The closest I ever ventured to golf in Mallorca was an “18-hole” fancy dress pub crawl down the strip at Magaluf, so you would forgive me for giggling when the proposal of a golf trip to the largest Balearic island landed on my desk. Appropriately dressed ‘Hens’ and ‘Stags’ at the airport did little to squash my scepticism and it wasn’t until vast rolling fields of plentiful vineyards morphed into invitingly manicured fairways that my mind swiftly shifted.
Son Gual Golf Club was our first stop, a meticulously thought-out €30m course that celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. Modelled on the great resort courses of the United States, its colossal clubhouse and towering patio area provides the perfect grandstand to oversee the challenge ahead, with the ninth green, 10th tee and 18th green all within eyeshot from the high stool.
The course itself is not so user-friendly but it’s an acid test that would stand up against the best Ireland has to offer. It’s a steady wind that blows regularly that heightens the examination, but the merciful breeze is welcomed in keeping a golfer cool who might otherwise be feeling hot under the collar. The course is defined by large lakes and astute bunkering with 800 olive trees peppered amongst its attractive foliage.
Picking out a feature hole is a tall order but the superb par-5 18th is tough to beat. The tee shot demands your full attention and with the wind sweeping in off the left, only the truly big hitters will be tempted to take it on in two. The green is guarded by a lake while the slick sloping putting surface is further defence for a terrific closing hole.
In fact, the greens around this 7,240-yard beast off the black tips roll true at every turn. They’re a pleasure to putt on, rewarding good strokes and exaggerating bad ones with Ian Woosnam comparing them to the greens at Augusta National when the venue played host to the Mallorcan Senior Open in ‘09.
Playing from the forward tips will significantly lessen the stiffness of the task but as far as resort courses go, Son Gual is a cut above and a venue worthy of hosting the game’s best players. And sometimes even those, like me, who are perhaps not so great but relish a true golfing challenge.
The 19th hole at Son Gual offers welcomed respite and is the ideal setting to unwind post-round. Whether you’re availing of the restaurant’s extensive food menu or enjoying a cool, crisp beer, the vantage point to overlook those taking on the challenge you’ve just come through unscathed is the picture-perfect setting to debrief your 18-hole adventure. Sadly, time had no patience for our reminiscences and with a heavy heart, we left our perch for pastures new.
Accommodation was arranged that night for the Carrossa Hotel, a stunning 5-star resort situated on one of the Llevant hills in the northeast of Mallorca. A short taxi ride away from the idyllic town of Artà, the magical country estate of Carrossa provided a tranquil getaway worlds apart from my preconceived notions of what a holiday in Mallorca entails.
Greeted at reception by beaming smiles and a chilled Cava, I was escorted to my suite by golf cart in the dark of night; an abundance of stars lighting the way to my chamber. I was blown away by the room; a private suite with high ceilings and lavish contemporary designs instantly making home comforts seem unimportant. A fully furnished terrace was both unexpected and welcomed, boasting breath-taking views of the Mallorcan countryside on one side and the bay of Alcúdia on the other.
Dining at Carrossa is more satisfying still. Bistro Badia is a relaxed experience with options to eat at the majestically restored Manor House or outside on the panoramic terraces that capture the entire island of Mallorca. The menu holds something for everyone with an array of fresh tapas selections during the day to freshly caught fish and melt in the mouth steaks at night.
If casual isn’t your thing, or if you’re celebrating something extra special, fine dining at Carrossa might be the alternative for you. The flagship restaurant at the hotel is an elegant escape from a fast-paced world and promises to provide your palate with some uniquely tasting treats. The staff at the restaurant are as friendly as they are knowledgeable with an in-house Sommelier sure to tickle your fancy with some of the finest drops in the region.
This luxurious holiday residence could be anything you want it to be; from a couple’s retreat to a family getaway with an indoor pool and outdoor infinity pool ensuring the kids remain entertained while mam and dad avail of a cocktail or two from the pool bar.
The welcome we received from staff was almost enough to persuade us from boarding our bus to our next golfing adventure the following morning. Even a passing turtle stopped by my terrace for a tipple of cava to convince me, but round two was calling.
It was easy to see why Club de Golf Alcanada was a multi-award winning venue from the moment we alighted our bus. Located to the north of the island, it’s the only course that touches the sea in Mallorca. A palatial clubhouse boasts a vast terrace that basks in sunlight, offering astonishing panoramic views over the bay, while the upgraded pro shop is certainly the most spectacular of its kind that I’ve stepped foot in. The peacefulness of the place was enough to momentarily demask my game face but with golf to play, it was important to focus on the task at hand.
Where better to get in the groove then than the fully equipped academy on site with full driving range, short game area and putting green ensuring that there’s no excuse once you step foot on the first tee. I had travelled without my golf clubs but I couldn’t blame my new bats; brand-new TaylorMade clubs rendering my contrived excuses redundant.
The course itself was a much different proposition to Son Gual, though equally as good. The front-nine is defined by tall trees dictating where you put your tee-shot while the golf course is placed on an area of special conservation, meaning you’ll be sharing the experience with a variety of local wildlife – of course, depending on how wild your golf swing is, you might discover more species than others!
The 7th is the course’s signature hole; a downhill par-5 that’s home to a postcard view of the Bay of Alcúdia, lighthouse and all. While you take advantage of your photo opportunity from the elevated tee box, a swing analysis camera will capture your drive from the back of the hitting area. Should you be brave enough to want to see it; a video of your action will be ready and waiting in the clubhouse post-round.
Of the two, Alcanada was the gentler golf course; the O’Meara Course to the Montgomerie of Carton House if you will, and it’s undergone major renovations since last year. In fact, all 18 putting surfaces were replaced over the winter, something I was informed of after I’d finished; the trueness of their pristine undulating slopes making it all the more impossible to fathom.
Perhaps the ability to change so swiftly yet so smooth shouldn’t be as surprising when you learn of the owner of the resort, a certain Mr Porsche – look out for his signature Porsche golf buggy – one of just three on the planet on site should you visit. Are there more than three courses on this planet just like Alcanada? I guess there are, but that doesn’t make this place any less unmissable.
So, next time Mallorca is mooted as a potential holiday destination, throw out your fears of Love Island et al and don’t forget to pack your golf clubs as well as your speedos. You won’t regret it.
As luck would have it, high season for golf in Mallorca is April-May and September-October.
For more information
On Son Gual, please visit: son-gual.com/golf-mallorca/
On Carrossa, please visit: www.carrossa.com/en/
On Alcanada, please visit: www.golf-alcanada.com/en/