Golf in Lumine: A taste of CataloniaDecember 13, 2016 Courses and Travel
Roads and Roman remains can't stop our man enjoying himself in Spain
Golf in Lumine
If the promise of sun, sea and sand – not to mention three glorious golf courses – aren’t enough to get you out to Lumine then the culture and history of Catalonia should have you sprinting for the nearest airport.
It’s every Mediterranean picture you’ve seen in your mind’s eye – swathes of vineyards, carob and olive trees standing in the fields and glorious beaches waiting when you hit the coast.
If that doesn’t satisfy, the beautiful and ancient town of Tarragona, a key outpost in the Roman empire, will ensure your camera gets plenty of use.
It took the ancient Romans some 120 years to subdue the Carthaginians and open up the Iberian Peninsula. Thankfully, you can now reach Barcelona and the heart of Catalonia in a little over two hours and be on a golf course barely 90 minutes later.
Manchester to Barcelona is the sort of flight I love – mercifully short. I can think of hundreds of things I’d rather be doing than being encased in a hulk of metal but thoughts of sun, sea, sand and wonderful golf at Lumine serve to keep the nerves in check.
After a small problem with a credit card on arrival – namely having neither credit nor card – it was up to Mrs Clive to sign for the hire car and negotiate the Spanish roads for the journey towards Tarragona. This was more exciting than it ought to have been. I’ve taken two things from the trip.
One, remember the fast lane is the opposite way round (there are so many ways a driver can tell you to sod off) and, two, it’s not as easy as you think to operate a gear stick with your right hand.
They’re thrifty too, those Catalonians. It may be just over an hour from the airport at El Prat to Lumine but the main route there – the C-32 – all but picks you up, turns you upside down and shakes you until your money falls out.
The upside for being granted access through a series of toll booths – Mrs Clive’s flexible friend received a considerable workout – are some lovely coastal views that get you in the
mood for an immediate Estrella. Think sprawling vineyards set among a mountainous backdrop and you get the drift. Being brought up in a small northern industrial heartland, where the annual firework display involved watching jets of flame shoot up from the chemical landscape, I felt right at home as we drove through Salou and into La Pineda.
The view is an acquired taste. I never judge a book by its cover, though, and once you’ve unwrapped the slightly rough exterior you’ll uncover a charming community.
There was barely time for a quick soak – it was more a brief splash – and there I was at Lumine Mediterranea Beach & Golf Community (to give it the full Sunday title) trying not to cause a diplomatic incident. It was a delight to arrive on the first tee of the 9-hole Ruins course to find myself living history.
But watching my first tee shot career off the foundations of a Roman building that’s got 2,200 years on me will forever cause embarrassment.
Those bricks have survived wars and the elements but, unfortunately, not my Pro V1. Greg Norman was behind the Ruins and the Lakes, one of two 18-hole layouts at Lumine and a recent host of European Tour qualifying.
I was tempted to bring a diving suit and bell rather than my clubs when I began an early morning round there. There is no irony in the name – there is water everywhere.
I counted seven holes on the front and six on the back where there was some kind of liquid menace. All that H2O makes matters rather exciting, though.
If you’ll accept a paradox, it takes a strong will not to become all weak and timid at the sight of another hazard. Instead, your swashbuckling side takes over.
You get all cavalier and start swishing away as you crave a further shot of adrenaline from another hero shot. It all makes for an enjoyable time and, intermittently refreshed by the roving carts that bring you something to imbibe while you are pottering around, it’s very easy to get carried away.
It was largely millionaire’s golf when I took to the Lakes. Partly it was the early start but, mainly, the players were negotiating Lumine’s third course – the Hills.
With a visit to PortAventura World more pressing, a quick skirmish in a buggy was all time allowed. Of all the Lumine layouts, this is the one with the most spectacular views.
Greens are carved into imposing rock faces and the course runs through leafy woods of white pine, olive and carob trees. You’ll climb to get there but the sights of the Cape Salou area make it worthwhile.
This is about as high as I want to get but you’ll scale greater summits if you go to PortAventura World. A glass of port and a friendly fire is my idea of excitement these days and the only rollercoaster I want to be on is the drama of a day at the track.
But they whoosh round your ears and high over your head as you negotiate the various ‘worlds’ that make up this massive theme park. Once Ferrari screeches on to site next year in a blaze of burning rubber, there’ll be even more for the thrill seekers to flock to.
All that excitement required a little lie down, a stiff drink and the promise of something a little more sedate to finish our adventure.
There were plenty of dramas in Tarragona but, thankfully, they were thousands of years ago. This historic town was where the first Christians were martyred – in a seaside amphitheatre no less – and the wealth of Roman ruins that you’ll find here are meshed into a tightly packed centre.
I couldn’t help but imagine the chariot extravaganza in Ben Hur as I strolled round the Circus and wondered just how they managed to build these remarkable structures.
And it’s not just the Roman that mesmerises. The builders of Tarragona Cathedral were trying to reach God when they spent the best part of two centuries constructing this medieval monument to the Gothic era.
You can easily lose yourself in this historic setting with its memorable views of the Mediterranean sea and it was with reluctance we had to leave. Time, and aeroplanes specifically, wait for no man.