La Cala Golf Club has overtaken La Manga in southeast Spain as the largest golf resort in the country. In addition to the three championship 18-hole courses here, there is a 6-hole par three practice course, Golf Academy and a 107-room hotel on site.
Located at the foot of the Mijas mountains, slightly inland from the Costa del Sol between Marbella and Malaga, the original Campo America was known as the North course when it opened in 1990 (just after the South course – now the Campo Asia).
The America and Asia layouts were two of the first projects undertaken by the American golf course architect Cabell B. Robinson after he moved from the Robert Trent Jones company and he has since added a third course, Campo Europa, in 2005.
There are many changes in elevation on the hilly, par 72, America course with many of the Pencross grass greens raised above the level of the Bermuda grass fairways. Strategic sand bunkering – crushed marble filled traps, in fact – add to the degree of difficulty.
The round starts and ends with a par five – there are five of these in total – and the course measures a respectable 6,547 yards from the back tees. Many consider the best hole to be the 135-yard, short par three 16th where the elevated tee overlooks the whole property and the view extends over the pond in front of the green, past the putting surface to the coast several miles away.
Cabell B. Robinson, course architect, commented as follows: “The campo America course was laid out at the same time as Campo Asia, but construction and the course opening were a year or so later. There was far greater change in elevation across the America site and in this regard it was the more difficult of the two sites on which to create an acceptable course routing. The result is some topographically spectacular holes, notably numbers 6, 9 and 18 – all par 5s – and the photogenic par 3 16th. Nearly 20 years later I am still rather proud of what I was able to achieve there at the outset of my solo career.”
Played this course about a week ago for the first time. I would say it’s a decent resort course with some fun and quirky holes. Probably best described as penal architecture for a resort course some of the pin placements were rather extraordinary. The greens among the smallest I’ve ever seen.
A good example was on the par 5, 6th hole playing at 469 meters. A visually tight drive where right is lost ball territory and left there is space but that leaves a more challenging second shot often from a steep sidehill lie. A strong drive taking on the right hand side bunker catches a speed slot and leave a mid to long iron into the green. However, the green is about 100ft straight up a very steep hill. The likes of which I can’t remember seeing on a course before. I played it as a 3-shot hole and was left with a full wedge but literally straight up. When I arrived at the green I found the pin which was placed hard left to be on a sort of inlet to the green that was literally 3.5 paces wide and playing horizontal to the angle of play.
Given there are five par 5’s on this course there are plenty of opportunities for birdie or even better. There are also several highly elevated tee shots where you can literally go for broke. I imagine most golfers like to feel they have launched one off the tee and there is plenty of opportunity for that at La Cala.
The maintenance was good and the course was playing firm and fast. I’d recommend taking a cart due to all the uphill climbs and a few long hauls between greens and the next tee plus the fact that it’s rather warm there.
In terrible condition. Had high hopes after previous reviews and conditioning on the Europa looked fine. Sadly we were faced with 3 ladies 4 balls in front of us who refused to let a 3 ball with a PGA pro through and continued to putt out on the worst greens I have seen on the costa. Drove off after 3 holes and went to play Alferini instead. Very busy with lots of society hackers so be warned.