Golf in Mallorca: The largest Balearic Island
Golf in Mallorca
Golf in Mallorca has a charm all of its own. Thankfully, those package holiday tales of yesteryear have been consigned to the cliché dustbin.
Instead, this beautiful island boasts heritage, stunning natural landscapes and some luxurious resorts to entice the more discerning visitor. You simply need to look in the right places and Mallorca will oblige. The island has been a welcoming sunshine retreat for decades but its attraction is enjoying a surge in popularity as the word spreads among UK golfers.
With 19 courses on the island, all within an hour’s drive, the Golf Course Association of Mallorca (ACGM) offers a wide choice and some excellent quality. First stop, after a relaxing Monarch flight from Gatwick, was Golf Son Quint – the newest addition to the island.
Less than three hours after rising above the leaden skies of Sussex, here I was teeing up my favoured brand of balata under glorious Mallorcan sunshine.
Golf Son Quint opened in 2007 and was added to the Arabella Golf stable, which also includes Golf Son Vida (the oldest club on the island, dating back to 1964) and Golf Son Muntaner.
They are three excellent courses and all are just 20 minutes away from the airport and the bustling hub of Palma. Palma is home to superb eateries but a dinner reservation was the last thing on my mind as we plotted our way around a course, which will mature into a cracker.
It’s a gentle test but there are some memorable holes – like the dogleg par-4 8th where you aim a tee shot in the general direction of Palma Cathedral in the distance and the 11th and 12th, a sweeping downhill par 4 followed by a tricky par 3 over a pond.
Next on our tour of the island was a visit to the east coast, less than an hour away, but a lovely spot in Cala Ratjada. The fabulous Serrano Palace hotel has all the trimmings and a glorious sandy beach about 50 yards away from the entrance. It’s also a fine location for golf with some excellent courses all within easy reach.
Club de Golf Son Servera – the home club of tennis superstar Rafael Nadal, no less – is a few minutes down the coast but offers views over the bay of Cala Millor.
The course itself is tricky – particularly early on in the round from holes three to seven, which all require some trademark Nadal-style grit to thread your way through some tight driving holes.
Sadly for Mrs Clive, who has often remarked how much she has enjoyed Rafa’s form at Wimbledon, he was elsewhere on the day we visited.
After the enthralling par-4 7th hole with another narrow blind tee shot, followed by an approach over the water, it’s rather more open and forgiving of the odd errant tee shot, but no less enjoyable. It’s well worth a visit. Just 10 minutes away is Capdepera Golf, which builds steadily towards a fine back nine – most notably the glorious par-3 15th hole, nestled in the valley beside an imposing mountain.
It has a more rustic and natural feel than some of the other courses and makes full use of its location. Returning back to the south towards Palma offers up many more courses to enjoy. Golf Park Mallorca Puntiro is a Jack Nicklaus design and the wily old goat has surpassed himself with his bunker placement – they seem to be exactly where you want to hit the ball all the time.
Although it has used the natural terrain carefully, there are two man-made lakes the size of Loch Ness (well, perhaps not quite that big) as holes seven, eight, 15 and 16 all require decisions to be made with the old risk-and-reward balancing act to wrestle with. Golf de Andratx, a half-hour jaunt from Palma, is situated in the lovely coastal town of Camp de Mar in the south west of the island.
Not only is the adjacent Hotel Steigenberger one of the more salubrious five-star resorts, the course offers one of the more unusual golf experiences you will encounter on this fair island. My playing partner’s tickly cough, which often seemed to occur as I lined up crucial four-footer for a courageous double-bogey, had thankfully been cured by the time I offered him a Fisherman’s Friend.
But moments later, my steely focus was again hampered – not only by the spectacular mountain scenery acting as the backdrop, but by the resident goats wandering across the course. With no apparent sign of anyone with a crooked stick, I can only assume they were residents.
At the end of the spectacular 8th, which induced a bout of vertigo in some of the less hardy members of our group, an idyllic setting awaited.
The welcoming green is adjacent to a picturesque waterfall and upon holing out there is an opportunity to take a well-earned break at this most typical Mallorcan halfway house to enjoy a local tipple and assess your form.
I didn’t have the heart to tell our hosts that we weren’t halfway through the round yet as a testing short par 3 awaited us to complete the front nine, but this was neither the time nor the place to get technical.
Its wonderful terrace is the kind of place where you contemplate whether eight holes is actually enough for one day. But those who prefer to recline with a refreshing beverage will miss out if they declare at that stage of the innings. And besides, the marvellous Restaurante Campino awaits you at the 18th anyway.
It was perhaps fitting that our final destination on this whistle-stop tour of the island should finish on a regal high. Real Club de Golf Bendinat’s honorary president is King Juan Carlos and it is indeed a royal treat.
Bendinat Castle peers down from its lofty vantage point and the sharp changes in elevation throughout the course make for some glorious tee shots to fairways far below. There are some breathtaking views and scenery.
It is not a long course, but it requires plenty of thought – especially with an abundance of doglegs as you attempt to find the right line and distance from the tee to set yourself up for your approach shot. If this fair collection is anything to go by, those who venture to Mallorca with their golf clubs, will not be disappointed.