Emporda Golf Club is located just to the north of Barcelona on the north eastern coast of Spain. It was the brainchild of a few Catalan businessmen who got together in 1988 and decided to develop a high quality golf venue. They purchased 125 hectares of land and within a couple of years their first nine was ready for play. They entrusted the design to Texan architect Robert von Haage.
Today, Emporda boasts four loops of nine holes (formerly known as the Blue, Green, Yellow and Red) these loops have now been married up to create two distinct courses called the Forest and the Links. Both courses are good, but for our money, the Forest pips the Links by a short nose and this is purely due to the drama provided by a majestic forest of umbrella pines.
These pine-flanked holes at Emporda are amongst the most lovely in all Spain and, with some bold bunkering, a sprinkling of water and many raised greens, the Forest is an absolute must-play venue.
The eighteen holes on the Forest course lie immediately to the north of the Links but you’d be hard pressed to believe they occupy the same property. You only have to look at the surrounding landscape to see how flat the terrain is in this part of the Costa Brava so it took a great deal of effort to fashion the contours on both courses, especially on the more open Links.
Apart from the 1st, 9th and 18th holes on the Forest, the fairways are lined by mature umbrella pines trees, offering a more intimate game of golf as they twist and turn through a majestic tract of pine forest. The professionals will probably be happier on the Links but club golfers will relish playing the shorter Forest, where the same consecutive par on a hole isn’t played until the 16th.
The front nine is configured with three par threes, three par fours and three par fives, with the last four holes on the back nine played as par fours, which makes for a very interesting mix of holes overall on this par 72 layout.
The short par four 6th is one of the most intriguing holes you’ll ever play: drive straight onto a peninsula fairway and you have a short approach to a shallow green but choose to play to the narrower alternative fairway to the left and you have a longer shot in with more green to play with and no water to carry – it’s quite contrived but it’s still a great example of a golf architect thinking out of the box.
Similarly, the par five 9th is another terrific hole: the drive has to avoid an enormous waste area on the right as the fairway swings round in that direction, with water on the opposite side. Big hitters can then opt to cross the lake on the left to a peninsula green with their second shot, whilst most players will play conservatively to the right then chip on with their third shot.
The short par four 11th is a really fun hole on the back nine, doglegging left to a “volcano” green, followed by an eye-catching par three that shares a double green with the par three 8th – this long putting surface occupies a little shelf on the edge of the forest, with a large waste area below the level of the conjoined greens to catch errant tee shots.
Unfortunately, the round ended somewhat disappointingly for me as the par four 18th plays to an enormous horseshoe-shaped green that’s protected by a lake to the right of the fairway and bunkers to the front and rear of the putting surface – that’s all fine and dandy but the home green is circled by yards away by six massive 4-storey apartment blocks that totally dominate proceedings.
Putting that outside interference to one side, the Forest course is the better of the two 18-hole layouts (though many moons ago the Links was actually ranked higher in the Spanish Top 100) but if you’re looking for a 36-hole venue in Catalunya that offers two entirely different types of golfing experience then you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere to beat Emporda.
An absolute beauty of a pine forest course. The opening two holes, being tree less give you a false idea of the course. Once in the pine forest, with the sun out and blue skies over head its an absolute joy to play. Great condition when we played, super friendly staff and a decent lunch. Will 100% visit again.
On Emporda you got 2 courses. Forest and Links. Forest is, yes, a forest course, and links – not a really links, but close. Flat and open with loads of bunkers. A real von Hagge/Rick Baril course. I have played Emporda many times. I prefer to play the Forest, but then it also depend of the weather. If no wind Links is a great course. If wind, I chose the Forest. Here you are sheltered by tall pine trees and it is a golf course with many great holes.
I like courses where “what you see is what you get”. That is, when you are standing on the tee, you know exactly what is in front of you. You can see the ideal landing area – for you, and you can foresee how the ball will bounce and roll. No hided bunkers, water, streams or the like.
I also value holes with 2 different routes to the green. Either from the tee or, for the second shot, that is where to place the ball to get the optimal position for the approach shot to the green.
And I value holes offering risk – reward decisions. That is, if I chose to cut the corner, go over the lake, make a draw or fade to curb the bunker, then I either win a shot or can add one extra to the card.
Next. I like contoured green, but not too contoured, just enough to test the reading skill and just enough to make the position of the hole important for where to land the approach shot.
I can mention more factors that, to mee, constitute a great golf course. But here, just one more. I like to walk my golf and – in that context – the possibility of flow. What promotes flow? You can find your ball if in the rough, you are not in doubt of the route to the next tee and you don’t have a long walk from green to next tee.
In my opinion the Forest course give you all these options and challenges. It is not a very difficult course. That is, if you play it in accordance to your factual skills. The low handicapper will have a lot of challenges suited to his/hers skill and the high handicapper to his/hers.
Only negative is that the maintenance is not always in top. Part of some tee areas, paths, green and fairway areas are kind of worn down. Playing the Forest course is a great walk in the forest, but here and there the greatness is impaired by this.
One of two courses at Emporda Golf Resort near Girona. This course is a classic parkland course with narrow tree lined fairways. Some really beautiful holes, but the condition of the course was not as perfect as for example at PGA Catalunya resort which is not far away.