Sevilla, Andalucia (Spain) – July 6, 2015 – (travelcommunication.net) – A golfing break to Andalucía’s classical cities can be a richly rewarding experience, combining rounds on some of Spain’s best courses with fascinating history, grand architecture, a wealth of culture, great shopping and glorious gastronomy. Spain’s southernmost region, and its second-largest by area, has been pivotal to the fortunes of the country for many centuries, with grand cities such as Granada, Seville, Cadiz, Malaga and Cordoba still embodying its very essence. There are also excellent golf courses in or around all of them, allowing golfers to enjoy a few days on the fairways as well as immersing themselves into the heart and soul of the cities. You can feel the Andalucían way of life in all of the region’s cities.
The capital of Andalucía and its most densely-populated city, Seville is known for its tapas bars, as are cities throughout Andalucía. Follow the locals’ lead and take a tapeo, or tapas-bar crawl, hopping from one bar or tavern to another to sample tasty little dishes accompanied by drinks and convivial conversation with friends.
Seville is also Andalucía’s cultural heart, with spring bringing its most important events on the calendar – the Semana Santa, a week of religious processions with elaborate floats, and the Feria, or Spring Fair, involving dancing and horse riding. The Moors and Christians Festival, typically celebrated in other parts of Spain in June, marks the reconquest of Spain and takes place all over Andalucía throughout the year. Architectural highlights in Seville include its cathedral, the Giralda bell tower, originally a Moorish minaret, and the ornate Alcazar palace, also built by the Moors.
Seville has five golf courses, among them the Royal Club de Golf de Seville, designed by Jose Maria Olazabal and the host course of the 2004 World Cup of Golf as well as the Andalucía Open in 2009 and the Spanish Open in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
Granada is laid out over foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and is dominated by its magnificent Alhambra, a Moorish palace and fortress that also incorporates beautiful gardens. It, too, has plenty of tapas, history and tradition. For golfers, there are two courses, one being the Granada Club de Golf just south of the city and the other being Santa Clara Golf, 10 minutes from Granada.
Malaga is the gateway to the Costa del Sol and has a clutch of courses close by including former Andalucía Open host Parador de Malaga Golf, the oldest course on the Costa del Sol which was designed by Turnberry and Muirfield architect Tom Simpson and opened in 1925.
Many golfers who fly into Malaga rent cars as soon as they pick up their luggage and head west along the coast towards Marbella. But they are missing out on a wonderful city with a great buzz, history galore and superb cuisine. Picasso was born in Malaga; many of his art works adorn the Picasso Museum and his life is documented in his nearby birthplace on Plaza de la Merced, now a small museum.
Malaga has been transformed into a haven of culture in recent years, with several new museums including two key institutions that opened this spring. Malaga’s Muelle Uno port development saw the opening of the cube-shaped Centre Pompidou Malaga, featuring works of art from the Centre Pompidou in Paris, while the Museo Ruso de Malaga is a branch of the famous Russian Museum in St Petersburg, Russia, in a former tobacco factory that features Russian art works dating back 600 years. The building also houses the vintage car collection of Malaga’s Automobile Museum. A fine arts museum opens in the city in 2016.
Among Malaga’s other buildings of note are the Moorish Alcazaba fortress overlooking the harbour and the adjacent Gibralfaro castle, a Roman amphitheatre and Malaga’s cathedral.
Cordoba has two golf courses, the Club de Golf de Cordoba situated in a beautiful forested park 15 minutes north of the city. The Moors ruled Spain from Cordoba and prior to that it was an important Roman city. Spend time taking in the sights of this fascinating city, which include the Jewish Quarter, the Mezquita Mosque which also incorporates a cathedral, and the Alcazar fortress and gardens. Visit in May to catch festivals such as the colourful Feria de Cordoba, the Cruces de Mayo (May Crosses Festival) and the Fiesta de los Patios, recently inscribed by UNESCO on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It also has one of nine Michelin-starred restaurants in Andalucía.
Cadiz has had a chequered history, having been founded by the Phoenicians and then been ruled by the Carthaginians, Romans and Moors and destroyed by the Visigoths before becoming the base for discovery expeditions to the New World. The port city is virtually surrounded by the sea and has over 100 watchtowers, a Roman amphitheatre and a yellow-domed cathedral.
The area around Cadiz is famed for its hilltop pueblos blancos, or white towns, while Jerez de la Frontera is synonymous with sherry and flamenco – also found in cities throughout the region – and is also home to the dancing horses of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. Events include the Jerez Horse Fair and Sherry Festival.
There are 19 courses in the Cadiz region. They include Sherry Golf Jerez and former Volvo Masters venue Montecastillo, both close to Jerez, the recently-reopened Arcos Gardens and a cluster of courses by the coast near Cadiz that include Costa Ballena, La Estancia, Sancti Petri Hills Golf and Novo Sancti Petri, where two of the three courses were designed by the late Seve Ballesteros.
Established in 1997, IAGTO is the global trade organisation of the golf tourism industry, and has over 2390 members in almost 100 countries including over 590 golf tour operator members in 61 countries, which control more than 85% of golf holiday packages sold worldwide and which collectively have annual sales of over US$2 billion. IAGTO runs annual Asia and North America Golf Tourism Conventions, along with regular Destination Conventions. IAGTO established the International Golf Travel Market, now owned and operated by Reed Travel Exhibitions, in 1997 and the International Golf Travel Writers Association in 2000. IAGTO also runs the prestigious annual IAGTO Awards and the IAGTO Excellence Awards.
To find out more about golf in Andalucía, visit www.andalucia.org/en/golf/