Sam the assistant pro at Las Colinas Golf and Country Club is feeling particularly confident as we walk to the first tee. He’s “nailed a few memorable rounds this week” and adding another journalist scalp to his growing trophy cabinet would be a welcome addition it seems.
Las Colinas Golf and Country Club is a new high end family owned residential development not far from Torrevieja on Spain‘s Costa Blanca a half hour drive south from Alicante. 800 acres of Mediterranean valley and forest land offer up a clutch of secluded luxury villa and apartment communities and an excellent 18 hole Cabell Robinson designed championship golf course, managed by top drawer course operator, Troon Golf.
The Las Colinas course, which only opened in 2010, is set along a wide valley floor with wide lush fairways, fast undulating greens and up on the few elevated tees on the front nine, some dramatic views across to the coast.
I ask Sam “which one’s the signature hole then”
“Good question Andy, there’s not really one stand out hole, but in my opinion, the tiny short 7th or perhaps the 8th and the 18th are memorable for me.”
The climate here is kind in winter rarely falling below 18 degrees during the day with long hot summers, so much of the scrub land is dry and arid away from the fairways.
The first hole is a wide dog leg left, par 4 with plenty of chalk white bunkers waiting for a sliced drive. Sam’s early confidence is not dampened as we halve. The next is a long uphill par 4 to a raised narrow green. Just before my second Sam cautions “Don’t go left into the valley of death, it’ll be very tough from there.”
Needless to say, that’s exactly where I go. Gamesmanship or sound advice…..
The par 5 3rd hole is a great downhill dogleg with two lakes to negotiate, one on either side of the fairway. Sadly, I don’t negotiate the second one. Sam’s eyes light up.
After a straightforward 4th where for me the highlight is Sam driving into one of the many bunkers littering this hole, we come to a challenging par 3 guarded by a lake and a green circled with deep bunkers. I stiff a rescue to the centre and we halve another.
The 6th becomes the turning point. Quite unbelievably, Sam drives the green and leaves the ball close to the hole. A monstrous drive of over 310 metres uphill whilst I find the cross bunker in the middle of the fairway. What happens next is etched in Las Colinas history as I hit a 6 iron from the bunker inside his ball. I feel the spirit of Sandy Lyle with me as I march up to the green. Sam misses his putt, I sink mine and win the hole.
The 7th is a delightfully quirky par 3. Just a 105 metres from a high tee, the sloping green nestles far below us, surrounded by forest. “it’s such a short hole” says Sam “but I’ve seen professionals struggle to make par here.”
Surprisingly, I make a birdie. Sam doesn’t.
Another spectacular high tee position on the 8th provides a dramatic drive down between fairway bunkers. The green here is guarded by a deep valley in front which snatches up any short ball.
After negotiating the tough par 4 9th I turn with 3 hole lead. Sam’s early confidence is now well in the past, replaced by gritty determination.
I am trying not to sound too smug.
The next four holes are lovely to play, but what I would call standard holiday golf fare although the 11th is a long par 5 over 530 metres off the yellow tees.
The par 3 14th though is memorable for the lake on the left, the rocky creek running across the front of the green and two huge bunkers guarding the right side of the green.
Sam get’s a hole back.
I grit my teeth and stride to the next tee, a par 5 where two more lakes, an out of bounds and five fairway bunkers are lurking.
It really is a great test of course management. And I manage a half.
The 16th require a brave drive across another lake, where taking the longest route across cuts the sharp dog leg and rewards you handsomely. Sam’s power game gets him another hole back.
The 17th is a very long par 3 measuring 190 metres from the yellow boxes and 225 from the championship tees to a green surrounded by bunkers!
Sadly for Sam as a putt slides past, he loses the hole and the match 2 and 1.
Just as well as the 18th is a great finishing par 5. A lake and nine bunkers no less, have to be negotiated and Sam show how to do it in style getting on the green in 2.
Sam is magnanimous in defeat and perhaps after all, he was being polite and letting his guest take the glory.
Las Colinas may be only 6 years old, but it has a mature feel about it, testimony to terrific course management and impressive investment by the owners in quality grasses.
This is a course which will not perhaps grab the headlines like La Manga further down the coast past Murcia, but the resort here is a lot less commercial. There is a very good clubhouse restaurant, the UNIK Cafe and an enso sushi bar, and for residents and guests, a private beach club in the nearby resort town of Campoamor.
For bird lovers a visit to the fantastic Falconry school on the property is a must do activity where you can personally take part in a rare close up and personal Falcon experience.
This is a luxury resort development on an often overlooked stretch of Spain that is quietly building quite a name for itself without any of the fanfare.
Just go easy on Sam now though.
Falcon, Sushi and golfer driving images (C) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about Las Colinas Golf and Country Club
Avenida de las Colinas, 2
Carretera de Campoamor to San Miguel de Salinas CV-941, Km. 6 · 03189
Orihuela Costa, Alicante
Stay and play in luxury apartments or villas, including golf and breakfast, from €85 per person per night
Course length 6,972 yards, par 71
Tel.: +34 965 32 40 04
There are frequent services to Alicante from Gatwick incuding Monarch, Easyjet and RyanAir.
Gatwick Express, the non-stop rail-air service between Victoria station and Gatwick Airport, departs every 15 minutes with a journey time of 30 minutes. Gatwick Express is the fastest and best way to travel between central London and Gatwick Airport with return tickets starting from £27.40. With an ongoing 10% discount, it is always cheaper to buy your ticket online at www.gatwickexpress.com