Sometimes the terrain at a particular location is so tortuous that you can only scratch your head and ask the question, “who would build a golf course here?” Well, David McLay Kidd was involved in the early stages of the project, but Rodney Barr takes the majority of the Andratx architectural credit, constructing one of the most original, eclectic golf courses imaginable within a steep, forested valley at Camp de Mar, on the southwest coast of Mallorca in 1999.
Andratx is spectacular, challenging and a complete golfing one-off with blind shots galore, unfeasibly elevated teeing positions, dramatically doglegged fairways, ponds, bunkers and stone walls that regularly come into play. Little wonder the name of the first hole as you set out on the round is called “Heaven Help Me”!
Golf at Andratx is an acquired taste for many but devotees of this course will tell you it offers a world-class golfing experience that is both demanding and stimulating. Accuracy is everything here as wayward shots will be severely punished so bring your “A game” or else you may part with a sleeve or two of golf balls during the round.
Surprisingly, the use of buggies here is only compulsory until mid afternoon – thereafter, the really adventurous golfer can walk the course!
I am sure we can all list elements we like to see in a course design.
Not unlike many reviewers on this site, I tend to enjoy courses which require thought on the tee and give many options playing into greens. I am not too fussed about green speeds as long as the greens offer lots of variety and roll reasonably true.
When pushed, I am equally sure we can also come up with a list of things we are not too fond of. In my case, that would mean penal designs in general, designs which require buggies and designs which offer few options but aerial attack into greens. This does not mean hilly sites are out: I have played courses laid out in such terrain where the designer has managed to create an enjoyable walk, often making the most of the great views on offer. Unfortunately, this course is not one of them.
For me, Andratx ticks all the boxes on the negative side and only one on the positive side: it does require thought before each tee-shot, ideally also a course planner and a distance-measuring device. I had both and left the driver in the bag most of the time. As a result I had a good score, but I shudder to think how many golf balls an out-of-form and out-of-season fourball (of men with higher handicaps) would lose from the tee before giving up as many yellow tees are sited well away from fairways in such inhospitable places that artificial turf has been used to make them playable!
Playing in the late afternoon, I passed at least two groups of older men who seemed to have parked their buggies at the halfway house. They seemed to enjoy themselves royally and showed no inclination to continue playing.
Given the even hillier layout of the back nine, probably a good move.