Majorca - the best of the Mediterranean, and golf as well!
Only a short flight away from the rest of Europe, Majorca (or Mallorca, as it is known locally) is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean. A warm climate and its strategic position have long attracted outsiders, ranging from the Romans, the Moors and Byzantium in the past to the beach-loving sun-worshippers of today. But now it is ready to welcome another friendly invasion - golfers.
Golf doesn't get much more picturesque than this
The climate in scenic Mallorca is perfect for golf, with hot summer sun but refreshing sea breezes, little rain, mild winters and an average yearly temperature of 21 degrees. However, booking an early tee time and plenty of sun-screen is recommended if playing in the summer!
There is a wide choice of accommodation to suit all budgets and now, with the opening of several new layouts bringing the total number to 22, a wide choice of golf courses. All are set in scenic layouts amongst the beautiful Mediterranean flora and offer a year round challenge, top class facilities and excellent customer care.
We were recently (October 2007) invited by the Spanish Tourist Office to visit many of these layouts and play two of them.
Our trip coincided with the PGA Mallorca Classic tournament being played at Real Pula Golf Course, in the North East of the island. Unfortunately, just like the tournament, our visit was somewhat perturbed by a streak of bad weather, but we could still appreciate all the potential the island can offer golfers.
Golf Park Puntiró
Golf Park Puntiró, situated just outside Palma, is Jack Nicklaus' first design in Majorca and popular with American visitors who want to play all of Nicklaus’ European courses. The club is also host to a Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy, with a fully trained team of pros and all the latest teaching technology.
The course was developed using the natural contours of the countryside and much care was taken to respect the topography of the land and preserve the natural vegetation of the island - pines, olive trees and corks. Some trees – such as the typical algarrobo (carob) trees, with their thick trunk similar to an olive, were even uprooted and replanted after construction of the course, helping to make it look more mature.
Puntiró is situated in a protected natural area. Only recycled water is used and - very importantly for a golfer’s enjoyment of his round - you’re not playing in the middle of a housing development. There are no houses at all here, and I even heard a cock crow!
The 18-hole par 71 layout isn't long - it's designed to be accessible to all - but it features two giant lakes and requires an accurate game. The greens are fast and the Bermuda grass fairways are wide, as Puntiró is meant to be a golf course for everybody to enjoy; just keep out of the trees, water, bunkers and the long rough with its pretty wild white flowers, and you might even find it easy!
Click here for Golf Park Puntiró details
Arabella Golf & Spa Resort
The Arabella Golf & Spa Resort group has three hotels on the island and boasts three championship 18-hole courses, nestling between the hills of Son Vida and the island's capital Palma: Son Vida, Son Muntaner and Son Quint. These top quality courses are close together and it is easy to get from one to the other using the hotel complimentary shuttle service every 15 minutes. You do not have to be a resident of one of the group's hotels to play, but there is a discount if you are.
Golf Son Vida
Approaching the 18th green at the Golf Son Vida, with the Arabella Sheration Hotel behind
The Hawtree-designed Golf Son Vida, dating back to 1964 but completely renovated by Kurt Rossknecht in 2001, is a superb course with pine, palm and almond tree-lined fairways, numerous bunkers but relatively little water, offering breathtaking views of the Sierra Tramuntana and the Bay of Palma.
Click here for Son Vida details
Sharing the same magnificent views, the longer and more difficult San Muntaner course is probably the most beautiful course Majorca has to offer. It is also the most exclusive. It features a great variety of beautifully manicured holes, with large, difficult greens and it boasts many ancient, native Mediterranean trees, among which the "Sa Capitana", the oldest olive tree on the island, 6.5 metres (about 21 feet) in diameter and said to be over 1,000 years old (see image gallery).
Kurt Rossknecht, who designed San Muntaner in 2000, meant it to be in bloom all year round and this pretty course proudly holds two important environment-friendly certificates.
Lakes, numerous different bird species and Mediterranean flora also add to the natural character of the course, while multiple tees allow golfers of all levels to enjoy their game here.
Click here for Son Muntaner details
The recently opened Son Quint course is situated in a picturesque setting overlooking the bay of Palma, only a stone's throw from the Son Vida and Son Muntaner golf courses. The undulating course will challenge experienced golfers with its two large lakes, well-placed bunkers and very fast, tricky, Bent Grass greens, but four different tee positions will allow everybody to enjoy their round.
Bermuda Princess grass is used on the fairways here, as it is on many top courses in hot climates, such as Valderrama. This grass spreads thickly across the top of the soil, rather than putting down deep roots, making it resistant and less thirsty.
The speed of the greens is measured every week, and the club has got its own grass nursery, contributing, so they say, to the best fairways and greens on the island. One of the highlights of the course is the 8th tee, the highest point on the course, where you tee off directly towards Palma Cathedral, but spectacular views are on offer at almost every hole.
Click here for Son Quint details
Real Golf Bendinat
Situated between the sea and the mountains of Na Burguesa, 7km from Palma, Real Golf Bendinat is a hilly course where a buggy doesn’t come amiss.
Tree-lined fairways, some with sharp dog-legs, elevated tees, water hazards and small, tough greens make this a challenge to even the best of players. But hopefully you will find comfort in the tranquil spectacle before your eyes: beautiful views over the bay, with olive and almond trees.
If not, we recommend you to think of the vino tinto and the delicious and endless succession of amazing tapas waiting for you in the clubhouse! Enough to soothe any wounded golfing soul.
Click here for Real Golf Bendinat details
The Santa Ponsa Golf Club: Santa Ponça I, II and III
Just south of Calvià and very close to Palma is top class golfing territory: the Santa Ponsa Golf Club and its three courses. The Club has hosted many national and international tournaments among which the European Tour Balearic Open and is a favourite with the rich and famous.
The well established Santa Ponsa I course is demanding with elevated greens, water coming into play on five holes and one of the longest holes in Europe, the 590 metre-long par 5 10th. It is nevertheless very enjoyable and less daunting than it sounds, being not overly long (with that one exception!) and reasonably forgiving off the tee, thanks to its wide, gently sloping fairways, shortish rough and sparsely planted trees. You might even be encouraged to get the driver out!
The course is laid out among much sought-after residences but, although you may find driving off at the first a little unnerving with people trying to relax on their terraces, they are not so obtrusive further along the course.
Santa Ponsa II, set in a small pine forest, is slightly shorter than Santa Ponsa I but requires great accuracy. It is a beautiful course, with a striking finishing green in the shape of the Island of Majorca. Regrettably, it is for the enjoyment of members only.
The nine-hole Santa Ponsa III is an ideal course for beginners and players who love to work on their short game.
Click here for details of Santa Ponsa I and II, and here for Santa Ponsa III
Capdepera Golf Course
An hour's drive from Palma, giving the opportunity to discover the interior of the island, Capdepera Golf Club is situated near the family-friendly resorts along the North East coast. It is set in a spectacular valley , offering beautiful views over the Mediterranean.
The highlight of the course is the impressive par 3 15th. After climbing one hundred feet up the mountain, you tee off over scrub to a small, well-defended green below, with a bunker front right and a ravine at the back. Whatever the outcome of your shot, take the time to admire the spectacular views across the valley to the sea.
Capdepera is considered to be a first class golf course, one of the very best in Majorca and an excellent tournament course from the back-tees.
It is tight - I have never heard "Fore!" so often on a golf course - with out of bounds, numerous bunkers and quite large but tricky greens, some raised, some double-tiered. It also features water with six artificial lakes coming into play; it calls for accurate driving but is fun to play and, with different tee positions, is suitable both for beginners and experts alike.
The very comfortable Mallorquin-style clubhouse and its "Roca Viva" Restaurant overlooking the course, will welcome you after your round for drinks or a meal of the highest quality of international and local cuisine.
Click here for Capdepera details
Click here for details of all courses in the Balearic Islands
Palma de Mallorca
Palma, historically a key port in the Mediterranean, now boasts a huge marina which you can admire on your way to the old town. From the sea front or "Paseo Marítimo" you have an amazing view over the imposing gothic Cathedral and 14th century Royal Palace or Palau de l'Almudaina next door.
A short walk round these two monuments, past some palms and up some steps will take you to the 13th century gothic Cathedral known as La Seu; you will enjoy taking in the atmosphere of the old quarter with the lustrous golden limestone of its old shuttered houses, and for a few delightful moments will feel in a different world.
It is well worth stepping inside the second-highest Gothic cathedral in Europe to take a look at the superb restoration work of Antoni Gaudi, including the largest stained-glass window in the world with its wonderful colours and the chandeliers (electricity was just being introduced in the early 1900s). You can also decide whether or not you like the much-criticised modern ceramic mural by local artist Miquel Barceló, representing Jesus feeding the multitude.
You will also be fascinated by the narrow lanes of the old town, with their different styles of old houses. Peep through the gates of ancient patios and feel a bit nosey; a shaded 'plaça' half-filled with café tables will suddenly appear and you might feel like joining the customers relaxing with something cool to gather up energy for a spot of retail therapy.
Shopping shouldn’t prove too strenuous in human-sized Palma; a great choice is available ranging from the usual chain stores to designer boutiques and local shops offering clothes, jewellery and especially Majorcan pearls, leather goods, glassware and fine needlework.
If you’re feeling peckish, the choice is yours between excellent restaurants serving everything from traditional Majorcan food to delicious tapas, some with outdoor tables under arcades around the Plaça Major, for example.
WHERE TO STAY
Hotel Port Adriano*****
El Toro – Port Adriano
07182 Calvià – Mallorca (Islas Baleares)
Tel : +34 971 23 73 23
Fax : +34 971 23 70 70
Located just a few steps away from a small Marina with a sandy beach, the 68 spacious rooms and suites of the hotel all have full sea-view.
The Hotel offers a choice between an à la carte lunch or exquisite Mediterranean and international cuisine. Facilities include a spacious lobby, panoramic terrace, the café-bar, two restaurants, three meeting rooms, three swimming pools, a fitness centre, a health SPA and a putting green…
A free shuttle service is available to the nearby golf courses of Santa Ponsa (4 km) and Poniente (3 km), where the hotel’s guests will be offered special golf rates.
Hotel Nixe Palace*****
Avda. Joan Miró, 269
07015 Palma de Mallorca (Islas Baleares)
Tel : +34 971700888
Fax : +34 971403171
Internet: Click here
Located on the seafront and only 5 minutes from the centre of Palma, the luxurious Hotel Nixe Palace***** offers breathtaking views over the ocean and has direct access to the beach.
Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool, pool bar, free wireless Internet connection, fully equipped meeting and conference rooms, a gym, a sauna, a Jacuzzi, massage services, a Turkish bath, a TV lounge, a bar, a cafeteria, an à carte restaurant, a small fish restaurant designed like an old boat and a terrace overlooking the beach. Apartments are also available for rent.
It is an ideal choice of accommodation for golf lovers, as it is close to several golf courses.
Serrano Palace Hotel****
Playa son Moll s/n
ES 07590 Cala Rajada
Mallorca (Islas Baleares)
Tel: +34 971 563 350
Fax: +34 971 564 517
This elegant air-conditioned 5* luxury hotel is located in the fishing village of Cala Ratjada in the northeast of Mallorca, close to the popular Son Moll beach and the town centre.
Facilities include indoor and outdoor swimming pools with solarium, sauna, Turkish bath, massage and fitness rooms, a gym, as well as meeting rooms and an à la carte restaurant, a buffet restaurant, lounge bar and pool bar.
The hotel is situated within close proximity of beaches, tennis facilities and golf courses.
Hotel H10 Punta Negra Resort****
Ctra. d’Andraitx, km. 12
E-07181 - Costa d´En Blanes
Mallorca (Islas Baleares)
Tel: +34 971 68 07 62
Fax: +34 971 68 39 19
The Punta Negra Resort**** is located 22 Km from the Airport and 9 Km from Palma, on a small peninsula on the Costa d’en Blanes.
With direct access to two small coves with crystal clear water, it is also close to five golf courses and offers discount green free rates on a dozen.
Its 124 prestigiously furnished, spacious elegant rooms are equipped with modern amenities, and some of them offer a terrace or balcony with ocean views.
It has 5 convention halls, large gardens and pools, and the in-house restaurant serves a wide variety of sumptuous buffet breakfast and other Mediterranean delicacies.
Why not try its tasting menu? A delicious and innovative opportunity to taste (amongst others) crocodile!
This is just a tiny selection of the many hotels available at all prices. For a wider choice, consult the Spanish Tourist Office (details below).
HOW TO GET THERE
All major international airlines fly in to Majorca from the UK including flights to and fro Stansted, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Nottingham.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
SPANISH TOURIST OFFICE
PO Box 4009
London , W1A 6NB
Tel: +44 (0)20 7486 8077 - Fax: +44 (0)20 7486 8034
24 Hour information and brochure request line: +44 (0)8459 400 180
Internet: www.spain.info/uk / www.ilesbaleares.es
|Click on a course to read our feature and look at the photo
galleries in the article above:
Photo credits: © Golf Park Puntiró - The Arabella Golf & Spa Resort - Real Golf Bendinat - The Santa Ponsa Golf Club - Capdepera Golf Club - The Spanish Tourist Office - Map by Courtesy of IBATUR - GolfToday