European Tour Destinations are all world class golf venues offering a comprehensive range of facilities and services to their members and guests. Their identity is closely aligned to The European Tour, creating a unique partnership which ensures that all guests can enjoy the outstanding customer experience to be expected from the family of one of the game’s foremost organisations.
Our Destination portfolio comprises Championship venues in Dubai, England, Austria, France, Germany, Spain and The Netherlands which regularly host events on The European Tour International Schedule, whether main Tour, Senior Tour, Challenge Tour or Qualifying School.
Stenson doubles up in DubaiStenson doubles up in Dubai
Sweden's Henrik Stenson set his sights on an elusive Major Championship after successfully defending a title for the first time in his career following a thrilling finish to the DP World Tour Championship.Stenson carded a closing 70 at Jumeirah Golf Estates to finish 16 under par, two shots ahead of World Number One Rory McIlroy and Ryder Cup team-mates Justin Rose and Victor Dubuisson.
Ireland's Shane Lowry finished a shot further back in fifth to move into the Official World Golf Ranking’s top 50 and all-but secure a Masters Tournament debut next April.
The victory ensured he finished second in The Race to Dubai with 4981093 points behind McIlroy, whose points tally with the bonus pool added up to 7149503 points.
It also took Stenson second in the World Ranking, but the 38 year old said: "It would be nice to have been ranked the world's best at some point, but if I had the choice I would go for a Major Championship so I am going to try and be in good shape for them next year."
Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello held a two shot lead with seven holes to play only to bogey the 12th and run up double bogeys on the 16th and 17th after finding water on both occasions.
Stenson had also found trouble on a rollercoaster back nine, hitting his tee shot out of bounds on the 11th to gift playing partner Cabrera-Bello that two-shot advantage, but a brilliant five iron tee shot on the par three 17th produced a tap-in birdie to reclaim the lead.
McIlroy and Rose had missed birdie putts on the 18th from near-identical positions, while Dubuisson had to settle for a birdie after almost holing out from a greenside bunker.
"It feels great," added Stenson, who finished in style with a birdie on the 18th. "I'm exhausted to say the least. It was hot out there and tricky on the back nine. I did not play my best and had a shocking hole on 11.
"I walked up to the tee with too much club in my hand and instead of changing I tried to cut a two-iron but hit a push, slice, shank straight into the buildings.
"That knocked me back but I did not give up. I just had to dig in there and wait for something to happen. I had a couple of close calls this year to get my win and it was not to be. It's been close but eventually you get something if you stick around and I surely did that."
McIlroy failed to take advantage of a lucky break on the 18th when his tee shot hit a rock in the creek which runs through the middle of the fairway and bounced to safety.
Rose was ultimately left to rue a slow start to the week - he was four over par after ten holes of the opening round - and his failure to pick up a shot on the 17th or 18th after a brilliant escape from the trees on the 15th had set up his third birdie in a row.
"All week I was clawing my way back, right from the start on Thursday," Rose said. "Today I did everything I needed to do early in my round and made a few poor mistakes in the middle of the round. That was where I struggled.
"But all in all, lots of positives and a good week. It's a little bit like Shanghai (the BMW Masters) where I had a good chance there as well after a poor start (four over after four holes). But at least it tells me I'm playing well and getting myself into contention. It's never easy to win every time."
Speaking about breaking into the world's top 50, Lowry said: "It was one of the goals for me playing these last four tournaments. I've been between 52 and 54 in the world for a month or so now and I felt like I have been playing the golf to have the high finish to get in there.
"I just wasn't scoring well and finishing 15th to 25th. A nice, high finish this week is going to do it for me so I'm thrilled and I can't wait till next April."
Birdies, bogeys and Bouniol: Day of drama at Q-SchoolBirdies, bogeys and Bouniol: Day of drama at Q-School
By Nick Totten, europeantour.com
At PGA Catalunya Resort
Sometimes the greatest sporting stories are those that would be turned away by Hollywood producers the world over for being too fanciful, but as the curtain closed on yet another 108-hole European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage marathon, it was very much a case of lights, camera, action, and of course, Bouniol.
The Frenchman was one of the more dramatic stories in yet another thrilling instalment of the season-ending endurance test, in which the dream factory offered golden tickets to 27 Race to Dubai hopefuls, while there were also tales of heart-break and near misses once again in Girona.
Agony and ecstasy are always the overriding emotions at the heart of the thrilling tournament in north eastern Spain, but for Bouniol it was very much a case of the latter as a closing birdie under the utmost pressure saw him claim the final card on offer in 2014.
For much of the afternoon it had looked like the Texas-based 27 year old’s invitation to dine at European golf’ top table was a virtual certainty, as he turned in 34 strokes to be three inside the eventual qualifying mark of seven under par.
Two double bogeys coming home, however, including one at the penultimate hole on which he was required to hit three balls from the tee before finding the first in an unplayable lie, had looked like costing the always genial Bouniol his place amongst the game’s elite.
Cue a stern talking to, from the man himself, and he was left standing on the final tee knowing only a birdie would do. What came next was a perfect drive, a short iron from 152 yards and, when he needed it most,a ten foot putt that secured a maiden campaign on The European Tour in 2015.
“I didn’t make a putt all day,” said Bouniol, whose relief was clear to see on the last as he gave his closing birdie putt the fist pump it deserved to card a one over par 73.
“I played incredible on the front nine with only tap in birdies, so I stood over that putt on 18 and said to myself ‘you’re not a bad putter and you’ve not made a putt today, so the odds of making this one are in your favour, as you can’t spend a whole day without making a putt.’
“It’s just incredible, as when I left the 17th green I was feeling right at the bottom and I stepped on the tee and I said to my caddie Mikey ‘OK man, this is it, I don’t have a choice, it’s birdie or nothing.’
“I didn’t even know if that was enough to make it, as I saw on the board the mark was seven under, but to make it happen today, especially after the bogey at the 16th and the double at the 17th, it is incredible. I’m speechless.
“It’s all the more meaningful too, that under the hardest adversity and having not made a putt all day, that I was standing over it at the 18th knowing what it was for – either I would be on Tour or I would be back to what I’ve done all year. I told myself to take a chance, and it’s incredible it went in, I’m so happy.”
As well as the drama of Bouniol’s closing birdie, there was also elation for American Daniel Woltman, who carded a closing gain of his own at his last – this time at the ninth – to earn his own maiden sojourn amongst the great and good of The European Tour in 2015.
The Wisconsin native had only just scraped into the final 36 holes after making the four round cut on the number, but consecutive rounds of 69 when it mattered most meant the man who was once in the top ten of the World Amateur Golf Rakings will now be mixing it with the best players on the planet next year.
“It took a lot of work to get here, coming through all three stages to get this card, and I’m really excited right now, but the work has just begun, that’s for sure,” said the 28 year old, who had to wait over an hour to learn his fate, after he converted from five feet for a closing three.
“It wasn’t even over when I holed my final putt today. I made the cut on the number just to make the cut and played really solid the last two days, then I birdied my 108th hole.
“I thought seven would be good enough at the start of the day, but then it moved up to eight under, and when I was walking up my last hole I saw it on the board. So I said, let’s just roll this putt in, make birdie and hope seven is good enough, and I did.
“I’ve seen Brooks Koepka and Peter Uihlein and those American guys and the success they’ve had, and heard how much fun they’ve had too, and that was one of the big reasons I wanted to come and do this Q-School.
“I’m thankful that I’m going to have that opportunity to play alongside some of the best players in the world and see some of the coolest countries and cities around. It’s going to be fun.”
European Tour winner Andrew Dodt was also one of the better stories from the sixth and final day in Girona, as the 2010 Avantha Masters victor carded a five under par 67 to finish tenth and earn a return to The European Tour, having started the day outside the top 25.
Fellow Australian Jason Scrivener also hurtled through the field on Thursday, climbing 31 places with a closing 66, to finish in a tie for 18th and earn a maiden season in The Race to Dubai.
Italy’s Alessandro Tadini carded a 68 in the sixth round to get his card on the mark at seven under, alongside Bouniol and Woltman, while six players filled the dreaded places one shot shy of glory.
Portugal’s Ricardo Gouveia (71), Americans Wes Homan (71) and Sihwan Kim (68), European Tour winner Peter Lawrie (71) and Finland’s Jaako Makitalo (72) all finished in a share of 28th after 108 holes.
Alongside them was Frenchman Sebastien Gros (72), whose tale of woe was perhaps the most heartbreaking, as he carded three bogeys in a row to finish his round and also miss by a stroke.
There was also disappointment for PGA Catalunya Resort specialist Carlos Del Moral, who 12 months ago was celebrating top honours at Q-School, but this year fell to a closing 77 to miss by three in a tie for 36th place thanks to a trio of consecutive double bogeys from the fourth on the final day.
Despite his astounding 58 round the Tour Course in round four, there was also disappointment for America’s John Hahn as the Ohio native finished in a share of 50th place following a level par 72 in the final round.
The Iceman cometh as Korhonen seals Q-School victoryThe Iceman cometh as Korhonen seals Q-School victory
Mikko Korhonen became the first Finnish winner in the history of The European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage after another dramatic finale at the six-round marathon of golf, where 27 players from 12 different countries earned their cards for The 2015 Race to Dubai.
Myriad dreams were made and many more were dashed at PGA Catalunya Resort as one of the most intense events in golf reached a gripping conclusion, both at the top of the leaderboard and further down on the all-important card cut-line.
At the summit, a breathless battle unfolded in the final group as 17 year old hotshot and overnight leader Renato Paratore attempted to fend off the challenge of his much more experienced playing partners, Ricardo Gonzalez and Korhonen, on the sun-drenched fairways of the picturesque Stadium Course at the stunning European Tour Destination outside Girona.
While Paratore came out of the blocks quickly with a birdie at the second, Korhonen drew level with the two-time Junior Ryder Cup player courtesy of an eagle at the par five seventh before a birdie at the 12th meant he took to the front for the first time.
The 34 year old negotiated the next six holes in level par and, while Paratore fell back after a difficult finish, with three bogeys in the final five holes, Gonzalez birdied four of the last six holes.
That wasn’t enough to deny Korhonen his maiden professional victory, however, as he finished two shots clear of the Argentinian on 20 under par courtesy of a five under par final round 67.
“It feels fantastic,” said Korhonen, whose win means he has qualified from Qualifying School for a third year running. “It’s the first win of my professional career, finally. I haven’t challenged for the win very often in my career but it feels absolutely amazing.
“Of course, being first of all the guys here gets me into more tournaments so that’s good, but it’s not like any other tournament. You don’t exactly come here to win, even if you should, you just come to get your card. But victory makes it sweeter.
“I was a bit nervous even coming in knowing I had my card. This is my fourth time coming through Q-School and I’m confident now I can stay on tour next season. Getting my first win, even if it is Q-School, is still important for me.
“I wasn’t too nervous and that was a surprise for me. I did think about Mikko (Ilonen) today when I was on the first tee. I just thought, ‘be like Mikko’, just walk on the course like an Iceman and do your stuff.”
While Gonzalez was disappointed to miss out on outright victory, he was over the moon with his achievement and ranked it alongside the four European Tour titles he has amassed in a long and fruitful career on the top tier.
“This is right up there with winning on The European Tour,” said the Rosario player, who signed for a final round 67 and an 18 under total. “You need to be patient and keep yourself happy, and that happened this week. I said to my caddie that I needed to enjoy the week, and I’m very happy now.
“I felt the pressure at the start as I thought I’d lost my career. I’m 45 years old, so to earn one more year, it’s a big achievement.”
Hearts were in mouths in a tense final hour for those on the bubble as the cut-line shifted back and forth several times, from seven to eight under par.
When the axe eventually fell on the lower number, Frenchman Cyril Bouniol emerged as one of the most heart-warming stories of the day as he followed a bogey at the 16th and a double-bogey at the 17th with a nerveless birdie at the last to make it on the mark.
“The 18th was a dream come true,” said the 27 year old, who finished 19th in the Challenge Tour Rankings this year. “I’ve been playing my heart out all year just to get on The European Tour, and it was slipping away tournament after tournament, so I’m just glad to have walked onto the 18th and just believed in myself.
“I said to myself, ‘You’re good, this has to happen at some point, so make that birdie! It’s all the more meaningful to do that under so much adversity, and having not made a putt all day.
“I was standing over it at the 18th and I knew what it was for – either I would be on Tour or I would be back to what I’ve done all year, so I told myself to take a chance and it’s incredible it went in. I’m so happy.”
Paratore, meanwhile, became the third youngest player in the history of the Qualifying School to earn a card and, while he could not hold out for the victory, he was delighted to earn a rookie season in The Race to Dubai, where he will join his close friend and four-time European Tour winner Matteo Manassero.
“It would have been nice to have won but the card is like winning for me,” said the 2014 Youth Olympic individual gold medal winner, who carded a one over 73. “I’m really looking forward to playing in all of the big tournaments with the best players. I can’t believe it’s happened so quickly.
“It would be great to follow in Matteo’s footsteps. Seeing what he has done at such a young age on The European Tour has been a real inspiration and I hope I can do the same.”
Matthew Fitzpatrick of England was another young former amateur star to seal his place in the big time on the first time of asking, while World Number 75 Anirban Lahiri of India will also play his maiden season on The Race to Dubai.
Jumeirah Golf Estates Clubhouse openedJumeirah Golf Estates Clubhouse openedSignificant milestone reached as Jumeirah Golf Estates clubhouse opened by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum
Another significant milestone in the continuing development of Jumeirah Golf Estates was reached today, ahead of the DP World Tour Championship, when three of the world’s greatest golfers joined HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group, in officially opening the new state-of-the art clubhouse.
As the field began to assemble at Jumeirah Golf Estates for the sixth edition of the DP World Tour Championship from Thursday to Sunday, showcasing the climax of the season-long Race to Dubai on The European Tour, His Highness, Sheikh Ahmed, cut the ceremonial ribbon to officially open the new clubhouse before meeting Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Jumeirah Golf Estates official brand ambassador, Henrik Stenson.
The VIP party also included European Tour Chief Executive George O’Grady, who greeted His Highness outside the clubhouse, His Excellency Mohammed Al Shibani, Director General of His Highness Ruler’s Court and CEO of the Investment Corporation of Dubai, along with Board Members of Jumeirah Golf Estates, who have developed a strong affiliation following last year’s announcement that Jumeirag Golf Estates would become a European Tour Destination as part of the Tour’s growing network of world class golf venues.
The Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates has hosted all six championships since 2009 and only 12 months ago the facility was augmented by another ‘first’ for golf in the Gulf with the official opening of the first European Tour Performance Institute outside Europe.
Attending the clubhouse ceremony were McIlroy, World Number One and newly confirmed winner of The 2014 Race to Dubai to follow his 2012 success, and Stenson, the defending champion after his dramatic surge to victory in both the DP World Tour Championship and The Race to Dubai in 2013. Completing the group was former US Open Champion, Rose, narrowly edged out by McIlroy in the final event two years ago.
World class facilities will be the key elements of the clubhouse, as the competitors in the DP World Tour Championship and their families will discover this week when they experience the state-of-the-art locker room facilities, the notable food and beverage facilities as well as the impressive terrace overlooking the 18th green.
Yousuf Kazim, General Manager of Jumeirah Golf Estates said: “Jumeirah Golf Estates is already a thriving community of families and international visitors, and the opening of the clubhouse is a milestone development that cements Jumeirah Golf Estates’ status as the region’s leading residential golf community. To have His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum here just days away from the DP World Tour Championship is fantastic and a sign of exciting times ahead at our brand new clubhouse.
“Given the extensive array of recreational facilities now on offer in the heart of the community, we anticipate increased demand for our growing property portfolio. The clubhouse will become the social focal point of Jumeirah Golf Estates, bringing first class F&B outlets, events spaces and golf facilities to residents and visitors to Dubai,” concluded Kazim.
Stenson commented: “It is great to be back at Jumeirah Golf Estates to celebrate the opening of this fantastic clubhouse in time for the DP World Tour Championship - a staple tournament in my diary every year. The facilities are on a par with the world’s best, making the community a top choice for golfers, residents and visitors from around the world.”
O’Grady added: “This is the sixth successive year in which we have concluded The Race to Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates, now a European Tour Destination. Each time we return here, we never fail to be impressed by the dramatic improvements to all parts of the estate – from the Earth and Fire courses, to the academy facilities which form The European Tour Performance Institute; the road and property infrastructure and, today, the new clubhouse.
“A world class golf tournament deserves world class facilities and the state-of-the-art clubhouse, which will greatly enhance for experience for the leading professionals this week and also the Members who can enjoy the best of Jumeirah Golf Estates on a daily basis.”
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group, cuts the ceremonial ribbon during the official opening of the new clubhouse at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group, (far right) chats with (from left to right) Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose during the official opening of the new clubhouse at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates
(L-R) HE Mohammed Al Shibani (Director General of HH Ruler’s Court and CEO of the ICD); George O'Grady (Chief Executive of The European Tour), Henrik Stenson of Sweden, HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum (President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group), Justin Rose of England, Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and HE Abdul Rahman Al Saleh (Chairman of Jumeirah Golf Estates) pose for a photograph during the official opening of the new clubhouse at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Players and officials gather for a photograph during the official opening of the new clubhouse at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates
George O'Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, (left) shakes hands with HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Civil Aviation and Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates airline and Group, during the official opening of the new clubhouse at the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates
European Tour Properties shine at World Golf AwardsEuropean Tour Properties shine at World Golf Awards
European Tour Properties, the network of world class golf venues, celebrated a stellar performance at the World Golf Awards with four member venues picking up major international accolades.
Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort, the five-star resort in Provence, France, and venue of the European Senior Tour’s French Riviera Masters, was voted Europe’s Best Golf Hotel.
Spanish Open venue PGA Catalunya Resort, which last month was named IAGTO European Golf Resort of the Year and which this week hosts The European Tour Final Qualifying Stage, was voted Spain’s Best Golf Course, while Linna Golf was named Finland’s Best Golf Course.
Meanwhile, Quinta do Lago, Portugal, which now boasts three championship golf courses, was a multiple award winner. The Algarve resort’s radically revamped North Course – designed by Beau Welling in association with 2014 European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley – won the award for Europe’s Best New Golf Course, while the South Course was recognised as Portugal’s Best Golf Course.
David MacLaren, The European Tour’s Director of Property and Venue Development, said: “European Tour Properties feature some of the most prestigious golf and lifestyle resorts in Europe and the Middle East and it is pleasing to see our member venues, which are all closely associated with The European Tour, recognised at the inaugural World Golf Awards.
“These awards are the latest in a series of successes for our network of 13 world class golf venues in 2014, a year which has seen eight member venues host European Tour sanctioned events, including this week’s DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates, the last of the Final Series tournaments and the climax to the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.”
David MacLaren added: “The essence of The European Tour is to bring elite golf to a world stage and so customers playing, staying or buying property at a European Tour Properties venue know their experience comes with a stamp of tournament quality.”
The inaugural World Golf Awards – part of the World Travel Awards, which is celebrating its 21st anniversary – were voted for by both golf travel industry professionals and the public. The World Golf Awards Ceremony took place at the Conrad Algarve on Saturday November 15, 2014.
Renovation at Le Golf NationalRenovation at Le Golf NationalLe Golf National is pleased to announce that its facilities will remain permanently open to welcome golfers from all over the world while the Albatros course will be closed for renovation works, starting mid-July 2015.
Once top golfers have competed to win the 99th edition of the Open de France at the beginning of July 2015, the Albatros, the well-established home to the championship since 1991 and the next European Ryder Cup course, will close for under one year in order to be upgraded to host the biggest golfing competition in the world three years later: The Ryder Cup. The works plan will focus on renovating the irrigation and drainage systems, lake edges as well as routes and paths to welcome 50,000 spectators per day.
During this period, Le Golf National, the facility of the French Golf Federation located 25 km away from Paris and just 10km from Versailles, will keep its extensive on-site facilities open: its two other courses including the Aigle, a 18-hole sister of the Albatros, the four star-hotel, three restaurants, two driving ranges and the largest chipping area in Europe spreading over 3,400m².
There are eight months left before the Ryder Cup course closes. Golfers should not wait until the reopening of the course in June 2016 to come and challenge their own golfing skills against it. Exceptional offers, both for individuals and golf business professionals, are available to let golfers cultivate their Ryder Cup experience and dreams in the Paris area. Besides all this, a new exclusive service has been launched to answer any specific requests from international golfers: Le Golf National Concierge Service.
Paul Armitage, General Manager of Le Golf National says: “Having lived the dream in Scotland, Gleneagles 2014, France and Le Golf National are humble before the tasks ahead and very eager to produce one of the greatest amphitheatres the Ryder Cup will ever see! We look forward to welcoming guests and enjoying our new golfing experiences”.
To find out more information, please visit www.le-golf-national.com
Inside PGA Catalunya ResortInside PGA Catalunya Resort
By Will Pearson, europeantour.com
at PGA Catalunya Resort
Ahead of the gruelling, six-round marathon that is the Qualifying School Final Stage, europeantour.com explores stunning host venue and European Tour Destination, PGA Catalunya Resort.
Nestled amongst native forest in the foothills of the majestic Pyrenees mountain range in the north-eastern reaches of Spain and on the outskirts of the Catalan city of Girona, PGA Catalunya and its two spectacular courses – the Stadium and Tour layouts – have hosted the Final Qualifying Stage every year since 2008.
Recently voted European Golf Resort of the Year 2015 in the annual International Association of Golf Tour Operators awards (IAGTO), the longer Stadium Course has - since 2012 - been consistently selected as Spain’s Number One course, ranked 77th in the world as well as third in Continental Europe, so the golfing pedigree of the resort is clear for all to see.
Designed by Ryder Cup star Neil Coles and Spanish golf legend Angel Gallardo, water comes into play across much of the two courses at the European Tour Destination while magnificent views are afforded by multiple elevation changes, however PGA Catalunya’s beauty certainly belies the beastly challenge ahead for the 156 Qualifying School hopefuls this week.
The Stadium Course
Opened in 1999, the revered Stadium Course is the longer of the two layouts at PGA Catalunya Resort, coming in at 7,333 yards and a par of 72, with accuracy off the tee at a premium with elevated drives in play on seven holes – the first, third, fourth, seventh, 13th, 15th and 17th – and water on five holes at the third, fourth, fifth, 11th and 13th.
The Stadium layout also sprang to international prominence again in May this year as host venue to the Open de Espana for the third time, and first since 2009, as home favourite Miguel Angel Jimenez prevailed.
“The facilities here are very good,” said the evergreen Spaniard following his victory. “You have two golf courses, chipping areas, a nice driving range, and a beautiful putting green – it’s an outstanding place.”
Probably the most photographed hole at PGA Catalunya with its elevated tee box, watery perils and striking Pyrenees backdrop, the downhill par four 13th hole on the Stadium course is clearly a favourite for co-designer Gallardo.
“It’s a nice hole,” he reflected. “It’s not long, you can hit a three wood, two or one iron. The green is so difficult, you could put a wedge on the right side of the green and you can pitch one yard from the hole or you could finish in the water. Sometimes it depends on the flight.
“The green is more or less the same shape as the mountains in the distance. That is what I like, it’s all very natural. If you come here at six in the morning in summer and you see all the shadows on the fairway. In the summer time at two o’clock there’s no shadow and it looks completely different. In the afternoon when the sun moves again the shadows go the other way.
“It is a short hole but with incredible views. You only need to use your brain a little bit; this land was born to be a golf course.”
The Tour Course
At 6,610 yards and a par of 70, the equally-beautiful Tour course is perhaps shorter but not to be underestimated by any stretch of the imagination.
Opened in 2005 and also designed by Coles and Gallardo, the second layout at PGA Catalunya perhaps presents a slightly less stern challenge than its elder, more punishing brother the Stadium, with wider fairways and less severe bunkering, so scoring always proves more favourable here.
Saying that, Spaniard Carlos Del Moral bucked the trend in romping to a five-shot victory here 12 months ago, averaging two under par on the Tour Course but five and a half shots under par on the Stadium.
Del Moral is something of an expert when it comes to performing at the Girona resort, having regained his card at PGA Catalunya four times in the past six years.
“It’s quite amazing, this place is one of a kind,” said Del Moral. “It brings me good feelings and every time I play here it feels like home.
“The greens roll so nicely and the layout suits my eye, my draws. Strategically I am very clear when I approach this course and it seems to come naturally to me.
“I am going to keep everything the same, it would be an error to change anything! The misses are tough here and the greens are quick and tricky so you have to play smart all the way around. It really has every shot in the bag.”
PGA Catalunya, and the land on which it is built, has a storied sporting history, as Gallardo remembered.
“The land only cost around €1million, it was very cheap,” said the Spaniard. “The beginning of the story is this land was bought by the RACC (the Real Automobile Club de Catalunya) to build a Formula One track.
“The design for the track was already under way when we were trying to find some land to make a golf course and somebody from the RACC club came to me and said ‘Angel we have a very big piece of land – 220 hectares!’
“I decided to come here and when we saw the site we knew we had to buy. I remember making the joke, ‘I think even Stevie Wonder could build a golf course here!’
“The Stadium course alone is 70 hectares. It is a massive piece of land and that is because when we bought it we were hoping to host The Ryder Cup (which was eventually held at Valderrama in 1997).
“I remember sitting on top of the hill – where the 13th tee is now – with fellow designers Neil (Coles) and David (Williams) and I think I fell in love. I said, ‘I think we can build something fantastic here’ – and they agreed.”
The field will this week be afforded every chance to keep their game in tip-top shape, however, with the use of a superb driving range and a vast 2,000 square metre putting green and chipping area, while four different types of grass are used on the practice greens and five bunkers – each containing a different type of sand – to replicate the traps of some of the world’s most iconic golf layouts.
The resort also features the world’s first Sergio Garcia Junior Academy, which focuses on nurturing young golfing talent for the future, and on introducing the sport to children with physical and learning difficulties through its “Golf Adapted” programme.
Network venues benefit from joint exhibition initiative at IGTMNetwork venues benefit from joint exhibition initiative at IGTM
European Tour Properties, the network of world-class golf venues operating under the umbrella of The European Tour, was once again prominent last week at the annual International Golf Travel Market (IGTM), this year held at the stunning Villa Erba convention centre on the banks of Lake Como in Italy.
The IGTM is a premier event for the golf travel industry, this year gathering together a record 1500 golf industry personnel including 520 exhibitors, 360 golf tour operators and 100 members of the media from across the globe. The appointments-based exhibition is recognised for bringing together an unrivalled number of industry buyers from all key golf markets across the globe.
Each year, European Tour Properties offers all its Member Venues the chance to send a delegate to IGTM, in order to take advantage of the appointments schedule, destination briefings and free networking sessions available at the industry-only event, which runs for three days.
Delegates on the European Tour Properties stand this year included member venue colleagues from PGA Catalunya Resort, voted the International Association of Golf Tour Operators’ Resort of the Year for 2015 at the event’s Gala Awards Evening; Le Golf National, host venue of The 2018 Ryder Cup; Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort, host venue of the French Riviera Masters on The European Senior Tour; Diamond Country Club, near Vienna and host venue of the Lyoness Open on The European Tour International Schedule; Golf & Country Club Fleesensee near Berlin; and Estonian Golf & Country Club.
David MacLaren, The European Tour’s Director of Property and Venue Development, said: “IGTM continues to grow in size and significance, and has become one of the most important sales activities that we undertake for our member venues. It is a unique meeting place for buyers of golf – tour operators – and sellers of golf – venues – and as such provides a unique platform for our Destinations and Courses to promote their world class facilities. The status of our venues within the world of golf is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that two of our Destinations, Terre Blanche in 2013 and PGA Catalunya in 2015, have been awarded one of the industry’s most prestigious accolades, that of IAGTO European Golf Resort of the Year.”
Miguel Girbes, General Manager of PGA Catalunya Resort, added: “PGA Catalunya Resort enjoyed a successful and productive week on the European Tour Properties stand at IGTM. This is a very important event for us as it is a key opportunity to meet and do business with golf tour operators.
"The quality of tour operators coming to the stand, both from our current target markets and global markets we wish to develop, was outstanding. There is no doubt that our association with The European Tour brand and its network of world class golf venues creates a compelling and distinctive story that appeals to leading international tour operators and their customers, and generates significant sales opportunities for our business."
London Golf Club proves fitting venue for Match Play dramaLondon Golf Club proves fitting venue for Match Play drama
Praise has poured in for London Golf Club, the jewel in the crown of the European Tour Properties network, after it successfully hosted the 50th edition of the Volvo World Match Play Championship last week.
Having staged the European Open in 2008 and 2009, it is the third time that London Golf Club has hosted a European Tour event since the joint-venture relationship between the north Kent venue and the Tour was launched six years ago.
According to the players, officials and the tens of thousands of spectators who streamed through the gates last week, despite receiving substantial rainfall in the build-up to the €2.25million tournament, London Golf Club proved itself an outstanding host venue for the event, which was won by Finland’s Mikko Ilonen.
Ilonen, who beat World Number Five Henrik Stenson 3&1 in a high quality final, said: “Everything about the London Golf Club was top notch. It would be nice if the tournament settled somewhere, so why not there? It was the perfect venue, and everything worked great last week.
“It was challenging in the beginning because of the rain, but the guys did such a great job to get the course ready and up to speed. I have to say the greens were absolutely perfect – definitely some of the best we played on all year.”
As part of its exclusive joint venture partnership with The European Tour, London Golf Club – which boasts two championship courses in the Jack Nicklaus-designed Heritage and the International, host for the Volvo World Match Play Championship – became the first ‘Destination’ in the Tour’s network of world-class venues.
David MacLaren, Director of Property and Venue Development for The European Tour, said: “The launch in 2008 of our unique joint venture partnership with London Golf Club and the establishment of the venue as the very first European Tour Destination marked the beginning of a multi-faceted and fruitful partnership, and one of which we are immensely proud.
“We strive to offer only the finest facilities and playing conditions to our professionals and venue customers, and in all these aspects London Golf Club consistently exceeds expectations.”
Located on the south-eastern reaches of the capital and within touching distance of Canary Wharf and the city, London Golf Club recently received planning permission to expand its operations to include a five star, 130-room hotel and luxurious spa development, a nine-hole European Golf Design introductory course and a European Tour Performance Institute, with a new academy and state-of-the-art driving range – all further testament to the club’s growth since the joint venture initiative was announced.
Charles Fairweather, Chairman of London Golf Club, said: “The vision for the future of London Golf Club is a bold one, with a five star hotel, new academy golf course and the UK’s first ever European Tour Performance Institute. Future plans include additional sporting pursuits of excellence which will further enhance the club’s reputation as one of the country’s leading sports and leisure destinations, situated just 17 miles from the centre of London. Our unique joint venture partnership with The European Tour enhances these ambitious plans and our position as a leading golf destination.”
Austen Gravestock, Chief Executive of London Golf Club, said: “As the first ever European Tour Destination and host to three Senior Tour Tournaments, two European Opens and now the Volvo World Match Play Championship, London Golf Club is a brand, like our partners, that is synonymous with quality golf.
“Despite the best efforts of mother nature last week, we were still able to show the golfing world, and more importantly a stellar field of 16 world-class players, just why our courses are renowned throughout the world for their condition.”
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “We would like to commend Charles Fairweather and the venue team, led by Austen Gravestock and Peter Todd, who have overseen London Golf Club’s development into one of the country’s leading facilities. With the plans they now have in place, the club’s future looks very bright indeed.
“The joint venture partnership has been extremely beneficial for both London Golf Club and The European Tour, and we were delighted that our Members were so complimentary about the venue during the Volvo World Match Play Championship. It was a tremendous tournament, thanks in no small part to the quality of the course and the hard work and determination of the club’s staff. We should congratulate everyone at the club for the contribution they made to the event.”
Golding claims French Riviera MastersGolding claims French Riviera Masters
Phil Golding carded a two under par round of 70 to claim his second European Senior Tour title at the rain-delayed French Riviera Masters at the Terre Blanche Hotel Spa Golf Resort - a European Tour Destination - in Provence.
The Englishman had led the field by four shots after opening rounds of 64 and 67 and was still three in front after 13 holes of his final round when a fierce electric storm caused play to be halted.
The competitors returned to the course just over two hours later and Golding played his last six five in one under par to claim a four shot victory over Argentina’s Cesar Monasterio on15 under par 201.
Monasterio also carded a 70 to finish on 205 while defending champion Peter Fowler closed with a five under par 67 to share third place with Barry Lane and John Gould a single shot further behind.
Golding lost out to Paul Wesselingh in his previous start in the WINSTONgolf Senior Open in Germany but he made up for that with his third Tour victory on French soil.
“It was tough today. I got off to a poor start when I bogeyed the first and missed a few putts after that. I don’t like looking at leaderboards but I knew Barry and Cesar were doing well so it was good to get a birdie on 11.
“That settled me down a bit and when I birdied both the 13th and 14th that gave me a bit of breathing space.
“There must be something about French air I like because that‘s the third time I have won here. It’s a great feeling because it has been a year since I won the Welsh Senior Open and after a while a few doubts can creep into your mind if you aren’t careful.”
Monasterio has won already this season at the English Senior Open and he came close to duplicating that feat with rounds of 66, 69 and 70.
“I played well but Phil had a very good back nine and in the end none of us could get close to him. But it was another good week for me and another top ten finish.”
Fowler carded three birdies and an eagle on the sixth to add a 67 to his opening rounds of 68 and 71 and left for Holland delighted with his performance.
“It was a good defence of my title. In the end I have come up a couple of shots shorts but I’m pleased with the way I played.
“The weather delay came at a bad time for all of us but it’s the sort of thing that happens from time to time and you just have to get on with it. The course was definitely playable after the re-start. The fairways were very wet but there was nothing wrong with the greens. They held up very well considering the amount of rain we’ve had this afternoon.”
Gould produced his best finish since a tie for second place at the 2010 Benahavis Senior Masters.
“It’s been a while since I have made a top ten but I played well last week in Germany and just carried on from there.
“The highlight of the day was my eagle at the 12th. I hit a rescue off the tee and then hit a great little wedge from about 155 yards which sucked back in the hole. It came at a nice time because I didn’t birdie the par five 11th so it helped to keep things going.
“My goal this week was to get a top-10 finish because that secured me a place in next week’s tournament in Holland. You want to play all the events and now that I’m in Holland the plan now is to see if I can secure my card for next year.”
The round of the day came from former Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam who started out in a share of 34th place after opening rounds of 74 and 70 but moved all the way up to tenth place after a superb six under par 66 that included a blistering back nine of 31.
The Welshman opened his round with a birdie on the first but he was still only one under the card until hit a rescue club into eight feet for an eagle on the 11th. The former world number one then went on to gain another shot on the 13th before finishing his round with a flourish with two more birdies on the 16th and 17th holes.
“That was much more like it today. I’ve been to see Jacques Rivet, the biomechanics gut here at the European Tour Performance Institute here at Terre Blanche, and I have been working hard for the last four days on what he told me.
“There was nothing wrong with my swing it was just the way I was standing to the ball. He told me I had too much weight right toe and my left heel. He wanted to get me the completely opposite way round with more weight on my right heel and left toe and it seems to have done the trick.
It’s something I’m going to have to work on but it means I can now look forward to next week with a bit more confidence. I have been searching and searching for something that works but maybe I have found it this time.”
Woosnam’s next competitive outing is this week in Amsterdam where he joins two other former Ryder Captains, Sam Torrance and Mark James in the field for the Dutch Senior Open.
Kaymer and Lampert compete in Solheim Cup charity line-upKaymer and Lampert compete in Solheim Cup charity line-up
US Open Champion Martin Kaymer and his fellow European Tour player Moritz Lampert joined forces with Solheim Cup captains Carin Koch and Juli Inkster for the Year 2 Go celebrations in the scenic town of Heidelburg, Germany, to mark the countdown to The 2015 Solheim Cup at European Tour Destination Golf Club St. Leon-Rot.
Commencing with the “Golden Shot” from Heidelberg’s Old Bridge and rounding off with a Charity Show Match at Golf Club St. Leon Rot featuring Kaymer, Lampert, the European Solheim Cup Captain Carin Koch and United States Captain Juli Inkster, the event’s activities looked set to raise more than €300,000 for official charities.
The golf stars were joined on the bridge by sporting legends Franz Beckenbauer and Steffi Graf, both taking aim at the water target with football and tennis ball respectively, and later the attending galleries of sponsors and children also had a go. The beautiful Heidelberg castle was the setting for the evening’s Gala Dinner and “Big Auction”, followed the next morning by a host of fundraising challenges. Lampert raised €25,000 with his first attempt at the 100-metre balloon shot.
The afternoon’s Charity Show Match over the links-style St.Leon course saw the professionals take part in a series of special shot challenges, with each raising additional funds for the charity initiative.
For further information about Golf Club St. Leon-Rot visit www.europeantourproperties.com