The PGA Catalunya Resort is the result of collaboration between the PGA European Tour and a number of other partners – including the Royal Automobile Club of Catalunya – in establishing a golf-themed residential development close to the beautiful little town of Caldes de Malvella, in the north east corner of Spain.
The 36-hole golf complex at PGA Catalunya was designed by two stalwarts from the European tour; Barcelona-born Angel Gallardo and Neil Coles, one of only two golfers (the other being Sam Snead) to have won professional golf events in six different decades.
With the combined golfing experience of these two men running into many decades, it’s easy to understand why the Stadium layout is recognised as one of the very best courses on the continent of Europe. It completely overshadows its stable mate though it would be very foolish to dismiss the Tour course as a resort makeweight because it’s a fine track in its own right.
It’s certainly shorter, more open and less demanding than its sibling, but its pine tree-lined fairways still have to be negotiated with care, especially as a number of them are fortified by strategically placed bunkers and cunningly positioned water hazards.
For sure, the Tour course demands the utmost of respect, even from the professionals who tee it up here every winter during the European Tour’s Final Qualifying School.
PGA Catalunya is one of our Top 100 Golf Resorts of the World
No visit to the PGA Catalunya resort should be made without playing the Tour course, even if it’s just to “warm up” for the Stadium later the same day. For most visitors who will have travelled a long way to get here, why would you not want to sample the complete 36-hole playing experience?
As is the case the world over when there’s more than one 18-hole layout at the same big golfing destination, the Tour lives firmly in the shadow of the Stadium but that’s just the way things are when you’re competing against one of the better ranked courses on the continent of Europe.
I write “competing against,” but perhaps “complementing” is the word that should be used because the Tour is exactly that; a shorter, more compact companion course which serves as an accommodating alternative to the main event, allowing you to tune tour game for the Stadium.
That said, it’s a terrific track in its own right, with several holes that would not look out of place if they were located on the other course: I’m thinking here the wonderful short par four 3rd which doglegs down and right to a fabulous water-protected offset green, the par five 5th with its wonderful array of fairway cross bunkers, or the short par four 9th where the approach shot is played across a gully to a green benched into a hill on other side.
There’s plenty of land movement on the front nine, with fairways pitching and rolling across a very undulating landscape, then the contours all but disappear early on the more open back nine, starting at the par four 12th which is routed around a pond. The aquatic theme then continues for a few holes until we climb back on to higher ground at the last two holes.
Conditioning on the Tour course was as good as you’ll find on the Stadium (there’s no let up on the quality just because you’re playing the lesser of the two tracks) and the routing was thoroughly engaging. If you come to PGA Catalunya then be sure to make it a 36-hole all-day affair on both courses.
This is a very good sister course to the Stadium. Definitely not as good, but still worth playing as it’s brilliant in places and consistently good throughout. Half of the course is played on the same piece of land as the Stadium and some of the holes are up there with its neighbour.
Hole 3 in particular is brilliant and would not be out of place on any top Spanish course. The drive needs to funnel down the narrow sloping fairway before setting up a scary approach across a lake to a green nestled in with the umbrella pines. 5 is another great hole in this section - a par 5 played downhill with some expertly placed bunkers around 100 yards short of the green meaning you have to be sure if you’re going for the carry on your second shot. The green undulates a lot and par here is a good score.
9 plays parallel to 1, with another elevated tee meaning you can really go for it on the drive before playing the approach to a green that seems miles above you. Club distance here is a bit of a guess but good fun nonetheless.
10 is a very strong hole - another par 5 that is extremely narrow with bunkers and trees punishing wayward shots. Following the 11th, you cross the road and play the remaining holes (apart from 18) on a slightly less interesting piece of land. Gone are the mature pine trees - these holes are a bit flatter and lack the charm and character of the rest of the resort.
These are still good holes though - 15 in particular - a par 5 that hugs a lake on it’s right hand side all the way up to the green - slightly Bay Hill-esque - this is a fun hole to play.
18 comes back across the road and plays parallel to the 10th for a good finish (if you can avoid the 10 bunkers!).
As stated, this is definitely playing second fiddle to the Stadium but it’s a very good course in its own right. Make it a longer stay, play both courses and head into Girona’s Old Town to do some Game of Thrones sightseeing and you’ve got a cracking long weekend!
Not as good as the Stadium course. But definitely a nice course to play. The place is amazing, i recommend to spent some time here. Stay at the hotel for a nigh and get the full experience and play both courses, it's an awesome place!
The better golf resorts in the world have a healthy mix of golf courses that are playable to a variety of golfers. The Tour course is much more fun and enjoyable than its bigger brother, the Stadium course. It’s much more open and intuitive as to where the landing areas are. One of the elements that make this less punishing is the placement of the bunkers. They are consistently shallow and never intimidate. In many cases, they are not immediately at the edges of the green, so if you miss a green, you won’t always get punished after a slightly stray approach shot. I can envision returning golfers wanting to play this course more and more.
The topography is rolling, the maintenance is fabulous and the routing offers an enjoyable change in direction as you wind your way around. The resort itself is stunning with a 5 star hotel (leading hotels of the world), which offers an unbeatable spa, and also a newly built accompanying 4 star hotel. The location is just 5 minutes from Girona airport and the surrounding views are beautiful.
My review of the Standium course and facilities also apply to this one. It may be marginally less tight but unless you can drive a long ball say 250 yards you will struggle. I am a 16 handicap and a senior and even with a buggy found it very hard. Like the Stadium course play it for the experience!
Unfortunately I did not play the Stadium course and all I can say is if it is better than this it must be unbelieveable! The course was in magnificent condition. I have played on all the top courses in Spain and haven't seen one better. We played off the standard tees which was about 6200 yards (handicaps 15) but the back tees are there for better players. It is mainly tree lined but not too tight. The whole set up is first class right from the booking in to the attentive lady marshalls on the course! Excellent club house and restaurant, something which is frequently ignored!
Played here in October and was very impressed by the so-called "2nd course" at the PGA Catalunya Resort. Played here the day before the Stadium Course and I've got to say even though it is nowhere near as tough and as long as the number 1 ranked course in Spain I was more impressed with the Tour Course for a number of reasons.
The conditioning of the course was far better with the greens a lot quicker and truer than the Stadium's. Also the general condition of tees, bunkers and fairways was a lot better and for me the visiting golfer will enjoy the Tour course more than the Stadium as it is a lot fairer.
I can't deny that the Stadium courses layout is quite amazing but the Tour course also has a wonderful layout with about six or seven wonderful holes including 3, 12, 13, 15 and 16 as the standouts for me. But what makes this place so special is the all round atmosphere of the place and the first class facilities.
Make sure you go on the wonderful range beforehand to fine tune your game and check out the amazing new chipping facilities with the five different types of sand. We were lucky enough to get a lesson and shown round by the pro and all the staff are absolutely fantastic! Well worth a visit and great value for money at only €50 per person!
I am really pleased to see the Tour course enter the Spanish rankings – it will always be the second course at the PGA resort, mainly as the Stadium is quite simply brilliant and deservedly world ranked. In saying that, this is a very strong course in it’s own right with many special holes – in fact the 3rd is one of my favourites across both courses; a short par-4 with a downhill approach over water.
The front nine does have a feel that is similar to the Stadium course, in fact some holes on both courses run close to each other. I think the overall feeling is that there is more room off the tee on the Tour and also the course is a little shorter but still very pretty and challenging.
The back nine has a different feel to it, less trees and more open, some great holes though; the dog-legging par-4 12th is fun to play with water in play from the tee, six fairway bunkers and the hole is only around 350 yards long. I imagine that most golfers will choose the par-5 15th as the pick of the back-9; water in play on the right-side all the way to the hole being the biggest problem.
PGA Catalunya has a great set of 36 holes on offer at the resort and it is difficult to find fault with either course, it is just a great place to stay and play, plus very helpful staff on hand to help. Last couple of things, warm-up on the new practice green at the short-game area, it has five bunkers with authentic sand from five world famous courses – plus all of this is just ten minutes from Girona airport.