LIV Golf Andalucía: not just louder

    Undoubtedly, for many of us who have had the opportunity to be professionally involved in golf tournaments, this past week aroused a lot of curiosity. It was a sight to behold! LIV Golf arrived for the first time in Spain, and at the Real Club Valderrama, no less. It was a sight to behold!

    For those unfamiliar with the event, LIV Golf emerged just a year ago amid significant controversy. It “signed on” major names from “traditional” golf circuits, such as the PGA Tour and the European Tour (now DP World Tour). These two prominent institutions/companies confronted the players who joined LIV Golf, prohibiting them from participating in their tournaments and thus being unable to earn points for the world rankings or to access events including the Ryder Cup. The battle lines were drawn.

    The concept of LIV Golf represents a new style of tournament, much more “Americanised”, akin to Formula 1 or MotoGP. “Golf but louder” is their slogan, and it certainly lives up to it. Here, the spectacle takes priority over many traditional aspects of golf, and it operates independently of the sport’s official institutions and federations. From the outset, LIV Golf entered the market to challenge the global golf “establishment”, backed by an enormous budget for operations and prizemoney, and signing players in a manner reminiscent of football. Greg Norman, known as “The Shark” (both on and off the course), has spearheaded the project so far, supported by the Public Investment Fund, the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, with an estimated capital of €650 billion. The LIV Golf Andalucía tournament last week offered a prize purse of $24 million ($20 million for individual players and $4 million for the winning team). In the previous DP World Tour event held at the same club last October, a total of €3 million in prize-money was distributed among players. Needless to say, there is little more to add regarding the obvious financial allure for players.

    However, rather than simply emulating the existing model, LIV Golf has taken a risky approach by breaking away from certain traditional concepts. They reduced the conventional four-day tournament to three days. Sequential tee times were discarded in favour of having all players on the course simultaneously, with a dramatic display of vehicles that enhances the spectacle and significantly shortens the duration of each day’s play. They introduced an additional layer of team competition to complement individual results and create a sense of club-like membership. They shattered the sacred silence of a golf course, replacing it with an impressive array of loudspeakers and background music (Ibiza style) throughout the venue. Before the competition begins, AC/DC blares at high volume, following a countdown reminiscent of American customs. They also dispensed with the strict dress code, allowing players to wear shorts, and filled the tournament days with numerous activities and organised concerts in the evenings. They have further innovated by challenging the customary television contracts, although this remains their main hurdle due to limited viewership – they produce and broadcast through their web platform and application.


    So what is the result? Opinions vary greatly. From a legion of scandalised individuals to those who have enjoyed this tournament much more than others. All changes and evolutions require a disruptive element, and this event has certainly brought many disruptions. Personally, not all of them are to my liking, but it is undeniable that they have made a bold move to break with the established norms.

    Frankly, until a few days ago, I hadn’t taken a particular interest in LIV Golf, and my opinion leaned towards a solid rejection of the idea that a company, simply due to its vast wealth, could disrupt concepts and institutions that until recently seemed untouchable, with the potential risks this could entail in the long run. However, whether we like it or not, just a few weeks ago, both major golf circuits seemed to have yielded (which was expected for the DP World Tour but less so for the PGA Tour) by announcing a possible global merger between LIV Golf, the PGA and the DP World Tour. This will revolutionise formats, tournaments and events worldwide.

    Unquestionably, the line-up of players in Spain was the strongest we’ve had in years, possibly since the 2000 American Express World Golf Championships. On the other hand, I have always advocated for adding a bit of “spice” (or reggaeton in this case) to golf to attract new generations and modernise a sport that still maintains an essentially distorted and unpopular image in countries like ours. The format of LIV Golf may make a positive contribution in that regard, but only time will tell.

    It is also true that professional golf circuits have been big businesses for a long time, for players and sponsors, advertising contracts and television coverage, even as they rely on tradition and sporting purity.

    As for us, as a golf destination, this can only be positive, at least as long as we are part of the international golfing scene. This year, we will host four high-level tournaments, including the Solheim Cup, and it is essential for us to position ourselves beyond Europe to grow and attract different segments of the golf industry, transforming ourselves into a global golf destination rather than just a European one. We need to be daring and compete with top-end destinations such as Scotland and Ireland.

    Therefore, as professionals involved in promoting Spanish golf worldwide, we can only once again express our gratitude to the members of Real Club Valderrama for their courage in embracing this format. When they made the decision, the future of the event seemed much more uncertain than it does now, and there were certain long-term risks that perhaps were not as apparent at that time. Special congratulations to the CEO, Javier Reviriego, for his management in the lead-up and during the event, which undoubtedly had many complexities. And, why not, let’s also congratulate Andalucian Tourism for having the foresight to “jump on board” at the last moment and ensure that Andalucía has its own name and coverage closely associated with the event. It would be great to complement this initiative with even more promotion of the Spanish brand, because the further we aim to reach the more important it is to work together on promotional campaigns and marketing.


    If you want to express your opinion on the matter, you can do so in the version reproduced on LinkedIn.



    Only 25 Years

    When, in 1995, I embarked on the El Sur Existe project to create GolfinSpain®, the internet seemed to many to be the eccentricity of an ambitious “youngster”.

    It was an era when the early internet “bubble” was in vogue, when Google and Facebook were still notional concepts. “Golf will never be sold online”, was a common response I heard at the time.

    Fortunately, they were wrong and the company’s other projects, in addition to Golf in Spain®, are still here – 60,000 bookings later. The path has certainly not been one that could have been envisaged 25 years ago, and there have been some difficult moments, including the current situation.

    Nevertheless, our key principles have been discretion, financial solvency, and essentially working behind the scenes.

    We are proud that we have had more than 18 million page visits and as many as three million online users who have discovered useful information about golf in Spain. Just think what this volume of business means to the sector, even beyond the 400,000 golf rounds that we have sold. Continue reading

    The Open de España will take place in Madrid!

    It is one of the oldest and most celebrated tournaments in Europe and it will return to the European Tour in April. After its absence from the schedule in 2017, the 91st playing of the Open de España will take place at the Centro Nacional de Golf in Madrid from April 12-15.

    Pelley said: “I am delighted to announce the return of the Open de España to our schedule. The roll call of champions reads like a Who’s Who of the game itself and we look forward very much to seeing who will add their name to that illustrious list in a couple of months’ time.

    “Our game thrives on prestigious national championships such as the Open de España and we thank everyone at the Royal Spanish Golf Federation and the Madrid Golf Federation for helping us make this happen.”

    The first contested played in 1912 was also the first tournament played in the European Tour’s inaugural season in 1972, with home favourite Antonio Garrido crowned as champion. Several Spanish greats followed onto the Roll of Honour including Seve Ballesteros, Sergio García, Álvaro Quirós and Miguel Ángel Jiménez.

    Also victorious in the Championship have been Major Champions Arnold Palmer, Bernhard Langer, Sir Nick Faldo, Padraig Harrington and Charl Schwartzel, alongside European Number Ones Colin Montgomerie and Robert Karlsson.

    Schwartzel’s victory, in 2007, came at the Centro Nacional de Golf itself and was the second of his current 11 victories on the European Tour, four years before he won the Masters Tournament at Augusta National.

    Gonzaga Escauriaza, President of the Royal Spanish Golf Federation, said: “The Open de España is back on the European Tour International Schedule, which is great news for Spanish golf and we are doubly delighted to be welcoming it back to our home at the Centro Nacional de Golf.

    “Our country has always held a relevant position in Europe, not only because of the outstanding performances of the Spanish golfers, both professionals and amateurs, but also for being one of the main tourist destinations. Therefore, Spain deserves its Open and I am convinced that our professionals will support the event with their presence. I especially would like to thank Keith Pelley and the European Tour, the Madrid Golf Federation, and all who have contributed to make it happen.”

    Ignacio Guerras, president of the Madrid Golf Federation, said: “The Open de España is set to return to its origins. In total, 43 of its 91 editions will have taken place in Madrid, one of the great cities in Europe, and also host to the first 17 editions of the tournament. Throughout history, Madrilenian golf courses have attracted the greats of the game including Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, José María Olazábal, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Ernie Els, Davis Love III and Fred Couples.”

    Aside from the 2007 Open de España, the Centro Nacional de Golf has also played host to the 2009 Madrid Masters on the European Tour and the 2006 Challenge de España on the European Challenge Tour.

    With the Open de España now confirmed, the number of Race to Dubai counting tournaments in 2018 still stands at 47 after the news that the Philippines Golf Championship, scheduled for March 15-18, will not take place this year.

    GolfinSpain Milestone

    Spain’s premier website for travelling golfers is now officially an “adult”. Founded in 1995 in the Costa del Sol town of Fuengirola, when the internet was a long way off from becoming the phenomenon it is today, GolfinSpain reached its legal age in 2013. Over the past 18 years the portal has become an online pacesetter (leader in traffic for “golf in Spain” at an international level) and a reference point for the Spanish golf tour operator market.

    Continue reading

    Valderrama launches major renovation plan to upgrade the golf course and practice areas

    Valderrama(4-14) _Page_05_Image_0001

    Club de Golf Valderrama, the most known Spanish golf course internationally, has announced a series of improvements to the field with a total investment of 3 million euros.

    The venue for the 1997 Ryder Cup, two World Golf Championships and 16 editions of the Volvo Masters, is currently undertaking major investments. Valderrama has been consistently ranked among the best courses, recently ranked in 45th place in the World and number 1 in Europe by Golf Architecture Magazine, this top 100 ranking is elaborated with votes from the most prestigious golf course designers and architects in the World.

    The first investment undertaken has been the complete renovation of the pumping system, this  new system has significantly reduced water and energy costs. The second major improvement on the course has been the new bunkers. All traps have been renovated by installing new drainage, liners and sand. The new sand conforms with USGA specifications and has been chosen after months of testing. “Bunkers have always been an issue at Valderrama. We have rebuilt the bunkers following the strictest and highest specifications and I am proud to say they are now matching the quality of our greens and fairways” says Valderrama’s general manager, Javier Reviriego.

    This is only the first phase of the renovation project, Valderrama is currently working on the improvement of many cart paths and the landscaping of the course, in order for the greens and fairways to be free of bad weeds.

    Planned for the immediate future is the construction of a new pitching and chipping green,  in a large area next to the current practice range.

    With the announcement of these improvements and the mention in the press release itself, one would think that a major golf tournament might be soon announced for Valderrama.

    Autumn Special in Almenara


    Enjoy your stay at Almenara Golf Resort, one of Spain’s most renowned golf resorts and an ideal destination for company or private groups.  The four star resort, designed as an Andalusian village, is located in the middle of one of Europe’s most beautiful golf courses.

    Check out our special promotions of only golf or hotel + golf packages.

    VAT increase for spanish golf


    As many of you might already have heard, changes in the Spanish legislation relating to VAT (IVA) will have a serious effect on golf, which will be re-categorised from the reduced rate (currently 8%) to the new general rate applying from 1 September (21%). In the case of hotels, the rate will rise from 8% to 10%.

    After the increase was announced by the government, the industry waited too long to respond, hoping there would be an 11th hour change in the legislation, which ultimately did not eventuate, and this resulted in an excessive delay in the application of the new rates – barely days before their introduction. Our own booking system reflected the new prices as soon as they were confirmed.

    Bookings confirmed before the increase

    The main problem has arisen with bookings confirmed before the change in legislation. As far as we are concerned, golf courses should have accepted the agreed price or, alternatively, have offered a form of credit voucher to clients with the objective of encouraging full advance payment during August as a means of avoiding the IVA increase. Unfortunately, in more cases than we would like to report this has not been the case, and the list of courses that are insisting on charging 100% of future bookings in advance in August is increasing, in spite of our efforts to explain the drawbacks and potential damage caused to our tourist destination.
    This means we have been required to contact – one by one – all clients with confirmed bookings (including a large list of clients with bookings for spring 2013) to advise them of the situation and, if they are planning to play at one of the courses that has decided to take this course of action, give them the opportunity of paying the full booking price over the next few days (i.e. up to 31 August) as the only way of avoiding the aforementioned increase, or alternatively cancelling their booking or changing it to another golf course.

    Courses that have respected the initial agreed rate

    At this point we believe it is important to note and – on our own and our clients’ behalf – thank those courses that have confirmed they will accept the booking rate previously agreed, and in some cases not even increase their prices at all, at least until the end of 2012, as a way of easing the problems caused by this tax increase. They include:

    • Alcaidesa
    • Aloha
    • Atalaya
    • Barcelona Golf
    • Bonmont
    • Cabopino
    • Chaparral
    • Doña Julia
    • El Paraíso
    • Finca Cortesín
    • Flamingos
    • Greenlife
    • La Duquesa
    • La Marquesa
    • La Quinta
    • Lauro Golf
    • Lumine
    • Marbella Club
    • Marbella Golf & Country
    • Miraflores
    • Montecastillo Golf
    • Montenmedio
    • Montenmedio golf
    • Parador de Málaga
    • PGA Catalunya
    • El Prat
    • Real Club de Golf de Sevilla
    • Real Club Sotogrande
    • Santa Clara Marbella
    • Santa Maria Golf
    • Son Antem
    • Valderrama
    • Vall D’Or
    • Valle Romano
    • Villaitana

    This is a provisional list – taking into account any possible errors or omission – of those courses that have informed us of their intentions, and we will continue to update the list in the coming weeks. There are many commercial courses that are still sending out their new rates. We only include commercial courses with which we have contracts in force.

    Even though we are sure our clients will understand that this whole matter is beyond our responsibility, we would nevertheless like to apologise for the resulting problems during a month when we should all be enjoying some well-deserved holidays.

    If you want to offer an opinion on the matter, we would be delighted to hear your view and forward it on to the relevant golf courses – or publish it with this article.

    Significant drop in ticket prices for the Volvo World Match Play

    Following consultation with the Volvo World Match Play Championship organisers over ticket prices for the tournament to be held 17-20 May at Finca Cortesín, we are pleased to announce that the price has been reduced by 20 per cent with regard to both the initial price and prices for last year’s tournament.

    Advanced bookings have also dropped in price, with a 33 per cent reduction for tickets covering the whole week, meaning a saving of 25€ over the price at the gate. This means a full ticket now costs little more than the price for two days play, which is a real incentive to enjoy the tournament from start to finish.

    Check out the final prices in the following chart

    Advanced On site
    10 €
    10 €
    15 €
    15 €
    20 €
    15 €
    25 €
    20 €
    20 €
    15 €
    25 €
    20 €
    20 €
    15 €
    25 €
    20 €
    Weekly Pass
    50 €
    35 €
    75 €
    55 €
    * Over 65 years old. Proof may be required. Taxes included.
    Free admission for children under 12 years accompanied with a paying adult. For more information and advanced ticket sale at


    Poulter to defend title at the Volvo World Match Play Championship


    Defending Champion, Ian Poulter, has confirmed he will defend his title at the 2012 Volvo World Match Play Championship at Finca Cortesín, Spain, from May 17-20, 2012. The 2012 Championship will once again attract the world’s best golfers with the final 24 man field to be announced in the weeks after the conclusion of the US Masters.

    The final field of the 47th edition of this historic tournament looks set to match the unprecedented strength of the 2011 Championship. Repeating last year’s successfully amended format, on arrival at Finca Cortesín the players will be divided into eight groups of three players to play in a round-robin group format on Thursday and Friday to decide which 16 players progress to Saturday’s knock-out stage with the semi-finals and final played on Sunday.

    Tickets Volvo World Match Play Championship

    Advance ticket sales “returns” this year to Golf in Spain, check out the special reduced advanced prices.

    We’ve also published two initial options with accommodation at Hotel Elba Estepona 5* and Hotel Don Agustín 2*. More to come in the following days.