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Palma, Majorca and Son Muntaner Golf Club


Quick Overview

The Balearic Islands that lie to the east of mainland Spain often receive a bad press but, in many respects, it’s hard to know why.

Maybe it’s because of Ibiza’s infamy for being the late night party capital of Europe, or because areas of Menorca and Majorca (or more locally Mallorca) have sold their soul to high-rise package holiday firms catering for the ‘cheap and cheerful’ all-inclusive brigade.

But look deeper and, on the island of Majorca in particular, you will unearth many stunningly beautiful regions with graceful Moorish towns, marvellous beaches and sporting facilities that rival many of the world’s most exclusive resorts.

Avoiding all-night raves like the plague, I travelled to Palma, the historic capital city of Majorca which is the largest of the five Balearic Islands. A beautiful ancient fortified town, I arrived to play golf, try the tapas and taste some wonderful, locally produced red wines. I left, just longing for more.

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Within 15 minutes of leaving Palma airport my taxi was already snaking around sharp, mountain-side bends affording views of the city’s Cathedral, marina and across to the Bay of Palma.
To my left I spotted Son Muntaner, the manicured and well appointed golf course I’d come here to play at which point the taxi driver dropped a bomb shell.

“Welcome to the dump!” he quipped; “Looks good doesn’t it?”

Confused and a touch bewildered by what I assumed was his quirky sense of humour I asked him to explain, maybe his joke had been lost in translation so to speak?

No, true enough, the driver explained that until the early 2000s this area of Majorca and Palma was renowned for being the unofficial dumping ground; the place where city folk came in twilight hours to dispose of their broken refrigerators, rusting bicycles and old bed frames. 

Yet here it was, as Majorca’s newest golf course, and considering its history, it turned out to be a beauty.

It took over three years and over £4m for locals to clean up their act and turn their dump into a 6,347 yard par 72 championship course.

The project was funded by the nearby Hotel Castillo Son Vida, the course owners, who also provided the accommodation for my stay, but more on that later.

The opening three holes of Son Muntaner all feature water hazards so, if like me you take a while to warm up and hone your swing, then best hit a bucket of balls at the top-class driving range ahead of your round.

The opening shot here is scary too, with out of bounds to both left and right, so unless your driver is hot, leave it in the bag and play safe.

The view from the sixth tee is possibly the most spectacular on the course which opens up thereafter allowing the high handicappers to relax and enjoy their games a little more.

The 10th starts with a drive over a dry-stone wall onto a lower-level fairway to leave an inviting approach to a long, narrow green. Then you’ll enjoy the par threes at 11 and 13, ahead of the stroke index one 14th. A par four, with a brace of trees in the middle of the fairway that need to be avoided if you are to have any chance of making a pin-point, up-hill approach to an elevated, two-tier green. The putts were slower, but it was all very reminiscent of the 18th at Augusta National.            

The clubhouse is equally spectacular, a shimmering celebration of local marble, with a terrace overlooking the course.

Having played Majorca’s newest course the following day, and barely two miles away, I played the island’s oldest, Son Vida.

Laid down in the late 1950s by course designer Frank Hawtree, Son Vida is nicely maintained with a smattering of stunning holes, but the old lady is sadly starting to show her age.

The advent of rescue clubs, big-headed drivers and space age golf balls that fly much further than they did in 1957, means that a couple of the holes here are all but obsolete. But don’t let them distract from what is otherwise a cracking day’s golf as you take wine in the rustic, colonial-style wooden club house afterwards.

If you fancy playing more golf while in Majorca, there are five other courses in the south-west corner of the islands, namely: Poniente, Antraitx and the three courses at The Santa Ponsa complex, which has often played host to the Balearic Open.

Off-course delights

It will not take long for you to be impressed once you arrive outside the Castillo Hotel Son Vida.

A converted 13th century cliff-top castle, it has won numerous awards for its cuisine, a wine list offering over 400 labels, as well as for its sheer opulence. Little wonder kings, presidents, film and rock stars have stayed in one of its 164 cool, yet luxurious rooms and suites.

The terrace offers stunning views across the Bay of Palma, or you can move inside to sample the delights of the Restaurant Es Vi and take an after-dinner aperitif at typically Spanish, Bar Armas. See http://www.castillosonvidamallorca.com for more information.

If you can drag yourself away from the hotel, complete with its heated pool, tennis courts and Spa complex, Palma itself is a beautiful city, even at night when many of the historic buildings are floodlight.

Sit outside with a rustic Rioja and snack on Tapas at one of the numerous local bars. It’s simply the best way to end your stay in Palma.

Mark Pennell travelled to Majorca courtesy of British Airways, The Castello Son Vida and Arabella Sheraton Hotels.


July 10, 2023


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