Zagaleta New Course: Golf surrounded by pure nature

Zagaleta New Course, the second course on this residential estate, was designed in 2005 by Gaunt & Marnoch, who took care of every last detail to create a space where leisure merges with nature in an 18-hole course

Set in a private estate of almost a thousand hectares, where the ecosystem has been carefully respected, La Zagaleta really feels like it is in a nature reserve. Zagaleta New Course, the second course on this residential estate, was designed in 2005 by Gaunt & Marnoch, who took care of every last detail to create a space where leisure merges with nature in an 18-hole course. To the untrained eye, it is almost impossible to see how a golf course could have been built so successfully into such a landscape.

The wildlife on this part of the estate, where you can spot red and fallow deer and mouflon, and the breathtaking views make it a unique experience.

Yet this experience was not accessible to the general public until 2021, when the estate owners and the club decided to open it for three hours a day, 200 days a year. Thanks to that new arrangement, investments were made improving the course and renovating the clubhouse and car park. Carlos Rodiles is deputy director of Zagaleta Country Club, and we spoke to him about the progress of this agreement and the New Course at La Zagaleta.

Carlos Rodiles


Zagaleta’s New Course had always been a private course where you could only play by invitation. What made the estate open the course up to the public?

Opening the New Course to outside visitors for three hours a day, 200 days a year, came out of the desire to revise and update the arrangement between the club and the overall estate. There was a need to reshape the relationship so that both parties would benefit and be stronger. The New Course and its facilities were severely underutilized, thanks to this new agreement, the estate has invested a large sum of money in the complete renovation of the clubhouse and its car park and in improvements to the golf course, something that members have valued very positively.

What really stands out for you about the New Course?

The first thing that stands out as you approach the New Course is the beauty of its surroundings. A beauty based on a hillside setting that gifts the New Course a real range of heights. These changes in elevation mean that from the highest points there are spectacular views looking out not only over most of the holes on the course, but also over a large part of La Zagaleta and its impressive residences.

With a business model based on exclusivity, privacy and low building density, in an estate of almost a thousand hectares where the ecosystem has been totally respected, it’s possible to see La Zagaleta as a form of nature reserve. Red and fallow deer and mouflon are just some of the wildlife that visitors will almost certainly come across during their round on the New Course.

At first glance, it is almost impossible to imagine how a golf course could have been built in such terrain. When you look at the finished work, you can’t help but be impressed by what a brilliant job the architects Gaunt & Marnoch have done with a challenge of this nature.

Arbonauta restaurant

For those who haven’t played it yet, what is the New Course like?

The New Course is a shorter but technically challenging round where accuracy off the tee is essential for a good score. In general, the greens are wide and undulating, the surface is in perfect shape and their normal speed gives a very similar experience to what the professionals are used to on their big tour circuits.

It is a course where you have to do a lot of strategic thinking. The difference in score between a good day and a bad day can be considerable, but a player always has at the top of their mind that they could shoot a great round. That challenge, together with the magnificent condition of the course, exceptional customer service and a first-class dining experience in the Arbonauta restaurant, are what make visitors rate their time on Zagaleta New Course so highly and, ultimately, want to return.

For me there are two holes that really stand out, one on both the front and back nine. On the first nine, the 2nd is a very scenic, average length par 3, very well protected on the right and front by a lake that forces tee shots to the left. The green is wide but very undulating, which in no way guarantees you a par once you have got there from the tee.

On the second nine, the last hole on the course, the 18th, is a classic risk/reward hole. The long hitters can aim for the right side of the fairway and, thanks to the downward slope in that area, try to win some extra 60 metres’ distance. If they manage to get the ball on the fairway, they have a reasonable second shot to try for the green. On the other hand, any shot going too far to the right will end up in the water hazard. Medium and short hitters should aim for the left side of the fairway from the tee, where there’s a handy, wide area waiting for them and from here they can start their approach to the green. A third, short-range shot to try to reach the green is made harder by the water hazard off to the right-hand side. The green is long but very narrow, so accuracy is paramount if you want to leave yourself a good chance of a birdie.


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