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European Tour returns to the “Costa del Golf”

As recently as 2011 the Costa del Sol was the European Tour’s main standard-bearer in Spain. That year, three top golf events were held on the Coast: the Volvo World Match Play Championship at Finca Cortesín (won by Ian Poulter), the Miguel Ángel Jimenez-promoted Open de Andalucía (1999 British Open champion Paul Lawrie was victorious at the Parador) and the Andalucía Masters which, remarkably, produced just the first Spanish winner during Valderrama’s two-decade-long sojourn on the Tour – a resurgent Sergio García. In addition there were no fewer than four other European Tour events around Spain: in Madrid, Barcelona, Castellón and Mallorca. That is… an unprecedented seven in Spain! Marbella’s La Quinta also shone in the international limelight with the European Senior Tour’s Benahavís Senior Masters and the Spanish Women’s Open (part of the Ladies European Tour). In 2012, there were still two main tour events (World Match Play and Andalucian Open) held on the Coast – but last year not a single tournament. With a newly-restructured coalition regional government in Andalucía, the institutional focus has changed significantly from direct sports event sponsorship (including the Andalucía Masters) to marketing campaigns at European trade fairs and specific promotional initiatives in the various established and emerging source markets for golf tourism in southern Spain. At the start of this year, for a second consecutive season, just one European Tour event was scheduled for the whole of Spain, the Spanish Open at PGA Catalunya in May. Now, with the local industry clamouring for the Coast to bounce back from its, admittedly economically enforced, withdrawal from the global tournament spotlight (in 1997 Valderrama became the first club outside the UK and US to host a Ryder Cup), a leading hotel chain has stepped into the breach. [caption id="attachment_783" align="alignright" width="300"] (La Reserva de Sotogrande photos: Kevin Murray)[/caption] The NH Collection Open will be held at the highly acclaimed La Reserva de Sotogrande course from April 3 to 6. The event will be played under the dual auspices of the main European Tour and the European Challenge Tour, and offers the relatively modest total prizemoney of €600,000, but the news has been welcomed as another reassuringly positive “post-crisis” development. As the Tour’s chief operating officer Keith Waters noted, “We… hope this is a sign of recovery after a difficult time economically in this region.” Added Sotogrande SA managing director Ramón Luengo, “We, NH Hotel Group and Sotogrande SA, have made a very big effort to attract the European Tour back to Sotogrande, where we would like the event to stay as a permanent date in the schedule.” [caption id="attachment_789" align="alignleft" width="300"] Sophisticated luxury in La Zagaleta[/caption] While Sotogrande is home to some of Spain’s most highly rated golf courses, La Zagaleta – just down the main highway and into the mountains towards Ronda – has, arguably, the Costa del Sol’s most exclusive golf club. For golf and other sports and nature lovers, this elegant villa is the ideal home base for the whole family to enjoy the prestigious residential development’s select leisure amenities, including two golf courses, an equestrian centre, a heliport and a stylish clubhouse. Extending over a 3,375 square metre plot, with 740 square metres of built area and 457 square metres of terraces (open and covered), the villa comprises a lounge-dining room, study, fully-fitted kitchen, dining room, two master bedroom suites, two further bedroom suites or gym, wine cellar and second kitchen, sauna, cloakroom, laundry room, cinema room and four-car garage. The property uses geothermal energy to power under-floor heating and air-conditioning, and features a home automation system that controls lighting, music, air-conditioning, gate entry, swimming pool, security system and electronic front door security. Other features include landscaped gardens with a heated swimming pool with waterfall, jacuzzi and outside barbecue and dining area. Click here to see more.