When Ian Poulter and the newly crowned world number one Luke Donald faced off in the final of the Volvo World MatchPlay Championship at Finca Cortesin in Spain last month, it was a dream result for English golf. And when Poulter sank his final putt to claim victory, few of England's four million social golfers will not have dreamed of emulating his dramatic round.
Golf is one of the few sports where weekend hackers and enthusiastic amateurs can play the same course as their professional idols, making for a perfect Boy's Own adventure.
Spain's Mediterranean climate and manicured courses provide some world-beating golf resorts, along with equally luscious opportunities for golf fanatics' families.
Finca's oasis of calm
All along the Costa del Sol coast road, half-finished building sites are a reminder of Spain's property problems - but rising Phoenix-like from the ashes is Finca Cortesin.
This palatial 67-room hotel and its Cabell Robinson-designed golf course - the new home of the Volvo World Matchplay Championships - comes garlanded with awards, including Conde Nast Traveller's best non-urban Spanish hotel.
The 70-acre estate opened in 2009 in a quiet, green pocket of the Costa del Sol, 30 minutes from Gibraltar airport and 50 minutes from Marbella, close to the hilltop town of Casares.
Spanish developers Single Home have lavished attention on the site, spending £309 million to create a new, light-flooded resort resembling an established rural finca. They brought antique terracotta tiles from Portugal, chunky wooden doors from Morocco and 1,000-year-old olive trees from Sicily to create a traditional Andalucian whitewashed resort that's an oasis of calm.
Away from the championship golf course, driving range and coaching school, Finca Cortesin has plenty to occupy non-golfers. There are tennis courts and two open-air pools, while the interior boasts an expansive gym and spa complex complete with 25-metre pool, Turkish baths and Spain's only snow cave.
Property choices include: 60 one- to three-bedroom apartments of 818 to 1,432sq ft, priced from £273,710 and just half a mile from the hotel; 16 four-bedroom Reserva handsome cubic-style villas of 5,382sq ft, from £1.5 million, and nine Cortijos, farmhouse villas beside the golf course priced from £2.47 million.
Owners of the apartments and Reserva villas must pay maintenance fees to the hotel (starting at £200 a month) while the Cortijos are owned independently. Most property is built and a third has already been sold.
"Increasingly wealthy, sophisticated buyers on the Costa del Sol are moving west seeking out the real Spain in less developed areas," says Robert Green of selling agents Cluttons Resorts.
"Finca Cortesin is secluded with good sea and mountain views and quiet beaches nearby. Yet fast roads make it easy to reach popular Andalucian towns like Marbella, Granada and Ronda."
When Valderrama hosted the Ryder Cup in 1997 it established Sotogrande as Andalucia's leading sporting resort. Today, the estate, 15 minutes from Gibraltar, continues to attract an affluent, international crowd to its five golf courses, 11 polo pitches, marina and top-drawer restaurants, clubs and bars.
David Vaughan of Savills says Sotogrande's 24-hour security, exceptional sporting facilities and discounts of between five and 30 per cent have enticed many buyers this year. Selling well are completed one- and two-bedroom Marina apartments at Ribera del Marlin from £344,350; land plots for villas from £211,900, and four-bedroom villas at La Cimas for £759,330.
Join the club at the PGA Catalunya resort
On the Costa Brava, close to the gastronomic cities of Girona and Barcelona, PGA Catalunya has twice hosted the Spanish Open on one of its two golf courses. This is a beautifully designed Catalan-style resort by the owners of Quinta do Lago, one of the Algarve's premier destinations.
The seaside towns of S'Agaro and Calella are nearby, while there are tennis courts, a spa, gym and clubhouse in resort.
Property options include: two-bedroom apartments from £286,960; villa plots from £339,935, and elegant turnkey villas from £838,800.
*Finca Cortesin: Cluttons Resorts (cluttonsresorts.com; 020 7584 3050)
*Sotogrande: Savills (savills.co.uk/abroad; 020 7016 3740)
*PGA Catalunya: Knight Frank (knightfrank.com; 020 7629 8171)