2015 was something of a milestone in many ways. The number of golfers to the Costa Del Sol saw a considerable increase as did the level of investment in the golf product here in Spain. The coming year will see pressure on hotel accommodation due to the influx of tourists deflected here from crippled north African destinations.
2015 saw over 14 million passengers pass through Malaga Airport which is the 4th biggest in Spain after Madrid, Barcelona and Palma. Our advice is to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment! So scroll down to catch up on the latest developments concerning golf in Andalucia and the Iberian peninsula in general.
Real Club Valderrama
For anyone wishing to treat themselves to a round at Europe’s top ranked course please note that this year’s maintenance will take place from June 13th to July 3rd. Upon reopening the course will be in its usual pristine condition.
The La Zagaleta Group, owner of the urbanisation of the same name located in Benahavis where the likes of President Putin is reputed to own a property and considered the most luxurious in Europe, has bought the Valderrama Group in with the intension of developing another luxury urbanisation.
The group is the owner of the golf course of the same name, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones, and is considered the best course in Spain and, according to Golf Digest, the best in Europe and one of the 100 best in the world.
La Zagaleta will now start its Valderrama 2 Project. Work on the project in the area of Castellar near Sotogrande which will include a Championship Golf Course, and a high end tourist and hotel resort. The residential development is expected to involve an investment of €200 million in the coming 10 years of development.
Major Changes at Sotogrande La Reserva
The new owners of Sotogrande La Reserva have not wasted any time in making considerable investments in both the course, clubhouse (which was hardly too shabby to start with) and particularly in service. It’s not easy to convey this in a newsletter so just come and experience it for yourselves. However, along with the investment comes a significant increase in green-fee but we think it’s still very much worth it. Expect to pay in the region of €179 including buggy in high season 2016.
Dates for your diary
When planning a trip for late September early October remember that the Ryder cup dates are Sept 30th – 2nd Oct. This is a great time to really enjoy a golf trip with live coverage from Hazeltine, Minnesota beaming across the Atlantic just when you have finished your round here in the sun! So why not come and enjoy the Ryder cup 2016 in Spain!
Fuerte Miramar re-branded.
The very popular Fuerte Miramar Marbella has been rebranded and will now be known as the Amare Marbella Beach. This adult only hotel is on the beach-front in Marbella and a short walk to the Old Town, and is accessible and discrete for people with interests in services from zoomescorts.co.uk and similar.
Ibersol Alay in Benalmadena
Many of you will be familiar with the Alay Hotel in Benalmadena. This well located 4 star has been bought by the Ibersol chain and will reopen in May 2016 after a complete refurbishment.
La Manga Golf Resort
We recently had the pleasure of playing a game at La Manga and it really was a very enjoyable experience. La Manga has a reputation for being one probably Europe’s most popular warm weather training resorts catering for just about every sport imaginable, from cricket to polo and football ( in all its forms) to tennis. However Golf is probably what it does best. With 45 Arnold Palmer re- designed holes and 36 more in the pipeline not to mention the 6 Jack Nicklaus (Mar Menor) courses nearby one is spoiled for choice.
With Murcia Airport only 20 minutes away and Alicante Airport an hour’s drive La Manga is a resort well worth considering. Golf Experience has very preferential rates for inclusive packages.
La Manga has 3 x 18 hole courses – if you can avoid the water it’s hard to lose a ball!
Almerimar (Almeria Region)
Great New Destination for 2016!
– only 110 minutes drive from Malaga Airport
We recently visited the wonderful 5 star resort of Almerimar situated about 30 Km east of Almeria. While Almeria Airport has good access from London and Manchester all year round and Dublin from March to November the newly opened coastal motorway between Malaga and Almeria means that brings this gem to within 110 minutes drive of Malaga Airport.
The 27 hole Gary Player designed course is flat and open and a very enjoyable layout. There are 3 other excellent courses within a 15 minute drive.
We have 5 night (B&B) packages with 4 green-fees from €395 based on 4 travelling including car hire and 3 spa entrances.
Spain Course Ratings
I usually pay very little notice to course ranking but somebody brought this to my attention and it has just confirmed my opinion that they are not worth the paper they are written on.
An extract of a few courses in the top 100 Spanish courses shows:
- San Roque Old 20
- San Roque New 22
- El Chaparral 45
- Guadalmina South 50
If you are familiar with these courses you will probably be inclined to agree that the rankings do not exactly correspond to the perceived wisdom, not to mention their cost.
The Irish golfer was a member of the winning Ryder Cup team in 1989 at the Belfry, where his two-iron approach on the 18th hole helped secured the trophy for Europe.
O’Connor was a four-time winner on the European Tour, which included victory in the 1975 Carroll’s Irish Open, and was the nephew of another Irish golfing legend, Christy O’Connor Senior.
Born in Galway, O’Connor turned professional in 1967 and went on to represent Europe twice in the Ryder Cup, firstly in 1975, before his memorable victory in 1989.
O’Connor played in more than 20 majors throughout his long career, finishing in a tie for third at the 1985 Open Championship, having led the tournament early on with an opening round six-under at Royal St George’s. O’Connor’s only Masters appearance came in 1977.
Back-to back Seniors British Open titles were secured in 1999 and 2000, while O’Connor also represented Ireland in several World Cups and Dunhill Cups.
O’Connor died while on holiday in Tenerife. He will be sadly missed.
To relive one of Europe’s great Ryder Cup victories and that wonderful 2 iron shot on the 18th at the Belfry in 1980 click here:
Christy O’Connor – Ryder Cup 1989 – 2 Iron – YouTube
Jim Whooley (or just Dad – 1927 – 2015)
After struggling with poor health for many years now he finally through in the towel on life. He did so under very peaceful circumstances which was a great relief. Dad was on this earth for 88 years and he had few passions two of which included little round balls; the Sliothár (Hurley ball) and the golf ball. My earliest memories of Dad was caddying for him when I was no more than 6 or 7 at Athlone Golf Club on the banks of the river Shannon.
For years he struggled with breaking that invincible barrier of getting down to “single figures” but never quite made it – having 7 kids, a demanding career and a ration of one game a week is as good an excuse as any. His unorthodox swing had probably something to do with it. No coincidence that after Athlone he joined Delgany GC* where Eamonn D’Arcy was pro! A close friend once described Dad’s swing as being akin to someone trying to kill a rattle snake in a phone box! I continued caddying for him and eventually grew to love the game. He understood the importance of practice and at every opportunity would pop up to the club’s driving range with me in tow. My job was to collect the balls and anything under a 9 iron I was expected to run and catch in a bag before it landed!. Good practice for other sports but did nothing for my golf. He taught me the all important etiquette of the sport which is best done by parents with the odd clip on the ear or stern look if I was out of place or order on the course.
He was a stickler on the rules of golf and upholding them at all cost. One of the few players I know who would, regularly come out from beneath the thick fern bushes covered in thorns having hacked out and then announce to his playing partners that he was penalising himself a shot as his ball had oscillated a fraction under the bushes.
In the early 70’s when package holidays arrived to the Costa del Sol my parents would come once a year to enjoy golf in the sun. Inevitably it was to the El Paraiso Hotel in Estepona which, back then, owned El Paraiso G.C. and would offer unlimited golf to guests. They would regularly play 9 holes before breakfast and then set out again for another 18.
And now two of their grand-sons play at El Paraiso G.C. almost 50 years after he first played golf in Spain. Thanks to Dad’s passion for the sport which he passed to me (who never made it to single figures either, although other siblings did) they both have better looking swings and get a clip on the ear when they step out of line on the course. The circle of life, indeed.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.
Delgany Golf Club
I would like to thank Delgany G.C. and its members for their support upon Dad’s passing.
With the Ryder Cup just around the corner it is interesting to look at Delgany Golf Club’s extraordinary contribution down through the years to Europe’s Ryder Cup teams.
Ryder Cup players associated with Delgany Golf Club:
Harry Bradshaw, Eamonn Darcy, Jimmy Martin, John O’Leary
Harry Bradshaw, Delgany’s first Ryder Cup player
Bradshaw is the name most closely associated with the Delgany Club as a Bradshaw has held the Club Professional job there for an unbroken 77 years through Ned and his sons Harry, Eddie and Jimmy up to 1989 when Jimmy retired. In fact they could not be more local as Harry was born in Killincarrig, reared in a lodge close to the Club and his grandparents lived in the forester’s cottage (now fallen) beside the present 16th green during his youth.
Harry was selected for the Ryder Cup team for the first time in 1953 when Ireland was added to the Great Britain team and the name was informally changed to Great Britain and Ireland (officially changed in 1973): he would have most likely been selected for the 1951 and the 1949 teams as they were some of his most successful golfing years, winning the Irish Open in 1947 and 1949. He played again in the 1955 Ryder Cup team and was on the winning Ryder Cup team in 1957 (this was their only victory over the American team between 1933 and 1977). So confident were the American team of another victory at Lindrick Golf Club, Nottinghamshire, in 1957, they had renewed their insurance cover on the Cup before they left for England.
Eamonn Darcy was even more local to Delgany Golf Club as he was born and reared in a house beside the 7th tee. He played in 4 Ryder Cup competitions, and sank the putt at Muirfield Village, Ohio in 1987 to ensure the winning of the Cup. This was a slippery downhill 5 footer on the 18th green to beat Ben Crenshaw in their singles match. This was the first time America was beaten in the Ryder Cup on home turf. He subsequently missed out on automatic qualification for the 1989 competition by falling short in the Order of Merit qualifying total earnings by the tiny sum of £56!
Jimmy Martin was born and raised in Killincarrig and was selected on the Great Britain and Ireland team to contest the 1965 Ryder Cup in Royal Birkdale, Liverpool. He was most associated with Greystones Golf Club where his father was the Professional.
While John O Leary was born in South Dublin and is largely associated with Foxrock Golf Club, he was a junior member of Delgany Golf Club in his youth. He was selected for the Britain and Ireland team in the 1975 Ryder Cup. He played an important role behind the scenes, while a member of the Ryder Cup board, when the issue of an Irish venue for the Cup was raised and he helped Ireland secure the competition for the K Club in 2006.
While there was no direct representation by Delgany in this contest the four seater buggy that helps us climb from the 16th green to the 17th tees was used in Straffan to ferry players and VIPs around the Smurfit course during that amazing week.
Help your green-keeper!
Do you know how to repair a pitch mark?
We came across this recently and thought it worth sharing.
We would like to remind all golfers to please repair your pitch marks when you play golf. Unrepaired pitch marks can be a real problem but easily avoidable. If every golfer on the course repaired his or hers pitch mark plus one other, if necessary, then our greens would always be pitch mark free. What golfers have to be aware of is even if your golf ball does not come to rest on the green it may have made a pitch mark.
Many times golfers hit their shot too far and the golf ball bounces on the green but rolls off the putting surface.
Golfers must take the time to find the pitch mark and repair it. The USGA reports on average a golfer makes 8 pitch marks during a round of golf. That means that if a golf course has 42,000 rounds of golf a year that 336,000 pitch marks have been made over the course of the year. So you can imagine what damage to the putting surface can be done if golfers do not take the time to repair pitch marks.