The Stadium course at PGA Catalunya reminds me of several lush, top 100 golf courses in the US like Robert Trent Jones, in Manassas, Virginia or Kinloch, in Richmond only with even more elevation changes, and stunning mountain vistas in the distance. The grooming is the same which is to say perfect tees, fairways and greens. The one feature that instantly stood out to me, and my playing partners was just how wonderful every hole looks from the tee. Right form the elevate first shot, every tee except perhaps the 18th is framed perfectly. You see exactly where you should hit the ball, and what shape your shot should take.
PGA Catalunya is a Players Golf Course
Make no mistake about it this is a player’s golf course with 2 in rough, multiple forced carries, lakes and semi-island greens. The course plays long too since there is little roll on the lush fairways so choosing the right tees for your game is essential. I chose the yellows ones from the back, and still hit every club in my bag, always one of the tell tail signs of a good course. There is not a single poorly designed hole on the course, each demands a carefully placed tee shot and an accurate approach, some of which come with punishing consequences should you miss. However, since my last visit several years ago the clubs have done a great job of scaling back the undergrowth, and bushes in the tress opening up a good ten years either side of the fairways. Thus, providing a less intimidating shot from the tee and well as a real opportunity to find you ball should it stray.
Beauty and the Beast
There are so many beautiful and difficult holes to talk about that it would be impossible to designate any as a signature hole. The long, par 4, 4th, is a tough left to right dogleg with and uphill tee shot leaving a downhill shot to a green with a steep bank in front guarded by a lake very Augusta like. A bogey here will not lose many shots to the field.
The 9th pictured at the start is another long par four guarded by carnivorous bunkers, and demanding a wood or long iron approach form a solid tee shot. 14 provides the scariest second shot with the front, back and right of the green surrounded by water. Things don’t let up on the 15th either a long par 4 guarded by a creek with a Pete Dye style bulkhead of railroad tiles.
That’s not to say there are not birdie opportunities, all of the par fives are potential birdies and many of the par threes offer a good chance as at least from the yellow tees they reasonably short. The six remaining holes are all in the hit it good off the tee and you’ll have birdie chance hit it bad and you’ll be making bogey.
Play Where the Pros Play
It’s little wonder The Stadium course has hosted European Tour School and the Spanish Open multiple times. Food on the Verandah post round was as food generally is in Spain excellent. Few lunches start before one pm or end until three.
While I did not play the other course it shares the same beautiful terrain and vistas as well as the championship grooming. Its slightly shorter, and wider giving it more of a resort like feel. A welcome respite from the physical, technical and mental challenge of the stadium course.
The Best in Europe?
The practice facility claims, it’s the best in Europe, and as Mohamed Ali once said, “It ain’t bragging if it’s true” Being something of an expert in European ranges with my game having spent ten years in the wilderness I’d have to agree it’s pretty darn impressive. In my experience only Valderrama has anything on the same level and that’s pretty good company!
A Choice of Accomodation
PGA Catalunya Resort has two on-site hotels: the five-star Hotel Camiral which offers several dining options, fitness and wellness facilities, and a comprehensive concierge service, as well as the contemporary and stylish LAVIDA Hotel, opened in 2018.
Recommended 4-6 day, Barcelona/Girona Itinerary
Fly into Girona in the morning and start with a night or two at TorreMirona just 20 minutes from the airport. Move 40 minutes down the road for a couple of nights at PGA Catalunya, and take in both courses. Then head an hour south to Real Golf El Prat and spend a couple of nights there to play their two courses. Fly out of Barcelona in the late afternoon just 20 minutes from the club. That’s a lot of great golf, wonderful food and good times in a week or less with less than two hours of driving!
At a Glance
- 36 holes in amazing condition
- The Stadium course is a true championship rest in every way
- Multiple championships have been hosted on the Stadium course
- Two hotels a 4 star and a 3 star
- Best practice facilities in Spain
- Excellent food
- One of the best pro shops I have seen
- Ten minutes to Girona airport with multiple flights from European cities
- Only an hour to Barcelona