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  • Writer's pictureGolf on Costa del Sol

La Cala Golf Europa Course Review and Playing Guide

Updated: Feb 26

La Cala Golf Europa is the newest of the three golf courses at La Cala Golf Resort. It is also the most spectacular in terms of the views and the kindest in terms of the fairway width!


Designed by Cabell Robinson and opened in 2005 this Par 71 6014m layout is great fun to play. The River Ojen runs across or alongside eight of the holes necessitating the construction of 5 rather beautiful bridges to cross the river and access different fairways. Four large tunnels to allow buggies to roam from hole to hole give a clear indication of the nature of the topography .


Once again Mr Robinson’s expertise and vision have produced a golf course that has harnessed the assets that the terrain has to offer making La Cala Golf Europa a most rewarding experience.


As with La Cala America and La Cala Asia, the Europa course is very well maintained and on each occasion that I have played them, beautifully presented.

The management and hospitality work harmoniously to create a first class product and a golfing experience that ranks amongst the best golf Costa del Sol can offer.


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.

Malaga airport – 25 minutes

Fuengirola – 15 minutes

La Cala de Mijas – 10 minutes

Las Lagunas / Mijas Golf – 15 minutes

Marbella – 25 minutes

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 Course: First 9 Holes


Hole 1

Stroke Index 18, Par 4, White 301m, Yellow 289m, Blue 238m, Red 222m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

It is a long buggy ride from the clubhouse to reach the first tee at La Cala Europa . Make sure and allow an extra ten minutes so as not to be late for your tee time.

Standing on the tee your view is pretty good. The most exquisite moorland swoops and climbs around you. Gnarled Olive trees probably centuries old, gorse and  Mediterranean flora imbue the landscape with a natural beauty. 


There are a group of players on the tee ahead of us starting their round and a group waiting with us to take their turn. Everyone is smiling. It feels good to be here.


The first is a short, wide par 4. The periphery of the fairway is glorious but impenetrable vegetation, luckily marked with red stakes.


A complex of three bunkers sit on the right of the fairway about 60m short of the green. Further bunkers guard the immediate frontal access and form a ring around the left side and rear of the green.


The hole runs downhill from the tee. The green is not visible below you from the white tees. The line to take is on the centre line of the fairway as framed by the bunkers visible on the left and right. Hit any club you fancy, the longest and bravest can have a go at the green, nothing bad will happen, you might find the front bunker, still gives you a birdie chance and definitely an easy par.


The green sits narrow and wide at the bottom of the fairway making a fair target for the short second shots coming in. If you blade your shot or over club you will discover the gorse and moorland plant life immediately behind the green. Take heart, it is all marked with red stakes!


The greens have been newly laid with bermuda grass and make a super putting surface.


It’s always nice to get a par under your belt on the first. A very pleasing and gentle starting hole!


Hole 2

Stroke Index 8, Par 4, White 344m, Yellow 334m, Blue 281m, Red 269m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

A strategic driving hole. The tee shot here is make or break.


Thick gorse runs on both sides of the fairway. A large bank sits on the right ready to devour errant shots. Beyond the bank is the 3rd tee.


The hole runs uphill from the tee reaching a crest about 200m out at the corner of the leg. From this point the hole runs downhill and to the right to the green. Bunkers sit on the right edge of the fairway at the hillcrest. Left of these bunkers is the perfect position to find yourself leaving an easy downhill shot into a large green.


If your ball flies the crest it will run down the hill towards the green. The cart path crosses the fairway 260m from the tee and 70m short of the green. Whilst you have a much shorter shot in from here you might be penalised by having a down hill or side hill lie.


As you drive the golf buggy along the cart path and pass over the crest of the fairway you are presented with a wondrous view down the entire length of the valley with the town of Fuengirola below you in the distance. As my eyes follow the River Ojen on its journey I see two elegant bridges traversing the ravine at various points on the golf course. Food for the soul. Golf is a beautiful sport, never more so than when in surroundings like this!


Bunkers guard the left and right flanks of the deeply contoured green making this a very satisfying hole to par.


The new greens are dappled in colour as the early spring temperature is beginning to awaken the grass from it’s winter slumber. When the grass is dormant it loses its colour but none of its texture and is a highly desirable playing surface all year round. In a few weeks from now as the night time temperatures increase the bermuda will be restored to verdant green. I like the seasonality that Bermuda grass brings. It serves to emphasise the splendour of the surroundings.


Hole 3

Stroke Index 14, Par 3, White 158m, Yellow 512m, Blue 120m, Red 113m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

A great looking par 3 running downhill from the tee. The ravine dominates on the right of the hole, the gurgling river water making its way to the sea is a most relaxing narrative.


The left rear of the green has a large bank which is the safe target. Tee shots hit into the bank will make their way to the putting surface.


Bunkers front right and rear left complete the defences of this long thin green.

A lay up area is short of the green for those that suffer a miss hit. It is a hole that from the tee actually gives you confidence. That big bank really is your “get out of jail free” card. It will deliver a good result to even the most mediocre strike!


Hole 4

Stroke Index 2, Par 4, White 404m, Yellow 362m, Blue 346m, Red 338m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

This is a tough hole. There is no easy way to navigate this one. From the white tees a mountainside blocks your view of the green. The tee box points you to a runway-like strip of fairway to the right and across the ravine. A bridge will take you over the river to the fairway from where you will have a clear line of sight into the green.


The strip of fairway on the right is 20m wide. Its left flank runs alongside the River Ojen, the right side is banked rough and vibrant gorse marked with red stakes. This elusive landing strip comes to an end 260m from the tee where another bridge awaits to give passage back across the ravine and to the green.


Your options from the tee are clear.


Plan A: Belt it. Make sure you can carry 240m through the air and aim over the side of the mountain directly at the hidden green. If you have success then a short wedge into the green is your reward.


Plan B: This is the most popular plan but is not any easier than Plan A! Aim at the right side of the runway strip of fairway. Seek divine guidance and make whatever promises you need to in order to summon a straight tee shot.


If you find the fairway then you will have a clear view of the green, but it will be a distant view. A 230m drive will still leave 160m across the river before you find the safety of the putting surface!


The green is protected firstly by the ravine 20m to its right and then by 3 bunkers that encircle it. Too  long or too left will see you in the gorse taking a penalty drop. Extraordinarily tough hole! Good Luck!


Hole 5

Stroke Index 6, Par 4, White 329m, Yellow 311m, Blue 270m, Red 229m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

The elevated tee sits on a level with the raised fairway in the distance. Between you and the plateau is a valley of first cut rough. At the beginning of the plateau the fairway is guarded by a wizened, gnarled tree pock marked by thousands of golf balls.


To reach the tree and the safety of the plateau is a carry of 180m from the white tees. If you do not manage to get past the tree and reach the plateau you will have a very steep lie and not be able to see the green.


The view from the tee across the valley and to your left is wonderful. Just out of sight to your right is Santana Golf, beyond that Mijas Golf. The Mijas Golf Valley is a golfing paradise that makes golf on Costa de Sol such a great experience.


Hole 6 

Stroke Index 12, Par 4, White 357m, Yellow 338m, Blue 288m, Red 254m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

We are at a high point of the golf course on this tee. The view across the other two La Cala courses and the resort itself is incredible. One of our playing partners today, Blair Mc Keithen hails from California. A professional golfer currently playing on the Alps Tour, Blair has spent his entire life in golf. Such is the scale and beauty here that Balir said to me “ I always take a moment on this tee to soak up this incredible view. We have some of the finest golf courses in the world back home, but there is nothing like La Cala!”.

 

There is a tree that sits on the front edge of the fairway as it rises up the valley that separates it from the tee. A carry of 200m is required to get past this tree and to find the plateau fairway. If you do not make it to the plateau and get past the tree then the hole suddenly becomes very difficult. Your shot to the green will be hampered by a severely sloping lie, whereas just a few meters further up the safety of the fairway can make that second shot absolutely straight forward.

This par 4 sets a clear story from the tee. It tells you exactly what you need to do in order to earn your par. Cabell Robinson is so good at designing holes like this. The hole just challenges you with a pugnacious bluntness to take it on!


Hole 7

Stroke Index 4, Par 4, White 365m, Yellow 356m, Blue 313m, Red 291m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

Playing uphill from the tee the fairway crests at 200m. A bunker sits on the right of the fairway at 180m, another on the left at 250m. It is a wide saddle shaped fairway meaning that your ball will always run towards the centre. This hole beckons you to swing your driver with abandon. A big drive here is a premium.


The widest part of the fairway arrives at 235m from the tee whereupon it narrows as you get closer to the green. The effect of which is to make the green your sole focus as you contemplate the next shot. Having only a well bunkered green to aim at with red stakes surrounding the periphery can be intimidating. A firm mental resolve is required in order to progress smoothly to the putting surface.


Hole 8

Stroke Index 10, Par 5, White 498m, Yellow 475m, Blue 445m, Red 424m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

This is another fabulous hole. An elevated tee looks down an expansive fairway and your confidence simply swells. The safe line is to aim at the set of bunkers visible at the corner of the dog leg on the left edge of the fairway. The tiger line is over the three rocks that are set on the far right of the fairway. If you go too far right over the rocks you may be in terminal trouble. The fairway is slanted from right to left. A big drive will get you in range to reach the green in two strokes and steal a birdie. A fantastic hole which gives you two clear options.


Second shots need to be aimed a little to the right of the green as the topography will cause it to run to the left. The fairway continues to run downhill until the low point about 60m from the target at which point it rises to meet the green. The green is cut into the slope leaving a steep shot in if you miss it on the left side.

The green runs markedly uphill from the front to the back with a prominent step about two thirds of the way back. It makes sense to keep your ball below the cup. Leaving yourself a downhill putt is going to give you anxious moments.

Hole 9

Stroke Index 16, Par 3, White 160m, Yellow 155m, Blue 94m, Red 91m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

From the elevated tee the green sits below you on its plateau with bunkers guarding the left , right and rear. If you miss this green a difficult chip shot will make saving a par tricky.


An outcrop of rough vegetation halfway up the hole prevents running shots from reaching the putting surface. You have to fly the ball all the way.


The green whilst shallow in depth is wide making distance control important more important than accuracy. Hitting the green with your tee shot is imperative and is the key to successfully concluding the front nine.


La Cala Golf Europa Course: the Back 9


Hole 10

Stroke Index 17, Par 3, White 121m, Yellow 113m, Blue 92m, Red 87m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

It is unusual to have back to back par 3 holes on a golf course. This tenth hole is exceedingly pretty. The cascading waterfall and lake on the right of the green are the landmark features providing both audio and visual delight.


Four bunkers guard the left flank of the green with a fifth trap on the front left squeezing the entrance to the green. This is a large target and only requires confidence from the player in order for a positive result to be gained.


Hole 11

Stroke Index 1, Par 5, White 524m, Yellow 504m, Blue 422m, Red 414m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

This is the start of a stretch of holes that will test the finest golfers and break the hearts of the rest!


Finding the fairway from the tee here is in my opinion the most difficult shot I have faced here today!


The view from the tee is daunting, a bunker high on the right side of the fairway is the first thing to catch my eye, no sign of a fairway . A large tree sits low on the left side. Left of the tree runs a line of red staked jungle that extends the full length of the hole.


The only line to take from the tee is at the fairway bunker. The fairway is steeply canted from right to left. All balls will bounce and run in that direction. If you start the ball too far to the left you will find that barranca. It is a fear inspiring shot.

Once the tee shot has been negotiated the hole does not become any easier! Bunkers run along the left side of this pencil slim fairway making the second shot almost as scary as the first!


Solace comes 80m from the green as things widen a little. However the third shot into the green is no easy matter. A concentration of bunkers guard the left of this small target whilst an equally large bunker guards the right!

A five here is unlikely for most of us.


Hole 12

Stroke Index 13, Par 4, White 339m, Yellow 316m, Blue 285m, Red 278m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

A short straight par. The fairway slopes 30 degrees from right to left. A line of bunkers sit at the top of the fairway and run almost the full length of the fairway. Beyond the bunkers are the feared red stakes, lost balls and penalty strokes!

The line to take is the big tree visible at the end of the fairway just left and below the green. You only have to do one thing well on this hole. The drive. You hit a good drive and the hole will reward you with a straight forward par. You make a mess of it and big numbers could be coming your way!


The widest part of the fairway arrives between 230m and 280m from the tee. Big drives are preferred! A mid sized green set in undulating ground and lightly bunkered get easier to hit the closer you are to it.


This is a good hole it sets a mental challenge, a technical challenge and a strategic challenge. All three challenges have to be met in order to keep your scorecard in good shape.


Hole 13

Stroke Index 9, Par 4, White 369m, Yellow 343m, Blue 314m, Red 290m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

This is the third tough driving hole in a row. If you allow it to erode your confidence then this stretch of the golf course can be brutal!


The dog leg left starts from an elevated tee. The fairway runs from right to left following the topography of the land. The widest point of the fairway arrives 170m from the tee and presents a clear option for dealing with this difficult tee shot.

The tiger line requires courage and skill. A line of bunkers marks the left edge of the fairway, the tiger line requires you to aim at the furthermost bunker on the left commit to hitting a laser straight drive. The reward is a short wedge to the green and an easy par. The penalty if you miss left is a second shot from well below the green making the target even more elusive.


Seven bunkers are dotted around the small green making this target tough to hit, hence the big reward for taking the tiger line from the tee.


Another brilliant hole which gives stark options from the tee. Huge benefits for the stout of heart if they can execute the shot. A tough par for those that take the safe option from the tee.


Hole 14

Stroke Index 7, Par 3, White 233m, Yellow 217m, Blue 134m, Red 111m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

This is a huge par 3. The view from the tee makes the hole look even more difficult than it actually is. There is a lay up area short of the green, although you need to hit the ball 160m to reach safety.


No bunkers or hazards between you and the green make chipping and putting for a par a fair option. Missing the green on the right is a bad idea as you will find the red stakes, the knee high gorse, the ravine and ultimately the River Ojen. Big bunkers guard the rear right and left of this colossus par 3. From a practical viewpoint most players will consider this a par 4.


This hole has majesty, unobtrusive excellence. You can imagine Open Championships being won and lost here. In my opinion this is the signature hole for La Cala Golf Europa course and is included in my Golf on Costa del Sol fantasy 18 holes.


Hole 15

Stroke Index 5, Par 5, White 492m, Yellow 481m, Blue 384m, Red 378m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

Another driving hole to test your fortitude!


A narrow fairway adds tension to the tee shot. To the right sits the familiar River Ojen at the bottom of its ravine. To the left the fairway climbs to reach the verdant rough. There is no wide part of the fairway, there is no safe option from the tee. The only option is to hit a straight ball as far as you can.


I can tell you that after this sequence of tough holes I am raw and deposit another ball in the river! Damien Murphy warned me, “if you let this back nine holes get into your head, if you allow yourself to feel intimidated by the view from the tee then the golf course has you beat.” This is what makes La Cala Golf Europa such a great golf challenge.


A drive of 230m will leave you with a direct line of sight to the green across the dog leg. But you will have to carry your ball another 230m crossing the ravine all the way. Only the very longest hitters would contemplate taking on this par 5 in two shots!


A decent drive followed by an equally decent 2nd shot following the fairway and taking no risk will leave a third shot of 130m or so into the small green. A collection of bunkers between the left edge of the green and the ravine might save an errant shot in. This is a small target and is much easier to miss than hit!

This is not a hole to trifle with, this is not a par 5 that you can attack! This is a hole that you simply survive with the least damage possible. It is another in a sequence of amazing holes . It gives me the feeling that Cabell Robinson is flexing his muscles and showing us glimpses of a malevolent side to his imagination.


Hole 16

Stroke Index 15, Par 3, White 171m, Yellow 142m, Blue 116m, Red 110m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

A picturesque par 3 with the tee set high amongst the heathland and the green set at an oblique angle below.


The green is angled such that the front left is close to the centre line of the fairway and the rear right perilously close to the red staked ravine.


The green presents a narrow target from the tee although there is plenty of safety to be found short of the hole. The entrance to the green is open allowing for running shots, the rest of the green is protected by seven bunkers!


The green rises and dips amongst the swales and hollows upon which it is set. Avoid leaving your ball above the cup. Getting yourself on the wrong side of the hole will make putting tricky!


Hole 17

Stroke Index 3, Par 5, White 483m, Yellow 472m, Blue 382m, Red 372m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

A long par 5 that runs steeply uphill giving the impression that this hole might be infinitely long!


A very wide fairway allows you to attack your drive with gusto. You need to be as far up the hill as you can possibly get! The line to take is at the fairway bunker on the left edge of the fairway located at the elbow of the dogleg. The bunker is 280m from the white tees, not many people run the risk of reaching it. If you think you might then you can aim a little further to the right.


Very long hitters may be able to blast a second shot up the hill and threaten the green. The hole remains generously wide all the way up. Its defence is its length and uphill slope combined with a small sloping green.


This is a hole that you can attack and if you execute 3 great shots in a row you will have a strong chance of a birdie. It is a great hole for the final stretch, a hole that rewards positive attacking play, especially after the run of 5 extraordinarily tough holes that preceded it.


Hole 18

Stroke Index 11, Par 4, White 366m, Yellow 345m, Blue 305m, Red 285m


La Cala Golf Club course review Golf holidays Mijas Malaga Costa del Sol Andalusia Spain

A four hundred yard par 4 that might just be drivable with a fair wind and a bit of luck! I cannot imagine a more positive way to finish a game of golf!


This 18th runs steeply downhill in a series of steps that mean you can get very big drives and still benefit from having a flat lie for your second shot most of the time.

There is red staked trouble both left and right of the fairway. Poor shots will disappear. This hole suits my eye so well that all I can see is opportunity.


A tiny green awaits at the bottom of the hill, nothing to worry about, gravity will help you find it. This is the hole that makes you feel like a golfing great and no matter how challenging your round has been, a birdie on the last will bring a lot of cheer!


Summary


Reflecting upon my experience at La Cala Golf Resort I am struck at how each of the three courses here have such different characters. As a visitor enjoying golf on Costa del Sol you could play all of your golf at the  La Cala Golf Resort and be very satisfied. All of the courses are always beautifully manicured. The playing surfaces, tees, fairways and greens are excellent and the different challenge set by each of the courses brings enough variation to make the overall experience deeply rewarding.


The back nine holes at La Cala Golf Europa are very different to the front nine. These holes are tough. That is not to suggest that they have been tricked up, not at all. Through great design and intelligent use of the landscape these truly great holes have been crafted to test every golfing sinew, to fray even the steadiest nerve! La Cala Golf Europa is a top notch golf course that provides maximum entertainment. It might just have become my favorite of the three courses here at La Cala Golf Resort. Everything is right. The condition, the terrain, the greens.

There are a lot here at the La Cala Golf Resort that is easy to like!


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