Interview with María Acacia López Bachiller

Born in Torremolinos in 1954 but now living in Madrid with her lawyer husband and two children (11 and nine years), María Acacia López-Bachiller is almost as familiar a Spanish figure on the European Tour as Severiano Ballesteros. As press officer at tour events in Spain, and around the world, for over two decades, she has become a confidante to two generations of Spanish players, from Antonio Garrido and Victor García to sons Ignacio Garrido and Sergio García. In this exclusive interview with GolfinSpain, she looks back over her career and the prospect that she will be working alongside a third generation.

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Golf with a view… 360 panoramics º

So you have a clearer view of golf we start a series of 360º panoramic photos of Spanish golf resorts and events.

Although some include a Java version, you will require the free QuickTime plugin installed in order to view and navigate the images.

Valle del Este

Valle del Este, Vera, Almería
Hotel Pool

Santa Clara Golf
Santa Clara Golf 
16th Tee

Valderrama Panoramico

Volvo Masters Andalucía 2004
Hole 17 – last match

Valderrama 360

Volvo Masters Andalucía 2004
Hole 18

Features

“Sex Sells”

The resurrection this year of the women’s Spanish Open has much to do with the sex appeal of young players such as Barcelona’s Paula Marti. Spain was one of the victims of European women professional golf’s floundering fortunes in the mid-1990s – with La Manga hosting the last Spanish Open in 1996. In the years following, the women’s tour was on the point of disintegrating, before a new corporate administration began restoring its health from 1999.

Last year, the Ladies European Tour (LET) comprised 16 tournaments offering a total of more than eight million euros (including the 2.1 million euro Evian Masters). Now Spain, somewhat belatedly, has re-enters the scene with the Tenerife Ladies Open at Golf del Sur from May 2-5 and the Caja Duero Open de España in Salamanca from May 30 to June 2.

Not everyone in the game is happy to admit it but one of the key reasons why the women’s game is once again attracting sponsors, and substantial prize funds, is the young, sexy image of many of its younger players – and their burgeoning talent, of course.

In an interview last year in Corporate Golf Magazine, 21-year-old Marti, who won twice in 2001 in her rookie season (and was described by the magazine as a “stunner”) was asked if she thought the new image would help women’s golf.
“Hell yeah, sex sells, it’s no big deal,” she said. “If we have the looks and the talent, then why not use it. We need more sponsors and, if we can use this to further the tour, then let’s do it. The younger girls from Europe have brought their own style and sense of dress to the game and it just happens to be a little tighter fit and a more athletic, modern look, but that is what we feel comfortable in when we play, and it just happens to look much sexier.”
According to Dutch player Mette Hageman, Marti “is our new Seve – she’s talented, ambitious, a born winner and, to top it all off, she is great looking too”, but she stresses that there are others from Scandinavia, France, Holland, Germany and Spain – “all good looking and all very promising players”.
For Hageman, “The future is looking good, but what we need to do is offer these girls more tournaments in Europe with better prize-money and that would stop them going over to the LPGA (in the US), and if we are getting more attention for being sexy as well as talented, hey, that works for me.”
All top-10 players on last year’s LET order of merit were 30 years or younger, with Zaragoza’s Raquel Carriedo winning three times and becoming the first Spaniard to top the order; Marti finished sixth and the Basque Country’s Marina Arruti, ninth.

Several other Spanish players competed with varying degrees of success on the tour, including Ana Belén Sánchez (Málaga), who, at the US Qualifying School, also earned conditional exempt status for the 2002 LPGA Tour.
Coinciding with Salamanca’s year as a “European Cultural Capital”, the Caja Duero Open de España is being backed with 360,000 euros (60 million pesetas) from the Real Federación Española de Golf’s own funds – in line with an election pledge last year by re-elected president Emma Villacieros.


Features

200.000 Landmark
Spain now has 200,000 officially registered golfers. The milestone was reached during January, when María Mercedes Moreno, a 28-year-old Argamasilla de Alba (Ciudad Real) resident who plays at the Media Legua club, registered with the Royal Spanish Golf Federation.

GROWTH OVER PAST 20 YEARS
Year Federados Increase
1982 23,542 10.5%
1983 25,332 7.6%
1984 27,739 9.5%
1985 30,783 11.0%
1986 35,193 14.3%
1987 39,863 13.2%
1988 45,780 14.8%
1989 52,352 14.4 %
1990 58,202 11.2 %
1991 65,525 12.6 %
1992 73,203 11.7
%
1993 80,450 9.9 %
1994 89,139 10.8 %
1995 98,263 10.2 %
1996 108,915 10.8 %
1997 121,916 11.9 %
1998 136,937 12.3 %
1999 153,938 12.4 %
2000 177,409 15.2 %
2001 199,516 12.5 %

The game has experienced exceptional growth over the past decade, becoming the third most popular sport after soccer and basketball – (i.e. on the basis of number of licensed players). In 1966, just 2,500 players were registered with the federation. This grew to 10,000 in 1974, 25,000 in 1983 and 50,000 in 1989, then a “boom” in the game doubled the figure to 100,000 within seven years (Alicante golfer Leandro Cerezo becoming the 100,000th “federado”) – and now to 200,000 (201.606 at January 31, to be exact: 200, 538 amateurs and 1,068 professionals). At the start of 2001, the number of registered golfers in Spain was 177,409.

Nevertheless, even taking into account the increase during 2001, Spain remained in 15th place in the international ranking of officially registered golfers at the end of the year. US led the way with more than 25 million and Japan was next with just over 20 million, followed a long way back by Canada (5.2 million), Australia (1.9 million) and the United Kingdom (1.2 million). Also above Spain – in Europe – were Sweden, Germany, France and Ireland.

In number of golf courses, Spain was 13th with 250. Again, the US led the way with nearly 17,000, followed by the United Kingdom and Japan (both over 2,000), and Canada and Australia (each with more than 1,000). Italy joined Germany, France, Sweden and Ireland with more courses than Spain.

Federation Breakdown

All regional federations experienced increases in the number of registered golfers during 2001

Federation December
31, 2000
December
31, 2001
January
31, 2002
Andalucía 27,333 30,947 31,081
Aragón 2,681 3,022 3,077
Asturias 4,877 5,500 5,596
Balearics 5,626 6,102 6,140
Canary Isles 3,929 4,418 4,470
Cantabria 4,677 5,344 5,404
Castilla-La Mancha 1,636 1,956 2,074
Castilla y León 6,853 7,988 8,108
Cataluña 36,112 40,328 40,728
Ceuta 87 94 94
Extremadura 1,758 1,858 1,879
Galicia 5,869 6,906 7,041
La Rioja 453 658 685
Madrid 45., 08 51,517 52,256
Melilla 61 128 134
Murcia 2,484 2,709 2,704
Navarra 2,665 2,813 2,815
Basque Country 10,978 11,976 12,065
Valencia 13,055 14,167 14,170
Honorary 16 17 17
Total amateurs 176,429 198,448 200,538
Professionals 980 1,068 1,068
Total 177,409 199,516 201,606