This fall, continental Europe will enjoy two full weeks as the center of the competitive golf universe. Unlike 2021, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the Solheim and Ryder Cups to both be played in the U.S. in the same year, albeit three weeks apart, 2023 will see both tournaments unfold in back-to-back weeks, starting with this week's Solheim Cup festivities along southern Spain's Costa del Sol region before heading to Rome, Italy, for the Ryder Cup.
The 2023 Solheim Cup will be contested at Finca Cortesin, a boutique resort 75 minutes southwest of Malaga. Its 17-year-old golf course will play host to three days of match play between the top dozen Americans and Europe's best 12 players. Many sports books have the teams dead even heading into the weekend, suggesting that it could be an all-time thriller of a Solheim Cup on the heels of two narrow victories for Team Europe, in 2019 at Gleneagles in Scotland and in 2021 at Inverness Club in Ohio.
About Finca Cortesin's golf course and resort
Finca Cortesin, which opened in 2006, was designed by American golf course architect Cabell Robinson. Relatively unknown in his home country, Robinson worked for Robert Trent Jones, Sr. in Spain, helping Jones build 1997 Ryder Cup host Valderrama before ultimately establishing his own practice. The 82-year-old has carved out a steady career laying out and renovating golf courses in Europe and North Africa, including 11 in Morocco. Nine of his 10 Spanish courses sit along the country's southern coast, and the majority of those are in the vibrant region of Andalucia.
Routed across hilly terrain just north of the beaches of Casares, Finca Cortesin's golf course is characterized by generous fairways, considerable bunkering (especially greenside), with dense natural scrub lining both sides of many holes, awaiting errant shots. It plays on either side of a main road, with underpasses connecting both sides of the back-and-forth routing. Views of the Mediterranean Sea from several holes will help the property pop on television throughout the weekend.
The course should set up well for match play from the outset. For the 2023 Solheim Cup, play will begin on what is typically the fourth hole, a short par 4 that measures just 280 yards. Favorable weather may inspire players to take a risk and go for the green early in order to apply pressure to their opponents. From there, three par 5s stretch over the next seven holes - the 505-yard 2nd, the 476-yard 4th and the 561-yard 8th.
The inward nine begins with a cracking 188 par 3 that drops precipitously from tee to green. The 366-yard par-4 13th hole plays over a ravine to a green guarded by two large bunkers and century-old trees. Matches that come down to the wire will benefit from both dramatic scenery and some design volatility, with the par-3 17th followed by the uphill par-5 18th, whose green is surrounded by nine bunkers - seven many-fingered amoebas and two smaller pots.
Covering more than 530 acres, the resort itself is one of Europe's highest-rated luxury retreats. Officially opened in 2008, its complement of just 67 rooms and suites ensures a quiet getaway for visitors. Part of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts network, it has featured in Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards as well as the Tatler Travel Guide's 101 Best Hotels in the World list.
The hotel's striking Andalucian architecture reminds visitors of the nearby Alhambra palace. The resort's flagship restaurant, REI, serves inventive Mediterranean-Asian fusion dishes overseen by chef Luis Olarra. A golf package is available should the Solheim Cup inspire you to visit someday.