Interview with the Director of Guadalmina Golf Club, Ignacio del Cuvillo
Ignacio del Cuvillo Cano
Born in Cádiz on the 27/01/63
Director of the Real Club de Golf Guadalmina since 1993
Vicepresident of the “Asociación de Gerentes de España”
Profesor of the UMA
Profesor – Master in Golf Club Management
Profesor – Master in Management of Clubs E.A.D.E.
How many golf courses make up the Guadalmina Golf Club?
At present the Guadalina Golf Club has two 18 hole courses, the South and North courses, as well as a 9 hole pitch and put course, which is a bit different as each hole has two tees, so in essence, it is also an 18 hole course.
Of the two courses the SOUTH course, which has been designed by Javier Arana, is considered to be the “Championship Course”, but the NORTH course which is designed by Folco Nardi, is a fantastic course for those players who are not quite of championship standard, of whom I am one!
If you feel ”beaten” after playing on the South Course a few times, try the North Course to restore your faith in Golf!
What motivates you to dedicate your professional life to the Golf Industry?
Not many people know, but I started out on the golf circuit in the USA during an extended stay in Indiana, and on my return, before starting out on my professional career, I was given the opportunity of working on a development project which was designed around golf.
Through contacts I was introduced to someone who offered me a job managing a company which dealt in machinery for golf course maintenance and golf buggies among other products, and during my three years with them I visited all the golf courses in Spain and since then I haven’t looked back.
In each course I visited I had the opportunity to exchange knowledge with the Directors, the Golf Professionals and the Green Keepers who showed me how attractive running a golf club could be.
With this and my dedication to the service industry, together with my aptitude for public relations I was faced with a very important decision which I made in 1993, to start the task of improving the Guadalmina Golf Club, backed by the major shareholders of the club who at the time were Grand Tibidabo, and of course I accepted the post, and after many challenges and many changes I have had the opportunity to see my ideas become reality thanks to the continued support of the of the directors, the staff of Guadalmina Golf S.A., and ofcourse the members.
Where would you say the majority of your members come from?
We have a very diverse membership base, and in essence we have two”Guadalminas”, winter and summer. The first being dominated by Europeans, with a very strong influence of British, but also from Scandinavian countries, they tend to be over 60 retired or semi-retired.
Then we have the summer crowd, which is mainly made up of summer residents who are here from July to September and who are mainly from Madrid, Bilboa, Cordoba ect…, who are enjoying a few weeks of rest over the summer, and in most cases these are people who are still working, although we do also have some lifelong members who have been playing these courses since before I arrived on the scene.
How many members do you have at the moment?
At present we have 1850 members from 17 different countries, and we have managed to maintain that number over the past few years even through the years of crisis, and the tightening of purse strings.
What do you consider to be the high and low seasons at the club?
Guadalmina has a high and a very high season, but if there was a quieter season it would be from mid December to mid January.
Personally my favourite month is June, for me it is an ideal month. The temperature is good, the Golf courses are in perfect condition and the hotels and restaurants are not filled to the max.
We have heard that there is an important event coming soon to the club. Can you tell us a bit about it?
Well to give you an idea, The Royal Guadlmina Golf Club has a long standing tradition, and has hosted many important “amateur” tournaments, as well as professional ones, but an OPEN is something else.
The Ladies European Tour (LET) decided that the Spanish women’s Open should be held on Costa del Sol, this tournament was held last year in Aloha Golf Club, and the Real federation of Spanish Golf as conscious that this important tournament should be held on a course that excelled in various areas.
Predominantly it must be a course of a very high standard, that would be a challenge for the players, and the South course, designed by Javier Araña, is just that. It is a course that offers a great game, with many different holes each with their own challenges, and ofcourse there is the famous 11th hole, it could be said that the image of this whole is one of the most recognised in Golf on the Costa del Sol.
Another reason for the choice is the firm commitment of the Club Members to host this tournament, and from the outset we have received much support and enthusiasm, which we know will be reflected not only in the numerous spectators who will enjoy the event, but also in the volunteers who will act as markers, responsible for results slates…. Etc., and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all involved in advance for their efforts.
Such an important tournament could only be held at a Club with quality facilities and we will endeavour to make sure that our Golf Club represents this and we will work hard to put our best foot forward, as always, during the tournament.
To appease any concerns that people may have with the Club holding such a large scale event, such as parking, we have been granted the use of a large plot adjacent to the club, that has kindly been lent to us by a family that has close ties with the club, and the Marbella Town Hall, with whom we are collaborating, has offered their help, to help make this important event a great success.
We will also install a tent to offer catering services for the 126 players and other companions, as well as for members of the federative states, journalists … etc., this infrastructure will be accompanied by the installation of tents, in which some companies, linked to the world of golf will have the opportunity, along with the main sponsors and institutions, to entertain their clients and friends.
Azahara is clearly a big attraction, not only because she is the current champion, after winning for the first time last year in Aloha, but also for the fact that she happens to be playing at home, Azahara was awarded the title of Honorary Member of Real Club de Golf Guadalmina, after her magnificent performance in the Solheim Cup, together with her amateur record and her promising professional career.
Azahara is well loved in San Pedro Alcántara and we are sure that the Members of the San Pedro Club will be supporting her, and that this will make for a very special atmosphere.
We ofcourse must also mention our other player, a promise that is slowly opening up in the European circuit, the only player of the LET who is sponsored by the prestigious brand PING, Noemi Jimenez, who has qualified for this test on her own merit.
Two players born in Guadalmina, and that certainly make this tournament a very exciting one for our Club.
Hopefully this will be the first of many such tournaments held here, we know that this one will also have a special place in our hearts.
Apart from the golf courses what else is on offer at the Guadalmina Golf clubs?
Apart from the Golf we have a swimming pool, paddle tennis and tennis, and above all a Children’s Academy which is, undoubtedly, one of the best in Spain.
We have heard that you have a summer camp for kids, it’s just for members? What does it consist of?
The summer camp is an activity created three years ago, in response to the request of some members, young couples with small children, looking for an alternative for the summer mornings, it is a very «reduced» camp only 8 Students per teacher and only three teachers, 75% of the students are children of members, only two out of 8 are non-members.
The camp is organized from Monday to Friday from 09:30 to 14, Students will receive golf lessons 3 hours a day in which we will focus on improving the fundamentals of your golf swing and short game.
We also organise mini tournaments with the children and an introduction to the North course.
If enrolled students so wish and as long as there is a minimum of 6 students, will also have tennis / paddle classes of 1.30 hours in which the teachers will help improve these other sporting skills.
The swimming classes are held between 13:00 and 14:00 so that the water temperature of the pool is as pleasant as possible. During the class, the teacher will try to improve their skills with various games and exercises.
Could you give us a bit more background as to how the club started?
When talking about Guadalmina´s history, the name that always comes up is the Goizueta family, since the year in which D. Norberto Goizueta, Navarro de Peralta, dropped anchor just of the coast on board the «Serva la bari».
His family started out on an adventure more than 30 years ago, since the beginning of which under the direction of Javier Arana, the first nine holes of «lawn» were designed and built.
At the time the locals thought he was crazy, planting and watering a crop that could never be harvested, but he proved them wrong and the first course was born.
Who designed it? Has its design stayed the same or has it been modified?
From the original 18 holes much of the course has stayed the same, but there have ofcourse been some changes over the year due to various factors. We do get some of the long term members, who know the course well, commenting on the from time to time, “ this is not the original design of Araña” they will say “the 17th hole is not a par 3”, and they are right in saying this as some changes have indeed been made.
Over the years and with the development of Guadalmina some changes have been inevitable. Initially the number 1 hole was moved to be adjacent to the Club House, and some years later during the remodelling in 2002 the first hole became the 18th and the 2nd became the first.
For the Spanish Open we will be endeavouring to revert back to the original design by Javier Arana where possible.