Monte Mayor is on the Costa del Sol in Southern Spain. Well, it’s a bit away from the coast, rather up in the hills above Benahavis. In any case it could hardly be more atypical of most courses in that part of the world, which are mostly flat as well as being so plentiful that the local authorities have stuck signs on the main road boasting that this is the ‘Costa del Golf’.
At present, sadly, Monte Mayor is a story more accurately told in the past tense. Having opened in 1989, its comparative inaccessibility meant it never generated the revenues that had been hoped for, and it closed in November 2011. Last December it was purchased by a Russian consortium and the plans are that the course will reopen next year. We shall see.
I certainly hope so. Designed by José ‘Pepe’ Gancedo, it is extraordinary. The risk/reward factor on some holes is off the charts. On two of the par-threes on the front nine, if your tee shot doesn’t find the green, the odds are it means your ball is lost. This isn’t a course for the faint-hearted, either in terms of golfing fortitude or in terms of stamina. It’s like a rollercoaster, one on which you negotiate the ups and downs with your legs rather than in a carriage. You wouldn’t want to play medal golf around it unless you are very good; don’t take your best golf balls but do take plenty of them.
Despite that forbidding-sounding advisory, it is a lot of fun. Every par seems like an achievement. If you haven’t yet played it, I hope the new investment will mean that perhaps you might in 2016.
Robert Green’s ‘Seve: Golf’s Flawed Genius’ is available on Amazon. You can follow him on Twitter @robrtgreen