Santa Maria Golf and Country Club Course Review

Santa Maria Golf and Country Club situated in the heart of the popular Elviria urbanisation on the outskirts of Marbella. A parkland golf course Santa Maria is recognised as being one of the best presented golf courses along the Costa del Sol. As you sit on the terrace of the clubhouse and look across the golf course it looks fantastic. The wide, verdant undulating fairways set in the rich gardens bring to mind TV images of Augusta or Wentworth.

Designed by Antonio Garcia Garrido (Villa Padierna Flamingos, Dona Julia) this beautiful parkland layout has matured spectacularly since it opened in 1996 and is flawless in its appearance. Thoroughly enjoyable with generous rolling fairways and large receptive greens, this golf course is kind in nature and will give golfers of all standards a “feel good factor”.

The addition of two new holes have added some extra length to the layout surpassing 6000m and taken par to 72.

The Director of Golf Mikel Artaza and his team clearly take pride in their work. I had a great day here and I am sure that you will too. 

Contents show

Location

Ideally situated in the village urbanisation of Elviria. Santa Maria Golf is just a few hundred metres from the beaches of Marbella. Malaga airport is only 35 minutes away by car, Marbella and Puerto Banus just a few minutes drive. A perfect golf course from which to enjoy the attractions that Marbella has to offer.

Facilities:

  • Putting Green
  • Warm-up nets

Clubhouse:

  • Lockers
  • Showers
  • Restaurant 
  • Snacks
  • On Course Refreshments 
  • Fully stocked Pro Shop

Santa Maria Golf and Country Club Front 9 Holes

Santa Maria Golf Hole 1 Los Lagos

Par 4 Stroke Index 17 White Tees 338m Yellow Tees 263m Red Tees 212m

1st tees from yellows

What  a starting hole! Directly on your right, on the edge of the tee box are the first of two lakes that dominate your thoughts on this tee shot. The second lake is 90m ahead of you and on your left. You need to carry 160m to find terra firma, no big deal, however being the first strike of the day the lakes do add a certain watery tension to proceedings!

The view from the tee is superb. From a golfer’s perspective it has everything. Sparkling lakes in the foreground, rich rolling green fairways like boulevards that guide your eye towards the distant green. Mature pine trees and a sand trap on your right define the right edge of the fairway are perfectly placed to draw you in. The cart path runs along the left flank on its journey to the green. Beyond the cart path are red stakes marking the immaculate flora as lateral water hazard and therefore a place to avoid.

There are are four possible outcomes for your drive:

1) Disaster – in the lakes, 

2) Moderate disaster – over the lakes but in the hazard on the left, penalty drop 

3) Mild cock up – in or close to the bunker in the right rough with no hope of finding the green

4) Perfection – anywhere on the fairway.

The route to perfection is to aim at the pine trees on the right, ignore all other obstacles and apply a free, rhythmic swing. The slope on the right will bounce your ball to the left leaving you in the perfect location for your assault on the green.  The incline of the fairway as it rises to the green  will be a factor adding a club or two to your selection.

The green is large with bunkers guarding both sides of the entrance, a third bunker sits on the rear left. The green is set in a shallow amphitheatre which is helpful for keeping balls on the green and also looks terrific. The water hazard gets closer to the line of play as you get closer to the green and sits just 15m away from the left edge of the putting surface – beware!

This is a deeply pleasing hole, it looks great, it plays well and it feels good. It’s the perfect way to get acquainted with Santa Maria Golf!

Santa Maria Golf Hole 2 Los Cipreses

Par 5 Stroke Index 9 White Tees 477m Yellow Tees 460m Red Tees 367m

2nd fairway towards green

An aesthetically pleasing hole playing downhill from its elevated tee boxes, this hole is a perfect risk/reward opportunity.  A dog leg to the right  with trees either side of the tee box that create a funnel effect making the drive reminiscent of the 18th at Augusta, it really does look that good!

The line to take is on the left side of the fairway. Hit it as far down as possible. It is a generous fairway, the only difficulty is the visual effect that the funnel of trees create on the tee box.

The elbow of the dog leg is 160m from the green which is the narrowest point of the hole, just 15m wide. This is where the river running along the barranca on the right of the fairway crosses underneath the fairway and continues its journey to the Mediterannean Sea a few hundred metres away.

Ideally second shots need to get over this crossing point and leave a short third into the green. There is little room around this green, a short shot in will be an advantage. On the right of the green and above it sits the 3rd tee. Beyond the tee is the lake that also adorns the side of the 1st tee. To the left and behind the green just a few paces from the apron are the red stakes that line the beautiful densely packed gardens, shrubs and trees that make up the rough. 

If you hit your drive far enough that you can reach the green with your second shot then careful evaluation of the risk versus the reward will be needed before you take on the challenge. There are no hazards between you and the green The only requirement is that you can hit a shot of more than 220m absolutely straight. There is no option to miss on the left or the right – you will almost certainly incur a penalty stroke.

The closer to the green you can get with your second shot makes the third easier and a birdie more likely. The best compromise might be to hit a shot that gets to within 20 or 30m of the target leaving a simple up and down for birdie.

This is a great hole that looks amazing and gives you two or three ways to play it. Excellent!

Santa Maria Golf Hole 3 La Loma

Par 4 Stroke Index 2 White Tees 374m Yellow Tees 335m Red Tees 302m

3rd tee

The third tee sits opposite the first tee on the other side of the lake making for another wonderful looking golf hole. 

The broad fairways are cut in contrasting stripes, the flowers and shrubs are in full blossom, the rolling terrain, and the towering trees all combine here at Santa Maria Golf to imbue the player with a tremendous sense of well being. This is the sort of golf course that you see on TV, a Wentworth or an Augusta. it feels good to be here right now!

Running alongside the first fairway separated by the same line of trees and sand bunker this hole plays similarly to the first hole. A drive to the right half of the fairway is preferable, the difference here is that you can go left, doing so will put you on the other fairway and add a little difficulty to your second shot.

The wide point of the fairway comes at 220m although there is no reason not to attack the drive and get it further along. 

A straightforward second shot awaits you, a large green makes a welcoming target. The three bunkers are not large and are unlikely to trouble you.

A very pleasing hole, should be a comfortable par.

Santa Maria Golf Hole 4 El Arroyo

Par 4  Stroke Index 11 White Tees 252m Yellow Tees 250m Red Tees 235m

4th tee

A short par 4 that incentivizes you for taking risks! What a positive hole! Out of bounds all along the right side, water hazard  all along the left the closer you get to the green the wider it becomes, in fact the widest part of the hole is the green itself. This hole is asking you to have a crack with the big stick and get as close as you can. I love it!

A pair of small bunkers sit to the left and right of the entrance of the green. If you reach them from the tee it means you hit a great shot! This is a lovely hole and a good chance to make a birdie!

Santa Maria Golf Hole 5 La Ladera

Par 4 Stroke Index 15 White Tees 294m Yellow Tees 294m Red Tees 267m

5th tee

A classic Santa Maria Golf hole, trouble all along one side of the hole. In this case it’s along the right hand side, clarity on the other. The hole is telling you how to play it, all you have to do is follow the clues! A wooded slope sits on the left side just over the cart path which makes a good line as your ball will bounce back into the right. Playing slightly uphill this hole is good on the eye and looks tough. Very satisfying!

A decent drive will leave a short iron into the green. The elevation of the green and its false front are there to deceive you. Make sure and give it enough to find the middle of the green.

Santa Maria Golf Hole 6 Las Adelfas

Par 4 Stroke Index 5 White Tees 309m Yellow Tees 304m Red Tees 279m

6th tee

This fairway is 40m wide at its widest point with a further 40m of first cut rough. If you miss this huge landing zone then you should immediately return to the clubhouse and seek the help of Dean Symonds the Head Pro to fix your golf swing!

Playing considerably uphill the holes plays longer than the number on the tee box suggests. Take a line on the right edge of the green  and hit it as hard as you can. The main defence of this hole is its steep slope. Most club golfers simply do not allow enough club with their second shots to clear the bank that guards the front of the green. The green is not easy. Sloping from the back towards the front, any balls that finish above the cup will result in a hair-raising putt down the hill. This hole looks so simple from the tee. It is not! Another great hole here at Santa Maria Golf.

Santa Maria Golf Hole 7 Los Eucaliptos

Par 3 Stroke Index 13 White Tees 205m Yellow Tees 194m Red Tees 169m

7th tee

There is only one par 3 on the front nine at Santa Maria Golf, and it is a monster of more than 200m! 

A barranca filled with majestic aged Eucalyptus trees sits on your right, dangerous for your scorecard but beautiful to behold! The barranca stops 40m before the green giving a little more room on the right than is visible from the tee.

A bunker guards the front left, another at the rear and a third on the right side of the green. The green slopes from rear left to front right making almost every putt need your full attention. A fantastic par 3 that guarantees everyone that walks off with a par also walks off with a massive “feel good” factor!

Santa Maria Golf Hole 8 Vista de Las Montanas

Par 5 Stroke Index 7 White Tees 478m Yellow Tees 459m Red Tees 430m

8th tee

“Vista de Las Montanas” is the name of this hole. The Sierra Blanca mountain dominates the view ahead, the countryside all around is in bloom, yellows, white, purples, orange, the surrounding heathland offers a dazzling palette. Santa Maria Golf is beautiful.

Running downhill from the tee with a dog leg to the right this is a classic risk and reward hole. The safe line is to aim at the bunker tucked into the left corner of the fairway, this is the widest part of the hole but will take away the opportunity of reaching the green in two.

The tiger line is to go over the big tree on top of the hill. Too far right and you are lost in rough between fairways. One hundred metres from the tee on the right of the cart path is a copse of trees. Aim over the trees closest to the cart path, provided that you can fly the ball 240m (and keep it straight) you will arrive at the narrowest point of the fairway and probably benefit from a generous kick forward leaving you a comfortable shot into the green.

The obvious lay up point for those playing it as a 3 shot hole comes 80m for the green where it widens a little. Watch out for the lake on the right. Bunkers either side of the green will only catch offline shots, the entrance to the green is open making chipping at the flag easier. 

With a confident tee shot this risk/reward hole is willing to reward you with a birdie. Give it a go!

Santa Maria Golf Hole 9 La Laguna

Par 5 Stroke Index 1 White Tees 511m Yellow Tees 485m Red Tees 411m

9th tee

This hole comes as a shock. It is completely out of character with the first 8 holes. The tee shot is hard, the second shot is harder, the third shot is tough and most players still have not reached the green!  It is the type of Par 5 that you see on TV where the Pros all shoot double bogey and the caddies contemplate a diminishing paycheck.

From the tee the view is dominated by a large stone wall at the top of the wide fairway. The line to take is at the left half of the wall. The fairway threads through a gap in the wall on the far left side and climbs an further 180 meters to the vastly elevated green.

Left of the cart path for the first 280m of the hole will see you in the river happily marked as a lateral water hazard. The second shot here is very difficult. You either lay up short of the narrow point (where the fairway passes the wall and begins its final climb to the green), if you do so you will not reach the green in 3 shots, or you take a line just to the left of the bunker located on the banking on the right and get it as far up the hill as you can. Even then the third shot is very demanding as the elevation to the green is significant and for me at least required 2 more clubs. 

For most of us a 5 here is unlikely. Take your medicine, try to limit the damage to a 6 and move on!

Santa Maria Golf and Country Club Back 9 Holes 

Santa Maria Golf Hole 10 La Fosa 

Par 4 Stroke Index 3 White Tees 420m Yellow Tees 414m red Tees 379m

10th tee

A blind tee shot makes this already tough hole a little tougher. Downhill and dog-leg to the right this hole plays every one of its 420m. The ideal drive for safety is to start the ball on the left of the fairway with a little movement to the right. The danger comes if you take a line right of the cart path which runs on the right side of the hole.

A good drive here will still leave you with 180m second shot down to the bottom of the valley whereupon the green rises sharply leaving difficult uphill chips and pitches to save par.

The green is angled running downhill from the back left to the front right, as with all of the greens at Santa Maria Golf they run quick and true.

This is another very tough hole and feels very different to the other holes we have played today.

Santa Maria Golf Hole 11 La Cascada

Par 4 Stroke Index 8 White Tees 302m Yellow Tees 286m Red Tees 268m

11th green 2

This is a lovely hole, the perfect risposte to the struggle presented by the previous two. This too offers a risk and reward equation, however, I just do not see any other way to play it other than the safe way. 

From an elevated tee the fairway points you at a large and attractive lake. The fairway turns left running alongside the lake until it reaches the green. A drive over the corner of the dogleg directly at the green has little chance of success. Similarly a high powerful shot swinging from right to left is unlikely to find success.

The shot to play is at the lake, for me a 4 iron. From there it’s 100m into a small green with a bubbling waterfall on its right, a tree blocking access from the left with front and rear bunkers giving the target 360 degree protection. 

Such a pretty hole. 

Santa Maria Golf Hole 12 El Mirador 

Par 3 Stroke Index 10 White Tees 157m Yellow Tees 147m Red Tees 111m

12 tee

A downhill par 3 with panoramic views across the golf course and further across the splendour of the Costa del Sol.

Barranca on the right thick with mature tall trees obscures your view of the right side of the green. There is room to lay up just short and in line with the left edge of the green. The key thing here is not to be short and right of the target. Anything to the right of the cart path is history!

Four bunkers form a quad around the green leaving plenty of room for chipping. This hole insists that you play an aggressive shot at the middle of the green. It is the only truly safe place to be! Another excellent hole here at Santa Maria Golf.

Santa Maria Golf Hole 13 Los Robles

Par 5 Stroke Index 2 White Tees 481m Yellow Tees 466m Red Tees 429m

13th fairway towards tee

A tough looking par 5 running uphill with a severe dogleg to the left. The drive here is the shot that you have to dominate in order to have any hope of scoring. The cart path runs along the right side of the tree lined fairway. Over the cart path will place you in the first cut of rough between fairways making your second shot more difficult.

On the left of the fairway is a large ravine populated with mature trees and Mediterranean vegetation which will not hesitate to consume your ball. The error here is to miss the fairway on the left. You have to get your ball past this ravine before the green comes into view around the dog leg at the top of the hill. There is no reward for attempting to cut the corner. Your only objective with the drive is to get as close to the corner as possible so that you can see more of the green with your second shot.The line to take is on the eucalyptus trees on the far right side of the fairway.

From the corner of the dog leg it is still a long way to go. Long hitters might be able to reach the green in two. For 95% of us this is a three shot par 5. The widest part of the fairway is 100m from the green. It makes sense to make this the destination with your second shot, it leaves a simple shot into the heart of the green.

The green is large and well contoured. Get your approach shot in close, this is a tricky green to two putt from long distance.

Santa Maria Golf Hole 14 Los Pinos

Par 4 Stroke Index 12 White Tees 380m Yellow Tees 368m Red Tees 342m

14th tee

This is a downhill par 4 with a dog leg to the right. Whilst the green is not visible from the tee the line for the drive is obvious. It is a very wide fairway ahead of you with a view of the Mediterranean on the horizon. Aim at the sea and all will be well! If you go to the right of the cart path you will bounce to the bottom of a slope and make life more difficult for yourself.

In order to see the green your tee shot needs to reach the crest of the fairway 230m from the tee. The green is set at the bottom of a valley with a large tree defending the front left access. Bunkers sit on the rear right of this diminutive putting surface making it a hard target to hit.

Santa Maria Golf Hole 15 El Rincon

Par 3 Stroke Index 16 White Tees 166m Yellow Tees 154m Red Tees 143m

15th green

The tee box is situated on top of the A7 Autovia tunnel. I am fascinated watching the cars and trucks bear down upon us and then disappear into the tunnel below!

This par 3 is downhill from the tee box 166m to the green. It plays significantly shorter thanks to the topography.

This is a straightforward hole with all of the obstacles and hazards clearly on display before you. The front of the green is open making chipping easier for those that don’t reach with their tee shot. A large bunker sits short and left of the green, a large tree and a further bunker all guard the left side. A big green finishes the hole and makes for a very rewarding par 3. 

Santa Maria Golf Hole 16 Los Olivos

Par 4 Stroke Index 4 White Tees 372m Yellow Tees 371m Red Tees 340m

16th tee

Here we are on the closing stretch. This par 4 will certainly stretch you. A par or net par here will be hard fought and shine like a jewel on your scorecard.

This is a long, straight and narrow par 4 and will make even the stoutest heart flutter with anxiety when contemplating the tee shot. Out of bounds close to the fairway on the right. Twenty five metres of space left of the fairway before you reach the water hazard make for a shoe-lace fairway. The widest part of the fairway arrives at 220m from the tee leaving a mid iron into an equally slender green. There is only one line to hit from the tee, that is arrow straight directly up the middle, probably the hardest shot in golf.

The green, whilst narrow, is 40m long meaning that there are four more clubs required to reach the back flag compared to the front pin position! A step runs through the centre of the green making the back half a meter higher than the front. 

This is an excellent par 4, expertly designed to give a thorough examination of a players strategy and technique. 

Santa Maria Golf Hole 17 El Puente

Par 3 Stroke Index 14 White Tees 151m Yellow tees 151m Red Tees 130m

17th tee

This uphill par three is another example of the “open book” design at Santa Maria Golf. You can look at the hole from the tee and clearly see what needs to be done. I like that. It is a characteristic common to all good golf course layouts.

A large, long green makes a generous target. Plenty of room at the back of the green and also to the right. Rather less room to the left. The wind can play a factor here making it more difficult to select the right club to find the middle on this 40m deep green.

As with all of the greens at Santa Maria Golf the green is mildly contoured, affected by the grain and once you have chosen the line will track true.

Santa Maria Golf Club Hole 18 La Casa

Par 4 Stroke Index 6 White Tees 352m Yellow Tees 343m Red Tees 272m

View from 18th green back towards tee

A challenging finishing hole. This par 4 is narrow. Out of bounds on the right side. The widest part of the fairway arrives 230m from the tee, it is prudent to hit your tee shot to this point. A tree on the left of the fairway will catch those players who strive to keep away from the danger on the right. The tree might stop your ball from splashing into the lake directly behind it. It will certainly block your shot into the green.

There is plenty of room to the left of the green once the far shore of the lake is behind you. A bunker sits to the left of the green but is unlikely to cause trouble. The green defends itself with its extreme contours. Large and square in shape the green tilts sharply from back to front and from right to left making the correct placing of your shot into the flag extremely important. If you find yourself above the cup or to the right of the cup then you have a big problem!

A cracking hole to finish on which brings to a close an entirely delightful experience. Thank you Santa Maria Golf.

Summary

This is a very picturesque golf course, everywhere you look you see that the gardens and the grounds are beautifully kept. It does not seem fair to call the areas off the fairway rough. There is nothing rough about it. The plants, flowers, trees that comprise the gardens on the periphery of the fairways are beautifully kept . We are in the heart of Elviria here, just metres from the roads, small businesses  and homes that make up this urbanisation, yet here in the pristine confines of Santa Maria Golf your senses are met with serenity and  beauty. It really is a pleasure being here.

Santa Maria Golf and Country Club have a golf course for its members and guests to enjoy. Generously wide fairways matched to large greens create a “feel good” factor  that  brings with it a highly enjoyable day of golf. Of all the awards and praise that can be bestowed upon a golf course, to have your members and guests say “What a great game we had today” must be the most rewarding praise of all. I have no doubt the team at Santa Maria Golf hears these words often!

I don’t think there is a higher compliment that can be paid to any golf course.

I am going to sit here on the terrace of the clubhouse, H19, have one more beer and soak it all up. Many thanks to Mikel and the team for an outstanding day!

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Santa Maria Golf and Country Club Course Review

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