The Museum of the History of Catalonia in Barcelona gives visitors a fascinating insight into the history of this beautiful region of Spain, not to mention an air-conditioned respite from the sun. Searching high and low however I could not find the answer to the question: what is it, exactly, that makes this region such a perfect spot for a golfing holiday!
There is no doubt that Catalonia is a great golfing destination. It just took a long time to get to the glorious fairways and pristine greens that we now enjoy. Humans arrived in the area 450,000 years ago (the Lower Palaeolithic period) but we only started playing golf here in 1914.
What took us so long?
The History of Catalonia
The development of arable agriculture in the Neolithic period, seemed a perfect opportunity to get the old Mashie Niblick out but maybe the arrival of the Greeks and Phoenicians in the 7th century BC delayed the uptake of the sport; even now Greeks make famously bad golfers!
The History of Golf in Catalonia
It wasn’t until 1914, when a bunch of Brits (famously good golfers), working on the Barcelona to Metro del Vallès railway line, noticed that this would be a good place to play golf and built the Sant Cugat del Vallès golf course.
Fast forward 100 years and the region’s premier golfing resort, the PGA Catalunya Resort, was voted the best golf resorts in Spain and their Stadium Course was voted third best in Europe!
In June 2016 PGA Catalunya Resort took part in the inaugural International Women’s Golf Day (WGD). For some this was a bigger event than the arrival of the Neolithic period, that helped to shape this beautiful area into the golfing mecca it has become. For others it is the beginning of the future.
The Future of Golf in Catalonia
The PGA Catalunya Resort is the venue for the European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage each year and it was nominated as the host venue for the Real Federación Española de Golf’s (ultimately unsuccessful) bid for the 2022 Ryder Cup.
The region’s importance to the future of world golf tourism was recognised this year when Girona hosted the global golf tourism association’s (IAGTO) annual conference in May and the PGA Catalunya Resort hosted the event’s ‘Trophy’ competition on its Stadium Course.
So golf in the region is certainly on the up. Access is fast and easy by both plane and train from the UK and the rest of mainland Europe, through its network of budget airlines and super fast rail services.
This combination of superb courses and easy access has continued to drive an increase in numbers of European golfer visitors, to the region. Between 2013 and 2015 visitors soared by 67% and tourism chiefs expect that to continue with 125,000 visitors the target for 2017.
So if you want to get a round in you had better book ahead!