The Real Club de Golf Campoamor is right next door to the Las Ramblas apartment complex where we were staying but we were unable to play the course last time because it was closed for improvements so we were keen to give it a try this year.
The boys were with us now and we had an early tee time at half past eight so we guessed this might require the use of dynamite to get them out of their beds to get ready for the short journey to the club house. After a short debate we abandoned the dangerous explosives idea and Richard went to plan B instead and prepared Scott a burger bun for his breakfast and after wafting it under his nose this had him out on the balcony in double quick time. The rest of us found this menu choice a bit bizarre and had a more traditional continental style first meal of the day and then we loaded the car and set off.
The weather again looked unpredictable and although there was blue sky all around there were also some nasty looking black clouds in the distance and a big grey lump directly overhead. As we changed into our golf shoes Jon complained that I was wearing the same colour scheme as him, red shirt and cap and dark blue shorts and he seemed to find this embarrassing but how was I to know what he brought to wear, he never consulted with me in advance. Anyway I reassured him that any similarities between us would come to a sudden stop as soon as we stepped up to the tee and played our first shots down the fairway.
After an irritating delay waiting for some late arrivals in front who had no apparent sense of urgency we finally got to tee off respectably down the first. This was a shortish par five and Jon showed the way with a par and I did the same and put this achievement down to the matching golf clothes. Scott wanted to use his driver and got into a bit of trouble and started with a card wrecking 12. Richard began where he left off at Villamartin and played steady safe golf all the way to the green.
After the first Jon scored a second par, Scott abandoned the driver and improved immediately, Richard plodded on using only two clubs in his bag and I tried as best as I could not to let Jon get too far ahead of me. At the turn Jon was on 44 and I was two shots behind on 46. Richard was in front of Scott by 4 shots, which demonstrated the benefit of keeping things simple. Jon had chosen to fly out to Spain with only three balls in his bag and I thought that was a bit optimistic but he only lost one on the front nine so he was able to carry on with us to the back nine.
The weather continued to be disappointing and the black cloud overhead stubbornly refused to move on but we only had a few spots of rain as we teed off at the ninth and that was only a passing shower but the cloud usefully kept us nice and cool and at least we didn’t have to worry about sunscreen or sunstroke. The Campoamor course was very good and was covered in lush green fairways surrounded by beautiful pinewoods and orange trees and at the highest points it overlooked the coast all the way from Torrevieja to the north to La Manga del Mar Menor in the south. It has to be said that the colours and the scents of the pines, cypresses, palm trees, olive trees and jasmines, together with the blue of the sea and the Mediterranean breeze made this course a real pleasure.
And as we played on the weather improved and the sun came out and started to get very, very hot. This seemed to affect the boys most of all and I started to chip away at Jon’s slender lead and Scott declared a preference for giving up and going to the bar after two successive nines on the thirteenth and the fourteenth holes. This course really suited Richard and he was recording some good scores that ultimately resulted in a seven shot improvement on the back nine over the front. Scott was playing well on the par threes and he hit all five on the course with some very impressive six-iron shots. Jon got his fourth par at the twelfth and I got my second at the par three fifteenth, Richard scored thirteen points over the final nine holes and Scott cheered up after his earlier disappointments with some good play on the par threes.
The final three holes were especially good with a long dogleg sixteenth a par three seventeenth that demanded deadly accuracy and a long par five finishing hole back to the clubhouse where Scott provided the most amusing moment of the round. Having played an approach shot and landed on an alternative eighteenth green, not in play, we all agreed that he was entitled to a free drop. In theory this should make things a little easier but Scott decided to do things the hard way and inadvertently dropped the ball in a precarious position with a nasty slope that deposited the ball in a green side bunker. Three of us found that very amusing indeed, I’m sure you can work out which one of us didn’t.
A good game and in the final reckoning I had beaten Jon by a single shot after he had got himself in all sorts of trouble on the par threes and Richard had a comprehensive win over Scott by twelve clear shots. We liked Campoamor and will definitely be going back!
A couple of days earlier Richard and I had gone to the club house to check it out and we agreed that it wasn’t terribly special and a bit expensive so we agreed that after the game that we would return to the apartment and have lunch and beers on the balcony. Scott had another burger and we had bread and cheese and various hams and washed it down with San Miguel. Later we got the lilos out and had an afternoon of poolside rule breaking with drinking, liloing and jumping in and out of the pool. It was still a bit cold in the water and once again this seemed to amuse Pete the neighbour but the sun was full out by now and it was very pleasant indeed sitting in the sun and resting. I took a lot of unjustified stick about wearing speedos (what is wrong with speedos?), the boys had too much to drink and Richard dozed off to sleep in the sun. Later the fat ignorant Pete (not the neighbour) came by and finding Richard asleep and surrounded by empty beer bottles asked if this was the result of excessive drinking. I lied convincingly in a contemptuous sort of way that said ‘mind your own business’ and he moved on with a final disapproving glance at Richard lying prostrate on his lilo but at least he didn’t make any derogatory remarks about my speedos!
After four nights dining at the Villamartin Plaza we were ready for a change tonight so after tidying up and changing we decided that we might visit the nearby town of San Miguel de Salinas, which was a few kilometres inland. Richard and Scott recommended a restaurant that they had used before and Scott demonstrated immaculate navigational skills and guided us through the town and directly to the right street. A very impressive performance indeed! This turned out to be a very nice place and one that I wished we had discovered sooner. For a start it was a lot cheaper and that makes it a winner with me and the food was excellent and was a lot more authentic than the ubiquitous holiday restaurant food served in Villamartin. Don’t get me wrong I liked Villamartin as well but on balance I preferred this place.
San Miguel is an interesting little town and although it is home to a lot of ex-pats it seems to have retained its Spanish identity, for the time being anyway. It has an interesting website that is well worth a visit at http://www.san-miguel-de-salinas.com/uk/default.asp
It had been another excellent day and after we had finished the meal and settled up we negotiated the road back to Las Ramblas and had a final gin and tonic on the balcony and made last minute plans for the trip to Benidorm in the morning.