The Costa Brava is the jewel in the crown of the Eastern Spanish coastline, nestling at the foothills of the Pyrenees and escaping the intense summer heat that burns the more southern parts of Spain. Catalonia (Catalunya), of which the Costa Brava is part, feels at times like a completely different country. The local food is very different - heartier than more southern Spanish fare – and the local Catalonian language has more of a French feel.
A visit to this area of Spain is a must for any golfer as there are a number of excellent courses that all offer thoughtful design in great surroundings. The various designers have created excellent challenges that are usually in superb condition due to the cooler northern climate. The best of these has to be the Stadium (formerly called Green) course at PGA de Catalunya, ranked in Europe's Top 100 ever since it opened at the end of 1998.
The Stadium course is the culmination of more than a decade of planning and design by the European Tour. They wanted to build their own Players Championship course to rival the PGA Tour's Sawgrass course. It has to be said that it was a decade well spent. The PGA is so good that within months of opening, it hosted the 1999 Gene Sarazen World Open and the Spanish Open in 2000. The Spanish Open returned to the Stadium course in 2009 (won by Thomas Levet) and 2014 when veteran Miguel Angel Jiménez extended his own record as the oldest winner in European Tour history winning a three-man play-off.
PGA Catalunya Resort is located 45 minutes north of the wonderful city of Barcelona and only a few kilometres from the regional airport at Girona, although this is never apparent as the course nestles in the Girona mountains just outside the quiet town of Caldes de Malvella. Utilising their combined 25-plus years of European Tour experience, the designers, Angel Gallardo and Neil Coles, have created a wonderful course that is a test for all standards due to the fact that every hole can be played from five different tees. Which is lucky as the course measures more than 6,500 metres from the championship tees.
Once on the first tee, the true majesty of the PGA de Catalunya is immediately apparent with an elevated drive to a dogleg left par four. Trouble waits in front of the tee and only a good, solid shot will provide the ability to reach the green with anything less than a long iron or fairway wood. For the handicap golfer, leaving this green with a bogey must be viewed as an acceptable result. From here on in, the course just gets better and better as it winds its way through the hills. Beautiful green fir trees, lush vegetation, scrub and an abundance of purple heather, frame each hole. The greens are well bunkered, undulating and always in excellent condition. Additionally, there are a number of large lakes on the course, which blend perfectly with the landscape and on some holes, the water is used creatively to form semi-island greens.
There are many "must-see" places in the world and the Stadium course at PGA de Catalunya should be on any serious golfer's "must-play" list. It's an absolute cracker. And their second course, called the Tour, is pretty special too.
In November 2014 the PGA Catalunya Resort was appointed as candidate venue for Spain’s bid to host the 2022 Ryder Cup. Spain was one of six countries bidding to stage the tournament – the Stadium Course was originally developed with a view to hosting such a major event. Unfortunately the Catalonian bid was unsuccessful with Italy's capital city of Rome winning the right to stage the 2022 Ryder Cup.
PGA Catalunya is one of our Top 100 Golf Resorts of the World
Played a number of rounds on the Stadium course a few years ago and stayed onsite at the hotel (which by now has been refurbished and looks very swanky).
For the golf nut, this is a great place, you have everything you want and need right at your fingertips. The range is fantastic and you can practise all aspects of your game. I've heard very good things about the pros here but have not yet taken a lesson myself.
We only played the Tour course once (I enjoyed it but much preferred the Stadium course) so this focuses on the Stadium course. It's a tough course, no doubt, and high handicappers will have their work cut out. It can play really long. The opening tee shot is incredible and sets the scene nicely for the round. Every par or bogey chance will be hard fought for, no doubt.
PGA Catalunya is a great stay and play place. It's a great escape for a few days. There are also other good courses in the vicinity and you can easily spend a few days here. We also went for dinners in Girona and the cuisine in this part of the world is just wonderful. Highly recommended to check it out.
Quality course and amazing practice facilities. I've never seen anything like this. I stayed here for 5 days, 2 x stadium course and 2 x tour course. The practice area must be the best in Spain. The stadium course are forever to be one of the best in Spain. The layout in the landscape are meant to be. The condition and design are top rated by many players, also why the European tour been playing here. Amazing place, top quality throughout the entire setup. Not the last time I've spent time at the PGA Catalunya!
Expectations were high amongst the 9 of us that made the hours trip North of Barcelona to the mountains outside the city of Girona.
PGA Catalunya is a baby of a course. It was opened for visitors in 1999 to huge excitement and has hosted 3 Spanish Opens to date. That being said, this is a course that divides opinion.
As a plot the course site is huge. I don’t remember being able to see another hole whilst playing the course, so every hole is its own event. They have made fantastic use of the consistent undulations with multiple elevated tee boxes, falling away to pristine looking greens, often surrounded by water. It makes for some epic golfing vistas.
It’s tough, hazards are beautifully placed and it’s a course that can be won or lost from the tee. If you’re a demon with a driver, you will score well here and if you play well you will walk off with great memories of the course.
But for me, this is a good course and not great and let’s be honest, with its ranking, it should be great.
Sadly, despite some lovely holes, such as 1, 3, 5, 11, 13 and 17, the course lacks charm and leaves you thinking “glad I played it, but I’m in no hurry to come back”. Any course with such reliance on one club for me is not one I’m rushing back to play. One added negative is there are a fair few holes with cranes and building sites right up to the fairways, which detracted from the occasion.
That said, it’s a course that if you’re in the Barcelona area, you should play. Stunning views, some of the most picturesque shots you’ll play in Europe, but it just lacks that something that’ll leave it etched on your mind.
I can’t finish this review without talking about 1 hole! The 13th here has made its way into my European Dream 18 holes! A stunning view from the tee box, it drops onto a pristine welcoming fairway offering you differing approach shots into an undulating island green! Stunning!
Many will walk away raving about this course, but that’s the beauty of Golf, one man’s treasure is another man’s trash. For me, this is good...it’s just not great!
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Nice course well prepared but very dificult for high handicaps, the hotel it is also very nice, a golf course you must play.
It’s excellent. Amazing greens, undulating layout. Beautiful lakes, but I just can’t put it in the same league as Valderrama. PGA Catalunya gets a lot of traffic, Valderrama doesn’t. There were quite a few pitch marks in the greens when we played the stadium course and I’ve played it 6 times now. So I love it, but Valderrama pips it for me
The course (design) is true test of golf, I liked it, but it will test at first your driver, both length and accuracy. You have to play a driver from every (yellow, mens’) tee, but Par 3’s, otherwise you play only for bogey. It is long, that is for sure. Many bunkers served during my visit as water hazards after the thunderstorm the day before, remaining bunkers were unraked and hard like concrete. Not what I would expect for this level of green fee.
Everything else is only disappointment. Course is nested between two highways, so if you are lucky to find a corner sheltered from roaring trucks, than you will be immersed into heavy construction place, full of cranes and trucks. Most of the trees shown on old photos and marketing materials are gone and replaced by mono design villas, often very close to the fairway. Not exactly what I enjoy. It is getting to be a pure resort course.
Talking about amenities, the clubhouse is nice modern design, but food served is only average. Both on site hotels are about the same, average food and very noisy, full of drunk golfing and cycling societies, singing and drinking till very very late night. And driving range closed on Sunday afternoon, if you wish. Should be 41/2 for the course design and 2 for the rest.
A luxury 5 star resort with quality modern rooms and service to match. The complex contains 36 golf holes, a large state of the art driving range, swimming pool, spa, its own market, a cosy bar as well as fine dining, there is no storage of things to do for the travelling golfer. The real highlight was the ‘stadium course’. With more movement in the land than you expect, the course weaves itself through beautifully with most holes using the valleys, manicured pines and water to work it’s way around the land. It provided generous landing areas, lovely bunkering (without being to penal) and plenty of movement in the greens. While it was it great condition, it was easy to see this was a championship course (EuropeanTour) and made to test the best by carefully using the hints the course provides and so calculated risks are essential.
This is a really solid golf course with a great routing, a very consistent course in terms of 'no weak holes'. It therefore makes it difficult to determine standout holes, but highlights were the tempting par 5's such as 3, 7, 15 and the rolling par 4's 4, 6, 9, 13, 14 & 17. For the par 3's it was the downhillers with water lurking on holes 5 & 11.
But what really impressed me was how enjoyable and fair it was to play! As I came off the course I realised that not only is it a championship course, but a course that the average golfer enjoy too!
Visited in march 2019 along with rounds at both Emporda courses and Pals. By far my least favourite of the four. It can work for professionals but huge carries on every hole and massive greens are not a great test of golf as far as I’m concerned. Some very good holes don’t make up for a few really bad designs (#9, #16…). But more than that the environment is unpleasant. Cranes and scaffolding noises on almost every hole. The condition is pretty good, bunkers very consistent from hole to hole, greens are true, fairways are lovely. But it’s not a good thing when you’re actually happy that a round is finished.
This is by no means #4 on the list of best continental Europe courses. A Chantilly, Knokke le Zoute, Valderrama, Sotogrande or Cannes Mougins are far superior in every aspect of the game. If in the area it’s a yes, if not not worth a trip.
This is one of the best courses in Spain and in Europe. The resort is just great. They have villas and a nice hotel to stay very close to the golf course. Superb practice facilities. Just the golf restaurant could serve better dishes.
The Stadium course is a masterpiece as I see it, it saris withe the view from the first tee and lasts till the approach to the 18th green. Some really beautiful holes out there like the signature hole (13). But every single hole is a experience and you will need excellent golf shots for a good score.
Also superb are the greens with 12 on the stimpmeter really quick and undulating.
This is a true golfing experience on the Costa Brava region.
A golfer immediately gets a heightened sense of challenge just by standing on the Stadium’s first tee box. The holes are tight, fraught with danger and significantly longer. There is a palpable demand for accuracy of the tee, and the approach shots are relentless given the deep encroaching bunkers that are thirsty for stray balls.
Compared to the Tour course, the hazards are a huge factor on this course. I was captivated by the dramatic tee shots and changes in elevation. Be prepared for a few blind second shots and an abundance of undulating crowned greens. This course is ready for a major tournament, and there continues to the plans to improve the holes – especially the visuals.
I’m an old fashioned golfer who likes to walk and play fast. At one tee box on the front side, I was able to count 6 different ugly concrete cart paths from my vantage point. A number of other holes have concrete cart paths directly in your line of sight off the tee which is not pleasing to the eye. One could argue that other materials (eg: Astroturf) could have been contemplated when the course was being built to create the warren of paths. On other holes, the busy nearby motorway is in full view. Local politics pose challenges to tree planting and removal to block the traffic and trucks. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two greens are moved in order to re-route certain holes.
This is a very good course which will only get better with time, given the passionate investments being made and the endless budget for improvement. The club and the fantastic people who work here are really committed to achieving excellence in everything they do – both on and off the golf course.
Despite the challenging nature of the Stadium course, there is a variety of tee boxes available to assist with pace of play. What I really loved was the variety of the lengths of the par 3s and 4s. I hope the club doesn’t forget that short holes are the greatest and that adding more length is NOT (always) the best way to “improve” a golf course.
Strategy off the tee is significantly better than bashing a driver all day long. A successful championship golf course makes a golfer think twice. The lovely variety adds memorability without sacrificing challenge. The “stadium” feel to each hole will make this an excellent venue for the Ryder Cup – which is the goal of the club. I wish them luck.