Not the exclusive realm of the distinguished elder gentleman, golf is for everyone. If you haven’t started, it might be time to shake off the preconceptions and get your golf shoes on. They don’t have to be garish two-tone brogues (although Nebuloni’s stunning handmade shoes are well worth considering), nor do you need all the gear from the start. A break on the Costa del Sol is the perfect opportunity to get out there, hone your skills and up your game.
Always, always start with classes from a professional teacher. Launching onto the driving range without proper guidance increases the chances of adopting bad habits. As the golf coach at the Marbella Golf Country Club, Monty Bordelon, put it, “You wouldn’t learn to cook without reading a recipe first.” All golf courses offer a qualified coach.
Los Naranjos, photo courtesy of Jacob Sjoman
At the Los Naranjos course in Marbella for example, Head Pro Rickard Strongert offers bespoke classes for individuals and groups. After more than 20 years as a golf pro, Strongert’s experience and passion are priceless. American, Monty Bordelon at Marbella Golf is from the same mould and ensures a varied approach to learning, offering a 9-hole Playing Lesson as well as one-to-one sessions on the driving range.
Communicating with the golf instructor is key. His or her job is to adjust to your style and recognise when to step in and make changes; your job is to be open and take on board as much as you can. Qualified golf coaches are well versed in recognising those bad habits as they emerge. Your husband/wife/friend/brother-in-law probably isn’t, so take heed and head to the pro.
Once your footing, your swing, your state of mind (yes really) are in order, move on to the driving range. You might think that this is the perfect place to vent; whacking 100 balls 150 yards is a wonderful way to let off steam. Instead, slow down and enjoy it. Quality, as ever, beats quantity, so use the range as a place to practice technique. Don’t go every day, you will overdo it and get frustrated or bored.
Marbella Golf Country Club
Peter Morrice, Senior Editor of Instruction at Golf Digest, recommends using the driving range to practice your short, medium and long game. Starting short, move upwards and then back down again as you would in a round of golf. That way you will get used to the normal progression of the game.
The next step is onto the course. At the beginning it’s a good idea to look for shorter ‘executive’ courses of 9 holes. The Marbella Club’s El Higueral 9-hole, par-36 course sits on the slopes of Benahavís and as a short course, it’s guaranteed to be fun, never a chore and a great way to start or build confidence if you’re just embarking upon the golf journey. The setting helps too, the views across the Mediterranean Sea, Gibraltar and the African Coastline are enhanced by the carefully contoured fairways, waterfalls, lakes and greens that are maintained to perfection.
Marbella Club Hotel, Golf & Spa
Inevitably frustration will hit. Bad habits will seep in. A coach can see them and, even more impressively, the gadgets can too. At Finca Cortesin, the superbly-equipped Jack Nicklaus Coaching Studio features a Swing Analysis System that uses three high-speed digital cameras to check the clubface before, during and after impact; a TOMI Putting System Analysis that captures eight critical points in the putting stroke and displays them graphically for you to see; Taylor Made Club Fitting with clever software that will tell you which are the right clubs for you; a K-Vest interactive training system, a 1,024-Point Pressure Mat as well as a radar-based device that will provide data on the ball you hit.
Coaching at the Finca Cortesín
With the Jack Nicklaus Academy team keeping an eye on the tech, you will have immediate feedback, meaning you can make greater improvements quicker and understand what are the causes and effects on your game and swing faults. Once you’ve been taken through the paces with these guys, you can step out onto the turf and enjoy what is widely considered the best course on the Costa del Sol. All you need now is that Louis Vuitton golf bag: if your game isn’t up to scratch yet, you will at least look the part.