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IMAGE: INIGO SANTIAGO SARACHO


Spain: Majorca


the welcoming host


Minty Clinch gives us the lowdown on this year’s IGTM host


M


ajorca is definitely one to watch. The largest of the Balearic Islands — 200 miles


off the Spanish coast — spans 60 miles, from north to south, and 45 miles, from west to east. Its diminutive size means that no point is more than 25 miles from the sea — or more than 20 miles from the nearest golf course. Things have moved on since the


inaugural nine-holer at Alcudia was closed down back in 1939 (so that its fairways could be used as runways during the Spanish civil war). In 2015, tourists stopped by to play an impressive 600,000 rounds on the 19 courses, with a further 30,000 rounds projected for 2016. The game was initially introduced as an added atraction for foreigners on holiday on the island, with modest


courses clustered round the city of Palma, home to 400,000 people. The Balearics capital is still the springboard for the most popular beaches (such as Magaluf), the best restaurants, the most exciting nightlife — and, of course, golf. As Seve Ballesteros and José


Maria Olazàbal raised the global profile of Spanish golf, Majorca developed ambitions to offer championship courses that would atract the world’s finest. Luckily, they were shared by Federico Knuchel, a Swiss who came to develop a residential project in 1972, fell in love with golf — and Majorca — and stayed to encourage investment in beter courses. At 76, he’s still president of ACGM (the golf course association of Majorca) and out to promote the game at the highest level.


“Our courses are all within an hour of each other, so people have a great choice,” he says. “It’s all about quality. As a Swiss, I’m educated in precision and I ask for the best.” Since 2000, Knuchel’s


enthusiasm has led to seven new courses, including two outstanding ones, Alcanada and Son Gual — both are rated in Europe’s top 100. The US’s celebrated Robert Trent Jones Jr was behind Alcanada, but for the most part, German and Spanish architects dominate the varied portfolio. If there is a common denominator, it is the views, both of the sea and the mountains. The economic climate is buoyant, with course improvements costing £630,000 at Son Antem, £540,000 at San Servena, with £225,000 in the pipeline for Alcanada for 2017.


Golf course at Alcanada countrybycountry.com 175


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