30389 La Manga Club,
- +34 968 33 1234
30 km NE of Cartagena
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Robert Putman, Arnold Palmer
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
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.