“Here we treat clients like members right from the first moment”
Lawyer Luis Fernando Linares Torres took over the company and management of Costa del Sol golf club Doña Julia just over three years ago. Previously, he had been managing director of two other Málaga province clubs, Valle Romano and La Quinta, so he has quite a wide and varied experience in the world of golf.
– Doña Julia is one of 70 golf courses on the Costa del Sol. How would you convince our readers to play there?
- At the moment Doña Julia is, without a doubt, an open course where clients are treated like members right from the first moment. In addition, as far as the views, player enjoyment and quality of construction are concerned, it is one of the most advanced clubs on the Coast – together with La Cañada, the only one playable following plentiful and heavy rainfall.
– Was it not something of a risk to take on the management of a golf course during times of crisis, as your company did?
This is certainly the case from an economic perspective but I have always believed that the creation of value (the course was closed and several holes had been invaded due to the urbanisation’s demolition) represents an opportunity for the future, the creation of synergies and new expectations, the rebirth of the 2,000 homes surrounding it, for the common good, the creation or recuperation of jobs, and the satisfaction of thousands of golfers. Its true that we have lost a lot of money, but we have created a force that will give this place a boost and, perhaps, enthusiasm and doing things well are worth more than that circumstantial or definitive loss. Risk is all part of life and business; value endures and ends up returning. I know I believe that, and my own experiences have shown me this is the case.
– What are the keys to attracting golfers to a particular course and ensuring they leave with a good taste in their mouth?
Attention, adequate and attractive maintenance, giving everyone the opportunity of feeling like they are in their own club, with a solid nucleus of warmth and friendliness.
– Your company has a real estate department. Is this a good moment to buy or do you expect further reductions in home prices?
This is the right moment, without a doubt. I’ve anticipated this on the radio every week, and in Capital magazine, which I write for regularly. First of all, the higher quality coastline, Barcelona, Madrid, the north, Pamplona, San Sebastián and Bilbao, and then further on.
– It seems as though the golf sector is recovering and improving bit by bit. Are you optimistic or do you believe there is still a long way to go for a complete recovery?
It’s a different moment; there are various marketing options. Clients are seeking a good relationship between price and quality. Location is important, and the difficulty is still with tourism here.
What factors do you believe have a greater influence with European golfers who visit the Costa del Sol: quality of the courses, prices…?
Familiarity with the course, price-quality and player enjoyment. What we need are more people here; others, to respond to the new expectations.
– What do the authorities need to do to strengthen this golf tourism destination?
Raise awareness of the economic, ecological and future value of golf tourism.
– Do you believe the Costa del Sol’s leadership position as a golf tourism destination in Europe is in danger in the face of pressure and initiatives by our competitors?
Turkey and Bulgaria are doing very well but the Costa del Sol – due to its climate, quality courses, location, infrastructure, natural beauty, brand and being the main residence for many foreigners – can only grow, unless we succumb to prejudices, affectations, sophisms and other maladies of consciousness and responsibility.
– With your many responsibilities, do you get to play golf very often?
At Doña Julia and La Quinta, where I’m a member, or Atalaya, full of friends, I play at least once a week and sometimes twice. Golf has changed my life, and it’s a break from responsibility and an opportunity to catch up with friends, many also enthusiastically throwing themselves into our project.