Monday, 11 September 2017
Girls with Balls
Alicante Airport - gateway to Mercia and Andalusia, Spain
Four lady golfers take to the skies arriving at Alicante airport before heading South into Mercia and then further South and onto Andalusia.
An hour South from Alicante Airport takes us to Mar Manor Hotel and Golf Resort. An intercontinental five star resort with 18 holes of golf on site. The advance scouting party arrived, the party consisting of two lady golfers, myself from the UK and friend and fellow golf tour operator, Siggi from Iceland.
Being a bus mans holiday for me I was keen to see everything Mar Menor could offer, so we sat by the pool and did some very in-depth research on the colour blue of the inviting swimming pool, after of course eyeballing the fellow sun worshippers that afternoon. A beautiful round pool with sun beds aplenty, gradual access in the warm water help to eliminate the beached whale dive bomb approach - besides who can do gracefully in a bikini anyway!
Dinner at a local restaurant that night gave us the opportunity to dine off-site, coupled with a local well stocked supermarket everything was within easy access for our two nights at Mar Menor.
After a days relaxing we were keen to get going on our golf the next day, we could see the course from our room, past the pool and its pull was overwhelming. We were playing a two ball - nice not see that the resort didn't do the rack and stack approach and let you play as two balls, however in this case we voluntarily joined up with two chaps who were also a two-ball behind us as we were flanked by four-balls. Mar Menor is a well laid out 18 hole golf course, fairly flat and therefore easy’ish to play in the heat of the Spanish sun. Bunkers dominate the golf course, with water very much coming into play on holes 13, 14 and 15 as you make your way up the 13th with water on the right, across the 14th and back down the 15th with water being circumnavigated. Strategic play is the name of the game on these holes. Lush green fairways meet tidy playable greens to give you a good all round experience for the visiting golfers. The course is called The Residence, and it doesn't take long to see why, houses line the fairways, some grand individually designed others like two peas on the the pod painted in rhubarb and custard colours that only the Spanish can get away with in their sunshine
A few drinks relaxing in the welcoming bar afterwards with our new found friends and fellow golfers.
Dinner in the main restaurant that night was by way of an extensive menu. Being used to the 3:3:3 menu, we were treated to a six course meal by way of a set menu. Admittedly each course wasn't a big plate full of food, rather a good taste to appreciate the diversity of the local food on offer, with one fish and one meat dish minimum. Served with a glass of Cava to start and a crisp refreshing rose for dinner, all in all a lovely relaxing experience for great food
Comfy beds await the weary in a good sized room and a luxury bathroom.
Packing up the bags and waiting for the other two girls, Jane and Kristin from Scotland and Norway respectively, we were all looking forward to the second part of the Girls with Balls tour and the next leg of our trip an hour further South at Valle del Este, Andalucia.
We arrived and quickly made our way over the Hole No.19 for a little tapas before taking to the fairway for 9 holes to blow the cobwebs away. It wasn't pretty playing golf, in truth this was the first time we had all played together, couple that with travelling just took its toll. Not to let this get in our way, the onsite 19th hole called again. We were on a dinner bed and breakfast package, the kind of packed our clients would be on at this resort, offering us a variety of food throughout our stay as well as the opportunity to relax and enjoy the few days with each other. I must admit that first night for dinner really set the bar high, with tuna and sushi being my choice and the odd salad thrown in for a bit of greenery. Being a buffet, there was lots on offer to suit everybody, with a separate dessert table full of local puddings to choose from - the rice pudding a local delicacy and out of this world.
A late tee item the following day gave us the chance to have a nice relaxing breakfast, again by way of an extensive buffet then to the pool before a cava driven lunch before play! We split the teams so everybody played with each other and had a ‘buggy’ competition. Jane was my partner and she reminded me about how to play golf with her steady, gentle and accurate swing - the kind of swing that has been worked on to perfection. Scrabbling behind with my massive over-swing, we did manage a half. Hole 3 challenged us with a slight dog leg left for this Par 4; a ditch down the left and water on the right for its narrow approach shot. Hole 5 became the nemesis with the water being in play on the drive on the right and again across the front of the green for the approach shot. I gradually got worse on this hole with day one being a 4, day 2 a 5 and day three, two balls in the water! The rest of the group got better so I clearly peaked too early! It must be said hole 9 is a thought provoking Par 5 in a crescent shape, left is key to playing this hole. As you approach the back 9 the course goes away from the hotel, giving you the best views back over the valley and course. Being a dessert golf course, dues to its lack of rainfall in the area, Valle del Este holds up remarkably well. The greens had just been hollow tined and top dressed, so they were a bit bobbly but essential maintenance only makes the course better for the rest of the year.
Rocky formations and ‘scares’ (unkept grass ‘bunkers’), trees, water all there in full glory to test the visiting golfers. Small hills, elevated tees and big greens enhance its appeal. No hole was the same, on this pretty course.
The four star on site hotel offers golf views from your room, good sized rooms and decent facilities, put this with a small commercial centre where you can find the 19th Hole and Karen’s bar and couple more other shops, Valle del Este is great for a few days away in the sun with the girls.
And what of the second match? I was partnered with Kristin, a steady 18 handicapper who bought home the bacon on the last hole with a brilliant approach shot traversing the water on the left.
Ladies a few days golf is becoming more and more accessible, we are the only golf tour operators to focus on travelling lady golfers, we understand your requirements and work with you to ensure you have a great time - whilst we were all in the business, it takes one person to do the organisation and I was happy to do it - the only problem we now have is where to go next year?
Fancy joining like minded ladies to Valle del Este next Join us at Red Tee Breaks for a fun in the sun girls only competition, a no pressure competition with the emphasis on fun with a lady golf pro to correct the error of our ways!
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