When it comes to choosing where to go on a golf holiday, one destination lays out the red carpet more than most to welcome the fairer sex – Spain’s southernmost region, Andalucía.
Golf courses, golf resorts, hotels and ancillary service providers throughout the region pull out all the stops to make women golfers particularly welcome, whether they are part of all-ladies groups or travelling with their partners or families.
And their efforts are paying off, with golf tour operators reporting increasing interest from women in heading there to play golf.
“The open mind and open arms approach of the people of Andalucía have led to high levels of interest for this part of Spain from lady golfers,” says Sarah Forrest, Managing Director of Red Tee Breaks, the lady golfer specialists in the UK who earlier this year organised a ladies tournament there (pictured) with the winners going to Andalucía to play golf.
“Ladies like to feel welcomed as golfers, they want to feel part of the golf scene and Andalucía is leading the way to making this happen,” Forrest continued. “With such a rich array of golf courses to choose from in a varied landscape, this region is sure to see steady growth in months and years to come for the ladies visiting for their golf and much more.”
Inbound Spanish golf tour operator Golf Booking Now offers a special Birdie Golf Package for lady golfers in the Costa del Sol, staying seven nights half-board at the Gran Hotel Elba Estepona & Thalasso Spa and including green fees at Flamingos Golf, Alcaidesa Links, Almenara Golf and Valle Romano as well as access to the Elba Thalasso Spa.
Marbella-based golf club rental company Test and Rent offers a special service for ladies groups on the Costa del Sol, delivering Callaway and TaylorMade rental sets with golfers’ bags tagged with their names, all bags put on buggies according to the flights list and full assistance provided at each golf course. For groups of 10 or more players, the clubs are picked up after each round and delivered to the next course without the golfers needing to worry about taking them back to or from the hotel.
Callaway golf balls and tees can be ordered in advance and are put in the golf bags, and lost balls can be replaced daily so that players have the same set every day. English, Spanish, German and French is spoken by company staff. Clubs can also be delivered to the Costa de la Luz area, although not with the daily pick-ups and drop-offs.
Golf courses are doing their bit to help ladies, too. Baviera Golf, east of Malaga, offers a ladies package for a minimum of four women that includes 18 holes of golf, use of its sauna and Jacuzzi, and a glass of Champagne on its terrace overlooking the Mediterranean. Visitors can also take part in its weekly ladies tournaments, held each Wednesday, to try and beat Baviera’s own ladies group, Las Damas de Baviera. Lessons are offered in Spanish and German to help improve all aspects of ladies’ games.
Lauro Golf, near Malaga, has made ladies one of its priorities. It has held a Ladies Day on every last Wednesday of the month for the past 20 years, with a meal and prize-giving as part of the day, and numbers of participants have been steadily growing. It has also developed a ladies school at its golf academy, not only for existing female members but also for visiting beginners and novice players wanting a relaxed and encouraging environment among other women. Dedicated instruction is held once a week for two hours.
Also on the Costa del Sol, La Cala Resort has three golf courses, a hotel with 107 rooms, a luxury spa and the La Cala Golf Academy. It is a sports-oriented resort with special activities for women including an aqua gym, body toning, Zumba, Pilates, yoga and wellness options. Its spa features a bespoke range of holistic beauty and massage treatments. Packages offered by the resort tailored to women guests include accommodation with breakfast, rounds of golf, spa sessions and treatments, and golf lessons.
Precise Resort El Rompido, in Huelva, also focuses on golf for ladies and for the last four years has staged what it believes is the largest ladies pro-am event in Europe, the Tarleton Golf Ladies Pro Am. Held in April each year, the 2015 event drew 112 women participants and the number is set to grow to over 130 in 2016. Teams come from Scotland, England, Norway, Denmark, Holland and Spain to compete and have even travelled from as far as the USA and Canada in the past, with the sunshine and attractions of the Costa de la Luz an added draw.
Women golfers heading to the Costa de la Luz have dedicated programmes and facilities at other resorts and golf courses close by. Ibersotar Hotels & Resorts has four-star and five-star hotels on-site at the Seve Ballesteros-designed Iberostar Novo Sancti Petri course fronted by a 7km Blue Flag beach. The Iberostar Royal Andalus (four-star) and Iberostar Andalucía Playa (five-star) both have spas offering a wide range of treatments and massages to pamper ladies after their rounds. The Novo Sancti Petri course hosted the Spanish Federation Ladies Amateur Championship this year and from November 10-12 hosts the Grand Final of the Lady Golf Circuit for up to 80 Spanish players.
Ladies groups get a 20% discount on rounds at Golf La Estancia in nearby Chiclana de la Frontera. Packages for 2016 include unlimited golf at the course and seven nights half-board accommodation at the four-star Botel Barrosa Park, with transfers to and from the course plus a gala dinner. Also in Chiclana, a range of health and beauty treatments is offered by the Tartessus Wellness Clinic, which forms part of the Ilunion Tartessus Sancti Petri Tourist Complex close to Sancti Petri Hills Golf.
Other accommodation providers in the region also provide a welcoming sanctuary for women golf visitors. Tryp Valle Romano is located in the middle of the Valle Romano Golf Resort near Estepona and makes a perfect base for groups of lady golfers with its deluxe apartments that have a capacity for up to four or five people just 300 metres from the reception to the golf clubhouse. Facilities include three outdoor pools overlooking the golf course, a gym, a social club and a children’s playground for those staying with their families.
The Elysium Spa at the Almenara Hotel has developed specially-tailored fitness programmes for lady golfers playing on the Sotogrande estate’s courses. They include the Quirogolf Massage – an exclusive golf-ball massage designed to give deep-tissue relaxation to give golfers focus, muscle warm-up and flexibility to help improve their game. The treatment is ideal preparation before playing a round. Its Al Andalus Ritual, suggested as a post-game treatment, is a complete relaxation ritual using ancestral techniques, including an aromatherapy facial, full-body exfoliation, a citrus wrap and body massage. The spa also has a pool with hydrothermal circuit, Jacuzzis, hammam and sauna, an aroma and light therapy shower, a relaxation area and a private solarium as well as a fitness studio offering state-of-the-art training by specialist Italian company Technogym.
The Hilton chain’s first adults-only resort and spa on the Costa del Sol, the Double Tree by Hilton Resort & Spa Reserva del Higuerón, brings another option for ladies to like to golf and be pampered.
The resort has developed golf packages with Torrequebrada Golf, Mijas Golf, Santana Golf, Chaparral Golf, Cabopino Golf Marbella, Rio Real Golf and Los Naranjos combined with five-day and seven-day stays at the 177-room property. It features the largest spa on the Costa del Sol in addition to a wellness centre, two indoor pools, two outdoor pools, other leisure facilities and a shopping centre.
The cosy 30-room boutique Rio Real Golf & Hotel, 2km from Marbella Old Town, has a wellness centre and easy-walking golf course featuring wide fairways and friendly forward tees that hosted the Lady Golf Circuit in 2015 and the Andalucían Federation Circuit. In 2016 the hotel will be promoting special offers for ladies-only groups with free upgrades to its Birdie and Eagle suites.
After golf, ladies can relax and enjoy some city life. Malaga appeals to women for its great outdoor ambience, excellent restaurants and tapas bars, wonderful shopping, museums and art galleries.
For women golfers, Andalucía is as good as it gets.
Golf in Andalucía, visit www.andalucia.org/en/golf