Many golfers will be well aware of the name El Prat due to the extensive list of high profile European Tour players who have won at this club over the years. Dating back to 1956, when Peter Alliss was still in his playing career, winners include Seve Ballesteros, Lee Trevino, Sam Torrance and Tom Watson to name a few. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story, as the course played back then was a totally different location and layout to the Greg Norman design under the same golf club name today.
The current course now boasts an impressive 45 holes, which make up 4 loops of 9 holes that can be played as 7 combinations of 18. It’s worth understanding the combinations if you’re not so familiar with place, so it’s advisable to do your research on the clubs website beforehand. The most recognised combinations are named Open, Pink, Blue, Yellow and Green and opinions vary as to which is the best combo. The most famous being the Open, which has itself played host to European Tour and Challenge Tour events. The most recent was in 2015, when James Morrison lifted the Open De Espana trophy with an impressive score of 10 under, beating the Miguel Angel Jimenez by 4 shots.
From November 2018 there will be a change in the configuration of the four loops: Pink and Yellow
Pink course (Arriba & Bosque)
Yellow course (Piscina & Abajo)
This is how Greg Norman designed the two courses and how they were played until 2011 when the European Tour asked to use a different combination for the Spanish Open. From that moment and until this October the Open (Abajo & Arriba) and the Blue (Piscina & Bosque) courses have been kept for play.
Although it’s a very strong members club, there is a warm welcome for visitors as the club is progressively looking to attract more travelling golfers. This gives it a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere, as you can sense pride and charm that those associated with the venue seem keen to give off.
The courses are all great design with plenty of variety. Playing the Open layout, it’s clear why this is the choice for a tour event, as the course can be stretched out to 6,700 meters off the tips and has the look and feel of a championship layout. Unlike some modern championship designs, which can be a bit of a slog, this is still a fun course and plays well for all level of golfers from a good variety of tee boxes. As you’d expect, the condition is immaculate, with manicured tee boxes, soft sand in the bunkers and true and fast putting surfaces.
You’ll need to drive well to score well on the Open course, as you’ll realise from the first hole on the Abajo front nine, which at 400 meters with a fairway bunker stretching down two thirds of the right-hand side of the fairway presents an immediate demand on power and precision.
The second is a belter of a par 5, although unreachable in two for most players, the pin placement options can dramatically change the difficulty of the hole, with a back right pin placement demanding a longer shot over a fearsome cluster of bunkers. It really is very well thought out and cleverly sculpted, with a backdrop of wild flowers and bushes.
The wild flowers are continued throughout the course, particularly around the far edges of the bunkers, which give the course distinction and character. This helps to make the Abajo nine feel natural, and, given the course is relatively new, makes it seem mature beyond its years.
Playing the Open course takes you on to the Arriba layout for the back nine, which is a far hillier piece of land, allowing for numerous elevation changes in teeing grounds and green complexes. One of the most interesting being the par 5 10th, which presents you with a superb view down to a generous fairway, which once found demands a steep climb to a raised putting surface, which blends naturally into the terrain, again using wild shrubbery to create a natural look and feel to the hole.
The course meanders along the higher ground until a stunning 5th/14th, presenting a challenging drive to a sweeping right to left fairway with bunkers on the landing area to the right of the fairway. This is a superb tactical hole, as the further you try to drive the more you need to draw the ball to avoid the bunkers. A tough approach to a raised green, tops off what could be my favourite of the holes we played.
This 9 holes gives more of a woodland feel and continues to challenge the golf with variety, bringing a man-made pond in to the 16th, which doesn’t feel out of place despite being the only water feature on the entire complex.
Playing this 9 as part of the Pink course combo along with the course would be my preferred choice, as both have a similar style and feel like they belong together. However, this isn’t always an option for visitors, and is restricted to certain time of the season.
My choice of loops of 9 in order of preference would be:
In terms of visiting and places to stay, there is plenty of choice in the area and the club partners with hotels in Barcelona, which include Gran Hotel La Florida, The Serras and the
Majestic – while Hotel Sant Cugat is a very local option.
Reviewed by S Bale
Date: June 11, 2018