Almenara Golf Course originally opened in 1998 and was designed by well-known English golfer and designer, Dave Thomas. Thomas had an illustrious golfing career winning multiple professional titles – he also played in 13 Open Championships and finished runner-up to Jack Nicklaus in the 1966 Open. He was a member of four Ryder Cup teams and following a back injury was inspired by Peter Aliss to become a course designer. Thomas designed almost 150 courses between the early 1970’s and early 2000’s.
Almenara winds its way through the rolling hills of Sotogrande and is located next to the Los Alcornocales natural park. The 27-hole facility is constructed of three 9-hole loops: Pinos, Lagos, and Alcornoques – each with its own distinctive style. The three 9-hole loops offer fantastic variety. The Pinos Course winds beautifully through scenic woodland, while the Lagos Course benefits from dramatic scenery as it moves around a large lake at the centre of the layout. The Alcornoques Course differs from the other courses with huge elevation changes from tee-to-green and overall, a more undulating experience.
In 2021 the entire course was remodelled by legendary local golfer, Manuel Piñero. Piñero was a hugely successful golfer on the European Tour throughout the 1970’s, winning nine tour titles. He represented Europe in the 1981 and 1985 Ryder Cups and clinched the vital points for Team Europe as they beat America for the first time in 30 years.
The inspiration for a remodel came from the construction of the new SO/Sotogrande hotel, and the need to keep the standard of golf and amenities up in the Sotogrande resort. “My aim was to make the course friendlier for the average player at Almenara Golf. For me, Almenara was a complicated course, with very narrow fairways and a lot of bunkers in parts, where you had to rely on keeping the ball in the centre of the fairway, which made some holes overly hard to play,” said Piñero.
Many of the improvements included removing bunkers and lots of pruning to make fairways wider and more forgiving. Additionally, the green areas have been seeded with high quality grass that can withstand all types of weather, keeping the course in top condition year-round.