When golf’s greats arrived to play at Valderrama in the Ryder Cup in 1997 they cannot fail to have noticed the ‘Costa del Golf’ signs that decorated the road from the airport. If they imagined that this welcome was merely for their benefit they would have been disappointed to learn the truth.
For many years the Costa del Sol has been a key destination for golfing tourists. This is partly due to the favourable climate that permits play throughout the year, the vast number of world class courses – incorporating a wide variety of terrains – and the generous supply of ‘off-tee’ entertainment available, once the sun sets and even the most dedicated player’s thoughts turn to food, wine and partying. The Costa del Sol offers golfers a world class good time and – for those keen amateurs from Northern Europe – very affordable short-haul flights to both Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport and Gibraltar.
It has been estimated that the number of people taking up the sport in Europe, the Middle East and Africa has grown by five per cent every year for the past two decades, resulting in a corresponding growth in so-called golfing urbanisations.
Yet, on the Costa del Golf, most properties can be described as potential golfing properties, since excellent courses can be found everywhere along the coast and no property is very far from the best local greens and fairways.
This sector of the tourist market is much prized, since golfers are perceived generally to enjoy access to a large disposable income. Recently released figures reveal that, in 2010 alone, 427,000 golfers spent 687€ million in Andalucía, a large percentage of which found its way into the tills of Costa del Sol shops, supermarkets, cafés, bars and restaurants.
UK golfers are especially fond of this part of Spain and it has been estimated that the typical British excursion features a group of friends or colleagues who are over the age of 35 and belong to the same golf club. When in the area, they like to combine games on top class courses and a wide range of leisure and cultural activities. With an average daily expenditure of 103€, it’s hardly a surprise that the custom of these comparatively big-spending visitors is prized by local businesses.