Golf Course Architecture - Issue 73, July 2023

46 When the 2023 Solheim Cup tees off on 22 September at Finca Cortesin on Spain’s Costa del Sol, all the biggest names in women’s golf will be there. Yet it will be one of the least known names in golf course architecture whose work will provide a testing stage for the biennial competition. The 82-year-old Cabell Robinson, designer of the course at Finca Cortesin, came to Spain in 1970 to establish a European office in Málaga for his boss, Robert Trent Jones Sr. He never left. Robinson led the European efforts of Jones’s firm until 1987, when he went out on his own. He has since compiled a roster of course designs, largely around the Mediterranean rim, including Las Colinas and La Reserva in Spain, Royal Palm and Amelkis in Morocco, and Aphrodite Hills in Cyprus. But it’s his impressive work on the hilly site at Finca Cortesin that will garner Robinson international attention later this year. The parcel of land posed a particular challenge, he recalls. “It was difficult due to being divided by a road, but the owners were willing to spend a considerable amount of money to create an underpass to eliminate that problem. There were also some environmental issues. The tenth hole was originally a dogleg left par four playing down to an arroyo. But we couldn’t cut down a number of trees, so that hole was shortened into a downhill par three.” Finca’s origins, like many courses on the Costa del Sol, revolved around real estate. “The developer and owner, Javier López Granados from Madrid, did not know anything about golf,” says Robinson. “He did the project, like a lot of developers here in Europe, because if you are going to do a real estate development, you ought to have a golf course. But he was very understanding and learned a lot about golf. It was never initially designed to host a major tournament like the Volvo World Match Play Championship (played there from 2009 through 2012) Tom Mackin speaks with the American who designed the course on which this year’s Solheim Cup will be played – and who has lived in Spain for more than half a century. Spotlight set to shine on Cabell CABELL ROBINSON INTERVIEW “ I’ve always believed in making the fairways fairly wide. But if you go off course at Finca Cortesin, you can be in deep trouble because it gets impenetrable quickly”