If you love playing golf, but not in full waterproofs, why not have a shot at Spain, says Julian Worricker

If you're the sort of golfer who plays once in a blue moon, doesn't have a handicap certificate, hates having to put waterproofs on, and isn't guaranteed to accept at face value the rules and regulations laid down by your average British club captain, then I may have found a solution.

If you're the sort of golfer who plays once in a blue moon, doesn't have a handicap certificate, hates having to put waterproofs on, and isn't guaranteed to accept at face value the rules and regulations laid down by your average British club captain, then I may have found a solution.

Go to Spain. Specifically, Marbella. While your six-iron to the green is no more likely to go in a straight line on the Costa del Sol than it is here at home, there is something slightly more bearable about watching a ball plummet into a lake when the sun's on your back and the view in the distance is of the shimmering Mediterranean.

Playing golf abroad is something I've done for a number of years now; in truth, it is about the only time I get the clubs out of the bag. With a group of friends that has grown in number since the early 1990s, we've tried parts of Portugal – both the Algarve and the area around Estoril, west of Lisbon – and different corners of Spain, but we've tended to settle on Marbella because there are a number of courses nearby, and the nightlife around the harbour at Puerto Banus is lively well into the small hours.

If, at this point, you're thinking that this all sounds very attractive but it's clearly only for those who take the game seriously, do not be put off. I can summon plenty of witnesses to verify just how inept I can be when a golf club is placed in my hand, and there have been many occasions over the years when I've found myself echoing the sentiments of Mark Twain when he famously said that golf was a good walk spoiled. On the 13th tee at the local municipal, just as another squally shower moves in, he may have had a point. In Spain, he might have been a little more forgiving.

During a trip there in April, I sampled three local courses, all of which were within a quarter of an hour's drive of Puerto Banus: Atalaya, La Quinta and Los Naranjos. All are maintained to the highest standard, all boast excellent clubhouse facilities, and all can appeal to the low-handicap golfer as well as to people like myself who are delighted when they go round a course in less than 100. That's not to say that high scores can't be achieved with the minimum of effort; a wayward tee shot on some of the holes at Atalaya, the most undulating of the three courses, might still be trundling down the hillside even now.

The game has a very different feel in Spain. Of course, the weather makes a difference. In April, you'd be unlucky to see rain, and there's certainly no need to pack the argyle sweater. Even in February, you can enjoy warm sunshine, although so early in the year you're taking more of a chance. But when I talk about the feel of the game, I'm really referring to the overall experience. So often in Britain, clubs seem to be looking for reasons not to let you play. You haven't got the relevant paperwork, this or that society has booked the course for the next week and a half, or, most annoyingly, your clothes don't quite fit the bill.

I'm not suggesting that a club in Spain will do anything but turn you away if you arrive sporting jeans and a T-shirt, but there isn't the same sense of sartorial scrutiny that is sometimes the case back home. I'm yet to hear anyone in a Spanish clubhouse insist that I wear long socks with shorts because short socks aren't allowed. Basically, on Spanish courses, if you respect your surroundings, those in charge respect you.

And what surroundings they can be. The terrace alongside the bar at Los Naranjos (my personal favourite) is a glorious place to sit and reflect upon the round just gone. The 18th green is below you, with a stream and a series of small waterfalls beyond it (yes, that final approach shot is a disaster waiting to happen), and further afield you can see down to the coast and admire some pretty choice holiday villas in between. Indeed, keeping an eye on some of the local properties as you play is not a bad idea. "For Sale" signs are quite common, and you might just snap up a bargain, although it's as well to consider the number of golf balls that might land in your front room each day.

Back in Puerto Banus, and assuming that you've still got the energy, there are restaurants and bars galore. It's a place dripping in wealth; the yachts moored in the harbour are top of the range, and the cars that squeeze their way down the narrow streets at the water's edge aren't far behind. (If you've hired an Opel Corsa, don't bring it into town at night.)

Behind the harbourside eateries, there are more bars and more restaurants. Some of these have wised up to the male golfing-holiday clientele in recent years, so don't be surprised to encounter karaoke night at the Irish bar. But, of course, you indulge in such entertainment at your peril. For the next day's golf, you might just feel below par.

Julian Worricker is a presenter for BBC Radio 5 Live. This coming week is his final stint on the Breakfast Programme (6am-9am, Monday to Friday); from 2 February, he begins a new Sunday-morning show

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