An undulating course sprawling between palm trees, lakes and some giant barrancas, these natural storm gullies added a little more dimension to the round.
Not the longest course in the world, some 800m shorter than the South off the tips, but this par-71 track was certainly the more enjoyable test. As much as I enjoyed the test presented by the South Course, I know I'd rather be paying the wonga to tee up around this one.
Come on, we all prefer birdies than bogeys, right?
Like the South, there was a premium on finding tight fairways on the North, with fall off areas and barrancas ready to pick up loose tee shots, but there were much larger and healthier looking greens awaiting the approach shots.
Another similarity with the South Course, and West for that matter - the views. Some are truly stunning.
The North Course offers a different, yet no less challenging, round of golf. A feature of the greens, all built to USGA specification, is the amount of movement incorporated in them, none more so than the short par-3 second, which has three distinct plateaux - a great test of putting.
Relying on precision rather than length, an added challenge is provided by the wide variety of water hazards and barrancas that snake their way through the course.
The par-5 third is a great risk-reward hole. A nice, threaded 3-wood down the left side is all you need to roll into the middle of the fairway and providing you have the lie, you have the option to play a left-to-right fairway wood into the green or lay up short left to avoid the trouble down the right.
The next is equally special with a long par-3 playing over a large barranca short and right, with OB down the left, pictured above.
The North Course provided me with a stern test of shot making, nonetheless, and a deft touch was also required on and around some very pure putting surfaces.
It has much more of ‘resort course’ feel about it and hence I believe it will prove the better alternative for the average golfer. It's statistically the easier of the three courses, but don't let that fool you. You can come unstuck here, too. Golf is meant to be fun after all. It’s an ideal length course for the average player with several driver-wedge holes, particularly around the turn, it's in great shape, has much purer greens and I guarantee it will leave you and your buddies with smiles on faces no matter the standard of scoring.
If there is one criticism of the North Course, it's that the bookends of each nine are very similar. There's not much variation in holes.
Variation, however, is apt for the final stop. La Manga West.
Thankfully, we'd saved the best until last with La Manga West, a course that has a bit of everything with short, long, dogleg right, dogleg left, uphill, downhill and blind tee shots.
Set amid serene pine woodlands, the West Course's design closely follows the natural contours of the undulating land. Its distinct character makes it a good alternative to the other, more classical championship courses.
It is a deceiving course, with frequent changes in elevation with which to contend. The tight front nine demands accurate driving to avoid those nasty barrancas again, while the back nine, up amongst the hills, is more open but nonetheless challenging.
The West, par-72 and measuring 5,800m, is many golfers' favourite, both because of its unique setting and outstanding views and because of the challenge offered by its narrow fairways, frequent blind shots and the gullies which snake through the course.
La Manga West was marginally my favourite of the trio, but that probably had something to do with playing some of my best golf of the trip. That always helps when deciding upon a favourite, I find.
Things got off to a wretched start. After finding the heart of the opening fairway, I thinned a wedge out the back door and made double, shortly before holding up traffic when my stand bag fell off the back of my mobility scooter for the day (they'd run out of buggies!) as I was driving across the road from first green to second tee. Nightmare.
A bogey followed at the short but tight par-3 second and I then lost my second in the sun on the long par-5 third, before making yet another double. It was a shocking start but I calmed myself down by thinking all of this did somehow beat being in the office.
Once things had calmed down after a two-putt par at the tranquil par-3 fourth, I went on a par spree and played the next nine holes in 1-under - something I've not done in a while.
Of the memorable holes on the front side, the par-5 sixth presented the first real opportunity to open the shoulders, while the par-4 eighth favoured my fade off the tee and flagged up my first birdie of the day when rolling home a ten-footer. The best opportunity for birdie, however, comes at the par-5 ninth. Find the fairway with even a hybrid and you can go for the green in two on this dogleg left hole. The green is protected by a little ravine, though, so make sure you take enough club on the downhill approach.
Onto the back nine and there's a short par-4 at 10 that provides yet another scoring opportunity, before things become a little tougher coming home. The par-3 13th is pretty brutal, especially when doing the hard work and hitting a 5-iron into the heart of the green before three-putting for bogey.
The 15th is a gorgeous par-5 that offers a real risk-reward for players. Take driver and clatter it over the ditch or play safe with a hybrid short. The layup is pretty tough with a giant tree in the middle of the approach into the green and with a bunker down the right, there is little room for error when playing into the right-hand side of the fairway. A very tough par-5 that is quickly followed by a 4-iron into the par-3 16th and water down the right flank at the par-5 17th.
The best hole on the course is saved until the par-4 18th, pictured above. If there's one hole to take a picture on, it's this one. What a great view over La Manga and beyond. The hole isn't particularly anything special with a giant fairway and decent sized green to aim at, but the view on the severely elevated tee box is to die for.
The breathtaking views, undulating fairways and fast greens make this course particularly exciting to play. Unlike a lot of courses, having played here, golfers feel that every facet of their game has been tested to the full.
The par-3s here offer a real test of long iron play with nothing shorter than a 6-iron required to find the middle of the greens.
A real plodder's course - no wonder Luke used to play here - where it's safer to take out the hybrid or long iron and just keep the ball in play. It's not a long course at 5,800m off the tips but it's very tight in places. Good course management is a prerequisite here.
All three courses at La Manga Club provide something for everyone, each with their own unique views.
Which did I enjoy most? La Manga West
Which was in best shape? La Manga North
Which was the toughest? La Manga West and La Manga North
Which would I want to play again? La Manga West
Best value for money? La Manga North
For more information visit www.lamangaclub.com
La Manga South: public €190; residents €90; hotel/Las Lomas guests €85
La Manga North: public €180; residents €75; hotel/Las Lomas guests €75
La Manga West: public €175; residents €60; hotel/Las Lomas guests €50
Monarch, the scheduled leisure airline, operates year round flights to Alicante from Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton, East Midlands and Manchester airports with fares, including taxes, starting from £39.99 one way (£97.98 return). For further information, please visit www.monarch.co.uk
Meet and Greet at Gatwick Airport
Golfmagic uses the friendly Meet and Greet service provided by Looking4Parking when flying from Gatwick Airport. It's an incredibly easy and hassle-free service that we will continue to use.
Meet & Greet parking is the most convenient way to park your vehicle at Gatwick airport. All you have to do is drive up to the terminal, where one of our fully trained and insured chauffeurs will meet you and take your vehicle to our nearby secure car park.