It prides itself, justifiably, on being the most venerable of the Spanish mainland’s golf clubs. Bellavista Golf Club was founded in 1916, a turbulent year on the international scene, with the fiercest battles of World War I taking place. General manager Alberto Rodríguez reviews the history of this historic golf club situated in Huelva in Aljaraque municipality.

“Its origins are linked to Rio Tinto Mines’ company directors. They date to the end of the 19th century in Huelva province, specifically the Minas de Riotinto municipality, and are closely associated with the Anglo-Saxon community that managed  the mining operations. It is believed that The North Lode Golf Club was established in 1890, the first in mainland Spain.”.

In 1916, on land donated by Rio Tinto Mines’ English company, Bellavista Golf Club opened a nine-hole golf course with sandy greens in the provincial capital. It was situated near Real Club de Tiro de Pichón, on the Paseo de los Pinzones, where the Recinto Colombino fairgrounds are located and where, in August 1968, the Plaza Monumental de Toros de Huelva was inaugurated. Later,  the Plaza would be demolished, and it currently is home to Real Club Recreativo de Huelva’s stadium, Nuevo Colombino (Recreativo is Spain’s oldest football club).

The original golf course was not at all similar to current ones. It was "more rustic, and the important thing was to be able to socialise while playing golf with all the club 'members'. A stunning example of how a golf course was set up in 1890 is the current Corta Atalaya, next to the Río Tinto mine. The course’s features are unique in the world, as it has grass tees and greens, and fairways comprising stone and mining slag. This provides an exceptional and highly recommended experience for those who want to learn how they played golf in Spain in the 19th century.”


Designed by architect Luis Recasens, the current golf course was built in 1976. The initial project included 18 holes but the second nine were not inaugurated until 1992. For more than 15 years, Bellavista was a nine-hole course with a great traditional character and the venue for several major professional tournaments.

When defining the layout, Rodríguez describes it as “great fun, varied and very easy to play. It has all kinds of holes – long, short, medium – almost always protected by large bunkers, and a wonderful pine forest extending over more than half the layout.”

The difference between the old nine holes and “new” nine is quite noticeable. “The main feature is that the 'old' greens are small compared with the 'new' ones.”


Changing Times

Golf, like any business activity, has been affected by the many crises that have stricken the global and national economies over the past 10  years. These circumstances led to a decline in Bellavista’s economic situation and maintenance, which resulted in changes to the club’s governance structure. In March 2017, it was re-categorised from a sports entity to a commercial company after the purchase of the sports section by the Inés Rosales Group, a 100-year-old Andalucian company presided over by Juan Moreno Tocino.

Under the technical direction of Juan A Moreno Pedrosa, and with a budget of €3 million, all required works were carried out to equip the club with a “smart” irrigation system, including renewal of the piping networks, sprinklers, pumping systems, automatic controls, etc. The greens underwent a significant change, with the seeding of Bermuda grass, and the machinery and buggy fleets were updated. In short, they carried out work in whatever areas needed improvements.


"These changes and their subsequent careful monitoring", explains Rodríguez, "have resulted in us moving from being a course on the margins, according to the main professional observatory of world golf courses, to 32nd place among the top 100 courses in Spain and second when it comes to the relationship between quality and price. For all these reasons, the new owners are extremely excited about the ‘new normality’, and thank all those who have made this change possible.”


Clearly, the course has taken a spectacular leap in quality, after the almost total renovation undertaken by the new owners, with a solid commitment to sustainability and innovation. "A new irrigation and pumping system, and especially the transition of the greens from Agrostis to Bermuda, is what has made this transformation to a higher level, as a course and club, possible.”