Straightforward enough opener, but one illustrating how important it is to know your way around Valderrama's cork trees. The tee shot, a three- wood or long iron, must be hit right-to-left, while the approach is right- to-left with a short iron. Green slightly raised, must be below the pin.
Volvo Masters '96 average: 3.89, Hole rank: 15th (1st means most difficult)
2 El Arbol Par 4 399 yards
The tree the hole is named for is slap bang in the middle of the fairway, 260 yards from the tee at the corner of the dogleg. With the wind helping, players will drive past it, leaving a wedge to the green. With the wind against, the tree must be avoided on the left.
Average: 4.14, Hole rank: 7th
3 El Tunel Par 3 173 yards
A small green is protected by a large fallaway on the left and at the back, plus two bunkers at the entrance. Essential to hit the putting surface, but requires no more than a five or six iron. Light relief for what is to follow but par will not guarantee halving the hole.
Average: 2.99, Hole rank: 13th
4 La Cascada Par 5 535 yards
Interesting matchplay hole, especially in the fourballs. A big drive gives a player the chance to get up in two, but, even after laying up, the approach is tricky. The raised green, which is split into two tiers, is protected by a waterfall at front right, and a bunker on the left.
Average: 4.88, Hole rank: 18th
5 Los Altos Par 4 381 yards
Dogleg left, an elevated tee setting up a three-wood or long iron to a generous fairway. But the green, as ever, is small and undulating with an overhanging tree on the right making approaches from that side more complex. The green was relaid 18 months ago with a spine running from back to front.
Average: 4.04, Hole rank: 12th
6 El Vallejo Par 3 163 yards
Elegant-looking hole, with more than a hint of Augusta. The green is encircled by six glistening white bunkers and is the most severely undulating surface the players will so far have faced. Three and four putts will not be uncommon and this beauty shows its beastly side. Average: 3.09, Hole rank: 10th
7 El Mirador Par 4 461 yards
The longest two-shotter on the course and open enough for Tiger Woods to unleash his power. Fairway cambers left-to-right bringing two bunkers down the right into play. The green is also heavily bunkered, the approach with anything from a mid-iron (or short iron for Woods) to a wood.
Average: 4.37, Hole rank: 3rd
8 El Bunker Par 3 345 yards
In contrast to the last, the shortest par-four, but precision with an iron essential off the tee. Difficult to thread the ball through the trees if off the fairway, while a semi-circular bunker around the front of the green requires an aerial route to the smallest putting surface with an eight or nine iron.
Average: 4.17, Hole rank: 6th
9 El Muro Par 4 441 yards
Another long par-four, with out-of-bounds down the right-hand side. The green, which is full of subtle borrows, is raised four feet with sand on either side. In strokeplay, par at the 7th, 8th and 9th is always a good result and in matchplay you'll win more than you lose.
Average: 4.43, Hole rank: 1st
10 El Lago Par 4 364 yards
Dogleg right around the lake, although the water should not come into play. An iron off the tee, then the approach over a valley to a green which slopes viciously from back to front. The apron is shaved so that anything short of the pin hit with backspin will roll 50 yards down the slope.
Average: 3.96, Hole rank: 16th
11 Un Sueno Par 4 547 yards
Played into the wind so only in range for the longer hitters. Fairway slopes severely from left-to-right so the drive needs to be drawn, while the approach is deceptive as the green sits up on a plateau with only the sky for a backdrop. Narrow green guarded by two bunkers.
Average: 4.91, Hole rank: 17th
12 Las Camelias Par 3 197 yards
Anything from a mid-iron to a wood from an elevated tee down a funnel of trees to a small green. Out of bounds on the right, but the main danger is the way the green is crowded by trees and sand. Green slopes back to front, providing some of the curlier putts on the course.
Average: 3.38, Hole rank: 2nd
13 Sin Bunker Par 4 402 yards
Tee shot requires a draw to land on the left-hand side of the fairway, but length is no help as you can get blocked out by the trees. An eight or nine iron approach to, for Valderrama, a generous green. As the name implies, there is no sand to be found here.
Average: 4.11, Hole rank: 9th
14 La Piedra Par 4 370 yards
Another short par-four where judgement is the key. The second shot is played from a downhill lie to a green that is raised above you and slopes back to front. Bunkers in front of the green can be deceptive; the real danger is in finding the sand or rough over the back.
Average: 3.99, Hole rank: 14th
15 El Puerto Par 3 200 yards
Will provide anything from a hole in one to double-bogeys or more. A long iron or wood is needed from the elevated tee. The green falls away high on the left to low on the right, so anything way left leaves a tricky chip, while the bunker short right is the ideal place to miss.
Average: 3.22, Hole rank: 5th
16 Muy Dificil Par 4 422 yards
Into the wind, the hardest hole on the course. The drive must be long enough and drawn far enough left to leave a clear line past the trees at the corner of the dogleg. Miss the right spot and it is difficult to reach the green in two. Downhill approach to a narrow green. Average: 4.13, Hole rank: 8th
17 Los Gabiones Par 5 511 yards
Controversial but spectacular. The long hitters are held back by a strip of rough across the fairway, but should still be within range in two. The approach is fraught with danger, however, with the bank of the pond in front of the green shaved in the Augusta style. Expect drama aplenty.
Average: 5.06, Hole rank: 11th
18 Casa Club Par 4 434 yards
The toughest drive of the lot. The trees on the corner on the left must be avoided, either by going over the top, or right. But too long or too short right is no good, either. Anything from a three to an eight iron in, to a green where a two-putt is not guaranteed.
Average: 4.27, Hole rank: 4thReuse content