Half an hour’s drive from Cagliari, Is Molas is situated near the small town of Pula on the southern coast of sunny Sardinia. It is a 27-hole golf complex with an 18-hole course designed by the British partnership of Ken Cotton, Charles Lawrie and Frank Pennink and constructed by Piero Mancinelli in 1975. An additional 9-hole layout (known as the Yellow course) was added by Franco Piras of Gary Player Design in more recent times.
The relatively sheltered location of the course on the south side of the island protects golfers from the worst of the infamous Mistral winds that sometimes blow across the Mediterranean Sea, offering a very pleasant arena for playing good golf.
Is Molas was constructed to such a high standard that it hosted the Italian Open the year after it was built and since then there have been a further three Opens played here, with two of them won by Englishmen – Mark James in 1982 and Ian Poulter in 2000.
In this edited extract from the book Golf Courses of the World author Geoffrey Giles writes: “Given the hot and arid climate of most Mediterranean islands it is something of a surprise that there are any golf courses on them, let alone a number of good ones. Sardinia fares well, with two notable courses – Robert Trent Jones’s outstanding creation for the Aga Khan at Pevero, and the resort of Is Molas with its 27 holes of captivating golf in a fine setting close to the Phoenician city of Nora.”
With views of the nearby tower of Nora standing on the coastal ruins of an ancient Roman city, the course is routed over moderately undulating land with fairways surrounded by Mediterranean scrub. Water comes into play at several holes – particularly at holes 9, 10 and 12 through to 14 – and greens can be tricky to read, especially when two-tiered, like those at the 5th, 8th and 16th.
The hardest hole at Is Molas is played early in the round at the left dog legged 5th hole. The drive has to avoid out of bounds on the left and a tree in the middle of the fairway. The approach must also carry a concealed stream in front of an elevated green. A par score of four on the card will be one to savour for those who manage it.