Previously, visitors who wanted to play there had to call ahead and try to secure one of the coveted outside tee times, or go through a specialty golf travel agency. Now, getting a preferred tee time at Valderrama is as simple as staying at the San Roque Club, an upscale golf resort just 10 minutes down the road. San Roque guests can play Valderrama and four other excellent courses in the Costa del Sol subregion known as the Golden Triangle, while staying at the region's best hotel.
The San Roque Club has 100 rooms, half of them lavish suites, set in pairs in freestanding white casitas of Moorish design. Plaques next to the doors of certain rooms indicate which players slept there during the Ryder Cup. Former Ryder Cup player Dave Thomas, who designed many of the courses lining Spain's sun coast, laid out San Roque's own course. This resort design is playable but challenging, allowing plenty of room for error but requiring precision to score well.
Near San Roque lies Sotogrande, Robert Trent Jones' first work in the area, which gave him the reputation needed to tackle Valderrama. Highly ranked on any listing of European courses, Sotogrande is another must-play that, like Valderrama, offers caddies in an exclusive private club. But unlike the narrow, winding fairways of Valderrama, Sotogrande is a model of classic architecture, with wide-open, straight-ahead fairways and large bunkers ringing almost every hole. It is also lined with mansion after mansion. Concierges at San Roque can easily arrange tee times for guests at Sotogrande, which is receptive to outside play.