PGA Catalunya Resort 13th hole stadium course
PGA Catalunya Resort - 13th hole of the stadium course
For golf enthusiasts, the most enjoyable way to spend a few hours is on a leisurely stroll over gentle hills through cool pine woods, across sand banks and past the odd lake or two, equipped with a set of golf clubs and a good supply of balls.
The Costa Brava is home to nine main golf courses and with the addition of a sprinkling of pitch and putt courses, there is something for everybody, from those who have never teed off to handicap players of all levels and even professionals.
The majority of the courses here are relatively new compared to those in other parts of Spain and in 2001 the Costa Brava won the prestigious IAGTO (International Association of Gold Tour Operators) Emerging Golf Destination Award. Five years on, the popularity of the sport in the region has grown considerably. "Golf in the Costa Brava is some of the best in Spain, if not Europe," says Toby Marsden, golf professional and editor of Catalonia Golf News. Individual clubs have recieved plenty of accolades and have hosted professional tournaments, including the Spanish Open and the Catalunya Ladies' Masters.
The designers - some of the finest in the business - have ensured that not only are the courses great to play on, but they fit in with the natural landscape. Measures are also taken to protect the habitats of indigenous flora and fauna.
Of course, apart from the fresh air, exercise and beautiful scenery, there's also the social side to golf, as the captain of the Pais Golfing Society, Roland Hoath notes. And what better way to relax after a satisfying or frustrating performance than over a drink amongst friends at the 19th hole?
When to Play
Golf is a year-round sport in the Costa Brava and although each club has its own season calender expect to pay more during high season. High season is generally classed as weekends all year round, public holidays and in some cases July and August while spring and autumn are mid-season and the rest of the year is low-season.
All golf clubs hire out the necessary equipment including full or half sets of clubs, trolleys and in some cases buggies.
The best place to start is on a pitch and putt or a par three course, which has shorter distances between holes than on a regular size course. To begin to play, all you need is a pair of flat shoes, dedication, lots of patience and some lessons from a qualified golf pro. Beginners are taught the basics of correct grip, stance, posture, golfing lingo and drive, approach and bunker shots. The idea is to get a feel for each type of golf club and learn which ones are used for specific shots or played on different parts of the course.
For a taster, Pitch & Putt Gualta in Baix Empordà offers 'open lessons' for groups at weekends for a very reasonable fee of €8. Individual private lessons start at €20 but the best value for money is to book longer group sessions, which reduces the per-person rate considerably. Blocks of six hours for one to four players cost from €174 to €271. The practice area includes a 250-metrre driving range to get to grips with that elusive full swing needed for tee and fairway shots, a bunker to practise tricky shots, a pitching area and an 18-hole putting green.
Once players feel ready to put their new-found skills into practice they can play nine holes or a full 18-hole round on the par three course, complete with bunkers, lakes and large greens.
Other pitch and putt courses include Mas Pagès Golf in Santa Esteve de Guialbes, which has 'Beginners' Clinics' for groups of a minimum of 10 people at €10 an hour per person for lessons from one to six hours; and Peralada Golf Club which, in addition to an 18 hour par 71 course, has a pitch and putt course.
Experienced golfers are spoilt for choice with a variety of testing 18-hole courses spread across the region.
Pals is home to both the newest and oldest clubs in the Costa Brava: Serres de Pals and Platja de Pals. Serres de Pals is among the largest courses on the Costa Brava with a total distance of 6,263 metres. As it's quite an open course, a windy day can make for a very challenging game; water is present on five holes. Platja de Pals is one of two coastal courses and it’s a relatively flat and pretty par 73 which calls for straight hitting on the narrow pine-lined fairways.
Slightly further down the coast is Golf d'Aro-mas Nou, built in the hills overlooking Platja D'Aro. Precision is needed on this undulating course, as in addition to the two man-made lakes and many ravines waiting to catch wayward balls, the spectacular views can be a potential distraction. Club de Golf Girona, just outside the city, is another hilly course with raised tee positions , as well as water features on three holes and sand traps on most. At both Golf d'Aro and Girona, buggy hire is recommended.
In Gualta, to the east of Girona, Empordà Golf Club has two separate 18-hole courses.The links course, which is used for competitions (including the PGA Qualifying School European Tour Final), has lots of water hazards and bunkers. Although there are a few lakes on the forest course, the main danger lie in the pine trees that line each fairway.
Further north, in Alt Empordà, is Torre Mirona Golf Club, which has a championship par 72 golf course and luxury facilities like a spa. For many regular players the best test of skill is PGA Golf de Catalunya in Caldes de Malavella, the longest course in the Costa Brava with a total distance of 6,588 metres. The course, which is popular with the pros and ranked by Golf World Magazine as one of the top 10 in Europe, is characterised by its difficulty. There are five tee positions so players of all levels of handicap can play.
All Costa Brava clubs accept green fees from non-members but advanced booking is advisable to secure your desired tee-time. Prices for each club vary considerably, ranging between €28 and €48 for 9 holes and €43 and €80 for a complete round of 18 holes, depending on the season. Most clubs offer discounts for groups, seniors, juniors and members of other clubs. All players must hold valid handicap certification.
For individual course and slope ratings, dress codes and membership details, contact the clubs.
With the very long school holidays here it can be difficult to think up new fun ways to keep the little ones entertained and burn off some of that never-ending energy.
Although most golf clubs run private individual lessons designed specifically for juniors, they can be an expensive introduction to the sport and there are plenty of cheaper alternative where golf is sometimes combined with other games.
At Platja de Pals Golf School, for €55 children can have three one and a half hour lessons per week in the summer and the club runs two-hour Saturday afternoon courses for €40 all year round.
Gualta offer one-hour ´Golf and Game´ lessons at weekends for children at a cost of €8 per person and Empordà Golf Club also use games-based teaching in their individual and group sessions.
For age limits and current prices contact the clubs direct.
Gualta Pitch and Putt: www.gualta.com, Tel. 972 76 03 38
Mas Pagès Golf: www.maspages.com, Tel. 972 56 10 01
Peralada Golf Club: www.golfperalada.com, Tel. 972 53 82 87
Golf Serres de Pals: www.golfserresdepals.com, Tel. 972 63 73 75
Golf Platja de Pals: www.golfplatjadepals.com, Tel 972 66 77 39
Gold d'Aro-Mas Nou: www.golfdaro.com, Tel. 972 82 69 00
TorreMirona Golf Club: www.torremirona.com, Tel. 972 55 37 37
Club de Golf Girona: www.golfgirona.com, Tel. 972 17 16 41
Empordà Golf Club: www.empordagolfclub.com, Tel. 972 76 04 50
PGA Golf de Catalunya: www.pgacatalunya.com, Tel. 972 47 25 77