Connoisseur Clive visits MallorcaNovember, 2014
Wisely avoiding Magaluf, our man still finds much to quicken his pulse
Ever had one of those ’Eureka’ moments, like Archimedes in his bath? I did, sitting in the airport. Not quite as life-changing, but realising I’ve left my passport at home prior to a golf trip is not an ideal start to a golf weekend in Mallorca. A bit like forgetting your putter at Augusta.
I’m not alone, Richard Branson forgot his passport on the inaugural Virgin Atlantic flight, though I’m sure he had bigger concerns distracting him than the prospect of exposing pasty-white legs on a sun-drenched golf course.
After an expensive taxi ride and a two-and-a-half-hour flight across the Pyrenees, it turns out that the Mallorcan sun and more than 20 golf courses isn’t very far away.
Clube De Golf Alcanada is the vision of Peter Porsche (yes, ‘the’ Porsche). He purchased land overlooking the Bay of Alcudia and the Alcanada lighthouse and commissioned Robert Trent Jones Jr to build him a course. It measures 7,107 yards from the back tees, has fast, true greens and an opening hole that includes an approach shot crossing a ravine, potentially putting anyone’s card to an early sword.
While the par 4s of the 5th and 9th are as good as any, it’s the par 5s, played from elevated tees, complete with mountain backdrop, that linger longest. Offering an invite to open the shoulders and create some hang time while admiring the best views in Mallorca.
Golf carts are recommended, especially as my hungry group overindulged in a pre-golf tapas lunch which, after an early morning flight and a mini-bus ride across the island, nobody was in any mood to put a ’stop’ to. The Padrón peppers, unos pican y otos no (some are hot and some are not!), a kind of gastronomic Russian roulette, were especially good.
No amount of pleading would let us get our hands on the owner’s Porsche Cayenne-styled cart. Had we done so, maybe the ’no cart’ signs wouldn’t have cut power every time we crossed that imaginary line, leaving a slow and noisy reverse back in-bounds which loses its amusement the fifth or sixth time.
There had been an elite amateur competition the previous day and some pins were, let’s say, impossible to find.
It has everything – huge bunkers, lakes, streams, vineyards and a risk and reward finish better than anything else on the island – if not Spain The greens were stimping at over 12 so it proved difficult to avoid three-putting at all times, especially from above the hole.
Wind can feature heavily too due to the Cap de Formentor (known by locals as ’the meeting of the winds’) – it can change direction two or three times just standing on the tee.
We headed back to Palma, staying at the Lindner Golf & Wellness Hotel. We had a Golfers’ Massage – think masseuse and golf ball! (The spa provides the golf ball, but if you want a bit more feel you could try using a Pro V1x.)
We headed out for some fine dining among the millionaire yachts on the marina at Portals Nous – located a good distance across the bay from the bright lights of Magaluf. Golf Son Gual is just 20 minutes from Palma and a world away from Magaluf. Tee to green is lush bent grass, meaning visiting Brits get that rare feeling of playing on perfect surfaces for every shot.
It has everything – huge bunkers, lakes, streams, vineyards and a risk and reward finish better than anything else on the island – if not Spain.
Son Gual provides that unique feeling of being alone on the course on almost every hole. Tee times spaced at 15-minute intervals certainly help, but Thomas Himmel’s massive re-contouring of flat farmland was key. Over 1.4 million cubic tonnes of earth got moved and 800 mature olive trees were planted too, but you wouldn’t guess it. Aviation enthusiasts will appreciate the low-flying planes on their approach to Palma airport a few kilometres west. They pass directly overhead and it feels almost possible to bring one down with skied 3 wood.
Every par 3 is spectacular, playing over a hazard of some kind and at least three of the four par 5s are reachable in two – if you are long or bold enough, but even laying up isn’t straightforward.
The 18th is a majestic par 5 that is reachable in two, but in reality, probably not – my final strike went for a swim in the lake guarding the green making me appreciate Archimedes’ theory of water displacement.