Both the North and South layouts at this resort are the design of Robert Putman, a Californian professional who was asked by developer Gregory Peters to build two contrasting courses on the 1,400-acre property during 1971-2.
The West course followed in 1996 when Dave Thomas extended the former 9-hole La Princesa (first opened in 1986), meaning the resort can now tempt golfers with a choice of three tremendous courses.
Upgraded by Arnold Palmer in 1993 then refurbished in-house during 2004, the South course has changed considerably since the early days when it held the Spanish Open between 1973 and 1977, thanks mainly to renewed investment by different owners over the years.
The course feels fairly spacious (despite the many palm trees that line the fairways) but aquaphobic golfers might think twice about striding the fairways on the South course as only a handful of holes are without some form of water hazard to tease and torment!
La Manga Club (South course) was originally nominated as a Gem by Colin and added to the site on 28th March 2007. Colin's nomination article follows:
A couple of years ago the South course was really run down, but La Manga Club resort has put in a bit of restorative work in recent years, and it is now comparing favourably with its colleagues the West and the North.
The South is the Championship layout and that is evident by its length and the bunkering. When the wind gets up it can be a real test, and whilst in the past it was a little flat and un-inspiring, the holes have been re-designed in some areas to be a little more pleasing to the eye. This is the course you will see most often on TV featuring all those Celebrity Charity events.
The opening holes are a not spectacular but the 4th, which used to be a real testy par four, has been extended to a par five with the addition of an attractive pond in front of the green, which gives the course a little of the charm it lacked in its previous incarnation.
The 6th, which was once the 9th hole, (I think they saved some labour by just turning the flag number upside down), is a terrific par five with a lot of wet and sandy hazards as you near the green, but that is only after a tough blind tee shot onto a wide and downhill fairway.
The 10th is a little ordinary but the 11th has benefited from the extension of the greenside lake, making a second shot a real tester. The 12th, a short par three, is the hole that witnessed the oldest man ever to achieve a hole in one. Beyond that, the 14th, a par four, presents one of the largest sand traps in Spain, running almost the whole length of the right hand side fairway. The 17th is a testing par three, almost all of the par threes on the South course need a good biff, but the 18th is the signature hole, with its tough tee shot (water and bunkers everywhere) and then a really well-protected green. So many bunkers surround it you’ll think the tide has gone out.
Despite its championship status, the South is the least charming of the three courses. However, it does give the most honest test of golf. It’s long, there’s plenty of bunkering and the course demands some solid hitting. You can let the driver out of the bag far more than you can on either of the other two tracks, but somehow it does lack character and it is certainly nowhere near as pleasing on the eye.
La Manga Club is one of our Top 100 Golf Resorts of the World
This is the most technical course at La Manga, and tests your ball striking as well as short game. Lots of water, lots of sand, and a number of barrancas - dry river beds - crossing the fairways. Although it's the strongest course on the resort, I find it a little bland and uninspiring. The North has much more character.
The South is more spread out than the other courses on the resort, there is more room between holes, although at the top end of the course it gets a bit cramped with nearby properties. 3,4 and 6 have OOB on both sides and the villas make it feel a little claustrophobic, like playing golf in an alleyway. The back nine has a more open feel with more water, and the final 3 holes represent a stern challenge with water everywhere.
Out of the 3 courses at La Manga I would say this is the only one that you could really class as a "good" golf course for the lower handicapper. It has some interesting holes and dependant on the wind 3 of the 5 par fives very reachable in 2. Condition is good considering it gets a pounding most of the year from the golfbreaks customers. However because of this the play is painfully slow most of the times and outside of summer (when its quiet because of the heat) even though I have property on the resort I have to avoid it due to 5 hour plus rounds. The old school golfers that like a decent pace of play will tear their hair out here! All in definitely worth a visit and a good decent length well thought out course, just brace yourself for a long game!
Great challenging course with different tees where all kind of players can enjoy. Up to even host professional events.
The South course is by far, in my opinion, the best course in the La Manga complex in every single aspect.
I played this course in March of 2016, and was rather underwhelmed by the experience after hearing some good things.
Although the facility at La Manga is vast with good facilities, I found the course rather bland and lacking in character. On the plus side the condition of the course was good.
The South course is of course their Championship routing, the longest course at La Manga and perhaps the course you might expect the most at this type of resort. It’s fairly open and generous off the tee but still requires solid shots. Since it’s so open wind has a huge impact on the game. The greens run fast and the course plays fairly firm and fast as well. Bermuda grasses add very much to the challenge if the fairways are missed. It’s a fun and relaxed golf course.
After the West course, I would rate this as the second best course at La Manga. It is also a course where you can get the driver out a lot as the fairways are quite wide. There are plenty of interesting and challenging holes here, such as the par four 11th, which has a lake on the right side which needs to be avioided, and 12, a nice little par three over water, which proved to be nasty playing in a 20mph wind! The 18th also deserves a mention, a long par five with loads of water and sand which must have ruined a lot of rounds!
The South is my least favourite of the three courses at La Manga but it’s by no means a bad track. What it lacks is elevation change and consequently palm-lined fairways, water hazards and bunkers provide the definition. The best hole for me is left until last which is not only the signature hole but the best on the course by a long way. Look out for the plaque on the 18th tee that commemorates Arnold Palmer’s eagle in the final round of the 1975 Spanish Open which secured victory.