European Renaissance

Over the past decade, Europe has thrived from a golf course architecture point of view, with a number of high quality layouts coming online. The well-travelled Andrew Marshall picks six of the best

Son Gual

Spanish Stunner

Son GualSince opening in 2007, Son Gual has quickly gained a reputation as not only a Mallorcan must-play, but also one of Europe’s top new courses. What was once 156 hectares of flat non-descript agricultural land on the outskirts of the island's capital, Palma, has been transformed by three-time German Amateur champion and course designer Thomas Himmel into a polished layout that winds its way through a landscape of gently rolling hills, a thousand mature olive trees, fields of wild flowers, pockets of vineyards and water features all overlooked by a hundred-year-old Mallorcan manor house.

Adding to the club’s growing reputation is the fact that Son Gual has hosted a European Seniors Tour event, the 2009 Mallorca PGA Seniors Open, which saw former Ryder Cup captain Mark James defeat Irishman Eamonn Darcy in a play-off to claim the title. The 66 bunkers of Augusta-like sand are a major feature of Son Gual and some are so extensive they make the ones on most other courses look like children’s sand pits.

Many other things will stick in the memory long after playing this fantastically manicured course, which is decked out in wall-to-wall bent grass – not least the dramatic water-laced par-five 18th, a serious contender for the best long hole in Spain.



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