“The LET recognised our values and that’s why we were chosen”
We had to wait a while, but finally it was announced that the 2023 Solheim Cup would be held on the Costa del Sol, in Casares, and that the Finca Cortesín complex would host this historic event.
Designed by Cabell B. Robinson, one of legendary American architect Robert Trent Jones’ key disciples and colleagues, the resort’s course has already hosted three editions of the Volvo World Match Play, in 2009, 2011 and 2012 – highlighting why it is eminently well prepared to host an event of this international calibre.
"I know," says Finca Cortesín general manager Vicente Rubio, "that in some sectors of the golfing world our selection as the venue for the 2023 Solheim Cup has been a surprise, because other options were being considered and our candidacy has always been carried out with the discretion that characterises us.
"We are very satisfied with our designation and I would like to thank the Ladies European Tour for the trust they have placed in us. I'm sure they have noted and appreciated our values. And I am also very grateful to Deporte & Business, who gave us the opportunity to host the 2023 Solheim Cup.
“They have also been able to see this project’s first-class qualities, which we have been working on and improving for years, thanks to the efforts of a great team of professionals and the constant support of very closely involved owners. They have given us the opportunity, as I said, to host the most important women's golf event in the world.
"Having a Solheim Cup in Spain is going to be a milestone like the 1997 Ryder Cup was. It will mark a before and and an after, especially with regard to women's golf. It was not a surprise for us to be chosen as the venue because we know what we have created here and what we have to offer, and the work we have done for many years."
“We have hosted three Volvo World Match Plays, which, after the Ryder Cup, are probably the three premier tournaments that have been played in Spain, due to the calibre of the players and the high level of prizemoney. This gives us the necessary experience to bring to fruition an event of these characteristics, and we should also add that we have been named the best hotel in Spain and Portugal by Travel + Leisure and by Condé Nast Traveler UK and USA.
"We have always worked hard to achieve excellence, to create a project capable of hosting events such as the Solheim Cup. It is true that there had been talk of other destinations on the Costa del Sol, but in the end we are all the Costa del Sol. We should not slip into the kind of shortsighted thinking that, if it is held here or there, it benefits more one than the other. It is an event that will benefit the entire Costa del Sol, the entire world of golf in Andalucía and Spain.”
Obviously there would have been negotiations to secure the designation. Was it complicated?
Not especially. I believe, as I have pointed out, that our values are evident and that we have always been a good candidate to host major events. We have worked long and hard over the years to be in that position, and we have demonstrated our proven capabilities with the support of our suppliers and the constant support and commitment of the owners. The Solheim Cup has given us the opportunity to be the venue in 2023, and we are in a position to do that successfully.
What do you consider to be the key points or elements that have encouraged the tournament organisers to opt for your resort?
This is something they should answer. They have not told us we have chosen you for this reason or another. What I can say is that we do not have to do practically anything on the course, because we already have one of the best maintenance systems in Spain and it is always in perfect condition.
Knowing that we are committed to sustainability and caring for the environment may have weighed on their decision. We are a course that is irrigated 100 per cent with recycled water provided by Acosol, and we have carried out reforms to bring our commitments to fruition, including changing the greens in 2017 to an Ultradwarf Bermudagrass variety. This change has given our greens an exceptional quality, and they have very positively surprised everyone with the high quality of play. We have always tried to be at the forefront when it comes to maintenance, and I believe this has been one of the reasons for our choice as the venue.
Furthermore, we do not see golf as being isolated from the rest of the resort. We are a fully integrated destination, with a hotel, golf and low-density residential area – a combination that is always firmly committed to quality and excellence.
These days it is not enough just to have a good course design. You have to provide something more, and that something more is five-star service and outstanding maintenance, to generate an exceptional experience for those who visit our courses.
I think all of this, as a whole, is what the LET and Deporte & Business have appreciated. I would also like to highlight our willingness to not miss the opportunity to show the world that the Costa del Sol has iconic projects such as Finca Cortesín.
Have you not been asked to undertake some renovations on the course?
At the moment they have not asked us anything that we were not going to do anyway. There is a hole that we might convert from a par-five to a par-four. As I have already noted, the greens are impeccable and the bunkers, which we have changed twice since 2006, are also in superb condition, as well as the fringes, renovated three times, etc... We consider the course to be a living being in constant transformation, so it requires reforms and investments from time to time. Nothing lasts 30 or 40 years; every element of the course has a useful life and you have to keep everything updated once that time has passed. For this reason, we are well prepared to host a major event at any time. Tomorrow, for example, we could host the most challenging tournament.
Has the hotel been a key consideration in the decision to choose Finca Cortesín as the venue?
Obviously the hotel has been one element taken into account, both for its facilities and its operations. The fact that the players do not have to travel, that they can walk to the practice range, etc… It is something that has weighed heavily, although the really determining factor has been the course.
"I would like to add", concludes Vicente Rubio, "that we are very, very proud that they have allowed us to write a new chapter in the history of golf in Spain. What was achieved with the Ryder Cup in 97 is going to be strengthened and consolidated now. It is a great event that will not only benefit us as the venue and Casares, but also the entire Costa del Sol, because from the moment the venue was announced the entire Coast became ‘the Solheim destination’."