Golf is a staple among the many activities available on offer in the region of Andalucía and players often go out of their way to make the journey to Europe's best location to play the sport. From its many world-class courses - the region has 150 of them to enjoy, with 90 located in Malaga and Cadiz provinces - to the perfect weather conditions all year round, it's no surprise that golf has such a heavy presence in Andalucía.
It doesn't matter where you come from, golf is for everyone to enjoy. The sport is played by locals, national and international tourists alike, and the simplicity of the game itself makes it so much easier for people of all ages and skill levels to relax on the greens.
Some of the world's most famous courses can be found in Andalucía, and their location is just one of the many features they have going for them.
Marbella's Real Club de Golf Las Brisas is the stand-out course of the so-called 'Valley of Golf', the area in Malaga province where up to a dozen golf clubs are concentrated.
At a glance, Las Brisas offers a stunning backdrop that's difficult to ignore, with the 1,200-metre high La Concha mountain looming over players wherever they go.
Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr, the Marbella course presents its own set of unique challenges. Players will come across up to ten water obstacles, thanks to the man-made lakes that use water from two local streams, and the greens are heavily protected by bunkers.
Jones' design aimed to challenge players, who will need to execute very precise shots to have the least frustrating experience, and it's easy to see why this courses stands out in this area of the Costa del Sol.
Located just over 30 kilometres away from Las Brisas is the Finca Cortesín Golf Club, in Casares. It's up there among some of the best-known courses in Spain and it has also gained a lot of fame in recent years by hosting important tournaments.
Designed by Cabell B. Robinson, the 18 holes the course offers pose a range of challenges, including up to 100 bunkers. Another key characteristic is its sheer length, which falls just short of the seven-kilometre mark.
Finca Cortesín also has 20 different types of flora, as well as a Mediterranean forest sculpted to enhance the landscape which includes Estepona's Sierra Bermeja mountain range.
The course is also unique for its top-of-the-range Bermudan grass, which meant that Finca Cortesín was lauded in 2017 for becoming the first course in Spain to use environmentally friendly grass.
Between 2009 and 2012, Finca Cortesín was the host of the prestigious Volvo World Match Play Championship and next year, in 2023, the Solheim Cup will make its way to the course, marking the first time the tournament has been played on Spanish soil.
But the undisputed king of them all is the Real Club Valderrama, considered to be the best course in the country. Located in Sotogrande (Cadiz), it boasts some of the most paradisiacal holes on offer anywhere, also expertly designed by Robert Trent Jones.
It annually holds the Spanish Open and it was the host of the 1997 Ryder Cup, which was won by Team Europe.
Local and international golfers in the region won't just have the chance to play on some of the best courses in the world, but next year they will also have the opportunity to watch the best golfers, including the likes of Nelly Korda or Carlota Ciganda, compete against one another on the highest international stage.
September 2023 will see the Solheim Cup played in Spain for the very first time. The tournament, which is the women's equivalent to the Ryder Cup, will pit the best golfers from the United States against those from Europe.
The tournament format will see Team Europe and Team USA comprised of twelve players each. They will compete over the course of three days for a total of twenty-eight games. They will be divided into eight foursomes and eight four-ball games on the first two days, with twelve singles games on the final day.
It was in October 202 that it was announced that Finca Cortesín Golf Club would be hosting the tournament.
By September 2022, around 20,000 tickets had already been sold, with organisers expecting up to 70,000 people to watch the event at the course.
Moreover, the direct and indirect economic impact it will have in the area is thought to be 235 million euros.
Back on the ground, golf is a sport that can also be played at any level and in different forms.
Pitch and putt, a derivative of golf, is also a good option for those looking to get a more simplified experience if they're short on time or if they don't feel like having to hike around 18 holes.
On pitch and putt courses, the hole is usually 90 metres long and there are fewer clubs used than in a normal game of golf.
There are over 20 courses in Andalucía that offer this modality, and each one is different. Their length varies between 40 and 120 metres, with par-three holes.