In June, the ‘Battle of the Stars’ at Pula Golf and Son Servera Golf Club saw household names tee off in support of the fight against ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
The pro-am tournament, won by Spanish musician David Otero and his team, was the latest chapter in a rich history of star-studded charity events at Pula Golf, one of Mallorca’s most popular venues and a nominee for seven World Golf Awards in each of 2022 and 2023. Every summer, celebrities gather to face a layout that hosted the Mallorca Classic on the DP World Tour (then the European Tour) for five consecutive years from 2003-2007.
Over the years, some of sport’s all-time greats have swapped football boots, tennis racquets and even motorcycles for a set of irons to take on Pula’s par-72 layout – and they do not come much greater than 22-time Grand Slam tennis winner, Rafael Nadal.
Nadal has been a regular sight at Pula Golf for a decade and owns a property just down the road and is one of the driving forces behind the venue’s annual charity events. There are two dozen golf courses on the island, including some of the best in the Mediterranean, and Pula is the one that Nadal keeps coming back to.
For a man who spends so much of his life feeling the eyes of the world on his back, it is easy to see why a round at Pula appeals to Nadal. The course may be a stone’s throw from some of the island’s golden beaches (with the bustling capital city of Palma just an hour away by car), but it immerses golfers in a serene bubble of Mallorca countryside. It is hard to imagine a more peaceful place to play – a valuable trait for the countless superstars who take up golf in their downtime.
Nadal is an exceptional golfer, reportedly playing off a handicap as low as +0.3, but it is safe to say his regular tournament co-host is even better: two-time Masters winner José María Olazábal. To call Olazábal an honoured guest at Pula is an understatement. The Basque hero went to work redesigning the course in 2004, leaving an indelible mark on the layout a decade after it first opened. As the ultimate way to sign off on his artwork, he won the Mallorca Classic at Pula in 2005.
Olazábal’s design flair would play a key role in making Pula the destination it is today, but the views do not hurt either. It is no secret that eastern Mallorca would make a Monet painting look dull by comparison, and you will never tire of the vistas across the countryside, from sloping hills to the endless shades of green of the native trees. When sunlight catches one of Pula’s lakes at the right angle, there are not many better places to knock a ball around.
In recent years, that guestlist has included Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. An avid golfer who once joked he would swap half his trophy cabinet for a better swing, Guardiola has made multiple appearances in the ‘Legends Trophy’, which has been staged at Pula on multiple occasions. He heads a list of footballing greats that have graced the venue, which reads almost like a who’s who of the sport: Ronald Koeman, Gianfranco Zola, Gabriel Batistuta, Michel Platini, Oliver Khan and Laurent Blanc are just the tip of the iceberg.
From ‘70’s Liverpool forward John Toshack to iconic goalkeeper Oliver Khan, football’s finest have flocked to this Mallorca layout in droves. Franz Beckenbauer, Michel Platini and Ruud Gullit have won six Ballon d’Ors between them, and a round at Pula is another thing they all have in common. Even the late Johan Cruyff, who won the award three times himself, played Pula during his tenure as manager of the Catalonia national team.
Needless to say, figures like these are used to a certain degree of hospitality. The S’era de Pula restaurant, overlooking the golf course, has pulling power by itself. Serving inventive, locally-sourced Mediterranean food in a rustic setting, S’era de Pula lives up to expectations with a selection of expertly-cooked dishes and drinks. The restaurant is the place to be if you want to watch the sunset after a round, while a neighbouring swimming pool and sauna tempts guests to forget about golf entirely and surrender to relaxation – if even only for a few hours.
Pula is especially devoted to sustainability, an appealing prospect for stars as global sporting culture shifts to place more emphasis on the environment than ever before. The hotel holds HRC status, meaning it generates more energy than it uses, primarily from solar energy. Irrigation has been made drastically more energy-efficient by recycling water, and the restaurant is supplied by a 6,000m2 ecological garden. This kind of attention to detail has established Pula as a pioneer in sustainable golf.
You do not need to be a world-class athlete to experience Pula Golf. You do not even need to be a great golfer. Still, there is good reason everyone from a titan of tennis to a treble-winning football manager takes time out of packed schedules to play 18 holes at this secluded Mallorcan gem.