Hacienda Riquelme is the third 18 Hole Golf Resort to be opened by Polaris World, designed by Jack Nicklaus (Nicklaus Design). The new resort which opened to the general public on the 16th June, had been expected to offer a different kind of challenge, by comparison to the other Nicklaus Golf Courses. Club Murcia played the course with a local professional a few days before the course opened to see how the course is developing. Weather Conditions: Warm, light cloud. Course Conditions: Fairways in good condition, Greens good and cut long.
Hole 1: Par 4. Plays 367m (402 yards) off the Yellow Tees and requires a solid drive between a series of bunkers on both sides of the fairway. With an increase in elevation off the Tee, players must also be aware of the Out-Of-Bounds down both sides. Players finding the fairway are left with a difficult approach to an elevated Green. Players should take a least one extra club to avoid a series of imposing Bunkers and to avoid finding a hollow short of the Green. Anything long will find a further Bunker behind the Green.
Note: A feature of Hacienda Riquelme are the unique looking Bunkers. Unlike other golf Courses in Murcia, the Bunkers are jagged in appearance and the Bunkers adjacent to the Green are often steep faced. The first and second cut of rough are quite forgiving and there are many Grassy Areas beyond the rough with deep natural grass, similiar in some ways to Links Golf.
The Green on the opening hole is not very large but the borrows are quite substantial. At the time of playing the course, the Greens had been cut long and were running slow. Once up to speed the Greens will present an even greater challenge. An imposing opening hole.
Hole 2: Par 5. Plays 487m (532 yards) off the Yellow Tees. For most players, this straight Par 5 should be approached in regulation. Longer hitters may be tempted to reach the Green in two but a long drive is required to a narrow fairway and the approach from distance is also narrowed by a series of Bunkers which cut into the fairway from both sides. Players opting to play for position off the Tee and again playing for position for the approach, should be rewarded for taking the Bunkers out of play, leaving a short iron approach to the Green. Again the Green is protected by some difficult Bunkers but these should only come into play when approaching the Green from distance. Pin position is key to securing a Birdie opportunity. A surprisingly difficult Par 5.
Hole 3: Par 4. Plays 336m (368 yards) off the Yellow Tees to an elevated Green. The handicap for this hole is 12, suggesting that it is one of the easiest on the Golf Course. The landing area is quite wide off the Tee but a good drive is required to find the highest part of the fairway. Anything too short off the Tee will leave players with a difficult uphill lie and an uphill approach to a small Green surrounded by three imposing Bunkers and deep rough. Club selection is key to finding the Green. Regardless of the Pin position, most players will be pleased to walk off with a par.
Hole 4: Par 5. Plays 437m (478 yards) off the Yellow Tees. This dog leg left par 5 requires a tricky decision off the Tee. From an elevated Tee position, players look down onto the fairway and a large fairway Bunker. There is a little room to the left of this Bunker as water runs down the left hand side of the fairway all the way to the Green. However, there is some room to the right of the Bunker. Confident players will opt to drive over the Bunker to find the middle of the fairway where there is a generous amount of space. From the fairway, players are faced with a lay up to a narrowing fairway, with water on the left and a series of Bunkers on the right. Two exceptional shots will be required to find this Green in two with the wind a key factor. A good lay up should leave players with a comfortable short iron approach taking the water and the Green side Bunkers out of play. The Green is tiered and the Pin position will be key to finding a birdie or securing a par. A nice looking par 5.
Hole 5: Par 3. Plays 159m (174 yards) off the Yellow Tees. This is the first of the par 3's and quite intimidating off the Tee. Players have to carry all the way to the Green to avoid trouble. There is water on the left hand side which cuts in slightly 30m in front of the Green and there are a series of daunting Bunkers. These flank both sides of the Green and a third at the rear. There is also deep rough on the right hand side. Players missing the Green (avoiding the water) will be fortunate to escape with a par. The only notable run off area is back right behind the right hand bunker. On the day a prevailing head wind made club selection quite difficult.
Hole 6: Par 4. Plays 361m (395 yards) off the Yellow Tees. Players require a modest drive to a wide fairway to leave a short iron approach to fairly generous Green. A wayward drive can find Out-Of-Bounds to the left and deep rough to the right but most players should be confident of finding the fairway and reaching the Green in regulation. Longer hitters may be tempted to drive past the fairway Bunkers which cut in from the left hand side but in addition to bringing these Bunkers into play, there is water down the right hand side which could also come into play. The Green only has one protective Bunker but the Green has some interesting borrows and players should check the Pin position to secure a par.
Hole 7: Par 3. Plays 157m (172 yards) off the Yellow Tees. On the day, the Tee position was moved forward and even into a slight head wind, a 9 Iron was sufficient to reach the Green. From the correct Tee position this hole will be a more difficult not least as the line into the Green would be further from the right. Players have to carry water to find the Green which is one of the most generous on the course. There is a run off area to the rear which is also banked and this will catch anything too aggressive. Players just missing the Green will feel confident in making an up and down. It's worth mentioning that there is a bail out area to the left of the water which some players may consider in order to take the water out of play when the Tee is at the maximum length. However, there are some Bunkers which will collect anything over hit.
Hole 8: Par 4. Plays 310m (339 yards) off the Yellow Tees. The scorecard indicates that the 8th is Handicap 18 and therefore the easiest hole on the Golf Course. Players should be confident of finding a Par if they opt for a conservative Tee shot. The Fairway is flanked by deep rough on both sides and the fairway is also narrowed by two fairway Bunkers which cut in from both sides. Players who opt to take the fairway Bunkers out of play should leave a relatively straightforward approach with a short to mid iron. The Green is largely unprotected but players should pay attention to the Pin position to avoid some subtle run offs.
Hole 9: Par 4. Plays 341m (373 yards) off the Yellow Tees. This dog leg right par 4 is one of the best holes at Hacienda Riquelme. The Tee Shot demands accuracy and players must trust their yardage to give themselves a chance of making the Green in regulation. There is water running the entire length of the hole down the right hand side, from Tee to Green and the ideal landing area on the fairway is narrowed not only with the fairway running left to right across the players line of sight but also due to the deep rough on the left followed by a small group of Olive Tress which also cut into the fairway. Players trying to be too aggressive will also have to be wary of a series of Bunkers running from left to right. Players finding the fairway will be left with a challenging approach requiring an accurate shot to avoid the water and to clear the Bunkers which protect the front of the Green. Again, players who are too aggressive could find trouble with a series of Bunkers running across the back of the Green. There is a bail out area to the left of the Green but players avoiding any of the hazards, could give themselves a chance of saving par. A challenging and interesting layout and a good hole to finish the front 9.
Hole 10: Par 4. Plays 297m (325 yards) off the Yellow Tees. From the Tee players have to pay attention to water down the right hand side of the fairway and Out-Of-Bounds down the left hand side. Players should play for position off the Tee to leave their preferred distance to the Green. The Green is largely unprotected so players should feel confident in securing a Par or better. A nice gentle start to the back Nine. Big hitters may fancy trying to clear the Bunkers down the left hand side but whether players are aggressive or conservative, most players will hope for a realistic Birdie Putt. There are a few interesting borrows but most of the potential Pin positions look generous on this hole.
Hole 11: Par 5. Plays 458m (501 yards) off the Yellow Tees.This slight Dog Leg left is a tricky Par 5. The ideal landing area is over the fairway Bunkers down the left hand side as this aggressive line will leave players with a shorter approach to a tricky Green and the possibility of reaching in two, albeit over water! Players finding the left hand fairway Bunker or the deep Grass further left could struggle to even make Bogey. Most players will opt to drive down the right hand side of the fairway to a landing area in front of a second series of Bunkers. From this position, players have a better line into the Green but they still have to clear a small brook which runs left to right across the fairway, avoid water down the left hand side (which runs up passed the Green) and a series of Green Bunkers. As daunting as this shot appears, players should trust their yardage and try and carry their approach on to the Green. An accurate second finding the Green should be rewarded with a least a Birdie. Players can take out most of the danger by opting to lay up to a secondary fairway. A well thought out lay-up should leave players with a simple approach and good opportunity to either find a Birdie or make Par. Played well, this is a rewarding hole but players struggling to find a good position off the Tee, could be heavily punished. A very good Par 5.
Hole 12: Par 4. Plays 331m (362 yards) off the Yellow Tees. There are a series of Bunkers one after the other down the left hand side of the fairway and deep Grass which cuts in from the right. An aggressive drive over the middle of the Bunkers, finding the fairway, will leave a very simple approach to an largely unprotected Green. As the yardage suggests, players can also play short and take most of the hazards out of play. A conservative Tee Shot should leave no more than 100m or 110 yards to the Green. The only danger, are the Bunkers to the rear of the Green and an approach which is slightly elevated with a shallow hollow in front of the Green. Players failing to find the Green in two, should still feel confident in making par.
Hole 13: Par 4. Plays 338m (370 yards) off the Yellow Tees. A solid drive finding the centre of the fairway should yield a par on this hole. There is a Bunker down the left side of the fairway and a series of Bunkers down the right hand side. However, the fairway is more generous than it may look from the Tee so players should feel confident in finding a good position to attack the Green in regulation. The main consideration is to avoid going for too much distance off the Tee. Anything straying too far left from the fairway will find deep Grass or even Out-Of-Bounds. Likewise, anything too far right will find deep Grass and cluster of Olive Trees. Pin position is crucial on this Green as it will heavily determine the approach. A pin position to the centre or left of the Green will allow the player to be aggressive, as there is a run off area to the left of the Green and no protection to the front. The ideal line for this pin position is from the left hand side of the fairway. A pin located to the right of the Green will bring into play a series of tricky Green side Bunkers to the front/right hand side. Finally, the Green has a number of borrows which could potentially punish players. A nice par 4 despite first impressions.
Hole 14: Par 5. Plays 433m (474 yards) off the Yellow Tees and at Handicap 1, officially the most difficult hole on the Golf Course. Standing on the Tee, players are drawn to a narrow target area threaded between two sets of fairway Bunkers. The ideal landing area is slightly elevated which lengthens the hole for most players. Longer players who manage to rip a drive straight down the middle, will have the chance to go for the Green, albeit with little margin for error. (On the day, our Pro found the Green in two with a superb drive and brilliant second) For the majority of players, a well thought lay up is required to leave an favorable approach in regulation. The lay up is no "gimme", players have to negotiate several Bunkers to leave their ideal yardage. A decent lay up should leave players with a straight forward approach on to a medium sized Green. There are a few subtle borrows but players should feel confident of at least securing two putts. Handicap 1 is probably a true reflection of this hole and anyone making a eagle will certainly have earned the bragging rights in the Bar.
Hole 15: Par 3. Plays 171m (187 yards) off the Yellow Tees. The pin position will change the completion of this hole. A flag located to the left of the Green will allow players to be slightly more aggressive. The left hand side has a run off area however anything too long could find a tricky Bunker . For a pin position to the right or towards the back of the Green, players will have to think twice about taking on the flag as there are some intimidating Bunkers to the front and right of the Green. Yardage is key and the prevailing wind on the day made the choice of Club difficult.
Hole 16: Par 4. Plays 323m (353 yards) off the Yellow Tees. This par 4 has a very generous fairway and players should feel more than confident of finding a good position off the Tee. There is water on this hole and anything pushed too far right will cross a lateral water hazard running parallel with the fairway. The ideal line is down the left centre of the fairway, leaving a more direct line to approach the Green. Players straying down the right hand side of the fairway will have to approach the Green over water. Longer hitters could bring this water into play as the fairway starts to slope down towards the water hazard. Players finding a good position with 100m or less to the Green, should feel confident of at least a par. The Green is wide and deeper than it looks from the fairway and the run off area behind the Green is banked in favour of stopping a ball running into the rough. A nice looking par 4.
Hole 17: Par 3. Plays 179m (196 yards) off the Yellow Tees and toughest par 3 on the golf course. The key to this hole is the club selection as players have to carry the ball onto the Green to avoid the possibility of finding a series of four Bunkers in front of the Green. Despite the Green looking small from the Tee, the Green is quite generous with more space behind the Bunkers than it appears. There are some tricky borrows on this Green and when the Greens get up to speed, players could find themselves running off the putting surface, particularly towards the left hand side of the Green. Players missing the Green but avoiding the Bunkers, can still make par with a decent up and down.
Hole 18: Par 4. Plays 369m (404 yards) off the Yellow Tees and is an interesting and challenging closing hole. This Dog Leg left, has water running down the left hand side of the fairway and it is particularly difficult off the back Tees. Players must avoid the lateral water hazard on the left and the fairway Bunker on the right to land on a narrow target area. Players too concerned about missing the fairway to the left could over compensate and go beyond the rough into the deep Grass down the right hand side. Players finding the fairway are left with arguably the most difficult shot on the course. The line into the Green is tight and players are conscious of the water on the left, there are also a series of fairway Bunkers and Green side Bunkers to avoid. With little margin for error players have to take on the Green or try to pick a spot to lay up. In interesting decision which could prove decisive on match days. The Green is quite generous and there is some room towards the back of the Green should players which take an extra club.
In summary: The Golf course clearly offers a different challenge compared to the other Polaris World Resorts and importantly, it also compliments the existing courses within the Murcia region. At 5,854m off the Yellow Tees, the course is not long but the use of the terrain and the combination of Water hazards, Links Style Grassy Areas and steep Bunkers makes the course appeal to Golfers looking for a stern test of Golf. The Course is new and it does require some finishing touches but as the speed of the Greens increase, this will add to the challenge of the course and will no doubt be a popular Tournament venue. The old Hacienda once complete will also add to the drama of the finishing hole as a unique and impressive Clubhouse.