First hole at La Manga South Course (photo by Jacob Sjöman)

In 1974, the then 17-year-old Seve Ballesteros made his European Tour debut at La Manga Club. Later, between 1980 and 1985, the Spanish star became the club’s touring pro, helping to establish La Manga’s status as a premier international sports and leisure resort.

American legend Arnold Palmer also made his contribution, winning the 1975 Spanish Open, while Gary Player was the club’s first director of golf following its inauguration in 1972. The club hosted the Spanish Open from 1973 to 1977.

Today, after celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022, the Grand Hyatt La Manga Club Golf & Spa extends over 560 hectares, and includes a luxurious hotel with 192 renovated rooms, several bars and restaurants offering diverse international cuisines, three 18-hole golf courses, exclusive spaces such as an adults-only infinity pool, and a new spa and fitness centre.

And, for the past two years, it has been hosting the Farmfoods European Senior Masters on the European Legends Tour. Paul Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, won in 2022, while previous winners before the tournament moved to La Manga were Markus Brier, Thomas Levet, Santiago Luna and Stephen Dodd.

For its sixth edition this month, 60 players teed up at the South Course, including 2005 U.S. Open champion Michael Campbell and official tournament host Peter Baker. The English veteran, a three-time European Tour champion in his heyday and also the winner of three Legends Tour events this year, first played at La Manga when he was 14 years old. “I came here I think in 1981,” said Baker. “There were 12 of us who won a competition and came out here where we were fortunate to meet Seve and he gave us a clinic for an hour, which was absolutely fantastic.”

More than four decades on, Baker struggled to continue his sterling 2023 form, which still has him atop the season-long order of merit, eventually finishing in a tie for 16th with a two-under total of 217 over the 54 holes (the same score as Lawrie, with Campbell a further stroke back).

Photo courtesy of Farmfoods European Senior Masters (Legends Tour)

The winner, 12 strokes ahead on 205, was Patrick Sjöland, a 52-year-old Swede who is making his Legends Tour debut this year after a seven-year break from the professional game, and who won the 1998 Italian Open and 2000 Irish Open on the European Tour.

Later, after a typical Costa Cálida day bathed in sunshine, Sjöland said, “It’s a great feeling. It means a lot and it means that I obviously made the right decision to come back to the game of golf. I’ve enjoyed every moment of being on tour this year and this is just unbelievably good.”

The Farmfoods European Senior Masters was the final event in Europe this season, with the Legends Tour concluding with tournaments in Vietnam and Mauritius.

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