Located close to the well-known beach resort of Magaluf in Calvià, west of Palma de Mallorca, Golf de Poniente is a Commander John Harris design which opened for play in 1978. It was the fourth course on the island, after Son Vida (1964), Son Servera (1967) and Santa Ponsa (1977) and quickly gained a reputation as a quality course.
What was good enough in the 1970s, was not competitive over thirty years later. As local rules on irrigation water became stricter and golfers’ expectations on conditioning rose, Poniente could not compete against newer courses built to higher specifications such as Son Muntaner, Son Guál and Alcanada.
A quick search of older online reviews reveals the sad slide in reputation which ultimately followed, despite the qualities of the original design.
In 2015, German entrepreneur Heiner Tamsen acquired the course and announced a major upgrade in connection with a new name, where the “T” in T Golf & Country Club stands for Tamsen. Why not, if you own and have paid for the place? However, the upgrade project quickly had to become more ambitious.
The team brought in by Tamsen soon realised that a full rebuild from scratch was needed. The original Harris plan of the course was retained but new and larger ponds were built, fairways were re-shaped, and tees and greens reconstructed to a higher specification.
The course reopened in October 2018 with an intact routing of the front nine. The order of play on the back nine, however, was changed so the original finish was played as holes 10-14 and the old 14th hole became the finishing hole adjacent to the clubhouse and parallel to the opening hole.
Not only are water storage facilities much larger, but salt-resistant grass varieties have been chosen for the revamped course, which now features Bermuda fairways and bent grass greens. This was done to cope with the recycled water which is the only permitted water source for irrigation of golf courses on Mallorca. Rainwater is also collected, but there’s too little of it during the hotter part of the year.
The course measures 6,426 meters (7,069 yards) from the back tees for a par of 72and three of the four short holes are ranked among the more difficult on the card. Seven of the ten two-shotters measure in excess of 360 meters (400 yards), so unless you really hit it far you are not going to be hitting a lot of wedges into the greens. Instead, there are scoring opportunities among the four par fives, all of which are ranked among the easier holes on the layout.
The terrain is open and quite flat in the early part (holes 1-6) and holes 14 to 18, with bigger changes in elevation occuring across the other seven holes. This central section is also where the best views towards the UNESCO-listed Serra de Tramuntana mountains are found. The topography is gentle enough to make buggies optional rather than essential during all but the hottest parts of the year.
In late 2020, we were told that holes on the back nine had been resequenced again. This time, holes 10-13 were being played as the finishing stretch (15-18) with holes 14-18 played as 10-14. Some might say such a move is enough to make you think John Harris actually knew what he was doing back in the late 1970s...
I am one of the many who now have T Club Poniente as my favourite course on the island. The combination of a (1) very playable design, (2) firm conditions and (3) immaculate conditioning is what puts it at the top, at least as far as enjoyment is concerned.
Design-wise, the course combines challenge for elite golfers (evidence: the winning score was -8 over 72 holes during the Challenge Tour Grand Final which finished this past Sunday) with high playability for the average golfer with generous landing areas, large greens open at the front and no heroic carries needed to reach these landing areas from the yellow and red tees.
The firm fairways which can create problems for elite golfers represent a great plus for shorter hitters (My wife gives a big thumbs up to any firm course which give her extra yards off the tee and the ability to run in the ball on the green in regulation with woods and hybrids.)
Conditioning: playing here mid-October when other courses on the island looked under stress or downright awful (see the article "The Rain in Spain falls mainly at the wrong time" for further background), you could be forgiven for thinking that the course manager at Poniente had played according to very different rules. However, if my sources are correct, the difference is down to major investments and astute choices made during the 2016-2018 rebuild: (a) an expensive osmosis plant to make sure the irrigation water is less toxic to the grass and (b) sand-capped fairways with better drainage and more salt-resistant grass varieties.
This does not mean there aren't weak spots:
1) I still think both Son Gual and Alcanada offer more challenge to the amateur golfer as greens at Poniente are bigger, open at the front and therefore easier to hit. When kept at non-tournament speeds they are not scary or hard to read either. Furthermore, bunkers are bigger and flatter with lower faces than at Son Gual and Alcanada.
2) The routing also has its weak moments:
The 5th hole, a short dogleg par 5, sensibly played as a par 4 by the Challenge Tour, is quite difficult for high handicappers who have to worry about trees on the right and water on the left, but easy for good players who can hit a power fade over the trees on the right with just an iron left to reach the green in two.
The finishing four holes, while scenic, includes the short, rather bland, uphill par 3 15th and the par 5 18th where the camber of the fairway takes too many well-struck shots into the trees and/or the water, with the risk of leaving a slightly sour taste with first time visitors finishing their round.
Also, the distance from the 18th green to the club house favours golf carts, whereas the rest of the course is very walkable. (When I had the chance to speak to the owner just before the pandemic, he described potential changes to the course layout to sort out all these routing points, but they have not yet happened.)
T-Golf’s wide fairways and large greens make for a great challenge to any level golfer. I was played at middle of June 2021 (was very hot) and was really satisfied. My opinion it is one of the best course in island. I prefer to choose Alcanada as the first but T-Golf can fight with Son Muntaner concering second place. Actually they are very diferent as T-Golf more look like to championship course. Majestic pines, fifteen lakes, numerous bunkers, and the big wide greens all combine to make this one of the most challenging course in the island. One is the biggest challenging are waiting you in greens. They are unpredictable, with lot of invisible slopes and fast too.
First of all I touched at arrival that everywhere was careful maintenanced and staff a bit relaxed. Definitely they are polite and attentive, but bit lazy and they were very slow in their job. Of course global pandemic and carantine concerning Covid-19 makes the own job but for players I guess its no bad chance to get friendly prices and comfortable game – slow or fast for your choose. Everything is well arranged and maintained – from entrance to golf club, large driving range, practice green, clubhouse, restaurant and first tee. Concerning architecture and picturesque this golf course is not high attractive, but not boring with many of hazards, hilly landscape, fauna on the course (you can meet runner ducks, water lizards, turtles or yellow legged gulls). In general condition of fields and surroundings were pretty good, greens was soft, fast and unpredictable. Golf course is challenging (from yellow tee also), with some long par 5 and par 4 holes. Accuracy and distance from tee is the key to success. For long hitters some par 5 greens are reachable by two (5th & 18th with favorable wind). My favorite holes was No. 3, 5, 9 at front nine and 10, 12, 13 & 18 at back nine. My opinion back nine is easier than front nine. Game success depends on wind also. Definitely buggy is recommended in hot conditions. Buggy is comfortable and good equipped (GPS, cooler and etc.). Actually is very pleasant play in well maintained championship course.
Value for price I found good here.
No doubt every golf course rating is always a subject with a lot of subjectivity, depending on various criteria. I always rating by the following criteria: course complexity or challenging, fields condition (especially greens & fairways), service (only what you can get: buggie, clubs rent, condition of clubs, the amount of choice and etc. except staff and other subjective things that depends on your or staff mood), surrounding views or pleasure to the eyes and definitely value for the price. All criteries will be rating from 1 to 5 stars. Concerning Son Muntaner my personal opinion is follow:
1. Challenging – 5*
2. Condition – 5*+
3. Service - 4*
4. Surroundings - 4*
5. Value for the price - 4*+
I look forward to coming back here for the next round.
I have to say simply outstanding. Having read a brief bit about the course I was not expecting to be so boldly blown away by the quality of the course, this is a first class venue. I lost count of the amount of pics and videos I took as every turn presents another great looking hole/view. According to the slope rating it’s a hard course and my score reflected the extra shots WHC gave me but it felt very playable and the greens are the best I’ve seen since sunningdale. If you are in Mallorca I’d put this top of your list to play and I will be coming back to play this course again one day (soon I hope).
One of the top 2 courses on the island ( with Alcanada). Current host of the Road to Mallorca finals. The maintenance of the course deserves a 5 1/2 (fairways, greens, surroundings) and all facilities are top level. T Golf is not as scenic as a sea side course, but if you can pay the price, it is definitely worth playing.
Great course which someone has clearly spent a large amount of money renovating. Course is in good condition with interesting holes with some enough water in play to keep you honest.
There are new buggies with full work GPS/Distances etc.
Will definitely play again when on the island and recommend.
I played Poniente 2-3 times before the recent renovations and was disappointed with the condition of the course. After being closed for almost 2 years I played it shortly after it re-opened in October 2018. The new owners have turned a tired old course into something quite special and, in my opinion, a serious rival to Alcanada and Son Gual. Although there was still a lot of work to be done on the practice area and the course surrounds, the course itself was in great condition. The revised layout and newly configured holes result in a tough but playable 18 holes. I'm looking forward to playing it again.
Always tricky to write a review based on only one round. Will first impressions persist?
I had given the old Poniente a miss as every source I consulted said that the place was so neglected that the green fee was a waste of money. That is now in the past.
Have no idea whether the new owner thinks he has got his money’s worth, but golfers on Mallorca should be grateful that he decided to commit so much time and money to bringing this old girl back to health.
The course offers very good parkland golf with some pretty views. On the plus side: walkable, tests many clubs in the bag, water hazards well integrated in the design, as a looming threat, rather than an insurmountable obstacle for our beginner friends. During 2019 I guess we will see if it will be managed for conditions on the softer or firmer side. The layout allows for both and the choice of grass also indicates both possibilities.
So, how does it compare?
I am pretty sure virtually anybody who has played it in the last few months will put it in their own island Top 10. Time and more plays will determine where on the list it belongs.
Should I include it in my trip this year ?
Yes, if you have already played Son Guál, Alcanada and Son Muntaner.