La Serena Golf lies in the municipality of Los Alcázares, on the shores of the Mar Menor. Mainly flat, the golf course´s main difficulties are the prevailing Levante wind and the many water hazards that come into play on 16 of the 18 holes.
Accuracy off the tee is a must for the player, who must thread his way to the green amongst clusters of bunkers, desert areas and water hazards.
Javier Garralón, the Head Golf Professional at La Serena Golf has given us his personal Hole by Hole Review of this technical golf course:
Hole 1 – The opening hole is a long, straight par 5 with water running all the way down the right hand side from the tee to the green, while on the left hand side it is the same with OB and several fairway bunkers. The tee shot should come up short of the second fairway bunker 225 m from the tee. From that point, a long iron or fairway wood is necessary in order to leave a short pitch to the green.
Hole 2 – A medium length par 4 dog-leg hole with water down the right hand side all the way to the green. It is a classic “heroic hole” where player must decide on the tee how much of the lake he wants to cut in order to leave himself a comfortable second shot to the green. If playing downwind, a good, high, brave drive may leave as little as a short wedge to the green for a definite birdie chance.
Hole 3 – This medium length par 3 calls for an all-carry shot with a mid iron or hybrid to a huge green protected by a couple of bunkers. Anything fractionally short is likely to find the bank short of the green and roll back into the water.
Hole 4 – This hole presents the player with one of the tightest drives on the course. Wind direction will determine whether to go for a big high drive over the cluster of bunkers on the right or, if playing into a headwind, go for a shorter, more conservative shot threaded between the OB on the left and the bunkers on the right. The difference between the two options may be as much as hitting a short wedge or a mid iron to the large, mainly flat green.
Hole 5 – A rather long par 4 where again finding the fairway between the OB on the left and the lake on the right is a must. Often long shots that drift slightly to the right find the lake on the way to a definite bogey. A well placed three wood shot 200 metres from the tee is a sensible option which will leave the player with no more than a seven or eight iron to the large, undulating green.
Hole 6 – This short par 4 can be a recovery or a monster hole depending on wind direction. If playing downwind, a good, powerful drive may comfortably reach the proximities of the green. However, if the wind is against, the drive´s landing area becomes tiny and anything shorter than 190 metres is likely to find the water.
Hole 7 – The second par 5 in the front nine is an excellent chance to get a birdie for the longer hitter. A solid drive between the two fairway bunkers presents the player with the chance to go for the green in two with a hybrid or fairway wood. If the drive was not successful, there is still plenty of room to lay up and set up an easy approach with a wedge that may also result in a birdie.
Hole 8 – A very tough, long par 4 where again wind direction will be of paramount importance. On a calm, still day it is a drive and a seven or eight iron job. On the contrary, if playing into the wind, the player will be facing at least a big fairway wood second shot over water to reach the two tier green.
Hole 9 – The final hole to the front nine is a medium length par 3 with a huge lake that stretches from the tee all the way to the back of the green. It represents a good birdie chance if the pin is at the front, while it becomes frightening if the flag is at the back left.
Hole 10 – A long iron or hybrid off the tee is all that is needed to set up an easy approach shot to the green. There is a very narrow stretch of fairway down the right hand side of the fairway for those who want to try their luck with the driver. If this particular tiny, hard to hit area is reached successfully, it will represent a definite birdie chance.
Hole 11 – The longest hole on the course has one of the widest fairways too. It is possible to reach the green in two for the better players if playing downwind. On still days or into a light breeze, it is advisable to lay up with the second shot just short of the large waste bunker short of the green. From that spot, a straightforward wedge may be enough to set up a good birdie chance.
Hole 12 – Rated as the hardest on the course, this long, dog-leg par 4 presents the player with a very demanding tee shot. If the ball ends up in the bunker on the left it is all over. There is room to the right of this bunker, but this substantially increases the length of the hole. With an elevated green and a deep bunker protecting it, the second shot must be nothing less than a long, high, accurate, powerful missile.
Hole 13 – A decision hole where the player has three options. If the pin is at the front right of the green, a six or seven iron lay up and a wedge seems the best option. If, on the contrary, the pin is at the back left of the green, a long iron or hybrid down the left hand side of the fairway is the right option in order to leave an easy pitch shot. Finally, the third option, if the wind is behind, there is no reason why the player cannot reach out for the driver and go for the green in one.
Hole 14 – A very good short par 4 with a testing drive between water and bunkers. If the drive is negotiated successfully, an eight or nine iron shot is all that is left to the two tier green. The approach shot will be harder if the drive has finished on the right hand side of the fairway, as then the player will have to deal with a cluster of palm trees that will block the shot to the green.
Hole 15 – One of the hardest holes on the course, this long par 3 calls for a long iron or fairway wood off the tee. The green is of a generous size, but there is a very tricky pin position far right next to the edge of the lake which must be treated with the utmost respect.
Hole 16 – This short par 4 may play harder than its stroke index suggests. The landing area for the drive is pretty tight, so it is sensible to keep the driver in the bag and use a three wood for position. From the fairway, an eight or nine iron must be played carefully to avoid the huge bunker on the left and the lake that bites into the fairway just short of the green on the right hand side.
Hole 17 – The last par 3 usually plays into the wind, turning this medium length, all-carry over water short hole into a difficult one. The green is on three levels, so hitting it is not guarantee of making a par.
Hole 18 – The final hole is a testing one in every sense. The driving area between the OB and the fairway bunker is tight. Then there is water threatening all the way down the left for the second shot, and the undulating green is protected by a ravine and a couple of large bunkers. Only professionals and very long hitters may consider going for the green in two shots when the wind is behind.