Bucket List - Check!
La Manga was on my to do list for some time and a friend and I were staying about 35 min drive away so decided to drive down, stay the night and play 2 of the 3 courses available. Unfortunately the North course was closed for essential maintenance on all of the holes, so we played the West & South courses. Two more different side by side courses you'd be hard pushed to find. The West is purely about hitting it straight and not straying off the fairway because as soon as you do you're in trees! Big, tall and extremely plentiful fir trees, taking you all the way up into the mountain around the course. Some stunning holes, especially the 18th, which has you teeing off from a plateau approx 200 feet above the fairway in the distance. Stunning finishing hole, take a buggy on this course! The South (Championship) course is completely different, devoid of trees, bushes but plenty of bunkers and water! Tough but fair, it rewards the good shots and punishes you for the poor shots. Thoroughly recommend to anyone thinking of going, the clubhouse/hotel/bars/restaurants are 1st class, well worth spending time (and money) there! Am definitely going back.
Very little left to nature but a great design
Like the North Course, the South is a championship course where rather than the course being made to fit into the natural contours of the land, you suspect a lot of land has been moved to make way for the course as the designers intended.
While it may not be as nature intended it's a very well designed course. There are very few grip-it-and-rip-it holes; I think other than on two holes you were choosing a club off the tee based on distance you want left to the pin, avoiding water or avoiding sand, or avoiding both. The 11th is a perfect example, 380 yards with water to avoid left off the tee and right with the approach. Avoid the first lake by going right and you must go over the second lake to find the green which is wide but relatively shallow, breaking from the left then the right and steeply from back to front. The 14th is just 360 yards but has a bunker on the right side of the fairway beginning at around 160 yards and stretching to the green - the further you drive off the tee the more the sand encroaches, encouraging you to use as long a club as you're sure you are accurate with. The Par 5's are all 'thinking' holes, with the possible exception of the 13th, which you can have two bashes at, but even then only the right side of the green is accessible thanks to much protective bunkering.
Designed to reward sensible, accurate play, the South Course is still relatively open with more chance of losing a ball in water than in any rough. Tees, fairways and greens were all in exceptional condition. Bunkers were being mechanically raked when we played (some are very large....) and were occasionally (presumably those not yet deeply raked) crusty and a little unpredictable.
Expensive round but worth it for the condition and design. Sensible starting times (large gaps between groups) helped, though we played at the end of July and I suspect it's busier at other times.