During the first week in May, exactly when the UK weather was finally picking up after the longest winter in golfing history – MG editor Phil took his old pal Bill on a 54-hole trip to the western edge of the Costa Blanca in Spain, close to the Murcian border. It was our first foreign trip together since we drove to LaManga in 2010. But that’s an old story, here’s how we got on this time.

Tuesday April 30th – Vistabella Golf

The vista part is aptly named. Our first game gave us the best panoramic views of the week with a distant mountainous backdrop on a couple of sides. Vistabella is a purpose built resort course as many out here are. Sat in a slightly elevated position, it’s great to look at and exciting to play especially with a breezy feel to it when we played. Our modest standard shouldn’t really demand any further challenges like that but we relished it anyway.

We were joined by Dutchman Gert, a solo golfing traveller who must have thought he’d drawn the short straw when he arrived. Gert, an Ajax fan, and probably early 30s had only been playing golf for the past year but had easily reached our standard already so it was a match made in heaven. The laughs we all enjoyed together made it all tremendous fun, Gert learned not to take the game too seriously, he had no choice!

Vistabella has a deserty sort of feel, open aspects from more or less every tee, width though is compromised all the way around by a very large number of bunkers, never overly penal ones but score interrupters all the same. Plenty of waste areas too which once again aren’t too tricky to escape from, but you’d rather be on the grass.

The greens are large and fairly sloping but very consistent running throughout. Plus there’s a bit of water around too, the lakeland complex that flows around the back nine provides the drama to what we decided was the signature hole. The downhill par five 10th tops 500 yards and it’s a little mouth-watering from the tee. But it’s genuinely a three shotter which you’ll realise by the time the green comes into sight, surrounded by the water on three sides. A nervy gap or sand wedge might well await you for your third, anything more is a little more worrying. A great golf hole.

Following on from that it’s a terrific back nine undulating one way and then the other. Always be watchful of the fairway traps but you get to open your shoulders a little and the par four 17th where we took the photo here is a joy. What a great start to the week.

Vistabella are upgrading their 19th hole facilities at the present time with a new clubhouse on the way, what they have right now still made for a very pleasant pint and burger following our round. Gert was on the clock by then, Mrs Gert had been texting furiously so he only had time for a drink!

Thursday May 2nd – Las Ramblas Golf

Talk about a complete contrast, Las Ramblas we’d had a look at earlier in the week when (unusually for us) having a little practice with the hire clubs on the range. Very sensible, but they ultimately did little to help us on this twisting, wooded marvel of a course.

Back to just the two of us for this round, the starter had looked us up and down beforehand and deduced quickly that we were best advised playing from the blue tees, in between yellow and red. Although that irked us a touch, we followed his words, he wasn’t wrong – he was a long way from being wrong!

Las Ramblas is quite unique in the area, offering a challenge like no other through a succession of holes, the majority on the front nine that can easily bamboozle an unaware golfer. It’s truly a course you need to get to know and play a few times to reach for the right club and plot the safest fairway areas to give you the best routes into these well-defended greens. Certainly no easy ride for blue tee golfers, or even those off the yellows either, and faster running fairways than we’re used to in the Midlands can occasionally lead to unfortunate results.

But it’s not to be resented it really isn’t, it’s a quite inspiring environment, a rugged landscape with a nice backdrop on the far side of the course and the permanently lovely aroma of the pine needles.

Things also relent a little on the back nine – here’s it’s a little more open and all in front of you. The undulating nature remains at it was but generally speaking it’s significantly more scorable, it even afforded Bill and I a birdie each on the par three 12th and 14th holes. It was far too late to salvage any real honour, but both were celebrated wildly! (Bill’s is on the video below)

The signature hole? There are a few contender early doors, but it has to be the fourth. As quirky a par four as you can get, on three platforms, the lower of which you might need to place a second on to enable a pitch to the now raised green. Longer hitters might cut out platform two altogether, but that’s not advised for golfers like us. A hole with many options, the like of which I’ve rarely played before (two balls lost!)

Las Ramblas lived up to it’s pre-round reputation, a stunner and we must play again, now that we understand it! They have a nice big modernised clubhouse too with an excellent menu of choice and great views from the upstairs balcony.

Friday May 3rd – Lo Romero Golf

For the final round we were accompanied by an even longer time golfing friend Mike who came along to do the photography and videos.

After the beating we took at Las Ramblas, we could have been forgiven for requesting something more suited to our limited talents for the final game. We found just that during Lo Romero’s opening stretch of nine holes, which offer width and freedom from the tee as long as you keep it away from the left-hand side where OOB lurks frequently. There’s also lots of water complexes too, some which knit nicely together through a sequence of winding streams. But all in all you can open your shoulders a little and fire with confidence towards the large-sized and contoured putting surfaces. The comparatively easy time to our earlier games is just edged back slightly here by the fact that all of the par threes demand long irons or hybrids from the tee, no tiddlers here.

You can also catch some sea views from the more raised tees on a back nine which also offers a few teasing holes, a little unlike what’s gone before. The quite lovely wooded surrounds and pine clusters encroach a little, narrowing the par four 11th which needs some thought. Then the 13th raises the examination to a higher level, your view of the raised green blocked by the pines and also the natural rocky environment that surrounds it, it’s up and over, or you’re facing something of a lottery of an up and down attempt through the scrubland.

Phil illustrates the issue perfectly in the video below!

Yet Lo Romero’s signature hole is always there, you see it when you arrive – it’s in your thoughts all the way round, it also has a deliciously raised tee when you get there for one final sea view as a backdrop. The comparison in the Midlands, the 18th at Northampton’s Collingtree Park, that one is a par five, here it’s a four, but both have an island green to find. Here, the downhill beginning can get you the yardage you need to have a go in two, laying up and playing it to your handicap though would be understandable. With nothing to lose on our 54th hole of the week you can guess what we did, you can also easily have predicted the outcome – i.e we didn’t get to test out the final putting surface!

A really nice outdoor patio area here too with a Spanish flavoured bar snack menu that we enjoyed greatly.

A fitting end to a really enjoyable course and a week of quite sensational golfing, I refer to the standard of the clubs and courses rather than our efforts! But who cares about that, the fun factor was the important part and we had plenty of that. I hope we’ve managed to convey that in this feature, it’s not about scorecards and handicap care out here – it’s about laughs with your pals and making memories for life.

A big thanks to all three clubs for their kind hospitality, we couldn’t recommend them any higher and we can’t wait to return some day.

A special thanks as well to Andrew Nicholson from Murcia Golf Club Hire who dropped off our TaylorMade M4’s at our apartment on Monday and picked them up again from us at Lo Romero on the Friday. What a great money saving service they provide for golfers like us who aren’t overly fussed in taking our own clubs on an aeroplane.