He is mayor of the municipality with the third highest number of golf courses in Spain, and is also president of the Western Costa del Sol Association of Municipalities. This government entity encompasses the vast majority of municipalities that make up Europe's leading golf tourism destination, popularly known as the Costa del Golf. And that fills him with justified pride as he is a keen golfer himself, having played the game for 21 years. José Antonio Mena is a young man, jovial, very sporty, a lawyer, a motorcycle aficionado and – as to be expected – passionate about Benahavís.
The fact that Benahavís is also the municipality with the largest number of golf courses per capita in Spain has clear implications for the mayor. “Golf is one of our main hallmarks, together with gastronomy, nature-based sports and culture. It is a national and international lure that ensures we have visitors throughout the year, as the options are both high-quality and diverse.”
Women's golf is experiencing growth and increasing media interest in both Spain and the rest of the world. What attractions does Benahavís have to highlight its appeal in this golf segment?
For both women's and men's golf, the variety of courses and other complementary attractions in the municipality for those who come to enjoy playing golf are the key. Our climate and geographical setting do the rest. Here we can go out and play in good weather practically 365 days a year.
Benahavis has made a strong commitment to the 2023 Solheim Cup. What do you think this tournament would bring to the town if it were played here?
Worldwide visibility, because the tournament reaches millions of people, in addition to a very strong economic impact for the municipality: accommodation, catering, related services... But not only on the days of the tournament – also in future years. Hosting such an important sporting event guarantees even greater economic stability for our municipality.
Benahavís has three key tourist assets, which are nature, gastronomy and golf. What do you have planned this year to strengthen the municipality’s positioning and image as a privileged golf destination?
In addition to these three assets, which have always showcased our brand, Benahavís’s cultural options are emerging, so we can provide greater and more varied attractions for all those who visit us to play golf.
On the other hand, attendance at specialist fairs, our presence in specific media and collaborating with sporting events guarantees that we are always present and visible as a golf destination.
There is a project in Benahavís to extend a golf course from nine to 18 holes so that it can host major international tournaments, but it will be necessary to divert the road that connects the town with the coast, work that depends on the town hall. When is it planned to start work on this project and how long is it expected to take?
The process has already begun but I still cannot specify a date. We are working to ensure that the whole process is as agile as possible and that deadlines are met.
Benahavís residents have great advantages and facilities to play golf. Can you specify what they consist of?
There is a municipal practice tee available for anyone who wants to use it, as well as a municipal golf academy, where the teacher, Manuel Araujo, works hard to get the best out of each student. In addition, those born in Benahavís can play at courses in the municipality for free under certain circumstances – and as long as their handicap allows it.
The municipal golf academy has become a nursery for players of undoubted talent, including Julia López, who especially stands out and is currently at the Blume residence in Madrid for elite athletes. What does this academy contribute to the town’s children and youth?
Julia López is a great example of what a municipal academy, with the full and absolute support of the town ball, can do. She is an elite athlete who has been coached at the academy and who, since taking up the sport as a young child, has been able to evolve and increasingly advance further in the sport. Her parents have made a great effort to help Julia reach the top, and we at the town hall also support them. She has become a model for our young people: with hard work and effort, you can achieve what you want to.