One of five golf courses in the Orihuela municipality
Of the five golf courses located in the municipality of Orihuela Villamartín is perhaps the most prestigious and, many would argue, the most difficult. It’s fairly long (6,706 yards from the white tees), and although the fairways are reasonably forgiving the design, the gradients, the breeze, the trees, the bunkers and the tiered greens all come into play to make sure that even the supposedly easier holes provide a stiff test.
This was the case back in 1994, when the European Tour’s Turespaña Open Mediterrania was won with a score of twelve under par over the four rounds. The winner on that occasion was no ordinary golfer, though: after beating Paul McGinley in a playoff at Villamartín, a month later José María Olazábal donned his first green jacket as a Masters winner at Augusta. Other top golfers to have pitted their skills against the undulating fairways of John Puttman’s course include Ian Woosnam, Bernhard Langer and Severiano Ballesteros, so anyone playing the course is following in some pretty impressive footsteps!
The layout has been altered little since the course first opened in 1972, beginning with a testing 530-yard par 5. The front nine also features two tricky par threes, the first of them requiring an accurate 200-yard tee shot and the second, although much shorter, punishing anyone who strays left after clearing the lake.
Villamartín’s landmark hole is probably the 17th, a long par three over a wooded ravine and onto a green which is spread over three levels. The wind is crucial, as from the raised tee you might need a five-iron one day and a three-wood the next! Even if the tee shot is a good one, avoiding the large bunker at the front of the green, the ball still needs to be on the right tier, otherwise it can be almost impossible to get the first putt close to the flag. In the 1994 Open Mediterrania even some of the pros were avoiding the hazards of putting by taking an iron from on the green!
The 421-yard dog-leg 18th presents a very different challenge, as the fairway is dotted with olive trees. Either a supremely accurate drive or a decent slice of luck is needed to ensure that you have a clear second shot, and you’re going to need one to avoid the bunkers which protect the green on both sides.
After negotiating the challenges of the course, most golfers will welcome the chance to relax in the recently refurbished clubhouse and enjoy the spectacle of others making their way up the eighteenth. Inside the clubhouse complex there are also changing rooms and a pro shop, and of course lessons are also available. The practice greens and driving range are in perfect condition for those preferring to hone their game without the pressure of match play!
As one of the oldest courses in the Comunitat Valenciana Villamartín enjoys a certain prestige among golfers, and all golfers visiting the province of Alicante should find to make time to book a round here.
How to get there: From the main N-332 road which runs along the coastal developments of Orihuela Costa, follow the signs to Villamartín. These take you past the Zenia Boulevard shopping centre on your right and up into the hills, passing various residential developments on the left. The course and clubhouse are surprisingly poorly signposted: at the second roundabout after crossing over the motorway take the first exit, which veers slightly to the right, and then follow the road for just over half a kilometre until the clubhouse complex is visible on your left. Parking is normally straightforward either in the golf club itself or around the shopping centre opposite.