Golf Course Architecture - Issue 70, October 2022

The opening two holes at La Finca Los Lagos, a par five followed by a par three, both with lakeside greens It’s not often that a new golf course is built in the centre of a major European capital, so for one firm to have two such projects in the works is particularly rare. Stirling & Martin, led by two former Pete Dye associates – American Blake Stirling and Spaniard Marco Martin – is currently one of Europe’s most prolific design teams. The duo has seven new courses either in construction or recently completed, two of which are in capital cities. One of those has just started to take shape in Bucharest, Romania, while the other, La Finca Golf Los Lagos in Madrid, is expected to open in 2023, almost 25 years after the architects were appointed. Residents of Madrid will be very familiar with the La Finca brand as the exclusive residential estate in the west of the city, preferred by celebrities and superstar footballers for whom privacy is paramount. Their multimillioneuro homes are only glimpsed by those with credentials to access the gated roads of the peaceful and impeccably landscaped haven. The group behind that development has been thrashing out the details for another project since before the turn of the millennium. Having considered multiple configurations (including an incredible 84 iterations of the golf course routing, including 36- and 27-hole options) for 75 hectares of land immediately south of the La Finca neighbourhood, the button was eventually pushed in the late 2010s. The new development would also focus on the luxury market and carry the La Finca name. The northern strip of the land will comprise a series of luxury apartment blocks and villa complexes, at the heart of which will be the ‘Grand Café’, a complex of high-end restaurants, shops and office space. This ‘premium lifestyle centre’ overlooks a lake that will incorporate sunken dining areas destined to become the city’s most prized reservation. It’s a remarkable vision and, with the homes being sold quicker than they can be built, a reminder that the cost-of-living crisis is not felt so keenly by everyone. The Grand Café’s centrepiece lake is one of ten that are interconnected and act as a buffer between the real estate component and the golf. They also give the course its name – ‘Los Lagos’ translates to ‘The Lakes’. The excavation of these lakes was part of a major earthmoving exercise that was required for work on the course to begin. Marco Martin explains: “The areas set aside for real estate and golf were fixed by planning authorities very early in the process, but created a problem in that the homes on the eastern side of the Photo: Fernando Herranz Sánchez 57