When I told AP Senior I was off to Majorca to play golf, he asked me what courses I was playing.
“Son Gual and Alcanada,” I told him, looking over my itinerary. A long-enough-to-be-awkward silence followed.
Eventually, I got my reaction: “What have I got to do to get your job? Those are two of the finest courses in Europe.”
My old man’s wrong about a lot of things. But he’s rarely wrong about golf courses. Not much to live up to then.
I stepped aboard my Monarch Airlines flight at a drizzly Gatwick and less than two hours later I was basking in the Mediterranean sunshine.
The first leg of our whistle stop tour was Alcanada. Set to the stunning backdrop of the Bay of Alcudia, this Robert Trent Jr-designed track will take your breath away on almost every tee.
Several opening shots on this track see you driving high above sea level into the watery horizon. Be sure to savour the view of the Alcanada Lighthouse Island at 11 and 13 in particular.
Alcanada is a real test for high-handicap golfers, but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. Before we went out, course director Kristoff Both told us the greens were slow. After shaking hands at the 18th, my playing partners and I breathed a sigh of relief that the greens weren’t any faster.
But we all like a challenge and it took some getting used to. I was 18-over par at the turn and 22-over come the end. Read into that what you will.
You will not regret adding Alcanada to your to-do list. Just be sure to take your camera.
Day two and on to Son Gual. Now the real excitement was setting in. Son Gual is widely considered the island’s finest course. Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal is a regular visitor, as are many Spanish footballers, including Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
And it’s easy to see why. The clubhouse is modern, stylish and relaxing. Friendly, welcoming staff will make time for you and the fine dining on offer will provide a perfect start or, indeed, end to your round.
We arrived at Son Gual, just 15 minutes from the centre of Palma, and even a rare day of rainfall couldn’t dampen our spirits. We were greeted by Andreas Pamer, Son Gual’s instantly likable marketing manager and, perhaps more importantly, a fellow AP.
As we stood on the terrace watching the rain come down on the ninth and 18th greens, Andreas informed us that within two hours of even the heaviest downpour, the Son Gual fairways will tolerate the buggies again.
Or, if you’re a bit more of a daredevil, you could take a Segway. You read that correctly.
The first observation of note was the vast, immaculately-kept tee boxes which could have easily been mistaken for greens. We stepped onto the first and the rain stopped. In front of us, the stunning opening hole and the beginning of what is easily one of the most impressive tracks in European golf.
Like Alcanada, Son Gual will provide a true test for the mid-to-high handicapper as well as making you step back and appreciate the view on almost every tee. A particular favourite was the par-3 9th, sweeping down toward the clubhouse.
It’s unbelievable that this Thomas Himmel only opened in 2007 and the whole establishment oozes class. It’s regularly ranked in Top 100 European Course lists and Ian Woosnam compares it to Augusta.
Son Gual and Alcanada aren’t cheap to play. But you don’t go all the way to Majorca for second rate courses. Splash the cash.
Of course, you will need somewhere to put your head down at night. And why not add a bit of style to your holiday at the Castillo Hotel Son Vida? The 5* complex on the outskirts of the island’s capital is built around a 13th century castle high up in the Son Vida hills, providing stunning views across Palma Bay.
Three first-rate restaurants assure guests that every catering need is adhered too, while golfers are offered reduced green fees on the nearby Arabella courses – Son Vida, Son Quint and Son Muntaner.
With time to kill before our flight on the final day, the offer of a quick knock round the latter seemed too good to turn down. A pleasant enough track meandering through the valleys, Son Muntaner provides a solid test for anyone.
But ultimately, if someone was asking me where to play in Majorca, I would tell them to get tee times at Alcanada and Son Gual at whatever cost.
Where to Play
Green Fee: €150
Address: Finca Son Gual, Manacor, KM11, 07199, Palma de Mallorca
Green Fee: €105
Address:Club de Golf Alcanada, Carretera del Faro S/N, Alcúdia, Mallorca
Cost: €130, reduced to €75 for hotel guests
Address: Arabella Golf Son Muntaner, Carretera Son Vida, S/N, E-07013, Palma de Mallorca
Where to Stay
Castillo Son Vida (for Son Gual and other courses around Palma)
Address: C/Raixa, 2, E-07013 Palma de Mallorca
Hotel Hipocampo Palace (for Alcanada)
Address: C/S’estanyol, 13, 07560, Cala Millor, Mallorca
Where to Eat
Address: Carrer de la Missió, 7A, 07003, Palma de Mallorca
Leading leisure airline Monarch offers year-round flights to Majorca from Gatwick and Manchester airports and flights during the summer season from Birmingham and London Luton with fares, including taxes, starting from £47.50 one way (£78.99 return).
In addition to year-round low fares, Monarch also offers a range of hot and cold meals onboard with prices from £3.00. Seats can be pre-booked at £4.99 per one-way flight to avoid the last minute free-for-all experienced on some other airlines, or from only £9.99, extra-legroom seats are available, which offer up to six inches of extra space.
Passengers travelling on scheduled flights can also avoid the queues at the airport and take advantage of online check-in which is available between 18 days and 4.5 hours prior to departure.
For more information or to book, visit www.monarch.co.uk