Sometimes even golf journalists get to have a bit of fun.
Ok, so we have fun most of the time. We love our jobs. But going to the Mallorca Press Cup is even more fun than usual. It’s fantastic.
The Mallorca Press Cup is organized every year by Golf Arabella, which consists of three wonderful golf courses, a five-star Sheraton hotel right next to one of the golf courses, and the crown jewel Castillo Son Vida Hotel, a 5+ star hotel at the top of the hill.
Staying at the Castillo Son Vida is a serene experience. Everything you could possibly ask for is available, yet invisible if all you want to do is relax. The service is equally perfect, yet non-intrusive. It is five stars all the way, starting with an airport pickup in a top-of-the-line BMW or Mercedes. You are similarly pampered for the duration of your stay. Everything is just perfect.
Other than the top class service and the wonderful golf, what is so special about the Press Cup is that you get to meet your colleagues from all over Europe. This year there were 30 golf journalists from 10 different countries engaging in some friendly competition, followed by food (don’t get me started on the food – fantastic) and a few beers in the clubhouse. It is the perfect opportunity to exchange impressions from the courses we have all played during the year that passed since we last met. You get to hear what is good, bad, and fantastic. All hopefully to the benefit of our readers in the various golf publications across Europe. It’s really a win-win situation. We journalists get to have some fun, and at the same time we exchange information so that you, golfers across Europe, can get up-to-date advice to find the best golf values and avoid the lemons.
Speaking of good value, staying and playing at Golf Arabella is really a good value. Since the two hotels and the three courses are all owned by the same company, you can find some fantastic packages. It is a fairly high end product, but if you come at the right time of the year you can get excellent value for your money. With two five star hotels and three golf courses you won’t be bored. And if, against all odds, you need more, Palma is a short cab ride away.
The three golf courses are quite different in nature, providing a challenge for golfers of all abilities.
The oldest of the three courses is Golf Son Vida, which opened already in 1964 as the very first course on the island. The course has a classic layout, with narrow fairways nestled in a mature forest for the first twelve holes. The course is not very long, and hitting straight is far more important that long. If you try to impress your group with long drives, more often than not you’ll be sorry.
On hole 13, the course opens up, and you get some nice views of the Sheraton Arabella and also of the brand new clubhouse. The latter is quite an improvement from the old clubhouse, torn down last year. Now you can enjoy a nice, late lunch overlooking the 18th hole, being quite content that it is your friends and not you out there struggling at this rather tricky finishing hole.
The second course to be built at Arabella is Son Muntaner. This is by far the best and most challenging course of the three. Here you need to be long and straight off the tee if you want to score. However, if you’re a mid-handicapper, there are plenty of alternate routes to take, as long as you play within your limitations. If you try too many “hero-shots”, you’ll end up in trouble.
The course starts out with a nice, downhill dogleg right par 4. Everyone except the severe slicer should be fine. But the approach shot is trickier with some water guarding the green. And water is in play on the first four holes.
Holes five and six have recently been completely re-routed. The formerly fairly easy par 3 hole five is now a long, uphill challenge. I miss the old hole, and I miss the tee shot from a very elevated tee on the old sixth. But the course is probably more of a challenge for the pros now.
After returning to the clubhouse on the ninth, the tenth is an easy par four. The eleventh is another long par 3, but with plenty of room on the right for layups.
The real challenge on the back nine starts on the 15th, a par five that is hard to reach in regulation, even for me at hcp 9. Sixteen is a par four, equally hard to reach in regulation. Seventeen and eighteen are easier, as long as you can keep the ball in play with troubles if you stray away from the fairways.
The clubhouse on Sun Muntaner is wonderfully located, with a sun-baked terrace overlooking the 9th and 18th greens. You’d do well spending the rest of the afternoon here. We did.
The third course, Son Quint, is the newest and easiest of the three courses. Here fairways are wider and holes a bit shorter. Anyone can enjoy this course, yet it can challenge the better player from the back tees. It is also a bit less crowded, so if you are an early riser and a twosome, you can finish this course and still make it back to the hotel for a late breakfast.
So how did we do? We came in third place in the competition, so ok for this early in the season. And as I said before, it was a friendly competition with no prizes other than the honors.
The real prize was to be invited to participate in this wonderful event.
Very special thanks to Christine Crespo for organizing this event.