For many european golfers, Seve Ballesteros will forever remain an iconic figure. His popularity has never faltered and his retirement in 2007 has served only to immortalize his career. Our admiration for Seve has not always translated to the golf courses that bear his name but with the recent opening of Peraleja Golf, there's a great deal to admire.
Club Murcia visited the course in December with one of our Spanish Professionals to discover that Murcia has another golf course of the highest quality.
Hole 1: Par 5 - Plays 495 m off the yellow tees. The short walk through the tunnel from the clubhouse to the first tee is a unique greeting which is sure to generate a heightened degree of anticipation. This dog leg right requires a well placed drive. Anything long will flirt with water both left and right of the fairway. The green may be reachable for the longer hitters but with water down the entire left hand side, a well thought out layup will get your round off to a solid start. Golfers laying up at the first should leave an opportunity to get close to the pin as three putts are a real possibility.
Note: At this point its worth mentioning the greens ... for fear of repeating the warning! The greens are new and as one might expect the pace does vary, however this footnote is reserved for the contours and borrows that lie ahead. The greens are a real challenge, exciting for those golfers with a sadistic streak, potentially terrifying for the rest. The borrows and pin positions are a feature on almost every hole.
Hole 2: Par 3 - Plays 152 m off the yellow tees. This is one of the best short holes in the region. The pin position and wind direction make for an interesting club selection but what makes this unique is the angle of approach which narrows the landing area with water almost completely surrounding the green. There is plenty of green to play safe but a two putt par is a fine score. (Pictured right)
Hole 3: Par 4 - Plays 280 m off the yellow tees. This is a risk and reward hole for the longer hitters. This par 4 is a slight dog leg uphill with the main hazards, two large bunkers front left and front right of the green. The green is slightly tiered which will leave a difficult approach from a wayward drive but a well placed shot from the tee down the left hand side of the fairway leaves a relatively easy line to reach the pin. Players should read the green carefully to land on the correct level as the Pin. (Pictured below left)
Hole 4: Par 5 - Plays 493 m off the yellow tees. This straight par 5 plays slightly more difficult than it looks on the scorecard. The fairway is quite narrow with a small bunker on the right hand side. Players should ideally play a lay up second to leave an easier approach from a central position to avoid the Green side Bunker bunker. The tiered green is generous but the pin position can be very tricky. Don´t be surprised if you three putt.
Hole 5: Par 4 - Plays 367 m off the yellow tees. Players cross the road to play this slight dog leg right. This hole is an opportunity to pull something back. Players finding the apex of the dog leg will have an ideal approach to the green. There are bunkers flanking both sides of the green and again the pin position will determine the outcome. The Green is small which is the main consideration for players looking to pull a shot back or secure a par.
Hole 6: Par 5 - Plays 478 m off the yellow tees. This is a 90 degree dog leg left with a challenging drive. The corner of the fairway is littered with hazards including bunkers and Out of Bounds. Anything long and straight will also find a bunker or head Out of Bounds. The ideal line is over the corner carrying the all the bunkers. However, with the rest of the hole playing uphill, players should sensibly play their own game and fashion three good strokes to find the green in regulation. The green is large and tiered, sloping back towards the fairway. If the Pin is cut to the front edge, players putting downhill from behind the hole will need to judge the pace of the green carefully.
Hole 7: par 3 - 183 m off the yellow tees. This is the longest of the par 3´s. There is Out of Bounds down the left hand side and the green is protected by a double bunker front right. The main consideration is the club selection to carry all the way to the Green but anything under hit should leave a possible up and down to save par.
Hole 8: Par 4 - 341 m off the yellow tees. This is one of the best looking holes on the course. The fairway is uphill from the landing area off the tee, so a solid drive is required. The ideal line is the left or centre of the fairway, to have the best line into the green. Players should take at least one more club (possibly even two) in order to carry the approach onto the green. Anything short could find a large green side bunker, front right. The green is generous but partially obscured from the fairway.
Hole 9: Par 3 - 168 m off the yellow tees. Another excellent par 3 from an elevated tee position. As always club selection is crucial but the key to this hole is the water to the front and the large bunker to the rear of the green. The landing area appears small from the tee, so a confident stroke is required. Players finding the Green should be confident of making par.
Hole 10: Par 4 - 391 m off the yellow tees. This slight dog leg right requires a good drive as the hole plays slightly longer with an uphill approach to the green. The green is unprotected from the front so a solid well placed drive should be rewarded (photo). Anything short or wayward off the tee will struggle to make par. Players should take care not to run through the green to avoid finding the bushes at the rear. (Pictured below left)
Hole 11: par 4 - 255 m off the yellow tees. Another risk and reward hole. Players will glance at the scorecard before deciding to lay up or pull out the driver. This is a good side bet hole for the weekend warriors out there. Water runs left to right from the players perspective with the green tucked away to the right of the water and down hill from the tee. Players finding the green will definately have something to shout about in the bar later! With so many options to play this hole, it's one to be enjoyed.
Hole 12: Par 3 - 160 m off the yellow tees. Players cross the road to find the easiest of the Par 3´s. There is plenty of room if players hit a wayward shot but the green has two bunkers protecting the left and right hand sides. An accurate shot will be rewarded but players missing the green still have the opportunity to save par. The green is generous with few borrows to trouble a two put par. (Pictured above right)
Hole 13: Par 5 - 478 m off the yellow tees. This is the first of three dog leg left holes and as its a par 5, this is a double dog leg. The fairway is quite narrow and players need to avoid the bunkers down the left hand side. The second dog leg appears to shorten the hole and it makes going for the green in two a realistic possibility for the longer hitters. However, the green is well protected by bunkers and the landing area is narrowed considerably by the distance back towards the Tee. The green also slopes sharply from the centre towards the the fringe so players should lay up. Players deciding to lay up should ideally play down the right hand side of the fairway to leave a good line onto the green. The pin position is key to making par as a poor approach could leave a difficult downhill putt. A difficult hole to close out even from 100 m.
Hole 14: par 4 - 297 m off the yellow tees. Another dog leg left to an island green. This short par 4 is slightly uphill but longer hitters will leave an easier approach. The green is small and almost completely surrounded by a single bunker. Players finding the green in regulation should secure a par at best but anyone finding the bunker could easily find themselves playing out of the sand again from the other side of the green.
Hole 15: Par 5 - 425 m off the yellow tees. From an elevated position a good drive is required to avoid a cluster of fairway bunkers. Longer hitters will want to take a line over the left hand side bunkers in order to attack the green in two. The green is well defended with 3 bunkers leaving an approach from the left, the ideal option. Players laying up can still struggle to get close to the pin as the green is tiered and it's deceptively difficult to read from 50m to 100m. There are not too many options playing the 15th but a well placed second shot leaving an approach from the left hand side is ideal.
Hole 16: Par 3 - 134 m off the yellow tees. The shortest hole on the course and one of the best looking off the tee. Players must carry water onto the green. Anything pushed right will also find the water. The green is large and slopes heavily from back to front. Players should take this into account off the tee to avoid a difficult downhill putt. At this point in the round, players will be wishing they practised putting more often as any putt across the slope on this hole will again test the better putters. A well thought out par 3.
Hole 17: par 4 - 349 m off the yellow tees. This slight dog leg left has water running the entire length of the hole from tee to green down the left hand side. The water continues around the back of the green too, making this a difficult par 4 and stroke index 1 for the course. The fairway is narrow and players have a limited view of the landing area off the tee. The shorter the drive, the more difficult the approach. So players have little margin of error. Apart from the water, the green is also protected by a bunker front right. Players will require two well played shots to walk away with a par.
Hole 18: Par 4 - 386 m off the yellow tees. This long par 4 to finish has bunkers to the left and right of the fairway. Players making a solid drive down the centre of the fairway will have the ideal position to find the green. The green is slightly elevated from the fringe, so players will need to be aggressive to find the green as anything short will hold up rather run onto the green. There are green side bunkers front right and to the rear. The green slopes left to right so pin position is important. Anything short of the green will require a delicate chip to save par.
The opinion of both our amateur and professional players is that Peraleja Golf is one the best technical courses in Murcia. The look and feel of the course is in contrast to the contemporary design of the properties and clubhouse. The layout challenges players almost at every turn and the variation in hole design leaves few forgettable holes (if any).
This is a must for serious golfers but there are one or two draw backs. Access onto the first tee is overly complicated, as is the practise area. However, the golf course is exceptional and a welcome addition to the region.