Englishman Steve Carr first set eyes on PGA Catalunya Resort‘s Stadium Course way back in 1999. He has written about it, played it, photographed it, and now loves the Catalonian lifestyle so much, has a much-loved home alongside the 17th fairway.
It was love at first sight at sunrise in September 1999. Despite no signposts, I had eventually found what I was looking for down a dirt track just off the NII. I jumped out of my car next to the modest clubhouse and walked quickly to the first tee of the Stadium Course. No one was around and it was eerily silent. I was blown away.
I was working back then for Golf World Magazine and had been sent to see this newest gem in Catalunya (Stadium Course). Many of the words I wrote in the magazine about my first glimpse of the course still hold true today, more than 20 years later:
“From the first tee all I can see is an ocean swell of pines, Spanish oaks and olive trees, and a vivid green fairway plunging away from me. The sun has struggled up and is kissing the treetops and rippling the ground with its sodium light. Dew clings to the slopes of shaggy rough, and I wonder if it can get much finer than this!”
I am extremely lucky to have had a connection with PGA Catalunya Resort and its people since that memorable day, as course photographer, supplier of the course guides and now as a member and resident. And even though the resort has changed dramatically in those 20 or so years it stills feels special to drive through the gates and experience the ‘PGA life’.
Nothing beats a battle with one of Europe’s finest courses, followed by something chilled in hand on the clubhouse balcony. I like few things better than popping the cork on a Garnatxa Blanca from the Terra Alta back at our place down by the 17th fairway, and watching the last of the day’s golfers wander down in the fading sunlight.
One of the advantages of living in a villa on the Costa Brava at PGA Catalunya resort is the possibility that if we are to venture out of the resort during the day, I think a trip to the unique ancient town of Besalú 40 minutes North, or to Cadaques on the coast and see Dali’s House are good options. A stroll around Besalu’s medieval streets and then lunch at Pont Vell, overlooking its namesake Old Bridge that spans the Fluvia River, is always enticing.
Then, if it isn’t Palamos prawns on the BBQ, we might head into the Old City in Girona. Have an aperitif at Plaça del Vi 7, or Vadevins on Carrer dels Mercaders, or the authentic Zanpanzar Tapas Bar, before enjoying dinner nearby at either Occi, Llevataps or Vintages.
It’s a bonus that the resort changes with the seasons. Being able to enjoy my second home at PGA Catalunya Resort has allowed me to enjoy my favorite sport at all times of the year. I have visited the last two years at the end of January, and while you may sometimes have to wait for an occasional frost to clear, playing on the near empty fairways is a joy and the walk is fantastic, something that is difficult in the scorching mid-Summer. Autumn is probably my favourite time though, when there is still heat in the air and we are already feeling the chill in the UK. It seems like the last opportunity of the year to put your shorts on and enjoy the warmth, and a long, lazy lunch (probably the Wild Mushroom and rocket risotto) at The Club Café.
However much I enjoy Catalonian hospitality and the Resort’s laid back lifestyle, no question the star of the show for me is still the Stadium Course. I get as big a thrill today as I did on my first round after which I wrote: “Brilliant, brilliant. It is big, generous, but dangerous. Fairways swoop from elevated tees, greens teeter next to water, and it is all beautifully devised. I came off bewildered by its power.”
You might say that I am still in love.