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La Manga Club (South Course) - Club Murcia Review

 

The La Manga Club Golf Resort is a name synonymous with the region of Murcia and for many, the South Course is still the finest Golf course in Murcia. Visiting PGA Professionals will almost certainly uphold this opinion and with international Golfers visiting in greater numbers than ever before, it´s hard to imagine a Golf Break to Murcia without at least one round at the Robert Dean Puttman and Arnold Palmer Championship designed course.

Weather Conditions: Overcast with little to no breeze. Course Conditions: Excellent, Greens: Excellent.

Hole 1: Par 4 - 379m (414 yards) off the Yellow Tees. The opening hole on the South Course is one of the longest Par 4´s on the course and plays slightly uphill. The main consideration off the Tee, is to avoid the large Fairway Bunker down the left hand side. Opposite the Bunker is water down the right hand side, so players must take an aggressive line straight down the centre Fairway which narrows to only 20m wide. Players finding the Bunker will certainly have to opt to lay up, as even a decent Drive finding the fairway, will leave players with a testing approach. The Green is slightly elevated and the bottom of the Flag can be obscured from view. There are Green side Bunkers to the front right and back left but there is room around the Green to fashion an up and down to save Par. There are some tricky borrows when putting from distance. Overall, players will be relieved to walk off with a Par.

Hole 2: Par 3 - 168m (183 yards) off the Yellow Tees. The "short" second is officially the easiest hole at Stroke Index 18. Players have to carry the ball 155m to clear the Green side Bunkers (front left) in order to find the front edge of the Green. Anything too long could find the Bunker behind the Green but players must avoid the water hazard down the right hand side. Anything short of the Green should find a good lie and offer players a chance to save Par.

Hole 3: Par 4 - 346m (378 yards) off the Yellow Tees. This hole plays slightly up hill and players have to clear the left hand Fairway Bunker in order to find the ideal position off the Tee. The landing area is only 25m wide and with a smaller Bunker down the right hand side players will require an accurate Drive to avoid trouble. The Green is still reachable from either Fairway Bunker but a good lie is essential in order to carry between 160 and 120m all the way to the Putting surface. With three Green side Bunkers, players out of position may be tempted to lay up and trust their short game. A good drive to the middle of the Fairway will leave most players with a medium iron approach. There is little margin of error for any players missing the Green, so a good short game will be required.

Hole 4: Par 5- 443m (484 yards) off the Yellow Tees. The first of the Par 5´s requires another accurate drive in order to avoid two Fairway Bunkers down the left hand side and a larger Bunker down the right hand side. A wayward drive to the right, may also find a Water Hazard. Again the landing area is narrow at only 20m and players looking to clear the left hand Fairway Bunkers must carry their Drive at least 200m. Longer players will hope to leave an approach under 200m to attack the Green. However, with a Water Hazard protecting the front of the Green, a fully committed and confident approach will be required to find the putting surface in two. Players can be aggressive as beyond the water, there are no Bunkers to deal with. Players not in position "A" off the Tee, should lay up and leave a comfortable distance to attack the Green and secure a Birdie opportunity.

Hole 5: Par 3 - 177m (194 yards) off the Yellow Tees. With some Out-Of-Bounds down the left hand side and a Water Hazard down the right players require a solid Tee Shot to find the Green. There is a large Bunker protecting the front right of the Green but anything long off the Tee could run down a steep slope leaving a difficult blind pitch. Anything short of the Green should find a good lie and offer players a chance to save Par.

Hole 6: Par 5 - 515m (563 yards) off the Yellow Tees. At Stroke Index 2, if this hole is played as a conservative Par 5, most players can reach the Green in Regulation. With a solid Drive off the Tee it is possible to pick up a slight down slope which will carry the ball further. There is a Fairway Bunker down the left hand side which is blind off the Tee and a two further Fairway Bunkers down the right hand side. Players need to aim about 20m left of the right hand Bunkers to find the favourable slope. The key to this hole is the second shot. The safe play is to lay up short avoiding both the next Fairway Bunker and the Water Hazard down the right hand side. However, this will leave a testing approach from 150m to a tight and well protected Green. The aggressive play, is to lay up between the Fairway Bunker and the Water. With the Fairway only 20m wide, players will bring both hazards into play but a confident shot will leave players with a short iron approach to the Green. A forward Pin position should be ignored as the shape of the Green and the encroaching Green side Bunkers will come into play. Players should opt to find the middle or back of the Green and settle for two Putts to secure a Par.

Hole 7: Par 4 - 349m (382 yards) off the Yellow Tees. From the Tee the target area on this slight Dog Leg right is narrowed by the Fairway Bunker down the right hand side and the Pine Trees down the left. A decent Drive finding the Fairway will leave a straight forward short iron approach to the Green. Players missing the Fairway on either side could find their line to the Green blocked by Pine Trees and because of the shape of the Hole, longer players could flirt with a Water Hazard down the left hand side. The Green is protected by a small Bunker to the front right but any approach missing the Green should find a decent lie and encourage players to make an Up and Down to save Par.

Hole 8: Par 4 - 337m (368 yards) off the Yellow Tees. This slight Dog Leg left requires an accurate Drive. Players can opt to be aggressive off the Tee or play safe to find the Fairway from further back. Players taking the more aggressive option require a Drive over the left hand Fairway Bunker. Anything pushed too far right could bring the opposite Fairway Bunker into play. The reward is a short iron approach but players should also take into account some Pine Trees down the left hand side. Players opting to lay up will need to play to the right of the left hand Fairway Bunker. An accurate Tee Shot will leave a mid iron approach to the Green which is heavily protected by three Bunkers running left to right across the front of the Green. Players should opt to carry to the middle of the Green but with some tricky borrows, the Pin position could be key to securing Par.

Hole 9: Par 5 - 472m (489 yards) off the Yellow Tees. The final hole on the front nine, is a Dog Leg left Par 5. The ideal Drive is to cut the corner by taking an aggressive line over the Fairway Bunker down the left hand side. Players will need to carry 210m (230 yards) over the Bunker to find the fairway or alternatively they can take a more conservative line and play to the corner of the Dog Leg. This option will bring two Fairway Bunkers into play. It is possible for longer players to leave under 200m to take on the Green in two but with a Green well protected by Green side Bunkers there is little room for error. Most players opting to take the Green side Bunkers out of play, will lay up to 75m creating an opportunity to attack the Pin.

Hole 10: Par 4 - 326m (489 yards) off the Yellow Tees. Players start the back nine with another tight Dog Leg left. There is little room for a Driver unless players want to risk all and take the direct route over the Out-Of-Bounds (Driving Range) down the left hand side. If players do find the Fairway in front of the Green, they will have little more than a Sandwedge. The conservative option is to play to the corner of the Dog Leg. There is plenty of room to a wide Fairway and players should also comfortably avoid the Fairway Bunker down the left hand side. The approach should range from a short to mid iron for most players. The Green is quite generous but protected by two Green side Bunkers to the front and front left. Anything missing right or long should leave a chance to save Par.

Hole 11: Par 4 - 348m (381 yards) off the Yellow Tees. This tough Par 4 requires an excellent drive in order to leave players in the ideal position to take on the Green. Anything out of position off the Tee will leave players with either a tough approach over a Water Hazard or they will have to opt to lay up and hope to make no more than Bogey. A Drive missing the Fairway down the right hand side will leave a long carry over water to a slightly elevated Green. Likewise, players missing the Fairway down the left hand side, will again have to clear the corner of the Water Hazard in order to find the Green. The ideal Drive on this slight Dog Leg left (then right) is to take a line 15 - 20m left of the main Fairway Bunker and although a tricky approach, players with a short to mid iron in hand, should feel confident in finding the Green. If in doubt, check the Pin position and if necessary, lay up and trust your short game.

Hole 12: Par 3 - 126m (137 yards) off the Yellow Tees. After one of the toughest Par 4´s in the region, players can relax slightly. The shortest hole on the South Course is defended by two Green side Bunkers and a Water Hazard, front and right. With a short iron, players should feel confident of finding the Putting surface. With the Green running from front left to back right, the Pin position could catch some players out so club selection is key.

Hole 13: Par 5 - 497m (543 yards) off the Yellow Tees. Depending on the position of the Tee, players will need to avoid the two large Bunkers on both sides of the Fairway. This long Par 5 is a slight Dog Leg left and the ideal landing area in between or beyond the two hazards. Again the Fairway is quite narrow but a good drive finding the right hand side of the Fairway may offer the chance to go for the Green in two, but players will generally opt to lay up short of the second Fairway Bunker down the right hand side. From 75m the approach to the Green is protected by two Green side Bunkers, one at the front left and the other down the left hand side of the Green. The Green is slightly tiered so players will need to find the same level as the Pin to avoid a potential three Putt.

Hole 14: Par 4 - 330m (361 yards) off the Yellow Tees. The key to this hole is finding the Fairway and avoiding the huge 140m long Bunker which runs right up to the front of the Green. The Fairway is narrow and most players will opt for a club which gives them the most confidence to find the Fairway off the Tee. There is some room down the left hand side if players miss the Fairway left but with several Pine Trees, the line to the Green could be impeded. Players finding the large Bunker will have a difficult approach and so a good lie is essential to finding the Green in regulation. The Green itself is narrow, presenting a small target from back down the fairway. There is also a Green side Bunker to the left. However, at 47m deep, players can afford to be aggressive on their approach in order to take the Bunkers out of play. A front Pin position can realistically only be attacked from a favourable Drive.

Hole 15: Par 4 - 382m (418 yards) off the Yellow Tees. Officially the toughest hole on the South Course requires two excellent shots to find the Green in regulation. There are two Fairway Bunkers on both sides and players have to thread an excellent Drive between both Bunkers in order to find the ideal position. The gap is narrow and players finding either Fairway Bunker will almost certainly have to lay up. The approach is over a small ravine to a Green well protected by three Green side Bunkers. From the Fairway, the target area looks very small, so a long Drive will ease any anxiety. Players out of position will opt to lay up just short of the ravine and hope to scramble to Par. A Bogey is no disgrace.

Hole 16: Par 4 - 323m (353 yards) off the Yellow Tees. This relatively short Dog Leg right requires a well placed Tee shot. Players may opt to take a Fairway Wood or Iron off the Tee in order to take the two Fairway Bunkers out of play, including a Water Hazard which would catch a long Drive. Playing short of the Bunkers will leave players with about 120m (131 yards) to the centre of Green. The approach is over water to a largely unprotected Green. The are two Green side Bunkers to the rear but realistically these should not come into play. Players finding a good position on the Fairway should feel confident to attack the Pin.

Hole 17: Par 3 - 174m (194 yards) off the Yellow Tees. The large Green is protected by three Bunkers, one down the left hand side, one at the rear and the third Bunker protecting the front. The right hand side of the hole, almost from Tee to Green, is further protected by a Water Hazard. With little margin of error, club selection is key to making Par. Players missing the Green in regulation will need a good short game to recover.

Hole 18: Par 5 - 435m (475 yards) off the Yellow Tees. The closing hole is a classic finish, long enough to cause a few problems, yet short enough to tempt a few players to attack the Green in two. From the Tee, the hole shapes slightly from left to right but predominantly this is a Dog Leg left. A wayward Drive will find a Water Hazard down the right hand side or likewise a large Fairway Bunker down the left hand side. (Players can also flirt with another Water Hazard behind this left hand Bunker). The ideal Drive is to take a line slightly right of the Fairway Bunker where players can carry the ball to a large landing area. Longer hitters will be tempted to go for the Green in two but even with 160m (174 yards) to the Green, the approach is extremely demanding. Players have to carry the ball all the way on to the Green in order to avoid the Green side Bunkers which almost completely surround the Putting surface. Anything falling short of the Green, within 50m (55 yards) will land in a ravine. The conservative approach is to lay up short of the ravine, avoiding the second Fairway Bunker down the right hand side. With a short iron in hand, players should feel more confident of the finding the Green in regulation.

In summary: Rather than being littered with Hazards, the subtle nature of the design challenges players on every hole. This is a real shot making course where good players make things happen, a true Championship venue. The South Course is without doubt a great test of Golf.

Overall, the La Manga Club Resort has an unquestionable charm and pedigree which is hard to resist. True, there are a few ageing touches, not least the Clubhouse but ask any Golfer to trade "a unique experience" for "clinical excellence" and the chance to tread in the footsteps of former Golf greats, Celebrities and Ex-Footballers is a rare treat.

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