Saurines de la Torre Feature Review
Saurines de La Torre is one of Murcia’s six Jack Nicklaus design courses. As a group, these courses – now run by IRM golf experience – continue to rise in international recognition as more and more golfers discover the splendours of the region. Murcia boasts more than 300 days of sunshine each year, and possesses a wide array of off-course activities to complement a diverse range of layouts, both new and old.
Saurines falls into the new category. The IRM-managed courses were only constructed at the start of the 21st century – a contrast to some of Murcia’s more time-honoured designs (such as La Manga’s South Course, a five-time Spanish Open host in the 1970s). Whilst Saurines – and the collection of six courses in general – doesn’t have the maintenance and upkeep budget of some other high-profile Spanish tracks, the course design is excellent. Water features, patches of desert, natural hillocks and rocky outcrops are used expertly to create a unique and interesting golf course with a lot of outstanding holes.
In truth, unless you’re ball finds water, there is quite a lot of margin for error from the tee. The desert areas that line most fairways are sporadically populated with grassy knolls, but more often than not you’ll find a reasonable lie off gravel ground if you stray off line. The fairways are firm and the general weather conditions mean your drives will go a long way, but Saurines’ real bite comes in the shape of its green complexes, which are undoubtedly some of the most severe I’ve ever encountered.
The putting surfaces possess some extremely significant undulations and swales, and the run-off areas are steep and prevalent. What makes it so difficult is that the greens are firm and fast, so stopping the ball is a real challenge. It’s best to take a links-style approach on a number of holes, because unless you’re able to impart significant spin, you’ll often find your ball running through the green. Exercising caution and playing to the middle of the greens is by far the most prudent play; if you go flag hunting and miss the green in the wrong position, an up and down is often nigh on impossible. At Saurines, you really need to employ some good course strategy and play percentage golf. If you do, there are good scored to be had, because it isn’t the longest track and greens – despite being hazardous – are maintained in excellent condition. It’s a really distinctive course and the designers – as with the other five IRM tracks – deserve credit for fashioning so many good holes.
The front nine starts with some relatively short par 4s, but the course really comes to life in the middle of the front nine. The first par 5 on the course – the 5th – is a real risk/reward hole that offers up a good birdie chance, but hit the ball in the wrong place and you could easily rack up a double-figure score. Out of bounds runs down the left, and hilly mounds act as the fairway buffer on the right hand side of the hole. If you find the generous fairway, you’ll have a real decision to make for your second. The green is in range after a good drive, but a huge pond starts some 200 yards short of the putting surface and runs all the way up the right of the hole. Many favour a lay-up, but the water cuts into the fairway around 100 yards short of the green. If you miss the green left, which you’ll have a natural tendency to do, a downhill chip awaits back towards water.
The 7th and 8th – the latter a great hole with a savage green and water guarding the left of fairway – are the pick of the par 4s, before the 9th, the best par 3 on the golf course. It’s only 150 yards from the whites, but tee shots are hit over a pond to a green that’s wide but relatively shallow. The two natural bail-out areas are short right and through the green, but chipping off a downslope onto a green that runs away from you is not the shot you want to leave yourself. A great hole.
The back nine boasts an eclectic mix of par 4s, some strong but reachable par 5s and two unique par 3s, with everything culminating in a really good closing stretch.
The 17th is arguably the best par 5 on the course, and presents an array of obstacles from the tee. Out of bounds and a desert area run down the right of the hole, and a collection of bunkers line the left of the fairway. There is also a desert area – filled with shrubbery and grassy outcrops – to negotiate in the middle of the fairway. If you put yourself in good position, the green can be reached in two, but pushed second shots will end up in an undulating desert area with virtually no view of the green.
Saurines finishes on a par 3, and it’s a great closing hole. Once again it’s only a short iron, but the green has a huge valley running through the middle of it, dwarfing the Valley of Sin at St Andrews. If you find the wrong portion of the green, you’ll be facing the hardest two putt of your life. A large bunker guards the front of the green and anything hit too long will roll off into a deep run-off area.
Saurines will really find you out if you’re short game and putting isn’t up to scratch, but it’s a really pleasurable, inimitable golf course with a lot of excellent, well designed holes.
Overall, I’d give it a rating of 7/10.
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|Saurines De La Torre Golf Course
from 42 reviews