The North and South courses at La Manga Club are the creation of Robert Putman, a Californian professional engaged by developer Gregory Peters back in the early 1970s to construct two complementary 18-hole layouts on the 1,400-acre property.
Another course came along in 1996 when Dave Thomas reworked the old 9-hole La Princesa (originally opened in 1986), creating the West, which means the resort now offers golfers a choice of three terrific tracks.
Completely refurbished in 2001, the North course is a good deal shorter and hillier than the South. Palm trees line most of the fairways and putting surfaces (which are often multi-tiered) are well proportioned with imaginative greenside bunkering in evidence throughout.
Concentration must be retained for the full eighteen as water, in the shape of half a dozen ponds between holes 13 and 17, could damage a good score towards the end of the round.
La Manga Club (North) course was originally nominated as a Gem by Colin and added to the site on 28th March 2007. Since then the North course has been ranked in our Spanish Top 100. However, Colin's original nomination words follow:
Of the three lovely courses at La Manga Club, the North course is the easiest, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s easy. There is often a breeze at the resort which makes the Par threes long and enables the palm trees to lengthen their grasp in order to collect a wayward tee shot.
If you just fancy a quick nine holes, or are taking a higher handicap golfer with you, this is the course to play. The holes are a little shorter, the start is a little friendlier, and the ravines (barrancas) are a little less plentiful.
The course benefits from some lovely challenging holes, the par five 3rd is a hole that is easy if you don’t try and smash it to bits by attempting the Herculean task of getting on the green in two. The par three 4th is a real smasher with some nasty out of bounds on the left and a magnetic hazard to the right, yet it has an enormous green, and the wind is generally not with you.
The back nine present a better set of holes, with one of the better holes being the par four 13th, with the sort of tee shot that makes you wander back and forth to your bag swapping driver for five wood for five iron and back again. The par five 15th is a long, long hole, usually into the wind, but with an inviting expanse of fairway that lets you rip it. The 17th is a lovely dogleg par four and the 18th is a nice finishing hole allowing you to be watched by the sunbathers around the hotel pool, although generally the golfers spend more time watching the sunbathers! From there it is a short walk back to the clubhouse with a bar that allows you to watch the following groups make similarly difficult decisions about how to get to the elevated 18th green from just short of the ravine.
Like all the La Manga Club courses the North course benefits from large greens that are hard to miss but equally hard to ‘two putt’ regularly; lovely bunkers which will accept a long iron from the fairway versions, and allow a good portion of sand beneath the ball when in the greenside ones. The fairways are lush and the ball is always sitting up. You can rack up a 40-point plus score here and the only defence is a strong wind and poor judgement of distance, if you can bring yourself to play one more club than you think you will score well. If there is a criticism it is that the 1st, 9th, 10th and 18th are too similar, they run parallel with each other and offer little in the way of character. Nonetheless this is a lovely track for a pleasant sunny evening in Spain. If I had just one day at the resort, this is probably the one I’d pick to play.
La Manga Club is one of our Top 100 Golf Resorts of the World
Good for the higher handicapper or shorter hitter, tight tree lined fairways on a lot of holes and quite a few quirky hazards meaning you have to really plot your way around the course. With the length of todays drivers the lower handicapper would really be best place to leave the driver in the car.
Its the kind of course that is not to challenging and offers great facilities etc and would feel above average for somebody who plays on average courses at home. If you played well you could really put a 43 pointer together on here !
For me it is a little crammed in and a bit on the short side.
As in my other La manga reviews, the pace of play is nigh on criminal.
I will share my story with you....... I have property on the course so usually i can see how busy it is and usually plot away around the slow groups in my buggy. However one day I was a little unprepared and turned up without checking how busy the course was... I arrived at the first to see the course really busy and I was due to tee off behind a mixed group of scandinavian golfers, in turn I decided to drive 30 minutes North to a course called Saurines instead. I played 36 holes (on my own in a buggy mind), had a beer drove back to the resort, to see the group I was originally being teeing off on the 13th ! I went back home to change and came back to the clubhouse another 2 hours later with the family and the group had just finished! . It was 5 hours 45 mins ! I literally drove 90 minutes round trip had 36 holes, went home got changed and brought the family back for our meal in the same length of time! Not one for the quick golfer during in peak season, you have been warned!
The North course is the course for everyone of all levels. I was grouped with two Norwegian women in their late 50’s and I can’t imagine they were any better than about 30 hcp’ers. They were really nice and enjoyed their games not taking themselves too seriously. From the women’s tees there the course was really quite playable even for them. Lot’s of space but also some tough spots and they certainly lost their share of balls. From the back tees there were some really fun holes and also some really rather easy holes. However, the course was certainly not without challenge. It’s also wide open and the wind is a big factor. Interestingly enough one of the best holes is the 18th . After a solid drive, 3 wood from the back tees other wise the small canyon comes into play, you are left with a mid to short iron approach to a nicely undulated green that is surrounded by the hotel and serves as a centerpiece for most of the rooms, the pool and the pool restaurant.
My second favourite of the three La Manga courses, the North is a typical resort layout with a twist of interest around the ravines. The elevation changes are much sharper than the South but all in all this is the easiest test as Colin quite rightly points out in his article. A number of truly memorable holes, huge multi-tiered greens, water and generally excellent conditioning make for an entertaining and enjoyable round.