Golf News 2000
by Colm Gill
Agua, AguaAlthough an abnormally wet couple of winter months has replenished Málaga's reservoirs and underground water table, the Costa del Golf is well aware that such a precious resource must be used sparingly. Last month, a meeting between representatives of the Andalusian Government and the Association of Costa del Sol Municipal Authorities agreed to increase the amount of recycled water dedicated to the irrigation of the area´s golf courses. The majority of the 18 clubs within the Association´s boundaries already receive water from the Cancelada treatment plant for maintaining fairways, tees, greens verdant and healthy. The advanced tertiary system permits waste water from local urbanisations to be cleaned for re-use until it exceeds current European Union regulations. More than 50% of water employed on golf courses is now recycled. The significant application of the precious liquid means that up to a sixth more of water from naturally occurring resources is available for human consumption.
Desert SpringsThe only desert course in Europe is open to golfers 'The Indiana', Europe's only desert course, is to be inaugurated during the last week of April. The opening of this first desert layout means that, to Europe's stock of parkland, moorland and links courses can be added a truly different example of golf course architect's craft. To be geographically defined as a desert, an area must have an annual average rainfall of less than 10 inches; this particular corner of the Spanish mainland comes within that category. Situated in Almería, between the reservoir at Cuevas del Almanzora and the charming fishing village of Villaricos, The Indiana, perches on a raised plateau with spectacular views to the sea. The design presents golf of such a dramatic nature that it can be said to be taking holiday golf in Europe to another level. Through the centuries, Phoenicians, Moors and other Mediterranean traders have left their mark on Almería, now it is to be the turn of the golf tourist.
The contrast between the carefully manicured playing areas and the arid surroundings of the region with the mildest climate in Europe, Desert Springs captures the essence of what it is that sets golf apart from other sports and will have travelling golfers anxious to sample the desert golf experience. Built to comply with full USGA specifications and quality standards of the now famous desert courses of Arizona and California, The Indiana is the first of two 18-hole courses to be built on the resort. When stretched to its full length of 6,173 metres, the layout is built to challenge the world's best players. However, the bunker placements and positioning of hazards allows the design to present a more accommodating challenge when played from the selection of forward tees. "We have created a course which really can be enjoyed by players of all different standards," affirms course designer Peter McEvoy. "We have kept the fairways generous and ensured that the less expert player can enjoy and improve his game whilst absorbing the awesome landscape. On the other hand, every hole has features which can be brought into play; the springs, watercourses, dry river beds, rock and cactus areas and sand traps are strategically placed to examine the skills of leading exponents of the game when playing off the championship tees.
Thanks to its location - and unique nature - Desert Springs is destined to become a magnet, not only for golfers from more northern climes, but also those already resident in Iberia; Málaga with its Costa del Golf is 3 hour's distant; Granada 2 hours, Murcia 1 hour, Valencia 4 hours and Madrid 4 ½. Thanks to the excellent motorway connections, one could leave Madrid or Valencia at 7am, and Málaga at 9am and still make a reserved start time of 12 noon. Due to the huge interest aroused by this most innovative project, many of the tee times available immediately after the inauguration date have already been reserved, so if you are searching for the unique, unbeatable experience afforded by Europe's only desert golf course, you would be well advised to take Golf Manager Simon Coaker's advice and make your reservation early to avoid any possibility of disappointment.
More BirdiesThe Doñana National Park is haven to a few more birdies since Dunas de Doñana opened in March 2001. Located on the shores of the Atlantic ocean, the course is a combination of styles between links and American. Vast lakes affect play on many holes and maintain the natural environment of the adjacent park. Indeed, despite the initial protests of environmentalists fearful that the golf course might spoil nature, the layout has actually enhanced the natural beauty as it was constructed on the site of what had become an unsightly tipping area.
At the other end of the region, in the province of Almería, Andalucía's golf offer is also growing. In April the Club Marina Golf Mojacar was inaugurated. Situated 40 minutes away from Murcia airport, Marina also has nine holes next to the beach; the back nine is separated from the outward half by a small hill which apportions a totally different feel to the Ramon Espinosa-designed course.
Andalusians Lose To A Capital PerformanceFor the second year running, the team representing the autonomous region of Madrid has claimed the Spanish Junior Girls Championship by beating Andalusia in the final. The inter-territorial Junior Girls' Championship of Spain, organised by the Spanish Golf Federation, was played at RCG Las Palmas. The result was 5.5 to 3.5 in favour of the team from the capital.
Novo Sancti Petri Celebrate Another Nine HolesThe Novo Sancti Petri course, at Chiclana, Cádiz, recently celebrated the opening of an additional nine holes with a social tournament. The first 36 holes of the complex were designed by Severiano Ballesteros who promoted the Novo Sancti Petri club as a possible venue for the 1997 Ryder Cup matches which were eventually staged at Valderrama. In one loop the fairways are bordered by pine trees, whereas another combination takes the player alongside the magnificent Barrosa beach. Various water hazards and abundant vegetation add interest to the Cádiz course, making it very a popular destination, particularly with German golfers.
Scots Have A Whale Of A TimePrior to the prestigious Sherry Cup amateur tournament at Sotogrande last month, the Scottish team organised a mini-training camp. To focus themselves mentally and fine tune their games the Scots chose to use the excellent training facilities now available at the Costa Ballena complex in Cádiz.
The group, all with handicaps from scratch to +4, used the par 3 course, the dedicated short game area, the huge grass driving range facing the sea, enormous, undulating putting green plus the specialised equipment available in the clubhouse gymnasium.
Costa Ballena Golf Club is part of an ambitious project by the regional government to attract sustainable tourism to an unspoilt part of the Atlantic coast. Designed by José María Olazábal, the original course, situated on what would otherwise be prime building land, is now maturing after its inauguration in 1996. One of the objectives of the project is to take advantage of the resorts magnificent practice facilities to attract teams of golfers from the north of Europe for training weeks and golf schools.
Bernard Gallacher Inaugurates New Driving RangeOn Monday April 23 ex-Ryder Cup Captain Bernard Gallacher, cut the ribbon to officially open the Shaun Ashley Golf Academy based on the Greenlife Golf site east of Marbella. The Academy is equipped with the latest technologies in golf teaching including virtual reality glasses and practice mats that can be adjusted to simulate uphill or downhill lies. Forty air-conditioned driving bays, a club-fitting centre and a gymnasium full of the same specialist stretching machines as used by Tiger Woods, are just some of the additional on-site facilities. Bernard Gallacher gave a teaching clinic for the invited guests before demonstrating his own range of skills on the ample putting and chipping zones. After a press conference and cocktail the journalists, tour operators and golf managers present were invited to play the excellent nine-hole executive layout that completes the comprehensive teaching facilities at the Greenlife Golf complex.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Named 'Official Hotel Chain' To PGA TourThe international hotel group is the parent organisation to respected brand names such as Westin, Sheraton and W.Hotels. The agreement permits PGA members become 'Preferred Guests' when booking into any of the groups hotels, amongst which are the Alfonso XIII in Seville, Madrid's Palace and London's Park Lane Hotel. On the Costa del Sol, Starwood is represented by The Westin La Quinta where Spanish President, José María Aznar, recently made a surprise visit. During his stay, Aznar played nine holes of golf accompanied by his teenage son and Manuel Piñero, the former world golf champion, who now runs his own golf school at the resort.
Kempinski Resort Hotel Sponsors 'von Limburger Championship' Bernard von Limburger first made an impression in the world of golf as winner of the 1925 German Golf Championships, however, he was also the best known golf course architect from that country before Bernhard Langer first tried his hand at the craft in the 1990s. The elder Bernard was commissioned to design the original Atalaya Park course back in 1968. Every year since 1988, Atalaya Park has honoured its designer by celebrating the 'von Limburger Championship', this year sponsored by the Kempinski Resort Hotel in nearby Estepona. More than 100 participants competed for 17 prizes in distinct categories. First prize was a weekend for two people at the luxurious beachfront hotel.
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