Not far from the medieval walled little city of Capdepera in the east of Mallorca lies its eponymous golf course, designed by American architect Dan Maples and opened in 1989.
Capdepera’s course consists of two distinct parts. The first twelve holes, below the clubhouse, are laid out on a gentle slope which used to be an almond plantation, which perhaps explains the unusual layout of the ponds around the course, some of which are still in use, while others form large depressions in the rough between the holes. Also unusual is the mix of holes in this section with four par threes, four par fours and four par fives. The one-shotters vary in length from 115 to 212 meters while the par fives range from the short 8th, reachable for many in two, to the long 12th (532 meters/585 yards) which plays uphill and requires three solid shots to reach the green in regulation.
The layout is versatile in that it offers loops of six, nine and twelve holes for those unable or unwilling to play a full round. This together with the practice facilities on offer also make the club a favourite among teaching pros travelling with groups of clients in the Northern European off-season.
The last six holes have a more traditional mix with four par fours, one par three and one par five. The layout, however, is anything but traditional. These holes are cut out of a wooded hillside and present a very different challenge from the first twelve holes. Holes 13-18 are quite narrow and most have significant changes in elevation. To score here you need to choose your clubs carefully and place your shots well. Anything too wayward can easily end up lost and/or unplayable. The most well known among these holes is the par three 15th, which has been voted Mallorca’s most scenic golf hole on several occasions, and you will probably not forget the glorious view having played it.
"Friendly" is the first adjective that comes to mind when I think of Capdepera on Mallorca. Now, I do not mean to wind some of you up by writing about the nice people working there or the relatively moderate green-fee (at least by Mallorcan standards), although both are certainly true.
Instead, it is the friendliness of the design that makes me come back and to recommend this course to friends and acquaintances. By this, I do not mean that the course is (too) easy, but rather that the difficulties are introduced in a gentle fashion, allowing the player to first gain confidence. Not bad if you are visiting in your off-season.
Having gained a bit of confidence, it is then up to you to keep your wits about you when facing the temptations served up by the architect. One example: it is very tempting for many of us to go for the green on the short par 4 10th hole. I have now tried several times and am ashamed to admit that I have had more double and triple bogeys than birdies.
The experience on the 10th tee will be useful as you cross the access road to deal with holes 13-18. I have had windy or difficult days when I have hit irons from nearly every one of the last six tees but also nearly windless days when my game has been on and I have been able to hit driver, 3-wood or hybrids instead.
On almost every occasion I have played here I have felt a very strong urge to play again, very soon, in order to do better, irrespective of whether I have shot 77 or 84. An indication as good as any of the quality of this design!