The fourth annual Ambassador trip was enjoyed at one of the best golf courses in Spain; Real Club de Golf El Prat. I was very happy to be part of a group of 5 players – mostly single figure handicappers – who explored the two main courses of Golf El Prat; Pink and Yellow.
Over the 3 days, there was an overwhelming amount of information. This makes it challenging to evaluate such a great course in just a few words. We received a warm welcome by Mr. Marcello Della Vecchia (manager), who later gave us the honor of accompanying us while playing. Not only were we perfectly informed, but also personally introduced to the course’s special challenges by the former Sardinian amateur golf master. We were able to play from white tees as well as from yellow.
Real Club de Golf El Prat
The clubs roots go as far back as 1912, though officially founded in 1954. It was later awarded the prestigious title “Royal” following the visit of King Alfonso XIII. Currently they are part of the IMG Prestige collection a network of courses with 200+ courses in over 30 countries.
Javier de Arana designed the course. For almost fifty years the club and the original course were located next to Barcelona’s main airport, hence the name El Prat. During this period the club has hosted numerous important events including the Spanish open – eight times (on the original course).
As the need for a bigger airport became ever more pressing, the club was forced to find a new location. The location between Terrassa and Sabadell was deemed ideal and Greg Norman’s design team was tasked with the daunting challenge to create a course worthy of its royal title.
They met the challenge by creating two 18-hole courses (Pink & Yellow) and a smaller 9-hole course (Valles). Combined, this results in 45 exquisite holes. Since its relocation, the club has hosted the Spanish open another two times (2011 and 2015), confirming the excellent job that was done in building the new courses. They make up the Pink, Yellow and Valles courses. At the end of the day though, all that really matters is that you enjoy all of them, no matter what order you play them in.
The Facilities at Real Club de Golf El Prat
The training areas are vast and offer everything you need to be prepared for your round. A number of chipping, pitching and putting greens are available as well as a huge driving range (pointing towards sun in the morning hours). There is also a 3 hole pitch and putt course just around the corner. At no point did we have to wait or feel cramped, even with a tournament coming up. The practice greens were extremely fast, which surprised me. However, this made more sense as we explored the courses’ greens later on.
The Pro shop offers everything you need for a single round or longer, including all kinds of clothing. The rental clubs were in great condition too. Every additional piece of equipment we received was fully functional, well maintained and in good condition. The buggies were equipped with fresh water, score cards and pencils. The only things missing were the cleaning devices as well as the bottle of sand and seed. There was no navigation system but the distance guide books were very helpful.
Hotel La Mola
The whole experience can be enhanced by staying at the Hotel La Mola, located just a few minutes’ walk from the course. The fantastic thing about this hotel is the overwhelming encouragement for socialising in the main lobby. You can make good use of the ‘gaming’ facilities, show off on the dance floor or just relax at the free bar. All of this in the spirit of team building and socialising, rather than spending your time in the room. It is a perfect place to have a business conference or informal company event. It is not part of the golf course but you can bring the buggies back and forth. There is a special path to drive through over creek, crossing a very old bridge and passing an old manor to get there. This way should be explored, as you can’t access it by car.
The Clubhouse at El Prat
The exceptional diligence and effort that was invested in the construction of the new location, does not end with the golf courses however. It continues to the new clubhouse. The award winning architect Carlos Ferrater designed the new clubhouse. A well-balanced structure, furnished with large locker room facilities, a well-stocked Pro shop, coffee shop and an excellent restaurant. The spacious terrace overlooks the first tee and practice facilities which offer more than enough space and versatility for a serious practice session.
Pink (Rosa) Course
The area of the complex is far more than 200 hectares and as far as I understood, there are three courses in it. The Pink Course is the premium course of El Prat. Playing from yellow and white (hcp. 9), it was a great challenge to get on the greens in regulation. However, the changing lengths (e.g. par 5 – 524m, but also “only” 488m and par 3 from 131 to 201m) allow for a successful game even for players of all levels. There are some steep uphill fairways (10 & 12). Hole 10 is an especially tricky one and if you have the chance to tee-off on the original yellow or white, do so! I was lucky to get on the greens quite often with stroke 2 or 3 and these chances motivated me again and again.
The greens however, were too hard for me: very fast, hard to read! The holes’ edges perfectly cut and trimmed so any mistake would cost an extra stroke. The course is really diversified, interesting, and sophisticated. Many fairway bunkers narrow the fairways and the greens are exposed and elevated. The greens at 10, 12 and 13 are better protected by bunkers than Normandy in 1944. Both, 9 and 18 finish close to the clubhouse. The Pink Course offers viewpoints down to the Mediterranean sea but mostly running through the pine trees and bushes.
Yellow (Amarillo) Course
I preferred the IN on the Yellow much more than the first 9 holes. However, at the very end I was generally happy with a good result, which motivated me to play it again. The greens are of top speed here as well (stimpmeter 10,5 minimum). They might not look like it, but they are perfectly maintained.
The bunkers’ sand was light and fine-grained, very pleasant to stand in and play out of it (if necessary). All Par 5’s have little doglegs and you have to think about your ball turn and know where to place your ball for the next shot. It is advisable to have an experienced player next to you and it’s important to read the distance book properly before teeing off. The yellow course is more sheltered by the surrounding pine trees and bushes. The fairway edges are curved inwards and allow for much more lucky bounces. Yellow is known as the easier course but I have enjoyed it in the same way. I am not very experienced in using buggies and the Yellow Course should definitely be explored on foot.
Pink is uphill and a bit longer so a buggy is a good choice there. The paths for both courses are easy to follow and you can stay close enough to fairways and greens without disturbing other golfers.
The Yellow course is going through a remodeling process at the moment that aims to improve its playability by the end of 2020. These renovations should offer a very challenging course as well as a more relaxed playing experience.
A little disadvantage is that the courses are signposted in a confusing way, using both old and new information. However, these will be fully renamed this year. Cross check the ‘birdy guides’ but you shouldn’t get lost. Overall, El Prat is really worth playing and you get a lot of quality golfing for your money.
La Mola is a mountain with a height of 942 meters in the Catalan municipality of Gallifa. At the top of the mountain is the Romanesque church of Sant Sadurní de Gallifa. There is a superstitious rule on both courses that states; if you putt in the direction of the church, the pace of the ball will slow down early. Believe in this rule!
What to do besides golf in Barcelona?
Golf is important, but it is certainly not the only thing. There are plenty of places and things to do around El Prat. Barcelona for instance, one of the main tourist attractions in Europe, is just 30 minutes away!
Antoni Gaudi’s architecture is unique in the world and Sagrada Familia, Parc Güell, Casa Milà (La Pedrera) and Casa Batlló are really worth the visit. Those last two are located in Passeig de Gràcia, the main commercial avenue in the city with all the best brands, if you fancy some shopping.
At the end of the avenue you’ll find Plaça Catalunya, which is considered the city center. From there you can walk down Las Ramblas, the most famous avenue in Barcelona and probably in all of Catalunya. The remarkable Colon monument sits at the end of the street.
You can also find the Gothic quarter in this area. The former medieval town of Barcelona, with an array of old buildings, churches and The Cathedral of course. It’s a great place to find nice restaurants and bars to enjoy after a long day of golf.
You can then continue to El Born. This used to be a neighborhood of fishermen, however it has since become a social hub, with lots of restaurants and pubs to have a drink. You can also find the Picasso Museum sited at Carrer Montcada.
Parc de la Ciutadella, the city’s only large public park is quite close to here as well (it also houses the zoo). Also not so far from there you’ll find Port Vell, where Aquarium Barcelona (worth the visit) is located along with the Maremagnum – a mall by the sea.
If you are a sport fan, you can’t miss the Barça (FC Barcelona) museum at their stadium – Camp Nou. Outside Barcelona, you will find the symbolic Montserrat. On the mountain there is a famous abbey. It is known to be the centre of the pilgrimage to pray to La Moreneta, patroness of Catalonia (XII century statue).
If your travelling with kids, Port Aventura can be your place. A theme park with huge variety of attractions to spend the whole day.
El Prat ticks all the boxes
If you want to go on a golf trip golfers usually look for a number of things; 1. Great golf courses – Real Club de Golf El Prat has 45 holes in excellent condition.
2. Hotel close by – La Mola is a short buggy ride from the course.
3. A nice city nearby – doesn’t get much better than Barcelona. Just a cab ride away
4. Close to a big international airport – El Prat is only a 40 minute drive.
5. Excellent training facilities – as described in the blog plenty of that as well.
6. Maybe the most important one, great golf weather – almost all year round!
So El Prat in our opinion ticks all the boxes for a great golf trip. Go there, experience it for yourself and let us know what you think in your reviews.
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