The course that is most popular among members and guests at La Manga Club is the North, which is 650-plus yards shorter than the South but, visually, provides a far more intimidating start. A precise drive is required from an elevated tee, having to play the ball between tall trees on to a narrow fairway doesn’t seem fair, but once you walk down on to the short stuff you realise that there is plenty of room. Indeed, the biggest test on this opener is not three-putting the large, viciously sloping green.
The second is a great par-three; it’s not long, requiring no more than a wedge for most players but, with a four-tiered green that slopes distinctly from left to right, it is a real tester of a hole. The early variety and challenge continues on the front nine as, after a well laid out “come and get me” par-five, you are greeted by one of best holes on the complex.
A backdrop of beautiful villas sits behind the tee box of this par-three as you look down to a green that appears suspended in mid-air, with the arid mountains beyond. The beauty of the hole coupled with its hillside out-of-bounds and quick putting surface is what makes it stick in the mind of many a golfer.
Big hitters may be left a little frustrated by some of the holes on the North, as its well-placed ravines and bunkers can negate distance off the tee, but the bombers can unleash their frustration on the fine, long 15th – a hole perfect for any longest drive competition – before the 18th provides a stellar conclusion to your round. A narrowing fairway demands an accurate drive before the second shot, which requires players to clear a barranca in front of the green with their approach. Onlookers at the clubhouse and nearby hotel await your iron shot on to an elevated and sloping green.