Málaga club granted coveted title by the House of His Majesty the King
There are golf clubs such as Málaga’s Guadalhorce where a royal title truly fits like a ring. Not only for the magnificent 18-hole course that sustains it but also for the stunning clubhouse that finishes it off: a magnificent Andalucian-style mansion built at the end of the 18th century.
It was in 1988 when a group of golf enthusiasts from Málaga, with a grand vision of the future, decided to found Guadalhorce. Later a group of Finns joined the Málaga locals in their great adventure of creating a golf club that, with the passage of time, has become Málaga’s most definitive. The course was inaugurated in 1990, designed by Finn Kosti Huronen, and Málaga-born star Miguel Ángel Jiménez re-designed the course a few years ago.
For Guadalhorce, obtaining the title of “Royal Club” has been an objective marked out since the club was founded. "The first president of honour was Don Juan de Borbón," recalls the club's director, Salvador Álvarez. "When I was still in Estoril", he adds, "the constituent board of directors went to see him and he accepted the title." When the club celebrated its 25th anniversary, an obligatory requirement to apply for the title, Guadalhorce formally processed its request, and the Royal title was awarded at the end of last year.
What has it meant for the club obtaining the Royal title?
We are delighted to have been granted the title, which is especially emotional for members, and obviously it also gives the club a special cachet. The British, for example, who are very accustomed to royal concepts, have taken special note, and for us it really is a true honour to add the word Real (Royal) and the crown to our logo. It has been hard work in terms of paperwork, but it is an honour to have achieved it and we accept it with great pride.
Apart from its course and clubhouse, Royal Guadalhorce Golf Club is also well known for its teaching side...
That’s true. It has become a very important centre for national teaching. On the one hand there is the IH Academy (Iván Hurtado), this one at Guadalhorce and another at the Parador, and it is doing a great job. It has all kinds of equipment, machinery, golf club test fittings, repairs, TrackMan... everything.
We are also the headquarters of the UGPM (University Golf Programme Málaga), directed by Javier Martín-Montalvo, a member of the club for many years. It started with four students and today has become a benchmark. Last year an interclub event was played with the University of St Andrews, and the trophy was a replica of the Guadalhorce club farmhouse, which stayed in St Andrews because they won.
Álvarez considers what he describes as the "American philosophy" to be a great initiative for Málaga. It consists of students studying at the university and during their free time playing golf, with transport provided between the university and golf club. "The students come here with a low handicap and they go away with a very low handicap, because they train a lot at the IH Academy," he notes.
The UGPM also provides classes in the clubhouse, such as Spanish for the foreign students.
In addition to this teaching element centred on the IH Academy, the club has been a centre for training courses run by the Spanish Association of Golf Managers over the past two years. Online classrooms have been set up for the long-term training courses, which are specifically related to golf course management and administration, golf course maintenance and greenkeeper assistant, and operations, "and now we will possibly add specialised mechanics applied to golf and some other courses.”
Álvarez adds, "The projects presented by the students are excellent, and the teachers we have provide great training for them. We bring managers from all over Spain with extensive experience and we are lucky to have people like Javier Reviriego (general manager of Royal Valderrama Club) giving classes."
Himself a teacher for 21 years, the Royal Guadalhorce director says he feels "very satisfied" with how these courses are being taught and the results achieved. "Here we have young people with low handicaps and also professionals, like Jordi García del Moral and Ivo Ginés, who want to prepare for the future."
Álvarez welcomes the fact that golf club managers from all over Spain come to the club thanks to the AEGG courses, and that the UGPM brings "very relevant people from the world of golf, even internationally".