Spain is Europe's number one golf homes and holidays destination. There are 100 courses in the southern region of Andalucia alone, six of them at the 4,500-acre Sotogrande sporting resort just 15 minutes from Gibraltar airport and an hour from Malaga.
"About 35 per cent of Sotogrande residents are golfers, ranging from beginners to pros," says Alex Upson of Cluttons Resorts. "Sales of new homes so far this year have been brisk with flats more popular than villas, probably due to the lower purchase price."
In addition to golf, Sotogrande has polo fields, top-flight hotels, an international school, a marina, an equestrian centre and 2,700 private homes on the leafy, low-density hills overlooking the Med. New-build homes for sale through Cluttons Resorts start from £285,800 for two-and three-bedroom flats in Sotogrande marina village with underground parking, shared indoor and outdoor pools and gym.
Three- and four-bedroom townhouses next to prestigious La Reserva Golf Club start at £400,000, and fourbedroom villas with golf views at Sotogrande's gated Las Cimas development are £563,500. Loans of up to 70 per cent are available and prices are down by about 40 per cent on those found pre-recession, says Upson.
From £563,500: villas at Las Cimas
Majorca gold rush
Majorca, the largest Balearic Island, is an established favourite as much for its non-golfing activities as for its 24 golf courses. Golf widows or widowers can enjoy watersports, fabulous cycle routes, top-quality spas, traditional festivals and vibrant, historic Palma, the capital city.
"We saw a 74 per cent annual increase in sales in Majorca last year and in Spain generally we registered an eight per cent increase in golf property sales," says Marc Pritchard of Taylor Wimpey de España. "Golf undoubtedly is a big appeal for many buyers."
At Camp de Mar in the prized southwest, 80 per cent of buyers are golfers, says Pritchard. Los Altos del Golf, the developer's latest gated community, with 71 two- and three-bedroom townhouses, is on Andratx golf course where members include Boris Becker and actor Michael Douglas. The homes are modern and open-plan with underfloor heating, air conditioning, good sea and mountain views and a communal garden and pool. The upmarket resort of Andratx is just 10 minutes away. Prices start £308,000 and completion of the latest phase is planned for June next year. There's even better value on Majorca's east coast. An hour from Palma airport in the bay of Costa De Los Pinos, Costa Beach has four golf courses within a 10-minute drive including Golf Son Servera, just half a mile away.
Two-bedroom flats and three-bedroom townhouses, most with sea views and all with direct beach access, start at £180,000 with £80 monthly service charge. This more seasonal side of the island is very quiet in winter but has beautiful beaches. Three restaurants in walking distance of Costa Beach include one owned by Rafael Nadal, the Majorca-born tennis world No 1. "There is at least a 50 per cent price difference between the south-west and the east," says Pritchard. "To have something right by the sea at this price is rare."
A golfer swinging a club has replaced the roadside orange seller as the abiding symbol of Portugal's Algarve. Pine Cliffs, a family-friendly leisure resort between the coastal towns of Albufeira and Vilamoura, offers golf and much more. Perched above rugged red cliffs and surrounded by pine groves, the 72-acre estate has awesome Atlantic views and private access via a delightful wood-decked trail to a long sandy beach.
It has the feel of an exclusive country club, yet it is relaxed and unpretentious. Watersports, the challenging nine-hole golf course, an Annabel Croft tennis academy, a pirate-themed kids' club, spa, restaurants and bars quell any urge to leave the resort, which includes a five-star Sheraton Hotel.
Clusters of villas, townhouses and flats are set around the golf course and pines and come with 24-hour room service and housekeeping. Prices start at £632,800 for two- and three-bedroom townhouses.
Flats at Sotogrande marina: from £285,800 for two bedrooms through Cluttons Resorts.
Cluttons Resorts: www.cluttonsresorts.com (020 7584 3050)
Taylor Wimpey: www.taylorwimpeyspain.com (08000 121 020)
Pine Cliffs: www.pinecliffs.com (00 351 289 500 300)