He has been presiding over one of Andalucía’s most venerable clubs, Royal Guadalmina Golf Club, since 2013. In this interview, Ramón Martínez Landazábal talks about the Spanish Women’s Open, which will be played on the South Course (designed by Javier Arana) in September.
What does it mean for Royal Guadalmina to host this Ladies European Tour event?
Even though many years ago, in 1995 and 1997, we hosted finals of the European Tour Qualifying School, during the 58-year history of the club this will be the first tournament as part of one of the main European tours, and we are super-happy and proud that it is being held here.
Your club certainly hosts more amateur tournaments every year than any other club, not only in Andalucía but possibly the whole of Spain…
At a members’ social level, definitely. And if we also include the open and federation events, we have more than one competition a day. It should be taken into account that we have two courses and that every week we hold four members’ competitions that count for handicaps, then there are many others in which non-members can play.
Is the presence of Azahara Muñoz, the defending champion who learnt to play at this same club, definitely confirmed?
Yes, it’s certain. When the federation suggested it (hosting the tournament) we agreed, among other reasons, because Azahara had been coached at our academy and she is also one of the club’s three honorary members (the other two are Fernando Goizueta and Sidney Mathews).
Her presence will no doubt be an added highlight to attract spectators to the tournament…
We hope so. Both Azahara and Noemí (Jiménez), who also trained at our academy and plays on the European Tour, have many followers in our club and in this area, and I’m sure they will come to watch them play. We also expect Carlota Ciganda and most of the top Spanish players, as well as the main foreign stars who play on the Tour.
The Royal Guadalmina golf academy is a veritable nursery of champions, both male and female…
We have actually been enjoying a good spell, thanks to a job done well. Apart from Azahara and Noemí, we now have the men’s national amateur champion, Ángel Hidalgo, who also won the Puerta de Hierro, one of Spain’s oldest amateur tournaments. The academy is doing a magnificent job with students of all ages, from the very youngest. Interestingly, we are attracting new members thanks to the academy’s great work.
Will any special preparations be undertaken at the course for the Open?
This week (mid-May) we just happen to be renovating 31 of the 61 bunkers on the course, as many suffered serious damage from the torrential rainfall in December, and we are going to change the drainage and all the sand. Apart from that, we are extending the tee on the 14th. And, even though this is not part of the actual course, in the clubhouse we are carrying out a refurbishment of the ground floor cafeteria.
What are the main features of Javier Arana’s design?
It’s an expansive course, open, made difficult by the trees, the doglegs right and left… it’s a course that all players like a lot. Amateurs love playing it.
Royal Guadalmina has one of the highest number of members of any members’ club in Andalucía. How many do you have currently?
We now have 1,900 members but in 2008, before the crisis, we had 20 per cent more, around 2,300. Most are adults, but the number of juniors is also increasing little by little.
Does that mean the membership is evolving in a generational sense?
Not as much as we would like it to, because the average age of our members is very high and more stop playing every year than those who join the club. However, over the past three years, there has been a balance between those leaving and those arriving. For the first time since 2014 there has not been a net inter-annual loss of members, which is good news.
What are the main nationalities among members?
Royal Guadalmina is a very cosmopolitan club, with a wide diversity of nationalities, although the Spaniards are predominant, approximately half the total, followed by the British and those from the Nordic countries. The latter – i.e. taking into account all of the countries – represent more in total than the Britons. There are also Germans, Italians… nearly 20 different nationalities, but of much lower proportions.
In recent years, some significant renovations have been made to the club. What are the main ones?
In 2013 we undertook three major investments: the new maintenance warehouse, which is fantastic – other clubs come to see it; also the new building, very attractive, for the clubs storage room, shop and caddie master’s office; and a gymnasium was built in what was the old clubs storage room and caddie master’s office.