Golfers from Britain and Ireland throng the area every year to enjoy its glorious weather and many fine courses. Because of this, Galway businessman Gerard Cox decided that he wanted to become a player in the tourist market, bringing golfers to the coast and plying them with everything they could possibly want to enjoy their holiday. It was then that he identified a niche in the market that had not been previously exploited.
“I became aware of the huge number of people from many parts of Europe who had bought houses down there and were anxious to play as many courses as they could while all the time enjoying a nice social scene”, Cox explains. “But there was really nowhere for them to do it. They could play golf alright but more often than not they were confined to the same course or had difficulty in arranging guaranteed tee times, something they found increasingly frustrating. And when they finished their game, the best they could have afterwards was a quick beer before the clubhouses closed down and they had to return home”.
Cox decided he had the solution to their problem. He would set up his own country club equipped with every possible amenity and work out an agreement with eight clubs in the region whereby his members could play at guaranteed times and reduced rates. The concept caught on beautifully and the Club de Golf Royale located alongside the well-known El Paraiso hotel and golf course and just off the N340 between San Pedro de Alcantara and Estepona at Benavista will open its doors to the founder members within a couple of weeks.
The country club has to be seen to be believed. It consists of one of two palaces built close on 30 years ago by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia for his prince sons and is nothing short of luxurious.
Cox is managing director of the club with Wexford-based David Healy as marketing director and Waterford-based Mervyn O’Callaghan as financial director. All left lucrative positions to take on this major task, its own indication of their confidence in the project, and they have signed Ian Woosnam as touring professional and honorary president.
Founder members will pay a once-off admission fee of 5,000 and an annual subscription of 1,500 and for that they will receive 20 free rounds of golf, members tee-time booking service, competitive or social golf, preferential rates for accompanying guests, members daily timesheet and golf management support team.
But there’s more to Club de Golf Royale than just golf. They want their members and guests to enjoy the social delights of a high-class country club and accordingly the palace - sorry, club - offers year round access to the country club itself, member’s social calendar, private restaurant and bars, health and fitness suite and swimming pool and lounge area.
It all seems too good to be true for those people fortunate enough to own homes in the Costa del Golf while frequent visitors to the coast will also find membership considerably beneficial. Too many are confined to one or two courses whereas Royale members will have the option of taking on such superb lay-outs as San Roque, erstwhile home to the European Tour School, and the delightful 27 hole Almenara complex both in Sotogrande, along with a pair of cracking courses in the general area of the country club, Santa Clara and Rio Real. The other venues are Alcaidesa with its spectacular views of the Rock of Gibraltar, Atalaya, Los Arqueros, La Quinta and El Paraiso, all of them of very high quality and well-known to Costa del Golf visitors.
Ian Woosnam has described the Club de Golf Royale as “the most exciting golf opportunity in Europe”. Messrs Cox, Healy and O’Callaghan have set a target figure of 1,875 members and say this is only the start.
“We see a major international dimension for the concept and will be moving on to phase two and three without delay”, says Cox. “We see outstanding opportunities in other parts of the Costa del Sol, especially as new courses are constantly coming on stream, and also in Portugal. We are aware of how fortunate we would be to acquire a site or clubhouse as good as we have at present but if none is available, we have no difficulty with building a clubhouse of our own.
In time, we expect to become the biggest golf club in the world”.
Call 091 - 779060 or visit www.ClubdeGolfRoyale.com