By David Keywood Twitter:@DavidKeywood
Last Updated: 05/03/15 5:01pm
David Keywood escapes the British winter and heads to Spain to sample some of Polaris World's top resorts.
David Keywood escapes the British winter and heads to Spain to sample some of Polaris World's top resorts
The winter months are here, the course is short, and you are dressed in all your waterproofs or warm clothes trying to swing a club. It's safe to say you're not enjoying the game you love. Spring isn't for at least four months so what can you do? Solution: Take a trip abroad!
I have just returned from a short break to sample some of Polaris World's top resorts and I can highly recommend a visit if you're getting frustrated by the British weather.
I was part of a press trip - flown by Monarch Airlines - to the fantastic La Torre golf resort in south east Spain.
The transfer from Alicante is around 45 minutes and after checking into our rooms it was time to get acquainted with the rest of the group before sitting down for some delicious traditional Spanish cuisine at La Vinoteca.
Next morning it was back into the taxi to take a trip to Mar Menor, which was the first resort from Polaris World. The course itself has been extended to an 18 hole challenge with the new holes created by Jack Nicklaus' design team.
You can really see which part of the course has been altered with the highlight of the round coming at 12, 13 and 14. These holes are played around a lake, the starter a very tough par four that teases you into thinking you can cut the corner to leave a shorter shot to the green which is guarded by bunkers to one side and the lake to the other.
The 13th is a long par three over water. The hole favours a slight fade to ensure you stay away from the lake but if you don't quite catch your shot you will find the beach (and by beach I'm not exaggerating, it's like no bunker I've been in before).
The 325-metre 14th hole is classic risk-reward as a huge bunker runs all down the left and in the ultimate landing area. I would advise you lay up with a long iron/fairway wood to leave a 100 yard wedge shot.
Mar Menor is a good challenge for mid to high handicap golfers and well worth a visit. It will test all your ability and is a fair price.
After the round it was back to La Torre for lunch in The Wood House which is the bar/restaurant attached to the golf course, another Nicklaus design. Unfortunately there was only time to play the first nine but, of the holes I sampled at La Torre, the ninth stands out. It's a picturesque mid to long par three played over water next to the hotel. Players can bail out to the left but most will try to impress the sunbathers by going for the green!
After the golf and a few beverages it was time to eat at Trattoria Acacia - the resort's acclaimed Italian restaurant which offers authentic pasta, pizza and risotto.
Across the way is an Irish Sports Pub called The Clover which was advertising karaoke. This is a perfect place to go to watch a football match or laugh at the holidaymakers attempting to sing classic songs from past decades. Our group couldn't resist either, belting out dubious renditions of Elvis and Sinatra.
Unfortunately I didn't get to sample the renowned El Valle, which hosted European Tour Q-School qualifying earlier this month, but we did get to play our third Nicklaus-designed course - Hacienda Riquelme. And in my eyes we saved the best for last.
The course is perfectly manicured and from the back tees you add an extra 600 yards (yes, I was brave/stupid enough to play from these). The first nine is a test for golfers of all standards and position is everything. You are faced with water on many of the holes and that makes you think about every shot.
I would say my favourite hole was the fourth as you hit from an elevated tee with water waiting for you down the left hand side of the fairway. The hole is a par five but reachable in two for longer hitters. A bad shot is punished by a lake and well placed bunkers.
After playing 45 holes of golf in two days it was time to unwind in La Torre's spa before a meal in the Ginko Club and finishing off the evening in The Clover where it was my turn to attempt karaoke!
I would definitely recommend the Polaris World resorts and all the golf courses I played. El Valle does look a class act but Hacienda is on par and a real test.
* I would like to thank Mason Williams for organising the trip, Monarch airways for their fantastic service and of course Polaris World for their excellent hospitality.
* For further information or to book Monarch flights, Monarch Holidays or Monarch Hotels, please visit www.monarch.co.uk