This review originally took place when the Golf Course was a 9 Hole Golf Course, it was expanded to 18 Holes in 2009/10.
The first golf course to be opened as part of the Nicklaus Golf Trail has, at times, been misunderstood. With the resort only 15 minutes from Los Alcazares, Mar Menor has an active Golf Society based on the resort and a loyal following of players looking to "squeeze in a quick round" before flying home. Club Murcia revisited the course this weekend to take a closer look.
The resort would benefit hugely from moving from 9 holes to 18 and this expansion is under way with many of the new holes currently under construction. The projected date for the opening of the additional 9 holes, is November 2009 (upgrade completed in 2009/10). The other debate, often attributed to Mar Menor, is the proximity of the houses and in some cases, players have often been reluctant to try out the course not only because it is a 9 hole course but because so much has been said about the closeness of some houses. Is Mar Menor worth a visit? Yes it is. The course has been imaginatively designed by Dave Thomas and it is far more challenging than players might imagine.
Weather Conditions: Hot with a light breeze. Course Conditions: Very Good, Greens: Excellent.
Hole 1: Par 4 - 307m off the Yellow Tees. A decent drive to a generous fairway is required to leave a short iron approach to the Green. Longer drives could bring the left hand fairway bunker into play but there is plenty of room to avoid trouble. The ideal position off the Tee should leave most players with no more than a Pitching Wedge/9 Iron to a large Green which is slight elevated. There is Green side Bunker to the front right and with the Green slightly elevated, anything catching the fringe may run off but players should feel confident of finding the Green in regulation or making an "up an down" to save Par. A nice opening hole.
Hole 2: Par 3- Plays 144m off the Yellow Tees. This par 3 has a good sized Green, protected by a Bunker, front left. At 144m, most players will feel confident of finding the Green but with the Green slightly elevated, players will need to be accurate to avoid finding the slope which surrounds the majority of the fringe. A good old fashioned Par 3.
Hole 3: Par 4 - Plays 399m off the Yellow Tees. This excellent par 4 is one of the best holes at Mar Menor and one sure to challenge most players. This nice looking hole requires a solid drive to a landing area which is blind off the Tee. There is water to the right of the fairway which again, can't been seen from the Tee position. The ideal drive is down the left centre of the fairway which will leave the easier approach to the Green. Players finding the right hand side of the fairway will have to carry water and a front side Bunker in order to find the Green. Key to making par on this hole is a difficult approach and the pin position is crucial. Most players will be pleased to make a par.
Hole 4: Par 5 - Plays 451m off the Yellow Tees. Longer players should be able to attack this hole as it reachable in two. However, an excellent drive is key to taking on this par 5. From the Tee, players have to carry water to find the fairway which is narrow fairway and flancked by two fairway bunkers. The fairway is also slightly elevated so a solid drive finding the level part of the fairway will be rewarded with a good position to go for the Green. For most players, there is plenty of room to play a lay up, leaving the preferred distance for the approach. The large Green is unprotected but the hole does play slightly up hill and players should take this into account. A generous pin position should yield a few birdies (and the odd eagle)
Hole 5: Par 4 - Plays 317m off the Yellow Tees. This is another tricky par 4 which requires a good drive to have a decent chance of finding the Green in regulation. The fairway is narrowed by bunkers which cut in from the left and right hand sides. Longer players who can find the gap between these bunkers may also pick up a down slope which will help carry the ball 75m of the Green. The is a large bunker in front of the Green including water. This water should only come into play if trying to find the Green back down the fairway, so players short off the Tee may benefit from laying up.
Hole 6: Par 5 - Plays 473m off the Yellow Tees. The view off the Tee is of a narrow fairway with out-of-bounds on both sides. Players also have to clear water and avoid a large fairway Bunker down the right hand side. A decent drive finding the fairway will leave the majority of players with a lay up for their second shot, as there is little room to attack this Par 5 in two. The ideal approach to the Green is from the left hand side of the fairway, so the ideal lay up is to clear the two fairway bunkers down the left. From this position, the Green side Bunkers front right are taken out of play. There are a number of tricky positions on the Green as there are a number of testing borrows.
Holes 7 through to 15 are the new 9 Holes introduced 2009/10.
Hole 7 16: Par 4 - Plays 320m off the Yellow Tees. This sharp dog leg right, has out-of-bounds running down the left hand side and a fairway Bunker designed to collect a long straight drive. Players will be looking for position off the Tee or they could consider trying to cut the corner. The Green is protected by a Bunker to the front right of the Green. There are waste areas in front of players off the Tee and again in front of the Green. A nice looking Par 4.
Hole 8 17: Par 3 - Plays 132m off the Yellow Tees. A nice Par 3 which should give more accurate players an opportunity to create a Birdie chance. This classic short hole will reward players who can control their distance. The Green is protected by a Bunker running across the front of the Green but players should feel confident of finding the putting surface.
Hole 9 18: Par 4 - Plays 347m off the Yellow Tees. This slight dog leg right finishes behind the picturesque Hotel and the Swimming Pool. Off the Tee players have a wide fairway to aim for but there is out-of-bounds down the right hand side. The ideal line is to drive to the left of the fairway Bunker which not surprisingly is straight down the middle. Players can be left with a Pitching Wedge to 8 iron approach but with a generous Green, players should feel confident of finding the Green in regulation. There's a Bunker in front of the Green which may trouble players short off the Tee. A nice finishing hole.
In summary: To combat the closeness of some houses, protective screens have been erected. Because of these screens, Mar Menor does have three or four holes which are not the most pleasing on the eye but this should not deter players from enjoying the course. The course plays extremely well with good variation from one hole to the next. The condition of the course and the surrounding areas are always extremely good. Players who would normally only consider playing 18 holes should consider adding Mar Menor to their schedule, either at the beginning or end of a Golf Trip or simply to free up half a day in the middle of the week.