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Feature Review: El Valle Golf Resort

By: Golf Shake | Tue 17 Apr 2012

Feature review from Nick Bonfield who recently took a golf trip to Murcia playing the courses in the region, read Nick's blog online via The Golf Debate and follow Nick on Twitter via @thegolfdebate

El Valle Golf Resort El Valle Golf Resort is located just a few miles south of central Murcia, and about twenty minutes from Murcia San Javier airport. It is a Jack Nicklaus design golf course, something that is reflected in the style and lay out. At just over 7,000 yards from the white tees and just over 6,000 from the yellows, it isn’t the longest golf course in the world, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. If you are slightly off line you will be punished, either by water, deep bunkers, or dense mounds of desert grass that sit just off every fairway, waiting to catch any drive that is slightly errant. What’s more, the greens are slippery and undulating, and many feature run off areas that are perhaps more akin to Augusta National than a pay and play golf course in the south of Spain.

That being said, they are in perfect condition. Granted, a downhill putt hit with a little too much conviction can travel some fifteen feet past the hole, but the greens are as true as any you will find, and bobbles are nonexistent. In general, the course is in perfect condition. The greens are flawless, the fairways are perfectly manicured and the bunkers are well looked after. The course is perhaps a touch dry, but in an area with a water shortage frugality must be commended. The desert resort also does a good job of maximising space and, despite being located in the centre of a residential area, houses rarely come into view.

The one slight flaw, however, is the distinct lack of signposts. It isn’t obvious where the first tee is, and after completing a hole you are often left scratching your head, wondering which direction you must travel in to find the next tee. The lack of clarity is only a small slight on an otherwise very good golf course. The resort is located just off the Murcia-San Javier motorway (although finding a good map might be more difficult!), and has good facilities, including a practice putting green, driving range, shop and locker room. A bar and restaurant with a lovely patio overlooks the eighteenth green, and if you wish to extend your stay indefinitely, houses and apartments are available to buy and rent.

El Valle Golf Course Review

The first hole epitomises the golf course. Birdies are available subject to a good drive, but desert lies just off the fairway, and several fairway bunkers make finding the short grass a difficult task. The sloping green is well protected by deep bunkers, but a good approach should leave a reasonable birdie chance.

The second is a long, uphill par four, before the first par five of the course comes back down the same hill. It is reachable in two for the long hitter, but if you chose to lay-up, the third must be hit with precision to avoid falling off the putting surface.

The fourth hole is a relatively straightforward downhill par four, measuring just short of 350 yards. A big drive – with the aid of the wind – could finish close to the front of the green.

The fifth hole is another short par four, but danger lurks from the tee. A large hazard consumes the majority of the left hand side of the fairway, with trees and desert to the right. Any driver must be hit perfectly to dissect the small gap between the two hazards, and any lay-up from the tee with a medium iron will leave a tricky approach to a long, thin green protected in front by an enormous bunker.

The sixth hole is the first of a long set of par threes, and tee shots must carry at least 150 yards to avoid the desert. The green slopes heavily from back to front, with any tee shot that goes through the green leaving a near impossible up and down.

El Valle Golf Resort

The seventh is a long par five, before the short but tricky par four eighth. The hole bends from right to left, and any drive that drifts right will leave a semi-blind second. A deep fairway bunker and encroaching desert add to the challenge of finding the fairway. The green is completely surrounded by deep bunkers, apart from one run-off area that will catch any approach hit marginally off line.

The ninth is a long, straight par three, featuring the steepest roll-off areas on the course.

The tenth hole plays slightly downhill, and provides a good opportunity for a birdie. The fairway is generous, but shots must be played with precision into the green or risk finding the biggest, deepest bunker on the golf course.

The eleventh is a brilliant, driveable par four. You hit from an elevated tee, with lovely views of the hilly terrain that epitomises southern Spain. Desert and shrubbery flank the fairway, with strategically positioned bunkers also coming in to play. A good, straight drive should leave you in the throat of the green or in the greenside bunker, with a good opportunity for birdie.

The twelfth is the shortest par three on the course, but if you miss the undulating green a double bogey comes into play. The run off areas are steep and the greenside bunkers some of the deepest on the course.

The thirteenth hole is justifiably stroke index one. Water comes into play for the first time, running all the way down the left hand side of the hole. A large fairway bunker around the 200 yard mark demands a lay-up, or an extremely accurate and risky driver. The second is played uphill to a green protected by a lake, bunkers and a stone waterfall.

The fourteenth is very similar to the previous hole, only with water on the left, and fifteen is an uphill par three with a very shallow green and false front.

The sixteenth is the longest par five on the golf course, measuring almost 550 yards. Drives must be hit between an intrusive fairway bunker and a high rocky outcrop. The second and third shots play significantly uphill to a green that is tricky to hold.

Seventeen is another exciting hole.  An iron off the tee will leave a mid to short iron, provided it misses the large bunker on the right and a lake on the left. A long drive will not be far away from the green, but anything slightly pulled will find water. Similarly, any approach that is pulled left or hit fat is likely to be engulfed by the lake.

The eighteenth plays uphill, with water in front of the tee box and all down the left hand side. A good drive will leave a mid to short iron to one of the quickest greens on the golf course, and any approach that finds sand is almost impossible to up and down.

El Valle is a contender for best golf course in Murcia. The holes are challenging and varied, and the course is beautifully manicured.

Ranking: I would give El Valle a ranking of 4.5/5. 


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