The majestic 1st hole at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid is something of an emblem of golf in the Spanish capital. A genuine treat for all the senses, it is one of the moments visitors to the iconic club most look forward to. At just a few paces from the stunning clubhouse, it is a daunting start for golfers, whatever their handicap. The spectacular first-tee views of the five skyscrapers that form the centre of Madrid’s skyline would grace any Instagram account.
However, this beauty has a sting in its tail. It is the most difficult hole on the course. The stats don’t lie, and at last year’s ACCIONA Open de España presented by Madrid it played at 0.23 shots over its par. The explanation is simple, at 465 metres (509 yards) it is a monster of a par 4, it has a narrow fairway from an elevated tee, and a host of holm oaks hug the right-hand side. As if that were not enough, there is a fairway bunker on the left waiting to gobble up any errant drives. Rahm succumbed to its complications on his first visit to the hole last year. The Barrika native’s ball ended up behind a tree trunk. If you stray too far right, a bogey is almost a good result.
On top of the difficulty of the tee shot, the two-tier green is long, narrow, and defended by bunkers on both flanks. Sunday’s back-left flag will cause plenty of headaches; just ask Cabrera-Bello, who arrived at the hole as leader on Sunday in 2021. A double-bogey at Club de Campo’s toughest hole provided an early scare before he managed to steady the ship and claim the trophy.
It is no surprise that it is the only hole at the tournament that threw up over a century of bogeys, 104 to be precise. On top of that there were 11 double bogeys. Just 37 birdies recorded there over four days are a clear indication of the scale of the challenge it provides.
At this year’s event, it will again be the course’s stroke index 1. Beauty and complexity in perfect combination. It is a unique hole, and anyone who plays it will not forget it any time soon.