Today Stuart and I were challenged by two of the former Captains of La Cala Golf Club, James Reid and Danny Rees. Both have been members at La Cala Golf for more than a decade and know every nuance of fairways and greens. Playing off 17 and 18 handicaps respectively we are giving away an awful lot of shots. However, we remain undaunted! Matchplay, better ball – the prize: coffees and tapas!
The course: La Cala Golf Asia Course – Read our extensive review of the course by clicking here.
Front Nine Holes Asia Course
If you have not played this course before then the view from the 1st tee can be intimidating. Whilst I have been a regular visitor Stuart has not played here since the course opened nearly 30 years ago. Hitting the ball almost as wide as he does long I can see the discomfort written large in his face as he addresses his first drive.
“You can lose a few balls here” James quipped as we prepared to tee off. “A few balls! Last time I was here I lost the will to live. The golf course broke my spirit” retorted my partner. Not a positive swing thought to start with.
Somehow we both found the fairway. Our partners matched us, the game is on!
Both James and Danny made a mess of their 2nd shots leaving themselves difficult recovery shots into the green. A pair of double bogeys meant that our par 4s gave us an early lead.
The next 2 holes were halved in net pars and we could sense the La Cala Golf former Captains getting a measure of us!
Two nett birdies on the 4th and 5th one each from Danny and James stamped their authority upon the game, we were 1 down.
La Cala Golf Asia is a fairly short course from the yellow tees but is not a pushover. At first sight it looks to be extremely tight with narrow fairways and punitive rough on both sides of those fairways on most holes.
In fact, all you need to do is think outside the box. Not every par 4 or par 5 needs a driver off the tee. Look where the narrow points are or where the trouble is and stay short of it. Provided that you find the fairway from the tee you will have a reasonable shot into the green.
La Cala Golf Asia course 6th hole is a great par 4, dogleg left uphill with a bit of water to deal with. We had an advantage over our competitors on this occasion as they were both unable to reach the green in 2. Stuart and I found the heart of the green and our first birdie of the day put us back on level terms.
Not for long however. It seems our birdie simply motivated James and Danny to greater things. They dispatched the next two very tough holes with comfortable pars. Those net birdies saw them open a 2 hole lead.
James seems to putt with the same unerring accuracy as Wyatt Earp dishing out justice in the wild west.
The long and intricate par 5 9th was claimed by us with a birdie four for yours truly. It might be considered unsporting to mention that our oppos failed to reach the green so punitive is the rough.
One down at the turn.
The back 9 holes Asia Course – La Cala Golf
The 10th Hole is a fantastic par 5th is reachable in 2 strokes but the courage required to take on a treacherous drive is immense. I laid up to the fairway bunkers about 260 yards from the tee. I left it to my old mate to have a crack at reaching in two. Seconds later it became clear that I would be finishing this hole alone as Stuart’s ball buggered off sharply to the left never to be seen again.
Needless to say the enemy plotted their way up this tortuous fairway never deviating from the centre line. Great match players both of them!
My second shot did not go as planned. I found myself in a deep valley 140yards from the green close to the out of bounds. My 3rd found the back of the green. As I walked on to the putting surface I spotted James ball only 15 feet from the flag in 3 net 2. I had to sink my 40 feet birdie putt. Three putts later I conceded the hole.
Our demise had begun!!
Danny’s net birdie at the par 3 11th hole was like a knife through the heart. These men of La Cala Golf show no mercy.
The par 4 12th confronted James and Danny with a high handicappers nemesis. Water! The lake guarding the front right of the green quickly claimed James’ ball. In a spontaneous attack of hydro-phobia Danny disappeared a long way to the left only to reappear on the green some time later with no ball. We got one back!
The 365m long par 4 13th should have been ours for the taking. Both of us found the middle of the green in 2. Meanwhile both Danny and James have 100yards or more approach shots to reach in 3.
“You gotta thin it to win it partner” I heard James congratulating Danny as his terrain following approach shot quickly covered the ground reaching the green and coming to rest less than a foot from the hole. 4 nett 3. Three down with 5 play.
The 14th Hole is one of shorter par 4s and for long hitters could be reachable. Our opponents did not hit their best drives, and did not make the putting surface in 2 strokes. My drive took a direct line at the flag and kicked into the fairway bunker on the left edge of the fairway leaving me 80 yards.
Stuart hit a great drive about 30 yards short of the pin. A lobbed 2nd shot yielding a hole winning birdie.
Daunted but not beaten we take hope in the fact that some of the best and most difficult holes at La Cala Golf Asia course lay before us.
The 15th is a tremendous par 4. One of the best, most rewarding par 4s that you will find anywhere.
Along the left of the tee runs an elevated bank. The tee forces you to aim at pine trees and rough at the outside of the dog leg. I played to the corner with a 5 wood. Stuart drew a 3 wood around the corner and watched with glee as it bounded down the hill to within 50 yards of the green. Utterly intimidated by our tee shots neither Danny or James could get past the red tee boxes with their tee shots. Victory must surely be ours.
Having shared stern words they both hit miraculous 2nd shots into the valley 60 yards short of and below the elevated green. James’ 3rd shot found the back edge of the green leaving a longish putt. Both Stuart and I got our approach shots to 15 feet giving two reasonable birdie chances.
James’ putt snaked across the green, propelled by nothing more than gravity and the combined will power of the Captains the ball found the bottom of the cup for another net birdie.
We missed our putts to keep the game alive. The better men on the day prevailed. Handshake on the 15th green 4 &3. We were soundly beaten!
Whilst playing the bye it gave us a great chance to chat with Danny and James and learn more about their time at La Cala Golf and the benefits of membership.
Interview with Danny Rees
How long have you been a member at La Cala Golf?
Just over 15 years. My wife and I looked at a couple of other courses with a view to joining. We came to visit La Cala Golf, we sat right here on the terrace drinking a coffee. The Club Captain stopped at our table to introduce himself and welcomed us to La Cala Golf Resort – at that point we knew we had found the place we wanted to be.
We play in most of the weekly and monthly competitions. It’s great fun. We are all members of the Spanish Federation. I find it a great blend of fun golf and good competition.
La Cala Golf is an extremely popular destination for visiting golfers from across the world. How do the visiting golfers impact the members?
Visitors are very welcome at La Cala Resort. They are very important for the resort as the revenue they generate has allowed La Cala to become the facility it now is. With 3 courses to choose from there is never an issue for members to get a tee time. Over the years we recognise many familiar faces as they come back again and again!
When were you the Club Captain?
I had the privilege of being Club Captain in 2012. It was a great experience to get involved with some organizing of member events etc.
What nationalities make up the membership?
Good question! First time property owners that buy properties on the golf course from the constructors, Taylor Wimpey are entitled to free golf. Not all of them play in the competitions. We have members quite literally from all over the world! The biggest numbers are from northern Europe, UK, Scandinavian countries, Germany, Ireland, France, and of course Spain.
Interview with James Reid
How long have you been a member at La Cala Golf?
I first played at La Cala Golf in the mid 1990s. I moved permanently to Spain in 2004. I became a member at La Cala in 2006. The biggest change for me was the opening of the Europa course. Over all the years that I have played at La Cala Golf they have always presented the course in great condition. They have been very consistent. Over the years the Greenkeepers have tidied some of the rough and made the course more friendly as a result.
When was your Captaincy here?
I was Captain in 2010, just before Danny. It was great fun!
How would you describe the different playing characteristics of the 3 courses?
Well, I think that the Asia course is probably my favorite and is the course where I consistently score the best. It’s a little shorter than the other two and that helps me. The America course is longer and a little less technical, the fairways are bigger. There are a couple of par 4s that I just cannot reach in two shots.
Europa is a great course. The river (Rio Ojen) comes in to play on 8 of the holes cutting across three fairways which adds an extra dimension of tension for me on some shots. The fairways and greens run very fast too.
You had a great day today James, you were unbeatable?
Thank you! I must admit I did play well today. My strategy is always to play to the lay up points. Basically hit it to where I can see it. That way I don’t take on any risky shots and give myself a lot of chances for par!