Extremadura, an area of Spain that extends west of Madrid right up to the Portuguese border, is not on the well-beaten track of Spanish golfing destinations. For those more adventurous travellers, however, who would combine golf with visiting some of the unspoiled Spanish towns and cultural cities, it could become a worthwhile destination.
Madrid itself is not short of courses and these are patronised mostly by a demanding Spanish clientele in the capital, so out in the countryside, where some resorts are springing up, weekenders on golf breaks might find this unchartered region a handy alternative.
Our group flew into Madrid airport and was transferred to La Vera Valley, a Spanish beauty spot in the hills, somewhat reminiscent of the Welsh mountains. It was unusual to see such greenery and water-filled gorges in an area that has very dry hot summers. For those who like to incorporate some touring by car to see the ‘real’ Spain with their golf, this area is recommended.
The hotel at Talayuela Golf Resort is still under construction until October but promises to be comfortable and good quality accommodation while the course is already playable and attracting business on a pay and play basis.
When it has matured it has the potential to be a first class track with challenges on every hole with some thought given to different degrees of difficulty.
I particularly liked the fifth hole, a par-5, which demands accuracy to avoid a couple of streams in front and behind the green waiting to collect any wayward approach shots. There's already a maturity to the course with existing trees and natural features but it still requires some work aesthetically. The necessary but ugly black plastic liners in small lakes will be on show during periods of drought but stone work should sort it out when the hotel grounds are landscaped.
After visiting Cuacos de Juste, a small village in La Vera Valley where we enjoyed a pleasant meal in the Hotel Abadia de Juste, we moved on to Norba Golf Club near the city of Caceres and not far from the historic town of Trujillo.
The course here was an ideal challenge and ticked most of the boxes that a visitor to this area requires. It's well presented and manicured, has undulating features and water in play on several attractive-looking holes with hazards to test your strategy. Stone walls, bridges and surrounds to the water hazards contrasted with the previous course and the downhill, par-3 13th hole, surrounded by white sand bunkers is particularly appealing to the eye.
The onsite Hotel Caceres Golf is comfortable but strangely, separate to the club itself and merely enjoys proximity to the course. With no access to the club's buggies, it entails a walk up an extreme incline, which even for this athletic senior golfer nearly caused a cardiac arrest! Not recommended to less mobile golfers.
Guadiana Golf Club in Badajoz is more typical of the average Spanish urbanization courses. It's flat and the scenery is less visually appealing with its proximity to roads and property spoiling the layout visually. It was reasonably playable but seemed to lack any real character.
The relaxing Hotel Confortel Badajoz is ideally located to enable golfers to stroll out of breakfast and on to the first tee. It is also very close to the cultural city of Badajoz which is well worth a visit, or maybe spend an evening at one of the superb typical restaurants, such as the Aldebaran. Badajoz is also very close to the Portuguese border and only an hour's drive from Lisbon.
So, who would this region appeal to?
From a touring perspective there's a vast area of historic Spain, towns that are well preserved in their antiquity and culture like Trujillo, Caceres and Badajoz. It is also close to Portugal, so visiting Lisbon could also be included. However, the Extremadura courses are widespread and of a quality which at present hardly compares with those already proving popular and prestigious in Spain and Portugal.
If you like your Spanish culture and traditions with a little golf thrown in along the way, this charming area could prove an attractive option. But if your passion's just golf you might be disappointed.
Golfmagic would like to acknowledge Turexstremadura tourism for their hospitality and in particular the assistance of Carolina Morillo.
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