Top European Tour Action on the Costa del Golf
The Costa del Sol is resoundingly back in vogue after maintaining a relatively low profile on the international professional golfing scene for several years. From a premier European golfing destination that had hosted several major tournaments every year during its golden years (including the World Cup, World Golf Championships and 1997 Ryder Cup), the appropriately dubbed “Costa del Golf” endured a quiet period as the crisis bit, tournament sponsorship wavered and the Junta de Andalucía (regional government) re-aligned its budgetary focus towards promoting the area’s incomparable golfing amenities (over 100 courses – the majority on the Costa del Sol) at specialist fairs and events outside Spain.
Now the government has re-adopted its previous main priority of supporting high-profile tournaments in Andalucía, which led to the Coast hosting both the men’s and women’s Spanish Opens in 2016 – on the European Tour and Ladies European Tour, respectively. This year, that commitment is strengthened with the Junta and local tourism authorities backing three top tour events on the Coast.
The first, beginning next week, is an innovative addition to the European Challenge Tour, a second-tier circuit feeding the main European Tour but nevertheless featuring strong fields including veteran former champions and promising potential stars of the future. The Andalucía Costa del Sol Match Play 9 will be played at La Cala Resort in Mijas municipality from 18 to 21. Following a recent trend around the world to highlight non-traditional-format events in an effort to attract new fans to the sport, this will be the first time in 18 years that a match play tournament has been included on the tour’s schedule.
Players will compete in 36 holes of stroke play on the first two days followed by a series of nine-hole match play battles during the weekend. Playing for a €200,000 prize fund, they will tee it up on the tricky Campo Asia, one of three courses at the venue.
The next top international event on the Costa calendar will be the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino, from 21 to 24 September at Royal Guadalmina Golf Club in Marbella. In last year’s edition (also in Marbella, at Aloha Golf), Azahara Muñoz delighted local galleries by becoming the first Spaniard to win her home Open. She has confirmed she will be back to defend her title, on a course where she fine-tuned her talents as a youngster before studying at university in the United States and going on to win her first LET event as a pro and also becoming a champion on the US LPGA Tour.
The 2017 tournament will be held on Guadalmina’s South Course, which like Aloha was designed by the doyen of Spanish golf course architects, Javier Arana. Opened in 1959, it is one of Spain’s oldest courses.
Finally, the action returns to a course that for many years was rated Europe’s finest and which has just completed a multi-million-euro, five-year renovation project to restore it to its full former splendour. To be held at the famous Sotogrande course from 19 to 22 October, the Andalucía Valderrama Masters is co-hosted by the Sergio García Foundation, which ensures the presence of the reigning US Masters champion.
García also teed up in the Spanish Open at Valderrama last year, won by Andrew “Beef” Johnston, whose engaging personality has made him a global social media sensation over the past few months. He is now playing on the US PGA Tour but will no doubt also be keen to return to the scene of his first European Tour victory, together with what is expected to be a strong field of European Tour stars.
In the meantime… we return to La Cala for our featured home of the week: a stunning contemporary frontline golf villa priced at an excellent €1,680,000…
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