The Estrella Damm Andalucia Masters at Valderrama – Best of Europe’s Golf

It is that time of year again when Europe´s best golfers descend on Sotogrande to play the Estrella Damm Andalucia Masters at Valderrama. This will be the 27th professional tournament played on this legendary course which has long been ranked as the best on the Continent of Europe. The greatest of these events was the 1997 Ryder Cup, the first to be played in Europe outside the British Isles, which resulted in a stunning victory for Europe under the Captaincy of Seve Ballesteros. This year is the 25th anniversary of that famous week and brings back great memories for me as a member of the team that successfully bid for the matches and then as the General Manager of Valderrama during the Ryder Cup years. Few people know that we were told at the outset by members of the committee who make the decision on the destination not to even bother to bid as we had no chance of succeeding. The whole process and our eventual success, achieved incidentally against the wishes of Seve, is a story for another day but is wasn’t easy and there was immense satisfaction when we know we had outshone our rivals.

We have had great winners at Valderrama  – Tiger Woods at the WGC and the greatest British golfer of all time, Nick Faldo at the inaugural Volvo Masters in 1988 being just two of them.  Last year Matt Fitzpatrick won and then went on to win the US Open this year – the only two English winners in the last 50 years, Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose, had both won at Valderrama prior to winning this toughest of majors proving what a difficult and stern test this course is.

Of course the coverage of these events amounts to hundreds and hundreds of hours of television coverage which is fantastic for the promotion of Sotogrande. Aerial shots of the whole resort are continually on screen so you can see the Sotogrande Marina, our beaches, neighbouring golf courses and the many magnificent villas which emphasize the sheer quality of what Sotogrande offers. Viewers can see how we have grown over the years and many must be tempted to jump on a plane inmediately and find out about Sotogrande and Valderrama for themselves. This is why the demand to play Valderrama is so high, with golfers happy to pay a big premium for the privilege.

So I shall be enjoying the next few days, mingling with old friends and fellow members at Valderrama. I think I have been present at every one of these wonderful occasions, either in a management capacity at five Volvo Masters and the Ryder Cup, spectating or just have a thoroughly good time. Long may these tournaments continue and who knows maybe a LIV event maybe round the corner with all the wonderful golfers they present.

James Stewart

James Stewart