When you think about Spain, what comes to mind? For me, thinking about the country conjures up images of matadors and bullfighting, the nine day running of the bulls festival in Pamplona, I think of the world cup and “real” football (soccer for us yanks :)), the Spanish Armada and the Conquistadors and wine.
Occasionally also, though I’m shamed to admit, it also conjures up Miss Eliza Doolittle from “My Fair Lady” singing “the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.” (try not to think any less of me.. )
If you’ve a professional golf mind, thinking of Spain might conjure up names like Jose Maria Olazabal, Severiano Ballesteros and ofcourse, the ladies favorite, Sergio Garcia (swoon).
I don’t know if you’re familiar with Ryder Cup history, but in 1993, Olazabal & Ballesteros went head to head with Tom Kite and Davis Love III. To hear Feinstein tell it (via “A Good Walk Spoiled”), it was a high pressure, high intensity round (with plenty of pocket change rattling) and the victory in this match clenched the win for the United States.
One thought that has never crept up when thinking about it is flying to and playing golf in Spain. Which is crazy, because there’s some absolutely amazing places to play. When you factor in all the cool things there is to see in Spain and combine it with everyone’s favorite mistress (golf) seems like a win win situation, well, unless you factor in the conversion rate from USD to the Euro.. 🙂
Check out a pretty sweet golf destination called La Manga Las Lomas Village. It’s located in southeast Spain in a city called Cartegena. It boasts three championship golf courses and a whole range of amenities for those non-golfer types.. These include, beauty salon, gym, indoor and outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna, massage, solarium, spa, steam room, bar and restaurant. Las Lomas Village is also located right near the beautiful beaches of southeastern Spain.
Getting back to golf, there’s three championship courses, the North, South and West courses.
The South Course is widely regarded as La Manga’s premier layout, and frequently hosts prestigious regional and national events, including the Spanish Open and European Tour Qualifying School. Originally designed by Robert Putman prior to opening in 1971, the South was reworked by the great Arnold Palmer in the early 1990s, and was sharpened up in 2004. As a result, this is now a fair but thoroughly exacting test of golf. The front nine is the tougher, with a number of long, demanding par-3s and 4s, but there are birdie chances on the long holes. The closing stretch is less difficult, but avoiding the strategically positioned water hazards and bunkers is crucial around this par-73 cracker.
La Manga’s North Course presents a different test, with tighter fairways and larger greens, all bordered by the resort’s famous palm trees. The putting surfaces have recently been reconstructed in accordance with USGA design principles, and many have severe slopes and plateaus, that are tricky to say the least. Accuracy and sound course management are the most valuable traits around the 6,291 yard North, which is a gem that will be particularly enjoyed by the creative shot-makers out there.
The West Course is also a genuine championship layout, underlining the fact that La Manga has no weak links. Measuring in at 6,529 yards, the West winds its way gently through the idyllic pine trees, and has more severe slopes than its neighbours. The West is in fact the favourite of many repeat visitors, particularly because of its unique setting and outstanding views. The fairways are tight, so it is often prudent to play conservatively from the tee, while the West also boasts a collection of fabulous par-3s.
Sound’s pretty amazing right? It’s crazy, but sometimes I think we put on the blinders and can’t see anything beyond what we’ve already conditioned ourselves to expect to see when considering a destination. Spain has never been my ideal travel destination, but I think that’s going to change. 🙂
Any of you ever golfed in Spain or found some ridiculously awesome golf hot spot in the most unexpected place?