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  • Neil White

Alcanada (Majorca)

As the reflection of the winter sun shimmered amid the waves of Alcudia Bay, I wondered whether there was a more attractive spot in Continental Europe to play golf than at Alcanada.


It was our first return to the north of Majorca since wonderful holidays with friends and our young families more than 25 years ago.


Since then, Hans Peter Porsche enlisted Robert Trent Jones Jr. to create a course of sumptuous quality.

The attention to detail is matched by its practice facilities, pro’s shop and beautiful clubhouse.


We began our day with a coffee on the latter’s balcony, looking down onto the course with the backdrop of the ocean and the much-photographed lighthouse just off the coast.


The sun shone while the wind was a mere whisper on Constitution Day, a public holiday to mark the return to democracy from fascism in Spain.

Tee times were at a premium, so Mrs W and I were teamed up with two amiable German fellas who own properties on the island.


They rightly predicted that we would enjoy our day but warned that the greens would be very slippery. They were correct on both counts.


From its opening hole, Alcanada beguiles. The drive on this par-five must be steered inside vegetation on the left for the best angle of attack to a green over quite a wide creek.

Big hitters will go for the target, but I opted to lay up in front of the bridge as I attempted to lay the foundation for what I thought would be an easy par.


However, the Germans’ soothsaying soon resonated when, after a relaxed approach, I watched a longish putt dart unexpectedly 90 degrees left, leaving a 20-footer for a five.


From the second tee, the drive has bushes and trees on either side with deep trouble for those wandering too far left, where bunkers lurk and too far right, where forest awaits.

It is quite a similar set-up on the shorter third with a fairway that dips down a sharp dogleg to a green above a false front. We had been pleased with our approach shots but watched them drop five yards short.


The misreading of yardage set the tone. Many putting surfaces perch on plateaus and the holes play longer than they first appear.


Meanwhile, the dark green grass of the putting surfaces contrasts elegantly with the fairways, but they have plenty of bite.

Thus, I found the target in regulation on the par-three fourth and par-four fifth. On both occasions, I struggled with the pace of the first putt and left myself between six and ten feet for par.


I lost count of how many times the ball skimmed the hole because I had slightly misread one of the subtle borrows.


The cloying Bermuda grass cuffs around the greens also proved my undoing, especially on the par-three sixth.

“Make sure not to miss to the left as you would face a tough downhill chip,” warned the club brochure. It was advice I would have done well to heed.


The seventh hole boasts the best view of Alcudia Bay – a gorgeous scene of boats and ferries bobbing beyond the iconic lighthouse, with Can Picafort in the distance.


It is another of Alcanada’s par-fives and one of several with an elevated tee, so, despite its intimidating length of nearly 600 yards and cascades of bunkers, it offers an opportunity to score.


The eighth is rated as the toughest hole, requiring a drive around trees to the left of the tee and a long uphill approach with sand beckoning for the greedy.


Jones certainly did not waste the opportunity of a sea view, and the ocean is the backdrop again for the ninth, a par-four with a tee shot over a hedge-lined creek.


The penalty area distracts from the more likely obstacles – a tree to the left of the fairway and a large bunker to the right.

After the delicious complimentary packed apple awaiting in a tray near the halfway hut, we embarked upon the second nine.


I played relatively tidy golf until this point, but Alcanada demands complete concentration and precise course management and I seem to lose both.


Thus, I tried to reach the flag of the winding uphill 10th with a three-wood approach only to find the deep greenside bunker. A blob ensued instead of par.

Having been host to the Challenge Tour finals two weeks previously, Alcanada was in superb condition – fairways were pristine and greens immaculate.


But the layout becomes a tad samey with several holes into the mountains followed directly by ones downhill towards the sea.


Thus, the par-five 11th is similar to the seventh and 13th, where I claimed my only birdie of the day.

Variety returns on the 14th, a devilish par-three with a flag behind a deep bunker and a mind-bending three-tier green.


The long par-four 16th is the closest the course comes to the lighthouse and its cunningly placed bunkers could result in frustration.


Ditto, the traps on the 17th, a tough par-three which one of our playing partners thought Mrs W might have aced.

He peeked in the hole after her tee shot curled towards the flag. The ball was just over the green but certainly had a better result than those who found sand.


There is no let up on the final hole with its sequence of consecutive bunkers down the left and a tree and bushes down the right.


The target is well-protected and the green is just as undulating as its predecessors.

It was a fitting end to a glorious day on one of Europe’s finest tracks.


Holidaymakers to Alcudia would be well advised to seek out Alcanada.



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