When my wife told me this year’s family holiday was to a golf resort in Spain, I couldn’t have been happier.
Although I’m still relatively new to the game, having started playing during Covid, I’m now officially obsessed. The only problem was that we wouldn’t be alone on this trip: as well as my other half and my two children there would be my mother-in-law, two sisters-in-law, two nieces and two nephews – it was always going to be eventful.
We landed in Alicante and made our way down to La Torre golf resort Murcia. There’s an airport 15 minutes away from the resort but apparently it was cheaper to fly into Alicante and make the hour-long journey in a poorly air-conditioned minibus (I wasn’t involved in the planning). We were there for 10 days and I did my best to leave the golf and be the dutiful Dad, son-in-law, brother-in-law and uncle. I went down to the practice area every day though, only for 30 minutes but it gave me a chance to chat to other like-minded souls.
THREE REASONS TO ENJOY LA TORRE GOLF
It turns out that the owners of La Torre also have two other golf courses in the area – The Hacienda Riquelme and El Valle. They are both less than 15 minutes away. After a little more range talk, I had the phone numbers for two golf societies who play every week. With my wife’s blessing I made my way down to the Hacienda Riquelme. It was 8:30 in the morning but the temperature had already reached 86 degrees. I met Graeme, the captain of the society, who immediately told me to get a trolley as carrying my bag around what is a long course in the summer heat, was not, apparently, the smartest idea.
Graeme retired to Murcia in 2020 from Scotland. The ex-RAF man has thrown himself into local life, helping to run the Hacienda Riquelme golf society which plays every Monday. His first act as captain was to ensure that happy hour coincided with the end of his round. I liked him immediately.
We were joined on the 1st tee by Simon who lives in one of the hundreds of two-bed apartments on the resort. Everyone else got away well down the 1st, but now it was my turn. The pressure got to me, teeing off in front of strangers is not my speciality. I screwed my driver off to the right and Graeme told me I was in the ‘Tina Turners’. ‘The what?’ I ask I’m told it is what they affectionately call the long grass that resembles the late, great singer’s hair. It turns out that it’s not easy to get out of the Tinas.
A DIFFERENT PACE OF LIFE
As I relaxed and my golf improved, the conversation started to flow. You could still pick and place in the rough due to the course conditions. I thought that was strange as it was excellent, apart from a few weeds in the bunkers but apparently just a few months ago it was a very different story. The Hacienda wasn’t maintained during Covid and the course closed for a year. It has taken a while to get back to normal but Graeme is hopeful that by high season, October to March, it will be back to pre-pandemic levels.
Simon had never played golf before he moved to Murcia, neither has his wife. But it’s fair to say things have certainly changed. Incredibly this was his 8th round in 7 days and he tells me he may have play again with his wife later in the day. He says that’s what happens when your apartment, as they all do here, looks out onto the course.
The course is tough but Graeme is making it look easy. He’s been playing for 50 years and it shows. So, does he have a favourite hole? Apparently not. “18 of your worst nightmares” and he’s not joking. Like most Jack Nicklaus designed courses, there’s a lot of sand and they protect most greens. Add to that the extreme heat and it’s not a day for low scores, the key apparently is to bring one two litre bottle of water and another that’s been frozen. By the time I’ve reached the back 9 I’m glad I’ve taken this advice as the frozen bottle is actually starting to get warm.
After a poor start I’m happy with my round of 92, scoring 35 points. I quickly realise at happy hour that it’s not enough to win anything, but I’ve loved the course and the company. After adding up all the scores in the bar afterwards and giving out the prizes, Graeme will take his dog for a walk. His wife volunteers at a dog home every Wednesday. She swore to him that she wouldn’t bring one home, the promise lasted nine months. Graeme says he was initially annoyed, but the aptly named ‘Seve’ is now part of the family.
LA TORRE A PERFECT BASE
Life sounds idyllic and both Simon and Graeme are so positive about the area. You can pick up an apartment for as little as €90,000 but If you’d have bought the same apartment off plan around 20 years ago it would have cost €200,000. The golf boom and bust has really affected Murcia. Lots of courses that were built before the financial crisis of 2008 were never completed and Covid has hardly improved the situation with more courses closing. They’re just thankful that the ones they own apartments on are still open.
The second round on Wednesday is at La Torre. It’s the resort I’ve been staying in and I’m excited to play as I’m told it’s the easiest of the three courses. The only problem is that the “club 25 society” play at midday and it’s set to be 39 degrees. The captain Colin says we need a buggy otherwise we won’t make the 18th and I have no complaints. Out of the corner of my eye I see several fluffy toys being handed out to each group. We get a snake but there’s dolphins and camels too. Colin explains that it’s all part of the game. Whoever three putts last get the snake, whoever goes in the water last get the dolphin and you guessed it, if you’re in the sand last you’re taking home the camel. The forfeit? Colin says you have to buy your team a drink at the end. A small price to pay.
Malcolm and Sarah make up the four-ball. Malcolm is a founding member and has lived here for more than 20 years and Sarah splits her time between Spain and the UK. She tells me she doesn’t play golf any more at home as it’s too wet and miserable. After the July we’ve had in England it’s hard to disagree. Every shot for the first three holes is greeted exactly the same by the ever-positive Colin. ‘Great shot Malcolm’. ‘Unbelievable Sarah’. ‘Wonderful Alex.’ It doesn’t matter if the shot was any good or not but it’s a breath of fresh air. I actually start believing I can play this game!
Colin bought a holiday home in 2004 but moved over here permanently in 2020. He just wanted to retire and play golf but before he knew it, he was helping to run not just this society but another one as well. When he started the society had four people – three years later it’s standing at 60.
A RECORD BREAKING ROUND?
I’m playing as well as I have done all summer and with the best two scores on each hole, out of the four ball, counting to the competition Colin’s confident records can be broken. They want 100 points as it’s never been done. They thought they’d achieved it once before but someone got the scoring all wrong. We have 48 points on the front 9, so far, so good.
The course is playing well but some of the greens are patchy making it hard to putt but that doesn’t seem to bother Sarah. She is on a roll and on the 13th sinks a 20-footer from off the green. As you can imagine Colin is in dreamland. I didn’t score on that hole, after not finding the sand up until then, I hit three successive bunkers in a row. At least I was getting plenty of practice. At the 14th I was reminded that I still had the snake. It’d been in my possession for nearly the entire round. Malcolm then three putted, much to my delight. Unfortunately, I still had to putt. Suddenly my 12-foot putt feels at least double that. My nerves come rushing back and I three-putt to keep the snake.
It’s a turning point in the round, a few poor holes sees the chance of breaking the 100 point barrier disappear. Even Colin’s positivity can’t bring the good feeling back. All I’m worried about now is getting rid of the bloody snake. Unfortunately/fortunately Sarah uncharacteristically three putts on the 17th and I manage to get rid of the fluffy toy and hole out on the last for a par and an 84. It’s as much fun I’ve had on a golf course in ages and happy hour, which actually lasts three, is a blast. Everyone’s partners are invited along as well. My wife and extended family are welcomed with open arms.
Our group came third with 92 points and I enjoy my shot of Baileys courtesy of Sarah. We chat for ages about life on the resort and after three or four drinks I’m seriously considering moving here. We finally leave around 9pm but just before I go I invite Colin for a round the next day at El Valle. I need a bit more of that positivity! He accepts.
EL VALLE A SPANISH GEM
Thankfully we’re playing in the morning again. I’m up before the family and I’m hoping to be back so we can go to the beach in the afternoon. What a life. From the very first hole it’s clear that El Valle is the most picturesque course of the three I’ve played this week. Manicured to within an inch of its life with rolling hills in the background.
Colin’s foot is hurting from the day before, so we get a buggy. He says he’s just going to have a few shots and drive me round. He ends up playing every hole. I’ve started where I left off yesterday and playing some really good golf. There’s the odd poor club choice and misjudgement of the wind but I’m having such a good time I don’t even care.
Great company, great golf course and great weather. What is not to like? The thought of living here now is in my head and I can’t shake it. I pepper Colin with questions. How much is the service charge for the resort? What’s the cost of living like compared to the UK? How would you get residency, now we are no longer part of the European Union? I’m asking the right person. Colin went through all this a few years ago. His wife had a stress induced stroke when she was 50 and that’s when they decided to make the move permanent. Thankfully she’s fully recovered and has fallen in love with paddle tennis. Having never done much sport before she’s now playing most mornings.
Living back home now would be hard for Colin. The pace of life is so much slower here. He fills his days with walks along the beach, eating out (at least 3 times a week) and swimming in his newly installed saltwater pool. Golf obviously plays a big part both for his health but also his social life. The number of friends he’s made from the sport is incredible and he hasn’t regretted his decision to emigrate once.
Time is flying by, before I know it we are on the 11th. A glorious hole, with the tee high up and the hole 279 yards down the hill. You can see for miles. Colin wants to get a photo of me teeing off. Now normally that would send me into a nervous spin but for some reason I don’t even think about it. I hit a lovely, wind assisted, drive as the camera snaps away. I think it’s gone a little to the right but I’m happy with the contact. It’s a great photo as well.
As we approach the hole I see a ball a foot away from the hole. I can’t believe it. It’s the best shot I’ve ever hit and even I couldn’t miss this putt. My first eagle and it doesn’t matter what I do for the rest of the round. I’ve had a special day with a great guy. We have a drink in the club house afterwards and I tell Colin that I’ll definitely be back… February to be precise. We’ve already booked.
La Torre Golf Resort Murcia scorecard
La Torre Golf Resort Murcia: key facts
Address: La Torre Golf Resort 30709, Roldán, Torre-Pacheco Murcia, España
Email address: [email protected]
La Torre Golf Resort Murcia: FAQs
What is the climate like at La Torre Golf Resort Murcia?
This is a year round destination with Murcia enjoying more than 300 days of sunshine per year and an average temperature of 21 degrees centigrade. T
What is La Torre Golf Resort Murcia like?
With a grand entrance and roads lined with palm trees, La Torre boasts water features, fountains, lush plants as well as lemon and lime trees. The centrepiece of the resort is the 18-hole Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, but there are also 22 swimming pools (5 children’s pools), as well as tennis courts and children’s playgrounds too.
How far is La Torre golf resort Murcia from the beach?
The closest beach to La Torre Golf Resort is 20 minutes away. There you will find the sandy beaches of the Mar Menor, which is a lagoon sheltered from the Mediterranean Sea by a sand bank.
What is the nearest town to La Torre golf resort?
The resort is close to small towns such as Balsicas and Roldán, which are no more than five minutes away by car.
How far is La Torre Golf resort Murcia from airport?
La Torre Golf Resort Murica is only 15 minutes or so from Murcia International Airport and around 1hr from Alicante Airport.