At a time when the Chinese Government is reportedly cracking down on ‘illegal’ golf courses, Son Gual, Mallorca’s leading golf destination, is celebrating 1,000 visitors from the country – a benefit of its relationship with the world’s largest golf club, Mission Hills.
The country’s rulers have turned against golf, seemingly enforcing a decade-old ban for the first time and announcing that nearly 70 ‘illegal’ courses have been closed as part of a high-profile campaign spearheaded by President Xi Jinping, which has seen crackdowns on banquets, lavish gift-giving and other official ‘excesses’.
Yet Chinese visitors to Europe continue to embrace the sport with a passion, and Son Gual, in Mallorca, has recently welcomed its 1,000th visitor from the country as part of an arrangement it has with Mission Hills.
Son Gual’s general manager, Andreas Pamer, was, three years ago, instrumental in agreeing the partnership with the Chinese resort, acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest golf facility.
He explained: “I have seen reports of the government crackdown in China, but it would appear that Chinese tourists to Europe are still as keen – if not keener than ever – to play golf. Our partnership with Mission Hills allows privileged access to its members and the number bringing their friends while on a visit to Europe is still on the increase.
“Most of the clubs enjoying this reciprocal membership arrangement with Mission Hills are in the USA – indeed Son Gual is one of just two in Spain, so it’s something of which we’re naturally proud.”
The €30m Thomas Himmel-designed Son Gual course was acclaimed recently as ‘best golf course’ by the World of Leading Golf, a corporation representing some of the globe’s most distinctive clubs. And it has been turning heads since it opened in 2007.
It is listed as the eighth-best course in Spain and the top venue in Mallorca in Golf World’s benchmark Top 100 Courses in Continental Europe 2014 rankings. Golf World described the venue as ‘one of the finest inland courses on the continent’, and continued: ‘Son Gual is what a modern championship course should be, and, taken together with its fabulous clubhouse and practice facilities, is every inch a serious Tour venue … it stands comparison with our own high-octane parklands The Grove and The Belfry – not least in the conditioning stakes, which is no mean achievement’.
Borne of a desire in its owner, Adam Pamer, for Mallorca to have a golf course worthy of the sunshine island, Son Gual was sculpted expertly out of a large piece of barren agricultural land. The transformation into a world-class golf course has created a venue which features large lakes, 66 bunkers, 800 olive trees – some more than a thousand years old – wild flowers in the rough and vineyards in several areas around the course.
Son Gual www.son-gual.com