Golfmagic Winner Review: La Manga Club

Golfmagic competition winner Andrew Picken gives us his take on La Manga Club and its new Leadbetter Academy

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Tue, 7 Oct 2014

GOLFMAGIC reader Andrew Picken won an expenses paid trip to La Manga Club with world famous coach David Leadbetter last month.

Andrew, who was selected as our competition winner, got the chance to play all three courses at La Manga Club, sample all the finest food and drinks La Manga Club had to offer, receive in-depth instruction each day of his trip, as well as spend time with Leadbetter following the unveiling of his new Leadbetter Academy at La Manga Club.

Here’s what Andrew made of it all…

What a prize. What a week. Thank you Golfmagic and La Manga Club for organising one of the greatest golfing weeks and opportunities of my life. Here's the lowdown of my trip.

On day one, I rocked up to the five-star Hotel Principe Felipe. The entrance lobby instantly took my breath away. This is one grand venue, let me tell you. I started to drag my luggage inside only to feel resistance. I pulled harder and then realised that a member of staff was trying to help me, not mug me. I wasn’t used to such levels of service.

Introductions to the Head of PR for the resort followed and then we were all given a fantastic welcome pack, including Titleist Pro V1 golf balls, a pitch repairer, scorecard holder, markers and shoe bag. We also received a beautiful adidas climalite polo shirt from the La Manga collection retailing at €90 in the shop. This was a deluxe welcome pack as detailed in the itinerary papers.

I was shown to my room. It was a suite containing a bed big enough to play football in. The ensuite was magnificent containing a sunken bath and wet room including separate shower.

I looked through the window and discovered that I had double doors giving access to my own private balcony overlooking the 18th green of the North Course. Cue another breathless moment.

I wandered out to the fantastic pool complex and went for a swim before trying out the Spa. Fully relaxed and washing off the free flight blackcurrant, I decided to go to the practice putting green and explore.

This site is three times the size of Monaco and to explore on foot would have taken about four months. Note to La Manga Club, if you need anyone to do this then I am your man!

I visited Bar 37 for a bit of lunch with its wall-to-wall golfing memorabilia featuring a very strong Seve presence. The views from this bar across the course were simply awesome.

I popped off to practice my short game - my Achilles heel - on the beautiful chipping area and I looked around at some of the other golfers. I felt really intimidated as everything appeared to be just short of brilliant. I quickly snapped out of it and then got ready for the evening meal at the Dharma Indian Restaurant.

When this Golfmagic prize said 'exquisite dining experience' I didn’t really understand what that meant until as a group we sat down with the instructors for an incredible meal of Asian/Eastern themed food. Superb. There was Thai, Japanese, Indian, Chinese served in many complimentary courses. We had a wonderful meal and company as we spent four hours chatting about golf-related stuff. A brilliant ice breaker supported by some excellent wines and beers.

Golfmagic Review: La Manga Club

The next day bright and early we attended the new training academy built for the David Leadbetter franchise, which cost €1 million. This facility looked state of the art in every aspect. It had different themed rooms with incredible audio visual equipment at every turn - all fully air conditioned.

The traditions of the game are fully reflected with memorabilia on each wall and signed quotes from the games greats in Spanish and English. There are 80 bays giving access to a recently extended 300 metre plus range. The practice facilities were incredible.

I then checked out the chipping area, pitching area, bunker area including a fairway bunker facility accessing the larger parts of the range itself. All the balls were full compression in yellow to assist in assessing ball flight.

The academy staff here have access to video recording equipment that allows them to film the exact moment of contact with the ball for each shot. These images can then be slowed down to a single frame and examined in the smallest detail.

Once the images are obtained they then have software that allows them to place a host of different lines and symbols onto the images to show the more efficient positions.

These are incredibly helpful in trying to make changes . These are not just fancy toys, every element is there for a reason and all were used to highlight a particular issue. This kit is not for show or to look fancy. It all serves a purpose.

The laboratory has a range of other kit permanently fitted including a dedicated SAM PUTT area with a £25,000 Trackman fitted into the room that overlooks the range. A floor to ceiling electric door peels open when you need to access the range but is still cooled by a separate air conditioning system.

Was this needed? Oh Yes! Hit a dozen balls here and you are leathered in sweat. 36 degrees on the range equates to a lot of sweat produced for little effort. I was a bit concerned that my sweat may have been becoming Rioja flavoured given the levels of consumption at each nightly meal.

If you are serious about your golf and you want to conduct some serious practice then this is the place for you.

Watch out for the distractions in this area. Flocks of marauding parakeets buzz the area regularly. The views across the site are also stunning.

On my first afternoon I chatted in the pro shop and discovered that over 500 golfers were on the three courses at that time playing in a championship. Incredibly, the place did not appear overloaded or crowded. How many other golf complexes do you know that could cope with this level of participation?

I retired to my suite and had a cold beer watching the competitors playing into the green. The atmosphere developed to a point where over 150 golfers watched and waited to spectate as colleagues and opponents finished their rounds.

One unfortunate soul clearly did not appreciate the pressure and air mailed his approach over the green and the protective glass into the pool some 100 yards over the green. An epic shot greeted by the loudest cheers of the afternoon.

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