Formed in 2001, Polaris World is by far the largest golf resort developer in Murcia, with half a dozen projects located in close proximity to each other in the south east of Spain. Together with Nicklaus Design, the company established the Nicklaus Golf Trail (now known as the less catchy “IRM Nike Golf / 6 Nicklaus”), which offers golfers a total of six courses within a 25-kilometre radius.
The Golden Bear’s Signature course at Alhama is the flagship venue in a portfolio that comprises Mar Menor, La Torre, Saurines, El Valle and Hacienda Riquelme. In time, the intention is to expand the golfing facilities at Alhama to host a total of three Jack Nicklaus Signature courses but those proposals are currently on hold whilst the Spanish economy remains in a somewhat fragile state.Measuring 6,918 metres from the tips, the inaugural Alhama course is routed around five large lakes, with wide, resort-style fairways leading to large, receptive greens. A total of 116 white silica sand bunkers are placed strategically around the layout with a paspalum grass semi-rough on every fairway forming a transition area between the golf course and its natural surroundings.
As a visitor to Alhama over the past 6 years, this year has to be the most disappointing of all. Although not much has changed since the opening of this course, with the temporary clubhouse still in place (Temporary but still very good, well stocked, good food), the course has gone downhill. Maybe not the entire course, but the greens certainly have. In May when I played there they were acceptable; The ball rolled but the greens were slower than back home in Scotland. Fast forward to October and it looks like the greenkeepers have been sacked and replaced with gardeners! The green on the practice chipping area was better than any of the 18 greens on the course. Trust me when I say, if I had a 30ft putt, i'd rather have used a wedge than a putter to get it pin high.
The rest of the course was in excellent condition. I still think the path across the 16th fairway is the most bizarre thing ever, but it is what it is.
Also, having spoken with resident nearby, its obvious that cutbacks have had to have been made. Not having dedicated greenkeeping staff doesn't help the situation though.
Interestingly, this October trip in 2018 come a year after I played another of the GNK owned courses, Mar Menor, where the greens were in similar condition. Is this because they no longer hollow tine the greens, but only micro tine them? Who knows, but for my next trip back in 2019, I'll be staying away from GNK courses until the greens are sorted.
I played Alhama in 2016. I found the course a (too) good challenge in the windy conditions I faced and scored poorly. There are a LOT of bunkers that often are quite deep near the green. Some holes like the par 4 8th are unusual with bunkers mid fairway. I found the holes running along the lakesides most interesting(4, 9, 10, 11, 18) but suffered some mishit approaches which are heavily punished by wind and water. Because there are no trees, there is also no relief from the wind. This made a couple of par 5s into 3 long shots and an approach, esp 16. Overall worth a longish drive as the resort is not near any major towns.
I played this course twice in December 2016 and found the whole experience very pleasing. The course is well kept and attractive with a wonderful back drop of the Serria Espuna mountains. My husband was able to play to his handicap of 12 but I could not quite play to mine as I had trouble with the water. I enjoyed both rounds, one played at 10.30 and the other played at 2.30. The club house is small but has a large terrace area.
This review is so far from the truth. The Alhama society has 585 members of which there are just one or two none residents. So not sure about ghost town. The course is rated 43 out of Spain's top 100. The club house is not a port-a-cabin, although basic it is predominately of glass construction and is well stocked with Nike accessories among other brands, and serves good food. This is a classic Golden Bear design. I'm sure Jack would appreciate the critic listed November 2015's superior knowledge of the course layout thou..