Many golfers are pleasantly surprised to discover the quality of golf courses available on the island of Majorca. Around the Palma area alone, there are several top tracks such as the more established Sanata Ponsa and Son Vida, along with newer 18-hole layouts like Son Muntaner, Golf Park Majorca and Son Gual.
Son Antem (West) falls into the latter category of courses that have been built in the new millennium as it opened for play in 2001, six years after the East course was constructed at the same complex. Designed by Francisco Lopez Segales, who has been involved in around 20 new courses in mainland Spain and the Balearic Islands since 1990, the West course is a good deal tighter than the East, with trees lining many of the fairways.
Routed in two returning loops of nine holes, the course features water hazards at four holes – front left of the putting surface at the 9th, left of the fairway on the 10th, to the sides and rear of the green on the 14th and finally, at the stroke index 1 final hole, all along the left of the slight left dog legged fairway, adding real drama at the end of the round.
Let’s deal with the conditioning point previous reviewers have mentioned straightaway. Greens on the West course have been relaid in 2017, so hopefully it should have its worst hair days behind it. Tee-boxes and fairways were not great on my both visits, but I played twice within a week after a serious downpour and during the period in the autumn when many Mallorcan courses overseed with a cold season grass. As a result the fairways were wet in places and looked quite uncut. (If you know a little about the water management issues on Mallorca and how they affect golf courses you also know that there could be other reasons but my Spanish was not good enough to tease that out of the green-keeper on this occasion...)
On the other hand I was virtually alone on the course in the early morning and could play at my own pace, which those who read my reviews know I particularly appreciate.
Now, what about the more permanent pros and cons? I like the design of many holes as they make you think already on the tee. The best example is hole no 6, a short par 4, which narrows significantly as you approach the green. First time I felt like an idiot after putting an almost perfect drive behind a tree short left of the green. Next time I made a wiser club selection on the tee.
The back nine is significantly wider than the front nine, which I find a bit odd on a resort course, so I expect there to be quite a few balls lost on the opening holes before the resort guests find their swings. Understand completely why they steer beginners away from the West course with marketing and handicap restrictions.
There is water in play on the course, but most of it is later in the round, primarily on holes 14 and 18, by which time you should know where you hit the ball that day. By the way, hole 18 is another example where judicious club and shot selection off the tee really pays off.
Finally, should you bother about playing at Son Antem West unless you are staying there? Probably not is the answer. I have now played sixteen of the twenty 18-hole tracks on the island, most of them multiple times, and it is definitely not in the top five. If it is your first time golfing on Mallorca, stick with Son Gual and Alcanada as your first choices! The €100-odd standard greenfee is not value for money, but the €50 Early Bird rate certainly could be, if you can verify course conditioning before booking (in particular, check when they take the dew off the greens by cutting/rolling – not great to putt on greens with lots of morning dew on the them, however well relaid...).
Three balls feels like a slightly generous verdict, given what I have written above, but I think it reflects what the course is capable of in normal condition.