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  • Writer's pictureGolf on Costa del Sol

La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review

Updated: Feb 29

The second of the three courses, La Cala Golf America formerly known as The North Course, is my favorite of the 3 courses at La Cala Golf and amongst the most popular of all of the golf courses on the Costa del Sol.


Another wonderful Cabell Robinson design that is very different in character and feel to the Asia course. I found it to be longer, wider and at the same time more technically challenging to play.


As with all of the courses at La Cala Golf Resort America course is impeccably presented. The owners Farmers Business Development PLC. have given their management team all the resources they need to make The America Course and the La Cala Golf Resort one of the very best customer experiences you will find amongst the Costa del Sol’s golf courses.


Its five Par 5 holes give players of all abilities the opportunity to make a few pars and birdies, the small contoured greens will keep you on your toes and demand that you give each shot your full attention.


Overall I found my day at La Cala Golf America to be extremely satisfying, topped off with a cold beer in the clubhouse I left La Cala feeling great and planning my next visit. You will too!


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review

Location



Located in the Mijas Golf Valley, La Cala Golf is a terrific Resort facility nestled in the hilltops just inland from the beautiful village of La Cala de Mijas.

  1. Malaga airport – 25 minutes

  2. Fuengirola – 15 minutes

  3. La Cala de Mijas – 10 minutes

  4. Las Lagunas / Mijas Golf – 15 minutes

  5. Marbella – 25 minutes

  6. Estepona – 40 minutes


Facilities

  1. 3 x 18 Hole Golf Courses

  2. 1 x 6 Hole short game academy

  3. Driving range

  4. Trackman / Flightscope

  5. Putting green

  6. Pro shop

  7. Hotel

  8. Spa


Clubhouse

  1. Changing rooms

  2. Showers

  3. Lockers

  4. Bar

  5. Terrace Bar

  6. Snack menu

  7. Restaurant

  8. A la Carte Menu


Cost


In a similar price bracket to Mijas Golf and Santana Golf, the La Cala Golf Resort is another venue amongst the golf courses on the Costa del Sol that offers members and visitors alike outstanding value. Priced in the mid to high-mid range this is truly exceptional.



La Cala Golf America Course – White tees 6009m, Yellow Tees 5600m, Blue Tees 4994m, Red Tees 4619m


The first nine holes


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 1. Stroke Index 10. Par 5. White 440m. Yellow 438m. Blue 401m. Red 377m.


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol golf courses Andalusia Spain

The Pro Shop team are very welcoming and highly efficient. Within minutes of arriving in the car park we were securing our bags to the buggies and heading towards the first tee. It’s quite a drive to the first. The committed amongst us might like to walk the course, I on the other hand recommend a buggy!


Standing on the first tee I felt somewhat bewildered. The tee is set above and significantly to the right of the fairway meaning your view from the tee is down into a valley of impenetrable foliage!


This dog leg to the right requires you to aim 35 degrees to the left to get a bead on the fairway.


The further right you can hit the drive the shorter your second shot into the green will be, but like all Cabell Robinson designs you will need to mitigate the Risk vs Reward equation!


I took the safest line, aimed well left and bashed it through the tree line on the left of the fairway into the welcoming 2nd fairway leaving myself 190m to the green. JW hit a laser just past the right hand fairway bunkers. From the tee it looked perfect, however he was blocked by the overhanging trees and could only punch a lay up forward toward the green.


To carry the bunkers on the right of the fairway needs a flight of 220m. For most of us the optimum line is to be just short of the fairway bunkers leaving a 130m lay up into the widest part of the fairway for your third.


As you get closer to the green it all becomes very narrow! A bunker centrally located in the fairway 70m short of the green will frustrate players a little careless with their lay up shots.


A bank running down from the left edge of the small green towards the red staked rough along with the line of trees on the right and the moon scape terrain will make the big hitters think twice before attacking the pin in two shots.

Despite all of the traps set by Cabell Robinson, this is a good opening hole and will yield a lot of feel good pars.


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 2. Stroke Index 14. Par 4. White 325m. Yellow 308m. Blue 259m. Red 261m.


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol golf courses Andalusia Spain

An almost straight par 4 running alongside the first in the opposite direction continues your gentle introduction to La Cala Golf America.


The green is visible looking up the right half of the fairway. You have the first fairway on your left and the 3rd on your right each separated by a line of trees.

Bunkers sit on the left edge of the fairway 230m from the tee, other than that there is nothing to worry about with your tee shot. Aim at the green and blast it!

Now that the easy shot is out of the way it becomes more difficult. At this point so early in the round you get a glimpse of what La Cala Golf America is all about.


This is a small narrow green, no more than 8 paces deep from front to back and 20 paces right to left canted at an oblique angle to the fairway making even the shortest 2nd shot much more difficult to execute successfully.


A large bunker guards the front right of the green and proves to be a magnet for me. The playing surface in the bunker is excellent, a gold powder like sand provides a “fluffy” surface strata with compacted sand below.


The greens run very true. Subjectively they feel like they are running at an 8 on the stimpmeter. The texture of the greens are “bristly”. Whilst they provide good stopping power for incoming shots they feel hard as you push your pitch repairer in. The result of this is zero blemishes on any of the greens. We did not see a pitchmark or the tell tale brown dots on any of the greens.They look fabulous!


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 3. Stroke Index 16. Par 4. White 298m. Yellow 275m. Blue 259m. Red 243m.

Looking from the back tee up the fairway towards the green this hole looks a lot longer than the 298m indicated on the tee box.


Damien Murphy, our guide for today tells me that “If the pin is on the front of the green you need a short drive, if it is on the back you can afford to be closer to the green.”


Getting too close to the green with a forward pin will leave you a fantastically difficult short wedge into a tiny target. You will almost certainly finish behind and above the cup leaving an extraordinarily difficult series of putts!


The left of the fairway is steeply banked and runs from the out of bounds at the top of the hill back towards the fairway. The best line to take from the tee is the left side of the fairway so that your ball runs back into the center whichever wood leaves you with your most lofted and “spinniest” wedge for your second.


The green is small! Today the pin is 2 paces on from the front edge. Shaped like a cashew nut the right flank of the green is protected by undulating terrain and a series of 4 bunkers. Missing the green on the right is a certain dropped shot.


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 4. Stroke Index 6. Par 3. White 180m. Yellow 153m. Blue 128m. Red 110m.


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol golf courses Andalusia Spain

After a gentle first and second hole, the third hole starts to prepare you for this! A long par 3 with banked rough on the left which will kick your ball back towards the narrow green. The slope continues to run away to the right of the plateau green descending into a series of grass hollows and two big bunkers. A beautiful Oak tree laden with acorns adorns the front left of the green reducing the target even further. I hit a 4 iron which took off 20m left of the green, a few seconds later my ball was seen scampering across the green before falling off the right side down into the bunkers. JW hit his ball close.


The green is not worryingly quick, but is complex. The combination of slope, contour and grain mean that a moment of inattention can see your first putt finish a long way from the hole.


All of these factors combine to make this par 3 extremely tough.


I paused for a moment to allow the red mist to clear and was entranced to the sheer beauty of the views provided from this elevated location.


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 5. Stroke Index 12. Par 4. Par 4. White 324m. Yellow 278m. Blue 230m. Red 200m.


Having made a total mess of the previous hole my optimism was further depleted by the view from the tee on this amazing par 4!


A crescent shaped hole rising uphill and curving from the left to the right to a green which appears to float above the fairway you are faced with a very challenging tee shot.


All along the right edge of the fairway red stakes mark the boundary. Beyond the line of stakes the terrain drops down a beautiful mountain side into a lush valley which might never have been sullied by a human footprint!


Along the left of the fairway a series of attractive apartments mark out of bounds. The fairway is wide. You need to decide how much of the valley you can cross with your drive in order to reduce the length of your second shot.


The fairway runs steeply uphill making the hole play 20m longer than the number suggests. I chose a line just beyond two bunkers located on the far left of the fairway and found the safety of the generous fairway.


Only the top of the flag is visible from the fairway such is the incline. The small green runs downhill from the back to the front with a myriad of nuances in between. No bunkers defend this green, not needed. This hole is tough enough!


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 6. Stroke Index 2. Par 5. White 469m. Yellow 437m. Blue 398m. Red 368m.


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol golf courses Andalusia Spain

La Cala Golf America is a visually incredible place. The panorama from this 6th tee is another that feeds the soul!


The fairway skirts the same valley as the previous hole making the tee shot nerve wracking. Death and disaster confront you on the right of the fairway as it plummets into the valley.


A pair of bunkers sit on either side of the fairway 200m from the tee. The safe line is to aim at the right hand bunker, the tiger line is to carry the bunker on the left. Damien says that it is reachable in 2 strokes with a brave pill and a tail wind. Of course it is Damien.


The tee is sited slightly above the fairway and fairway bunkers. If you can carry the left bunker your drive will bounce down the hill vastly reducing the length of the second shot. The cart path crosses the fairway at 160m from the green which marks both the widest part of the fairway and the point where the fairway ascends steeply to the elevated green. Three bunkers on the right are the point which you must pass with your second shot to have the easiest angle into the flag.


My tee shot found the centre of the fairway between the two bunkers. I aimed my second shot at railings level with and to the right of the green. My perfect 2 iron pitched about 30m short of the green and rolled backwards another 30m meters from where I had a straightforward wedge shot into the green.


Another small narrow and shallow green awaits.


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 7. Stroke Index 4. Par 4. White 417m Yellow 396m Blue 329m. Red 325m.


This is a spectacular looking driving hole, down hill into a saddle shaped fairway with a hillside on the right. A bunker sits on the right edge of the fairway and beckons you to aim at it.


The hole runs above and alongside the previous hole running in the opposite direction. If you miss the 7th fairway on the left you might find safety on the 6th. Unlikely as it all runs towards the edge of the mountain. The line to take is right of the bunker at the hillside using the topology to run your ball back in to play. That bunker is 210m from the tee. Beware!


The fairway is a moonscape of gentle undulations, finding a flat lie is a bonus.

One of the larger greens is set on the slope with the terrain falling away to the left. A large bunker is set into the bank short and left of the flag with a further pair guarding the rear left. The toughest flag position is back right, if you are lucky to have a front right pin position today then a short birdie putt is the reward for finding the green in 2 strokes.


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 8. Stroke Index 18. Par 3. White 118m. Yellow 97m. Blue 90m. Red 73m.


Only 118m gently uphill. How hard can it be?


It looks like Cabell Robinson has simply shaved the terrain. It’s perfectly natural just as the Golfing Gods decreed.


A small green surrounded by bunkers, hollows and swales this hole can punish you if you miss the putting surface. From this close range the emphasis is on getting the distance right more than the line.


The green like all of them require concentration to avoid making 3 putts. This is a good chance to stabilise your score.


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 9. Stroke Index 8. Par 5. White 473m. Yellow 458m. Blue 418m. Red 413m.


The ninth tee. We are top of the world! We are at eye level with the mountain peaks around us. Below, like a bejewelled rug, lies the Costa del Sol, our golfing paradise and home to some of the finest golf courses in Europe.


Taking in the awesome panorama did nothing to diminish the strategic demands of this par 5.


From an elevated tee the fairway runs serpentine following the natural terrain down to the green. The fairway is set on a mountain ridge with precipices on either side. The landing areas are generously wide and you will have to repeat that mantra to yourself to make the tee shot easier!


There are a pair of bunkers on the top plateau of the fairway, one on the right of the fairway marking the edge of the precipice into a wooded valley and the other on the left also marking the point at which disaster awaits.


The safe line is just inside the right hand bunker, 230m to reach it, the terrain is going to move your ball to the right and also down hill towards the green. You have 270m on this line before you run across the fairway into the red staked oblivion.


The tiger line is over the right edge of the left hand bunker. A carry of 240m will get you to the fairway, your ball will skid forward and downhill to the right, that might leave you as little as 120m into the green compared to 180m from the safe line.


As you view your second shot the fairway runs straight down the hill alongside a vast lagoon below and to your left. The green is tucked away in the left corner behind this lagoon meaning that to reach the green in two you need to ignore the fairway and fire your shot directly over the abyss, the lagoon and then hopefully find solace on the putting surface!


If you elect to lay up then a short iron directly down the hill to the point where the fairway turns 90 degrees left of its final approach to the green leaving 60m into the green. Don’t lay up. Not here. This is your chance for glory!

As if the drama of reaching the green were not enough you now have the most difficult green on the golf course, fast, undulating in every direction and multi-tiered two putts here is an achievement.


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review

La Cala Golf America Course – The second nine holes


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 10. Stroke Index 7. Par 4. White 345m. Yellow 337m. Blue 284m. Red 278m.


It’s a long drive from the ninth green to the tenth tee. A good time for me to remind you to take a buggy!


This hole runs uphill. The fairway is canted right to left with the cart path running up the left.


The out of bounds is on the left side although room is abundant. The left half of the fairway is your target, it’s the flattest part and will give you an easier second shot.


As you stand in the fairway looking up at the green the severity of the incline becomes apparent. This will make the second shots play at least 1 club more than you think. I can barely see the top of the pin.


The left of the green has a false front which will lure you into being short leaving a tricky flop shot to recover. The terrain, the small green and the elevation all conspire to make this hole a tough one. This theme defines La Cala Golf America and makes it all the more rewarding!


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 11. Stroke Index 13. Par 3. White 217m. Yellow 209m. Blue 166m. Red 147m.


Beautiful, beautiful hole. Swales and hollows between you and the green make it look like a scene from Augusta! A bunker sits on the right of this big green. Again you are on top of the world, looking down this long par 3 and across the coast.

Dont fly your ball to the green it will run through the back. Take one club less, pitch it short and let it work its way to the flag. The bail out area is short of the green giving you the opportunity to play a Trevino-esque bump and run to save par.


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 12. Stroke Index 5. Par 4. White 366m. Yellow 346m. Blue 317m. Red 299m.


The fairway runs straight ahead of you; it’s perfectly cut stripes guiding you directly towards the green. The perfect line is directly at the distant flag.

A bunker half way up the fairway on the right should not bother you.


A decent tee shot will leave you a modest shot into the flag which is just as well because the green at its narrowest point is 5 paces wide. Very difficult to hit!

Again this hole is typical of La Cala Golf America. You need to plan and execute 2 good shots to dominate this hole. Every hole here is a test not just of your ball striking but also your course management. It is excellent!


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 13. Stroke Index 3. Par 4. White 391m. Yellow 341m. Blue 312m. Red 283m.


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol golf courses Andalusia Spain

This fairway is shoelace slender and appears to be infinitely long from my vantage point on the tee box. My mind has frozen, I don’t see how I can possibly make a par here!


The fairway is a plateau cut into the hillside side. A steep descent on the left edge of the fairway runs down to the adjoining 12th. The right of the fairway is steeply banked with a bunker set in the slope 220m from the tee and 15m above the fairway. This bunker is the line. Aim right at it if you carry it you will get a big bounce forward and to the left , if you bounce before it you will kick left. Either way you find the middle of the fairway!


Between the landing area and the green, roughly 140m out, the fairway is a moonscape of peaks and troughs, a rolling boiling landscape of immaculately presented fairway that becomes increasingly narrow the closer you get to the green. A bunker is centrally placed 60m short of the fairway encouraging those who need to lay up to lay up a little shorter than intended. Bunkers on the left of the green 30m out and greenside will catch weak 2nd shots and leave you with very demanding recovery options.


Ideally you need to go for the green with your second shot, there is no easy lay up option.


A phenomenally tough par 4.


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 14. Stroke Index 15. Par 3. White 160m. Yellow 126m. Blue 110m. Red 100m.


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol golf courses Andalusia Spain

An enormous bunker on the left edge of the green dominates this hole. It’s a big green with plenty of space all around, yet the only thing I can think of is that bunker!


It is a delightful hole and offers a little repiste after the demands of the previous hole. Other than me (bunker) my 3 playing partners all found the putting surface and had their confidence replenished with straight forward pars.


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 15. Stroke Index 1. Par 5. White 500m. Yellow 479m. Blue 444m. Red 387m.


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol golf courses Andalusia Spain

After a couple of minutes in the buggy the 15th tee comes into view. Close by on your left is the 18th tee. Ahead 25 degrees to the left is the 17th fairway. The 15th fairway and 17th fairways are conjoined for the first 180m at which point they become separated by a large bank of bushes, gorse and other ball absorbing material.


From the tee you will see a triangle of 3 bunkers on the left edge of the fairway just at the point where the banked rough begins. Your line from the tee is either over these bunkers or a little to the right of them. A bunker 50m further up sits on the right of this narrowing fairway making the landing area narrow. A line of trees sit on the right of the fairway, beyond which is out of bounds.


For the big hitters this is a birdie chance. Two fine strikes are required, but the reward is a birdie or better.


My drive carried the bunkers on the left. With 245m to go it is just too much for my 3 wood. I elect to lay up. The widest lay up point is 70m from the green and leaves a very simple wedge into the flag. I would guess that there are more birdies made from this lay up point than there are from those that have a crack at it in 2.


The green is set on a plateau that falls steeply from the left making greenside chips from the depths of the hollows up to the putting surface difficult.


The green is set at an oblique angle to the fairway which in this case actually gives you a slightly larger target!


A lovely hole that like many here at La Cala Golf America is best played if you compose your plan of action on the tee and stick to it!


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 16. Stroke Index 17. Par 3. White 123m. Yellow 105m. Blue 101m. Red 92m.


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol golf courses Andalusia Spain

One of the signature holes on this magnificent golf course this innocuous looking par 3 has the ability to be a real heart breaker!


From an elevated tee the green sits far below on the valley floor. A huge lake guards the approach and the right side of the target.


To the left of the green rises a steep bank set into the bottom of which are 2 bunkers which guard the left edge. Finding one of the bunkers is a bad idea as you are forced to splash out on to a narrow green directly towards a very wide lake.


The only bail out option is to make sure you have enough club to reach the back of the green, its widest point and free from the lake. However this too means that you have a downhill chip from the rough towards the water.


There are more ways of finding the water here than of avoiding it!


A small target, very narrow and deeply contoured makes putting very challenging.


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 17. Stroke Index 9. Par 4. White 355m. Yellow 326m. Blue 284m. Red 233m.


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol golf courses Andalusia Spain

Death and disaster beckon you on the right of this fairway. Red stakes, trees, bushes, everything you fear is in your line of sight on this tee!


There are a pair of bunkers 200m for the tee directly in line with the green on the right edge of the fairway. Your line is on the cart path opposite these bunkers, as far on the left side of the fairway as you can get.


If you reach the left side of the fairway you will have a short shot into the green from a flat lie. If you go over the bunkers you will be in the first cut of rough amongst all of the swales and hollows making the second shot very difficult.

The chevron shaped green is elevated, you need to fly the ball all the way. A bunker guards the front right and another guards the rear centre.


The nose of the chevron is the widest part of the green and the line to take coming in. The left and right side of the green are extremely slender and make the most elusive targets.


This apparently simple par 4 is full of card wrecking potential. Do not lose focus!


La Cala Golf America Course. Hole 18. Stroke Index 11. Par 5. White 508m. Yellow 491m. Blue 439m. Red 430m.


La Cala Golf America Playing Guide and Review Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol golf courses Andalusia Spain

Descending like an Austrain ski run this finishing hole should be an easy birdie. Unusually for La Cala Golf America you only need to find one good shot to set up your scoring opportunity.


The tee shot. It all rests on the tee shot!


The line to hit is on the Hotel sign in the far distance. Don’t go left of it. You can go a little right. Once your aim is sure then you need to administer a mighty wallop.

This is a dog leg left. Aiming at the hotel will take you directly over the corner, give you the full advantage of the downhill slope and leave a wedge into the green. I had 85m left!


JW elected to hit his drive down the middle of the fairway to the top of the slope and did not cut the corner. From his hilltop position a 3 iron was needed to reach the green.


All of the par 5s here have the risk vs reward equation. In most cases the risk is greater than the reward for club golfers. Not this time! This is that rare occasion where the golf course says “take me”!


It was such a great feeling to finish with a birdie even though I had shaken John’s hand in defeat on the previous green. There is an old adage in golf “You are only as good as your last hole!” – I will get that 10 Euros back from JW one day.


Summary


This is a great golf course. It contrasts and compliments its sister the Asia course perfectly. If you get the opportunity, play them both and see for yourself.

The Asia course can be “read” from each tee. The landing areas are obvious. provided that you hit it where you can see it you will make your second shots easier.


La Cala Golf America is different. You can play it like Asia – hit your tee shots to the safest parts of the fairway, but in doing so you are making your next shot far more difficult. It goads you to take the driver from the tee, to be aggressive. The wide fairways encourage you too. You need to read the terrain to understand the best lines to take and to avoid the places you don’t want to be.


In short La Cala America is a technical golf course. It will push you to drive the ball well and if you pay attention to the terrain it will reward you for selecting the right shot to follow up with.


La Cala Golf America rewards “technical golf” it will reward patience and strategy with a uniquely satisfying experience. On the other hand if your golf is more social you still have generous fairways, beautiful playing surfaces all located in an Eden like paradise.


La Cala Golf is always excellently presented, they do things right here. This is a spectacular resort that offers the highest quality golf facilities and will leave you feeling delighted by your experience.


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