A special sort of tee time in Spain: Going for golf glory at PGA Catalunya – a course with plenty of challenges (and a splendid setting)

A searing 35-degree heat scorches my face as I arrive at the 16th hole of the PGA Catalunya, which is currently rated the number one golf course in Spain.
Pulling a five-iron from my bag, I size up the shot ahead.
Distance to hole: 160 yards. Breeze: a gentle left-to-right. Too much club, and I’m in the trees; too little and I’m in a sandy bunker so deep I’ll need a bucket and spade to retrieve my ball.

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Wide open spaces: PGA Catalunya hopes to host the 2022 Ryder Cup – but is also great for mere mortals

This is golf Catalonian-style; sweltering, picturesque, unforgiving.
Anyone watching the recent action at the Open Championship at St Andrews will know that if you like your game steeped in grandeur and tradition, then you should hit the Highlands.
If, however, you want to mix some links play with sun, sea and sand, then there is nowhere better than this north-eastern corner of Spain.
The region has attracted golf lovers for years.
Spain’s most revered golfing son, the late Open hero Seve Ballesteros, was a regular on Catalonia’s celebrated courses.
Nestled in the Girona mountains, outside the quiet town of Caldes de Malavella, PGA Catalunya is a 45-minute drive north of Barcelona city centre and it is a beauty.
The resort is bidding to host the 2022 Ryder Cup with, if all goes to plan, the country’s golfing hero, cigar-chomping Miguel Angel Jimenez as captain.
Rent a buggy (it’s a hilly one) and pack plenty of spare balls, as there are some gorgeous semi-island greens surrounded by lakes just waiting to gobble up your tee shot.
For those looking for a supremely convenient golfing weekend away, there are, set within the resort, apartments offering views across the course as well as spacious, semi-detached villas in private gardens.

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