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Most people looking to play golf in Spain will flock to its treasure trove of well-known courses along or near its charming and bustling 3,000 mile coastline.

And while the various costas are home to some brilliant designs, getting inland can be rewarding in a number of ways.

Madrid is pretty much right in the center of the country and offers more than enough culture, history and tourist attractions to appeal to the most discerning traveler.

The city has a number of quality courses which make it a very attractive base for your next golf trip.

Santander

Designed by Rees Jones and Seve Ballesteros in 2005, Santander is laid out on what was previously uninspiring land.

It’s hard to imagine now as the result is an extremely attractive course maintained in good condition with a daring bunker and plenty of water.

It becomes particularly intrusive on three of the short holes: the 7th, which is played from a raised tee above the lake; the 11, where it borders the green on the left and behind; and the penultimate hole where it borders the front half of a circular green.

Subtle changes in elevation add to the challenge and visual appeal, and the holes are nicely separated by olive trees.

Retamares

Designed by Jose Maria Olazabal and surrounded by farmland, it offers stunning views of the mountains further north.

Exceptionally, the course opens with stroke-index-one, a difficult par 4 up the hill to a well-protected green.

Fortunately, this is counterbalanced by the shorter hole on the course on the 2nd, with a chance to make up for any ground lost early on.

There are semi-blind readers in the 5th and again in the 6th where a meandering stream awaits the unsuspecting.

There is a lot of wow factor in the second half, especially in the watery 10th and even more for the high drive at the magnificent 15th par-4. Retamares is a family-run, informal club where golf is fun and the views more than awe-inspiring.

Retamares golf course

(Image credit: Retamares GC)

Real Sociedad Hipica Espanola

There are two very solid courses at this private club on the northern outskirts of Madrid.

Both were designed by the brilliant and prolific Robert von Hagge, with the North bordering him in both design and frame.

The nine were traded a few years ago and so the course now opens up with an absolute cracker of a par 5 with a blind drive to the front before heading left and down to a fabulous green with a lake runs to the right and a wall of bunkers protecting the safety line to the left.

There is a lot of drama throughout the course, with other highlights including the short 5th where the water will swallow up whatever goes well, the fairway split at 13 and the imperious par-5 finishing hole.

Luke Donald won the Madrid Masters here in 2010 as he neared his peak on his way to becoming the world No.1.

Real Sociedad Hipica Espanola

Real Sociedad – the ninth hole with the impressive clubhouse beyond

(Image credit: Rob Smith)

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One downside to golfing in this area is that it is not so much geared towards visitors. Some clubs are only “members and guests”, but some will respond favorably to a diplomatic and flexible approach.

Two of the more private are La Moraleja, which has four beautiful courses, and Real Puerta de Hierro, with two.

The Club de Campo Villa de Madrid has a more welcoming policy, while the tree-lined course of La Herreria is dominated by the magnificent Monastery of San Lorenzo.

The Encin Golf Hotel resort course is great fun and Lomas-Bosque has a lovely setting with the last nine lining the lake.

Where to play

Santander

By 71, 6,456 yards

www.golfsantander.es

Retamares

Par 72, 6,518 yards

www.golfretamares.com

Real Sociedad Hipica Espanola

Par 72, 6,157 yards

www.rshecc.es