the green is very close to the bunkers that guard the left side of the green. 

The fat part of the fairway and therefore the desired target for our second shots was 110m from the green on the left side of the fairway. Missing the fairway on the left will see you in the first cut of rough amongst gently rising and falling swales and hollows within which are set another complex of bunkers.

The water proved too attractive for Ted. Having anointed his ball he retired to the next tee, Pete and I found the green in regulation numbers, a par for me and a bogey for Pete and our scores continue to climb!

This is a scary looking Hole from the tee and it plays exactly as it looks. So far this golf course has been enthralling. Tough but fair.

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 4

Par 4 Stroke Index 12 White Tees 348m Yellow Tees 326m Blue Tees 299m Red Tees 282m

4th Tee JW_

A dog leg to the right all playing uphill from the tee with two eye-catching configurations of bunkers, the first at the outside elbow of the dogleg 215m from the tee, laying up short of this with your tee shot is a solid plan as the trees on the right of the fairway will block your second into the green. The second set of bunkers sits on the right frontal approach of the green. These bunkers are on the direct line from tee to green and at 270m from the tee in theory might be in range for the monsters amongst us.

From the left hand side of the fairway the green is elevated and you will have to take 1 more club than normal to make sure you reach the green. I pulled my drive into trees on the left, my punch shot recovery scrambled its way to the green only for me to three-putt for an excruciating bogey!

From the tee this hole, in fact this golf course is beautiful to look at. With little or no developments pinning the fairways in, each hole is set amongst the Cadiz countryside. The sense of space is fantastic. The playing surfaces are the best I have seen and of the same standard as Finca Cortesin and La Reserva.

The Barcelo Montecastillo Hotel is an excellent four star hotel. The cost for 2 nights, 2 rounds of golf including breakfast, dinner plus drinks was an incredible 260 euros! A top echelon golf course coupled with a very comfortable hotel with excellent facilities for such a reasonably priced budget is hard to beat. 

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 5

Par 4 Stroke Index 7 White Tees 380m Yellow Tees 353m Blue Tees 333m Red Tees 318m

5th Fairway towards Green

A tree lined par four that looks pretty tough from the tee box playing uphill and into the wind all the way to the green. Out of bounds sits close to the fairway on the right meaning that you have to guard against hitting in that direction. The default correction is to aim up the left of the fairway which points you at the tree lined rough and another huge array of bunkers ranging from 150m to 250m from the tee in the first cut on the left. 

Further left of the bunkers are the trees beyond which you pop out into an adjoining fairway with a tough shot either over or through trees to get you heading towards the green. There is no getting away from it, this is a tough driving hole, there are so many more ways for it to go wrong than to find the fairway!

My drive stayed on the fairway just level with the end of the bunkers. A 5 iron this time found the small green. I found the greens to be difficult to read, my birdie putts not threatening the hole. In fact I was especially happy to record a par on this extremely difficult hole.

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 6

Par 4 Stroke Index 13 White Tees 378m Yellow Tees 352m Blue Tees 310m Red Tees 285m

6th Green 1_

Finally a hole that assists! Gently sloping downhill towards the green this feels like a chance to take a breather!

The cart path runs down the right side of the fairway, there is some rough dotted with elephantine bushes and to the right of those the out of bounds fence. 

The line to take with your tee shot is at the left edge of the green, the prevailing wind will press tee shots back towards the right. There is a large bunker in the left rough 180m from the tee and a further bunker on the right side of the fairway at 250m. My drive found the fairway opposite the second bunker and left me a simple 100m wedge onto the green. 

A large tri-corn-shaped green has its high point on the mounds that occupy the left and rear of the green running to the front right. This is the biggest green so far, my wedge landing 4m past the flag. Another frustrating birdie chance missed, but at least an easy par.

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 7

Par 4 Stroke Index 9 White Tees 395m Yellow Tees 370m Blue Tees 318m Red Tees 289m

7th Tee_

This is a great hole, it asks for a well executed drive. A formidable looking tee shot greeted me on the 7th tee. A narrow gap between the left and right bush infested rough terminating with a lake directly ahead of you in the fairway.

In fact it’s not as tough as it looks. The narrow point arrives 150m from the tee. To have any hope of making a decent score here you need to get past this point. From there it opens up hugely giving a very generous landing area. Cauton: make sure you are on the right side of the fairway, if you go left the trees may block your second shot.

Once you have settled on your line all that remains is to choose a club that will not exceed 250m. The lake begins at 265m, therefore it is imperative that you are not in it.

From the right side of the fairway your 130m second shot will have to fly over a lake all the way to the green. 

There is plenty of room at the rear left of the green for shots that go beyond the green. The target is small but not difficult to hit.

From tee to green so far I have played a solid game, however, the greens are proving to be my weakness! 

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 8

Par 3 Stroke Index 8 White Tees 174m Yellow Tees 161m Blue Tees 137m Red Tees 123m

8th Fairway towards Green

This is an exceedingly pretty par three. The terrain forms a crescent of hillocks on the left forming an area where conservative tee shots corral.

The line of sight to the green is equally dominated by the lake to the right and the vast bunker which reaches the centre point of the fairway and goes on to hug the lakes shore all the way to the front of the green.

Today the pin was on the left which is the easiest position to get at. I was able to take direct aim at the flag, certain that the bunker and water would not afflict me. I found the green, 2 m below the flag and finally, just as frustration was setting in I sank a birdie putt!  

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 9

Par 5 Stroke Index 4 White Tees 473m Yellow Tees 462m Blue Tees 441m Red Tees 416m

9th Tee_

Another fabulous looking hole to bring the front nine to a close, this time a par 5. Despite the modest number on the tee box 473m, this is not reachable for mortals like us.

From the tee a pair of bunkers straddle the fairway 30m below us and 130m from the tee. These bunkers, both on the left and the right are reachable. Big hitters may try to carry the right hand bunker, my plan was to work my tee shot towards the left side bunkers leaving it short of the hazard.

From the  bunkers the fairway climbs steeply to recover that 30m in elevation back to the green. With 222m to go my three wood would have had the firepower to reach the green had it been flat. However, even with a good contact the climb towards the green robbed it of distance and I still had 80m to go! The fairway is generously wide from 130m into the green so it welcomes players having a bash with a fairway wood.

There are no bunkers around this green, it does not need them. The odd stance and the elevation for sufficient protection.  My 90m wedge was a disaster, most of the club head speed dissipated by a large sod of divot. From the front of the green it took another 2 to get down. My hard earned birdie on the previous hole immediately surrendered!

Montecastillo Golf Course Back Nine Holes Par 36

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 10

Par 4 Stroke Index 4 White Tees 375m Yellow Tees 354m Blue Tees 322m Red Tees 298m

10th Tee_

It was a long drive from the 9th green to the 10th tee, sufficient time to reflect upon a tremendous nine holes of golf and think about what might have been had my putter been hot.

The view for the 10th tee was sobering, thoughts of birdies and beating my handicap banished as I contemplated the shoelace slender fairway with out of bounds on the left, a wind blowing sternly into faces and also pressing shots to the right where upon a lake could be found just a few metres from the fairway running the entire length of the hole.

I usually hit the ball straight, tight fairways rarely play on my mind, not so on this tee, this is another tough driving hole where you have to hit it as long as possible in order to attack the green in two, but equally anything deviating more than 15m from the centre line of the fairway results in a catastrophic punishment.

The wide point of the fairway arrives at 224m which is a long way against today’s wind. I took aim at the bunker located on the left side of the fairway and finished in the first cut on the left well short of the bunker, the wind had taken its toll on my driver.

Luckily for me from my position on the left edge much of the lake had been taken out of play, however an ox bow of water protrudes to guard the front access of the green 30m short of the putting surface, Between the lake and the green is a large bunker. The message here is clear, do not go to the right, secondly if you cannot carry the ball all the way to the green with your second shot then lay up as far left as you can.

With 180m to go into the 2 club wind from the left side of the hole I hit a three wood which found the safety of the greens apron of the left edge. I was both happy and relieved to get that shot behind me!

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 11

Par 3 Stroke Index 14 White Tees 214m Yellow Tees 196m Blue Tees 179m Red Tees 166m

11th Tee_

A very long par 3 playing uphill which adds one or two more clubs to your selection. With the breeze once again against us this tee shot, even with a generous green ahead of us is going to be difficult.

Other than first cut off rough with generous numbers of sturdy bushes inhabiting it there is no real trouble between the tee and the green, which is fair enough bearing in mind the length of this par three. 

A complex of bunkers sit 40m short and left of the green in the first cut, a further bunker sits on the left edge. I would consider hitting this bunker as a pretty good result!

This hole is all about finding the right tee shot, for me today I chose my three wood and flighted it as low as possible allowing it to run. In fact it ran to the back of the green where a three putt beset me resulting in bogey. I felt frustrated, but in all honesty if I had been offered a bogey on the tee I would have taken it.

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 12

Par 5 Stroke Index 15 White Tees 477m Yellow Tees 464m Blue Tees 441m Red Tees 427m

12th Fairway towards Green

A straight par 5 playing slightly downhill. There is a bunker on the left edge at 150m from the tee and another on the right at 250m. I took a line between them and found the short grass. 

The danger is the out of bounds on the left coupled with terrain that falls away steeply on the right making it imperative that you keep it on or close to the generous fairway. 

My drive left me 210m to the green. The danger is the out of bounds which sits close to the green on the left. The ground on the left will aid balls in bouncing back towards the green but it is very tight. A big bunker guards the right half from 50m out running up to the fringe of the green. Beyond the bunker is the cart path beyond that the steep drop off on the right. 

I felt that the risk vs reward ratio worked in my favour so I had a go. My 5 wood did not connect well and the ball finished 15m short of the green.  My chip could be described as barely adequate meaning that a real birdie chance was missed.

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 13

Par 4 Stroke Index 2 White Tees 388m Yellow Tees 372m Blue Tees 347m Red Tees 427m

13th Tee_

A formidable looking hole from the tee. We all agree that Montecatillo is a “proper” golf course. It looks great, it plays hard but fair and it is in fabulous condition. All four of us are barely hanging on to our score cards, certainly the golf course has us beat, but we are all enthralled by the challenge. This is good golf!

The Hole plays down hill from the tee. The right side is thick with trees, beyond the trees is out of bounds.

In front of the tee box is a thick barranca of trees, the tree tops visible as you view the hole. Those trees hide a generous amount of fairway on the left side, which is the side to aim for. A tree sits on  the corner of the slight dogleg right 220m from the tee. None of us have the firepower to hit our drives over this tree so we aimed well to the left. Had we not done so then that tree would have blocked our second shots into the green.

The fairway becomes very narrow at 260m so even if the firepower is within your grasp I would advise against it. This hole tells you quite clearly how it wants you to play it. I think it is a good policy to follow the wishes of Jack Nicklaus this occasion.

My drive finished on the left half of the fairway with 145m slightly uphill into the green festooned with bunkers. My shot managed to carry all of the sand and came to rest on the dance floor. Again the greens proved too subtle for me, another 3 putt has given me a truly horrendous start to this nine holes

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 14

Par 3 Stroke Index 18 White Tees 157m Yellow Tees 142m Blue Tees 120m Red Tees 119m

14th Tee_

The par three holes here at Montecastillo are exceedingly pretty with this 14th hole continuing the trend. Thick vegetation and bushes line both sides of the hole, the terrain slopes a little from right to left with the green cut into the slope and a complex of bunkers set into the bank below the front left of the putting surface. 

The green does everything in its power to look elusive and difficult to hit. Indeed it is. Out of bounds is perilously close on the left, no less than 7 bunkers encircle 270 degrees of the green starting at the front left working around to the rear right only a slender finger of fairway for low running shots to access the green.

I selected an eight iron, the tail breeze giving me a little help and managed to find the right hand apron, two putts and I felt happy to walk off with a par.

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 15

Par 4 Stroke Index 1 White Tees 424m Yellow Tees 402m Blue Tees 371m  Red Tees 352m

15th Fairway towards Green 1_

I found this hole to be a daunting prospect as I stood on the tee box to figure out how to play it.

Directly in front of the tee box is a barranca filled with the most glorious Andalucian flora, rich, green and totally impenetrable. A modest carry of 110m is required to reach the fairway, it should not come into play but will play on the mind if your confidence is low. The fairway climbs its way up a gentle incline meeting the green 400m away and 10m above the starting point.

The fairway looks worryingly narrow, this effect is created by the thick flora which envelopes the fairway all the way to the green. This is a fabulous hole!

The terrain is canted gently from the left to the right. A series of three bunkers wait for customers on the right side of the fairway in the first cut of rough. They are located at 120m from the tee to 180m. They will do brisk business as this hole invites sliced tee shots as people aim to the left and make a fear induced “brittle” swing.

The line to take is at the bunker on the left of the fairway 280m for the tee, sufficiently far up so that I do not need to worry about finding it. My ball, as planned, followed the slope to make its way towards the middle of the fairway leaving me 140m iron shot to the green.

No bunkers protect the periphery of the green, not required, the hole is well defended by its length, incline and the tension it induces in the players!

OOB is again very close to the left of the green, there is a little room over the back and a little to the right. Most players will leave their second shots short, an easy chip into the green will yield a straight forward bogey. Par here is an achievement.

 Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 16

Par 5 Stroke Index 16 White Tees 473m Yellow Tees 453m Blue Tees 437m Red Tees 422m

16th Tee

 A dog leg shaping to the right with an ominous lake guarding the right side and frontal approaches. 

This hole is a clear invitation from Jack to test your skills and your courage. The risk vs reward ratio makes attacking the green with your second shot very inviting. Needless to say any mishits will be condemned to eternity in Davey Jones locker. This birdie opportunity could set you up for a great finishing run or it could be the source of much post golf reflection!

Big hitters can take a line over the bunkers on the right side of the fairway on the inside corner of the dogleg. I took a line just to the left of those bunkers and hit a decent drive.

The fairway is at its widest of the left side which is a good place to be, the further left and the further up then the easier your next shot becomes with less water to contend with.

I found myself with three wood in hand ready to take on the green with my second shot. The water on the right is the clear threat. I took aim at the large bunker set on the left fringe of the green which gave me the largest room for error. That is exactly where my ball finished, a simple splash and two putts gave me a par.

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 17

Par 4 Stroke Index 6 White Tees 342m Yellow Tees 313m Blue Tees 278m Red Tees 255m

17th Tee_

A very clever hole from the Golden Bear. Another birdie chance that tempts you to take a big risk in exchange for a big reward!

This is a short par 4, dead straight, nothing between you and the green, at 313m big hitters will get close to the green, I know that if I can get within 30m or 40m of the green that I have a 50-50 chance of making the chip and putt for a very welcome birdie.

There is one problem, and it’s a big one, in the shape of a lake that abuts the fairway along its right edge and goes on to circle around the right of the green.

A bunker at 230m from the tee causes a pinch point where the fairway is only 7 paces wide. Your tee shot needs to be beyond this point or short of it. There is a little room on the left, the shot that Mr. Nicklaus has in mind here is a powerful drive aimed up the left, shaping gently towards the green. No bunkers are required to guard the green, this hole is all about your ability to play attacking golf. Another great hole.

Montecastillo Golf Course Hole 18

Par 4 Stroke Index 10 White Tees 386m Yellow Tees 373m Blue Tees 344m Red Tees 319m

18th Tee_

In my opinion this is the signature hole of the fabulous golf course. All of the holes have been well thought out, and excellently presented as you would expect when Jack Nicklaus designs a championship golf course. Of all the memorable holes, for me, this is the one that defines the sense of occasion you tell when playing here.

Another make or break hole in this amazing finishing stretch. This is too difficult for me to consider as a birdie chance, this is the last hole and my sole thought here is not to mess it up! 

From an elevated tee towering above the fairway the hole displayed before you. The lake begins 250m from the tee on the left edge of the fairway and extends all the way to the green . The green is tucked away slightly left of the fairway centre line meaning that all shots into the green have to carry the water to reach the front edge.

You need to be a long way down the fairway after your tee shot, and as far to the right as possible in order to leave the least demanding second shot.

A pair of bunkers on the right side of the fairway at 230m make the tee shot even tougher as does the serpentine shape of the fairway. The best line is at the right side of the fairway hitting it as hard as you dare. A good drive here is essential.

Once that good drive has been dispatched then the next shot is no easier. I managed my best drive of the day which was extremely satisfying bearing in mind how this exquisite golf course had beaten me up thus far. From 115m I had only a wedge into the green, 100m of which was over the lake, the slightest tension or mishit and the golf course would have beaten me again. 

Summary

Hotel Terrace_

The Hotel was great, our group had a fabulous couple of days. The restaurant and bar were terrific and made a great place for us to gather as a group for dining, storytelling and generally having a fabulous time. The golf course was the star of the show. It is amazing to think that such a high quality of golf and accommodation is available for such a modest sum.

My abiding memories are of the golf course. These last three holes in particular have been brilliant. Jack Nicklaus has designed the course to test your mental skills as vigorously as your physical skills. 

Montecastillo Golf Resort is a terrific location for a few days of golf. With the F1 racing circuit within a few hundred meters this is also a great chance to indulge the inner petrol head when not playing golf.

Our group enjoyed the golf and hospitality of the Hotel that we rebooked immediately for next year.

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