There are some golf clubs where, in addition to a pleasant round on a challenging course, you can also enjoy stunning surroundings enveloped by nature.

The 18-hole La Estancia Golf Club is one of those fortunate layouts where buildings and urbanisations are out of view. It is located in Sancti Petri, in the heart of the Costa de la Luz in Cádiz province just a few hundred metres from the spectacular La Barrosa beach and in an area that offers excellent high-end hotel services, with 20 four and five-star establishments.

With its enviable natural setting, enhanced by major renovation work carried out in 2011 and 2012 which has resulted in significant improvements, La Estancia is now recognised as a stand-out course in this popular tourist destination in Chiclana de la Frontera municipality.

In fact, it has increased the number of green fee players (by percentage) more than any other course in the area over the past two years. “We began 2009 with 7,000 rounds,” notes general manager Carlos de Avilés, “and last year we had more than 28,000.”

Client satisfaction has also been boosted significantly. “It’s been spectacular. Sixty-five per cent of our winter players return, and our package with other courses in the area is the most requested, especially by German clients.”

The biggest rise in green fee sales occurred in 2016, 20 per cent more than the previous year. “And this year,” says de Avilés, “the results are even more spectacular, with 50 cent increases compared with 2016.”

One of the key factors behind this increase in the number of visitors was the aforementioned improvement project, which involved a complete renovation of the course and provided it with many more attractive features.

The work comprised a total replacement of the fairway grass, seeding paspalum maginatum, which enables considerable water savings. “It’s one of the problems we have in summer, and it also allows us to irrigate with very low quality water because it is extremely resistant to the soil’s salinity. This in turn means that we can ensure quality standards are maintained and sustained throughout the year.”

Players’ opinions “are what matters most to us and, according to the statistics we gather from direct surveys, they are overwhelmingly positive… Eight-five per cent of players are satisfied or very satisfied, although it is also true that 10 per cent say nothing and five per cent have a complaint, albeit in general not all that important.”

Thanks to the excellent hotel amenities in the area, with new establishments being opened, the Sancti Petri destination is become well established and consolidated. One new hotel has already opened this year and two more are expected to be inaugurated in 2018, “so the forecast is very positive”.

Other good news for this top tourist destination on the Cádiz coastline is that the number of flights to the area has increased. “Thomas Cook (one of Europe’s leading tour operators) has arranged two weekly flights all winter, the first time this has occurred – at least over the past nine years. And for next year it seems as though there is another operator prepared to add two or three weekly flights from Germany.”

With these figures in hand, it is fair to say that La Estancia, with its excellent relationship between price and quality, is the stand-out course in recent years in Sancti Petri. “It might be bad for me to say that, but it’s actually true,” says de Avilés.

Radical Transformation

The transformation that La Estancia underwent during those two years could be described as radical. It was converted from a course with a magnificent design but certain deficiencies to one of the area’s flagship layouts after carrying out the necessary improvements. It represented an 180-degree turnaround, with the layout’s vegetal layer completely replaced, improvements made to the irrigation system, and the design fine-tuned, without substantially modifying it. Two new lakes were added, and the overall distance was increased to 6,390 metres from the white markers.

The club is completely commercial, pay-and-play, and most of those who enjoy a round at the course for the first time are pleasantly surprised by the quality of the layout – which remains something of a little-known jewel, absolutely delighting us when we eventually discover its charms.