The Travelling Lady Golfer
Where am I?
- Formerly the land was designated as a Formula 1 track
- Unimaginatively originally called the Green and Red Courses
- Built with the vision for the venue of the 1997 Ryder Cup
- Gallardo – “one of the finest golf venues in the World’
- Situated on mainland Europe
If you haven’t guessed by now it is of course PGA Catalunya, Spain and one of the finest examples of an all inclusive resort I have seen.
Being part of an exclusive ladies only journalist trip to this great resort just an hours transfer from Barcelona airport opened my eyes to what a family resort can be.
A 230 hectare plot of land was up for grabs when the Royal Automobile Club of Catalunya decided it wasn’t the right site for their new F1 track, but it is a perfect spot for a golf resort which, like a good wine, matures and gets better with each passing year to emerge as one of Europes finest golf resorts.
With Angel Gallardo, former European tour player and visionary at the helm he saw what this waste land could be, together with Neil Coles the Stadium and Tour courses was constructed. With two 18 holes golf courses, the better known Stadium Course (formerly the Green Course) consistently ranks in the top 10 in Europe since it opened in 1999 and recently voted no.1 in Spain is a regular haunt for PGA European Tour events.
A bucket list course for sure with its gentle on the eye layout, undulating its way around the landscape with a natural flow of green to tee. The Tour Course compliments the Stadium, but that doesn’t mean it is less of a challenge – just glance right as you enter the resort if you need that reaffirming! Pitched as a kinder golf course I think the would depend on whether you play well or not! With plenty of water and pine trees tormenting your wayward shots.
PGA Catalunya owners have thought outside the square and are not providing as resort, they are providing an experience, with clever additions to embrace the whole family. Grandparents and children alike are catered for to the same high standard of professionalism and care. In the top 100 of golf resorts and a myriad of activities to chose from outside golf. For a start, whilst there are two hotels on site; a five and a four star, there are also units and houses to rent for complete flexibility, couple this with the usual and expected quality swimming pools and children’s entertainment, then throw in zip wires and with more being planned for the ultimate retreat to satisfy the whole family; whether golfers or not.
However with golf being the main attraction, and in many cases the main reason for visiting, rest assured that the two courses are thoughtfully backed up with carefully replicated bunkers to those of world renowned golf courses globally with sand being imported to satisfy those peculiarities, I didn’t think I’d be playing St. Andrews in Spain!! The performance centre, not just a driving range, but a driving range on steroids with all the toys to boot and is a must visit.
Cava or Champagne?
Seriously, who cares! But what an experience it was to taste different cava and champagne’s, and the conclusion was …. well it was your own personal taste, I do know that I might need to remortgage the house to buy the one I liked though. A great way to enjoy the ever present tapas too and a very enjoyable pre-dinner activity before being served with delicious food in the restaurant.
On yer bike
Something I was really looking forward to was a cycle ride to the local and historic town through woodland and over dirt tracks, it soon became apparent how unfit I was! Despite this, I would definitely recommend a cycle ride, what better way to see the true countryside, bump along the cobbled streets to the local watering hole, no I don’t mean a pub, I really do mean a tap for all to enjoy the cool fresh water before jumping back on your bike to cycle back and jump into the pool at PGA Catalunya.
When in Rome, or is it Paris!
PGA Catalunya have embraced this naturally historic location and encourage their guests to take a tour of Girona. An ancient city thousands of years old with romantic colourful buildings wishing to impart their stories to you in whispers as you tour around this beautiful city. Despite it being the capital of Girona, it is not a big mass of concrete, the River Onyar dissecting its very heart to give an alternative dimension as you walk across the Pont de les Peixateries Velles bridge, which is strangely familiar as you glance through the network of criss cross iron and images of The Eiffel Tower spring to mind – there is of course a connection.
Our tour was hosted by Girona Food Tours. A walking tour through this beautiful city embracing the equally
colourful and diverse local food on offer – I think we stopped seven times in different restaurants, from the traditional Iberico ham to the black salty squid rice to the selection of deserts setting the senses on fire with taste and a riot of colour. And to finish a quaint story of the modest ice cream cart. The famed and talented chefs, The Roca Brothers, wanted to give something back to the city of Girona and applied to have a traditional hand pulled cart traversing it’s twisted and in places cobbled streets selling ice cream, the local authorities said no, so the brothers bought a small, out of the way shop and simply parked the ice cream cart in there! You chose your ice cream, your topping, and your receptacle from a selection of regular – and not so regular flavours! A great way to finish this delightful tour before jumping into the taxi, feeling very full, back to PGA Catalunya for a good nights rest.
Sarah is a knowledgable and well travelled freelance golf lifestyle journalist, marketeer and new product business development specialist for growth areas in golf