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Andalucia Golf - JULY/AUGUST 2007

Los Barrancos de La Zagaleta

Europe's most exclusive urbanisation, La Zagaleta, in Benahavis municipality adjacent to Marbella, now has a second golf course – Los Barrancos de La Zagaleta.

Club de Campo La Zagaleta is located in the heart of one of the Costa del Sol's most beautiful areas, just a few kilometres from Marbella and 60 kilometres from Málaga airport by the tollway. This private urbanisation, extending over nearly 1,000 hectares, nestles on the hillsides of the Ronda mountains, offering spectacular views over the Mediterranean, Straits of Gibraltar and north African coastline.

Designed by G&M Ltd and opened a few months ago, the urbanisation's second 18-hole course involved an investment of 20 million euros by the development company that has run the complex since its foundation in 1991. Only members and companies organising corporate events can play at the course.

Los Barrancos de La Zagaleta is set in the southern part of the Coto de La Zagaleta property, extending over 65 hectares – or seven per cent of the total land.

Like the first course, designed in 1991 by California's Bradford Benz, Los Barrancos has a privileged setting and unrivalled views.

Construction was carried out following criteria of sustainability and respect for the environment, with the aim of conserving the natural landscape of the Coto de La Zagaleta property where the second course is located.

To that end, the developers commissioned G&M Ltd to design the new course, following the example set by Bradford Benz when he designed the urbanisation's first course – ensuring that the layout was adapted to the land's natural terrain and that the vegetation remained native.

Club de Campo La Zagaleta's director, Jacobo Cestino, defines the design as very challenging, as the designers' objective was to achieve a playable golf course that is integrated into the Ronda mountain landscape. The result is a sensational new course that members will always be able to enjoy, he says, expressing his satisfaction with the final project.

In his opinion, many of the holes offer a great challenge for players, with protective gullies opening up to undulating fairways, and greens and bunkers with magnificent and personalised inclines – not seen before in this area. For Jacobo Cestino, this fact, combined with the variety of options facing players when they reach the tee, demonstrates the perfection of a "risk and reward" strategy which the new La Zagaleta course follows as its model.

One of the main features of Los Barrancos is its integration into the landscape. In that sense, Cestino notes that the "shaping" was also very carefully planned with the objective of ensuring the course remains in rapport with its mountainous background setting. He also highlights the strategically located bunkers, pointing out that – in his opinion – the design team have been able to blend into a mountain course the strategy of bunkers normally found on a Scottish links course.

He also adds that for the new course more than two million square metres of earth and rock had to be moved to facilitate its construction, while other key work involved digging and re-filling areas 20 metres deep in some places. This, together with construction of a tunnel below the practice range that leads to the new clubhouse and the installation of a rock wall 750 metres long and six metres high (with four metres of foundation), gives an idea of the project's complexity.

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