One of the finest golf resorts in Spain, The San Roque Club is embarking on an exciting new era following its acquisition by Russian company Golf Estate, owner of two golf courses in Russia. The project director, Stephen Dundas, a Scottish former champion of the British Amateur, has announced a major investment programme to re-launch the club, located at the eastern end of Cádiz province, and place it in a privileged position within the European golfing scene.
Golf Estate president Dmitriy Kozachenko and Stephen Dundas recently outlined details about the purchase operation to club members. Among the short and long-term projects planned for The San Roque Club, especially worth mentioning is a remodelling of the Old Course in its entirety, beginning with the first nine holes in 2019 so that it is completely renovated in June 2021, with the upgraded infrastructure including new bunkers and irrigation.
Both the clubhouse (erected in what was originally the Domecq family’s spectacular farmhouse) and the restaurant amenities will also undergo major improvements in order to maximise their functional areas. Tony Jacklin’s former home will be converted into an attractive boutique hotel at the foot of the Old Course, offering clients an exclusive service in this area.
Stephen Dundas noted that Golf Estate’s resolute decision to acquire the club, and not another one, was based on the knowledge that the members were trying to buy it, which was an indication of how important the club was to them and how they had been taking good care of it.
What can you tell us about the new owner of The San Roque Club?
The new owner is very passionate about golf. He is a 12-handicapper and he loves the game. He is a member at some other clubs in the area and has a great eye for detail. Like most very successful business people he values his privacy, but he is an extremely nice man.
Why did Golf Estate buy this golf club?
We had looked at many different projects but as soon as we learned about San Roque it was easy. The club has a great reputation, not only in Spain but throughout Europe. This is a club with a great history and a strong, friendly membership, so it’s a great opportunity for us to enhance the reputation of a great club.
Can you outline your main objectives for The San Roque Club – and what time scales you are looking at?
The first thing is for people to understand our vision. This is to have 600 happy members who are given a great experience from the minute they enter the property to when they leave, at an affordable price. We want our members and guests to really feel they are getting value for money. To make this a reality there are three key areas we have to look at…
1. Ensuring the existing staff buy into what we want to achieve and giving them some real direction, and also providing the members with a clear picture of what we want to achieve.
2. Complete renovation of the Old Course including irrigation, drainage, bunkers, fairways, greens and tree programme.
3. Renovation of the clubhouse and taking control of our restaurant.
And your first initiatives in this respect?
It’s been a difficult time for everyone concerned with the club, so the first thing is to get to know the staff and members, build good relationships, and communicate very clearly what the vision is and what is expected of everyone. Then we hope to start some initiatives with the restaurant and course this season.
What role will club members have in this new era?
As i mentioned, it’s been a very difficult time so it’s amazing that so many members have remained. This shows a great passion for the club. Our members can be our best sales and marketing tool. We already have five new members and this just through word-of-mouth. It’s also important to understand that our main business model is geared towards having 600 members so a big part of our focus is on keeping our existing members and attracting new ones.
Are the owners planning to buy the hotel adjacent to the club or build a new one?
That is something that we are looking into.
How important is it for The San Roque Club to have, as its neighbours, such high-end clubs as Valderrama, Royal Sotogrande and La Reserva?
I think in any business it’s great to be surrounded by quality. quality product and quality people. Although we are all friends we are also competitive - we want to be the best. So when you have clubs like this around the area it’s a great motivation to always look for ways to improve. This is consequently great for the members and guests.
Is the new owner considering buying another golf course on the Costa del Sol, or elsewhere in Europe?
I would say at the moment he has more than enough to do, but if the correct project came up then you never say never.