Valderrama has consistently been rated the best course in Europe, so why has the club intiated a three-year review of its layout by Kyle Phillips?
The fairway of the 385-yard 2nd at Valderrama arcs left-to-right between 30ft high cork oaks – apart, that is, from the one in the middle of the fairway that invites a lay-up and gives the hole its name of El Arbol. The velvety sward is trimmed to lOmm, the same length as the tees, and at its widest point stretches to 30 yards across a subtle camber. It is so smooth that, with even a shortish stroke, you can quite easily putt the ball from one side to the other.
In many ways, the second sums up Valderrama. Wide-yet-narrow, short-yet-long, it is a hole you’ll do better to sweet talk than yell at; pull driver out on the tee and you can just about hear the tree limbs whisper “Go ahead, make my day”. As the course unfolds, more sweeping angled fairways and cork oaks – some 5,000 – reveal a layout that will not be overpowered. In a golf world where power has become the new superbug, this track, at a little under 7,000 yards, is the perfect antidote.