History of Valderrama Golf Course

Valderrama is named after a very old Andalucian estate that became part of what is now the Sotogrande estate. Andalucia´s rugged beauty had a profound influence on two men, inspiring them in their work.

After World War II, Colonel Joe McMicking became a successful real estate developer, active in the Philippines as well as the United States. McMicking fell under the spell of the unspoiled Andalucian coastline the first time he saw it. He realized that, sooner or later, urban encroachment would change the coastline forever. After a long search, McMicking acquired three adjoining estates - Sotogrande, Paniagua and Valderrama. He disposed of individual plots for high-class residential development at a low density, calling the whole area Sotogrande. Here is the full history of Sotogrande

One of the first to build was Jamie Ortiz-Patiño, whose family had ancestral links to Spain. Ortiz-Patiño, who directed his family´s world-wide mining interests from Geneva, initially could visit his new home only three or four times a year to relax and play golf. Later he was able to spend more time there, and soon an idea began to take shape.

McMicking´s master plan provided for two golf courses. The first, which he laid out right at the start, was called Sotogrande. Ten years later, McMicking built Sotogrande New - but soon changed the name to Las Aves (The Birds). Both courses were designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr.

Ortiz-Patiño had built his home by the third green at Sotogrande, but he came to have a special regard for Las Aves. Ortiz-Patiño became convinced that if certain key parcels of land could be included and the golf course redesigned by its creator, it would become one of the world´s finest. Trent Jones had already stated that, of the hundreds of courses he had designed, Las Aves was one of his five favourites.

Sadly, Jamie Ortiz-Patiño died in a Malaga hospital on 3 January 2013, aged 82 a memorial service was held a the church in Sotogrande attended by family, press, groundsmen of Valderrama and golfer Miguel Angel Jimenez. 

In December 2015, it was announced that the Valderrama Group had been bought by La Zagaleta Limited (owner of the ultra-exclusive La Zagaleta residential estate in Benahavís) for €40 million and that plans to develop a "Valderrama 2" golf, hotel and residential complex in the nearby Castellar municipality were now back on the front-burner. La Zagaleta subsequently sold the Valderama Golf Club land to the member's Valderrama Golf Club who had claimed first refusal rights.

In 1995 Real Club Valderrama was one of the eight clubs that participated in a pilot project of EGA the ecological unit, assisted and co-financed by the European Commission, for the development of an Environmental Management Program. Shortly thereafter, in 1997, it achieved the milestone of being the first club in Europe to achieve environmental certification from Audubon International, the most important entity that endorses the commitment of golf courses to the natural environment. The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program (ACSP) monitors the implementation of best practices in the maintenance of golf courses to care for biodiversity and environment, addressing key aspects such as water use and conservation, environmental and wildlife management, the reduction of chemicals and fuels, and the communication of ecological values.

Real Club Valderrama implemented a number of initiatives to optimize and save water consumption, such as the installation in 2016 and 2017 of a new fully digitized irrigation system to regulate each sprinkler on the course, the implementation of hardness and humidity sensors on the greens that allow irrigation to be regulated according to needs, and the replacement of many areas of grass with mulch (crushed cork oak bark). These rough areas shaded by trees practically do not come into play and have made it possible to eliminate more than 300 sprinklers.

In 2022 the construction of a new lake to the right of the 11th hole to be used for irrigation. The lake collects rainwater and water from the course drain, it will be filled during the winter and will provide irrigation water during the summer months when consumption peaks occur. Before the construction of this 58,000 m3 lake, almost 70 cork oak trees were transplanted to other areas of the golf course in order to carry out the work while respecting the forest mass. In total, around €600,000 was invested in the lake which will serve as a habitat for many birds that migrate through the Gibraltar Strait.

Valderrama’s environmental includes 527 flora and fauna species on the course. The cork oak is the most famous symbol of the course and even features on the Andalucía Masters trophy. The course has 359 known plant species, of which more than 90% are native plants of the Mediterranean region. There are also 105 different species of birds and thirteen species of mammals, with genets, otters, badgers and mongooses the most common. They are cared for and monitored by a team of experts who track and monitor these species, in addition to protecting habitats and sanctuaries located in the course, designated as "environmentally sensitive areas" when they contain endangered species of flora and fauna.