Finca Cortesin: walking in the footsteps of Solheim stars

Finca Cortesin Golf
Finca Cortesin is located on a tranquil enclave of the Andalucia coast in Spain

The War on the Shore, The Battle of Brookline, The Miracle at Medinah: Ryder Cups past, and monikers which inspire memories of great victories, crushing defeats, gripping competition.

There are no such nicknames for historic Solheim Cups, even though the biennial match between American and European women is often more competitive and dramatic than the Ryder Cup, especially over recent years. Take the summer of 2023; the Ryder Cup produced a thrilling victory for Luke Donald’s men, but from the first morning, it was clear the Europeans had the upper hand.

The previous week, at the Solheim Cup in Spain, Team Europe fought back after being whitewashed in the opening day’s foursomes. It ended in a 14-14 tie – the first in Solheim history, with Spaniard Carlota Ciganda holing the crucial putt to retain the Cup on the 17th green in front of the King of Spain. Captain Suzann Petersen said it felt like it was “meant to be”.

Finca Cortesin Golf
Finca Cortesin was, of course, the host venue of the Solheim Cup 2023


No nicknames for Solheim Cups, but this one was surely the Fairytale at Finca? Finca Cortesin is the perfect setting for such a story. Built in 2009 and inspired by traditional Andalucian architecture, it sits on a shoulder of rock which raises the whitewashed buildings high above the surrounding land. Drive through the archway and into the cobbled courtyard with its bubbling fountains, and you enter a world of relaxed opulence. It’s super-stylish but wonderfully comfortable – textiles, textures and patterns enlivening marble floors and airy spaces.

Katherine Downes
Katherine Downes and her mother enjoying a round at Finca Cortesin

Outside, manicured gardens bursting with geranium, and bougainvillea sweep down to a vast pool, its jade-tiled depths offering solace from the Spanish sun. It was into this pool that Charley Hull leapt, fully clothed, when Europe won the Solheim Cup. The last time I was here, I was in a crowded press tent somewhere in the grounds, jostling with other journalists to speak to the victorious team. Telling the stories of the golfing heroes, I never got anywhere near the hotel. So, when they asked if I would like to return for a visit, I of course said yes.

And I took my own golfing hero with me: my mum introduced me to the game when I was tiny. She never goes to the range and rarely has lessons, but she’s been a single-figure handicapper since she was a teenager. She’s 70 this year, and still plays off 7; a total natural with a real love for the game. This is a girls’ trip to the place where women’s golf had the world talking.

Finca Cortesin Golf Club
The practice ground with the Finca Cortesin clubhouse beyond


When we arrive at Finca Cortesin, it’s raining. Our room is huge, with two big single beds, a luxurious marble bathroom with a tub you could swim in and a balcony with views onto the Sierra Bermeja. There is a bouquet of lollies made out of chocolate, and a bowl of ripe Spanish fruit. Service is everything at Finca Cortesin.

Jose Ignacio Olea Zorita, the director of golf, tells me he “only serves happy people” at the hotel, where every whim is catered for, golfing or otherwise. They’ve seen an uptick in demand to stay and play since the Solheim Cup, and people wanting to buy Solheim branded mementos in the pro shop. But they’re not chasing bigger numbers. There are only 80 members of the club, and rounds are limited to 100 a day to maintain the serenity – and exclusivity – of the place.

Finca Cortesin Golf Club
Finca Cortesin offers stunning views across the Casares Mountains

Jose Ignacio assumes we won’t want to play in the rain, but he underestimates these two hardy Yorkshire women, and clubs and a buggy are duly fetched to the door of the clubhouse. We set off to the 1st tee in the drizzle, but it’s not cold. In fact, the rain amplifies the birdsong on the course, and the scents of jasmine, rosemary, and thyme. We have the place to ourselves. It’s a long way from the bustle of the Solheim week, and it’s heaven – until I lose 5 balls in 5 holes.


The fairways undulate fiercely, firing my tee shots into the undergrowth, I’m trying to get to grips with the top-of-the-range rental  clubs and when we get to the Solheim tee shot on the 4th, I top it into the undergrowth. The 4th was the first tee shot at the Solheim Cup – from the top of the hill, across the glittering lake to the narrow green. It’s not a shot I could take on like the big hitters of Team USA or Europe, but I was hoping for better. Just as I’m getting despondent, a buggy appears bearing hot, delicious soup and we play a couple more before warm showers and dinner.

Katherine Downes Finca Cortesin
Katherine’s mum going above and beyond in search of one of her golf balls

There are three equally excellent options for eating at Finca Cortesin. We spent our first evening in Italian restaurant Don Giovanni enjoying creamy burrata and tomatoes, spaghetti with anchovies and chilli, and little pasta pockets filled with tangy blue cheese and pear. The wine is Spanish – cold and delicious. Back in our room, our beds are turned down and slippers laid out.

In the night, there is a storm. The wind is so fierce it somehow blows our balcony doors open, which we had failed to close properly. But it’s mild, despite the rain, when we wake and head down to the stylishly chintzy dining room for an enormous Spanish breakfast. Then we’re ready to take on the whole 18 holes of Finca Cortesin.

Finca Cortesin Golf Spain
A view from the room across to the Costa Del Sol


On the range, I’m struggling to connect with the ball, and my dreaded Spanish shank is making a return (see my visit to Sotogrande). Because I’m with my mum, and she’s seen it all before, I start to sulk. “I think I’ll just go to the pool; I’ll never be able to play round here. I’m rubbish at golf.” Mum rolls her eyes. My mood doesn’t improve over the first 3 holes as my golf crumbles under Finca’s championship credentials. But then we get to the 4th again – that treacherous par 4 on which the Solheim started – and I flush my drive down the fairway. All of a sudden, I feel like Leona Maguire. Funny what one golf shot can do.

By the time we reach the beautiful, curving par 3 6th, I’m playing something that resembles acceptable golf, and Mum and I are whizzing along happily on our buggy with the smells of citrus in the air as the sun breaks through the rain clouds. Mum, of course, has been playing good golf all along… we duck under the road to play the 7th, and we’re flung into the teeth of the wind. It’s icy, whistling down from the Sierra Bermeja, and there’s snow on the highest peaks. The par 4 feels a long way into the wind, but it helps us down the par 5 8th, though I’m snuggled under my Ryder Cup bobble hat. On the 9th tee, though, we’re tucked out of the wind and it’s glorious.

The soup buggy arrives again, and we sit in the sun, sipping, and taking in the stunning view looking back towards the spectacular hotel along the ridge of the hill on which it’s built. From there the course dives down into the valley below via the picturesque par 3 10th, terraced like a tea plantation, and into my favourite nook on the course. The par 5 11th and the challenging par 3 12th – where Emily Pedersen hit that Solheim-defining hole in one – lead to the gorgeous par 4 13th. The green there is sunken into an ancient olive grove. A stream meanders in front, dappled shadows play on the perfect grass. It’s still and Spanish and sunny – and I’m finally playing well.

Katherine Downes Finca Cortesin GolfWe climb up into the wind again for the closing stretch. Caroline Hedwall – Europe’s hero – played the final 6 holes in 5 under par, setting up Carlota Ciganda’s perfect ending on the 17th. While I couldn’t emulate her run, I took inspiration from the fact that like me she’d come to Finca Cortesin with her game in questionable shape, but produced a finish that will go down in Solheim legend.

We reach the 17th, and my tee shot clings to the front edge. I 3-putt for bogey, but Mum and I are excitedly remembering the scenes of European celebration, and where we were when we were watching Ciganda’s putt. Walking up the 18th, heading towards a superb lunch and cold beers in the clubhouse, we’re chattering about Hedwall’s sublime 3 wood into the green that won her the match against Ally Ewing.

Sure, my golf wasn’t as sparkling as theirs, but I’m walking in the footsteps of the Solheim Cup stars, alongside my own golfing hero, and it feels like my very own fairytale at Finca.

*To book a golf break to Finca Cortesin visit  FincaCortesin.com/reserve-now or email [email protected]
*Katherine Downes was a guest of Finca Cortesin

Finca Cortesin Golf Scorecard

Finca Cortesin Golf Scorecard

Finca Cortesin Golf Course Guide

Finca Cortesin Golf Course Guide



Where is Finca Cortesin located?

Finca Cortesin Golf Resort is situated in the municipality of Casares, in the province of Malaga, Andalucia in Spain. It is conveniently located between Marbella and Sotogrande, approximately a 50-minute drive from Malaga International Airport.

What facilities does Finca Cortesin offer?

The resort boasts a variety of facilities, including:
-A championship 18-hole golf course, which you now know all about. 
-Luxury accommodation, including hotel rooms, sprawling suites, and private villas.
-A number of restaurants offering everything from fine dining to casual fare.
-A state-of-the-art spa featuring treatment rooms, a thermal area, and fitness facilities.
-Outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts,
– And a beach club. 

Can non-guests play Finca Cortesin Golf Course?

Yes, non-guests are welcome to play golf at Finca Cortesin However, it is recommended to book tee times in advance, especially during peak seasons, to ensure availability.

How much are Finca Cortesin golf green fees?

Finca Cortesin green fees range from around €390 for 18 holes in the high season and €320 in the low season. 

Is Finca Cortesin family-friendly?

Yes, very much so. Finca Cortesin welcomes families and offers swimming pools, tennis courts, a kids’ club, and babysitting services upon request.

What is the best way to get to Finca Cortesin from Malaga Airport?

The most convenient way to reach Finca Cortesin from Malaga Airport is by car. The resort is approximately a 50-minute drive from the airport, and rental car services are available at the airport. Alternatively, guests can arrange a private transfer.

Katherine is an accomplished sports journalist and presenter, who is best known for her work across BBC Sport, BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio 5 Live. Kat has commentated on The Open, Ryder Cup and tour events all over the world, and is a regular at The Olympics and The Winter Olympics, covering diving and figure skating.

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