Seven Nicklaus design courses were at the heart of seven large property developments with villas, townhouses, condos and elegant apartments, all creating an expat lifestyle for northern Europeans with the hub of each facility being an outstanding golf course.
The resorts created by the group in Murcia are: Mar Menor Golf Resort, La Torre Golf Resort, Las Terrazas de la Torre, Condado de Alhama, Hacienda Riquelme Golf Resort and El Valle Golf Resort. All was going well until the financial crash of 2007, and the subsequent economic tailwinds that derailed so much enthusiasm for properties of this type.
Nevertheless, the facilities have survived, and although the original company is no longer a functioning going concern, the facilities themselves are still open and thriving. PricewaterhouseCoopers is the administrator for the assets of Polaris World.
La Torre Golf Course is a fine layout and, despite the financial issues, it is in very good condition, well maintained and tactically laid out across the resort. The course threads its way through various different styles of property, and provides the perfect backdrop for those wishing to escape from poor winter weather that afflicts so much of northern Europe. As with all Nicklaus design courses, there are plenty of water features and a slightly overdeveloped lust for bunkers, which are enormous and plentiful. At La Torre Golf every detail matters – even the grass that surrounds the bunkers was specifically chosen to create an optimum wind effect for shots.
The teeing areas are all immaculately maintained and provide the opportunity for several different length courses to be enjoyed. There is a links type feel to La Torre and with the proliferation of sand and relatively flat topography, it is easy to imagine you are much closer to the coast that in fact you are.
The layout is a par 68, so the golf offering is not aimed at championship golf, but unashamedly at the resort market, targeting mid to high handicappers, perhaps some, like myself, who are over 60. It is still a very good test for all standards of golf, and despite the travails of the overall resort, the surfaces are in pristine order with large green complexes, providing a good challenge for all standards.
It also has excellent practice facilities with a wide and deep grass teeing area, along with several practice putting greens and short game areas, all cut to the same high standard as the course.
At first sight, there is an impressively large clubhouse, but on closer inspection it quickly becomes apparent that only a small section of the clubhouse is still used as a restaurant bar, which proves to be very popular, serving good value food and drink inside and out on a sunny patio. Disappointingly, the legal wrangles with the administrators have prevented the full clubhouse being operated, which is a great shame as the main clubhouse has an even better view of the 18th green across the lake, and provides a superb backdrop for apres golf. It is hoped that the financial differences can be overcome in future years.
Much of the clubhouse property is still owned by the administrators of Polaris World and they are charged with trying to get the best possible price for the facilities available. This has led to a ridiculous standoff, with the golf course reception now being operated from a wooden shack close to the first tee because the administrators won’t accept a reasonable rent for the purpose-built professional shop and golf reception building to be used.
Golf Features spoke to Andy, who has been a regular player there over the last five years: “Well, there are some parts that look a little worn and it’s been a bit frustrating with the battles with the management, but there are a good bunch of people here and we have a nice time and the community spirit is worth its weight in gold. We’ve bought one of the apartments and it was a bargain for what you get. Overall we are really pleased as it gives a good value golf in the sun and a nice place to escape the British winter.”
The golf fees are weighted substantially in favour of those people who own a property on site. Also, the management have fully understood the post Brexit restrictions on British tourists, in that they are only allowed to visit the European Union for 90 days in a period of 180 days, although there are obviously exceptions to this if people have special residency or dual citizenship, etc. So the golf course offers a flexible package for 3 months that is still excellent value, particularly if you own a property on site. La Torre Golf is part of the GNK Golf group, which includes the El Valle Golf and Hacienda Riquelme courses: there are also various deals within the group, including the Winter Golf Playcard, which offers big discounts on green fees when playing each of the courses.
At the very centre of the resort is the Town Centre on the shores of a large lake. On summer nights the bar and restaurant terraces come alive and a great atmosphere is enjoyed by all.
There is accommodation throughout the resort to suit all budgets, from two-bedroom apartments with excellent views of the golf course and community swimming pool, to two-storey townhouses with private gardens and option of swimming pool, and 2- or 3-bedroom villas on large plots for those who like plenty of space to relax in. The property market generally in this area of Spain is buoyant, with very affordable prices.
The golf resort is just 15 minutes from the coast close to San Javier, on the Costa Calida, where there are many attractions and beautiful stretches of sandy beaches and the calm waters of the Mar Menor. At the resort, there is a Hilton Doubletree hotel, spa, shops, and a selection of restaurants and bars. Not all of the restaurants and bars are open, nor is all of the paintwork and clubhouse conditioning up to the highest standard. However, with so much property already sold, the future of the complex is assured. It may not be quite what was envisioned in the first place, but there are a lot of happy golfers enjoying their time at La Torre, and with luck the future looks bright once more.
For more information: latorregolfresort.com