Real Club Golf Guadalmina - MARBELLA
With more than 60 years of history, Guadalmina is one of the flagship clubs of the Costa del Sol and, by extension, of Andalusia and Spain. A breeding ground for great champions, the club stands out for its magnificent facilities, its great social life and the constant renewal of its competitive teams, which have produced players of the calibre of Azahara Muñoz, Noemí Jiménez, Laura Gómez and Laura Cabanillas. With two 18-hole courses (including the southern course, designed by Javier Arana, which will host the Spanish Women’s Open) and an attractive Pitch & Putt, the Real Club de Golf Guadalmina is a regular venue for amateur high competition tournaments and hosted the Spanish Women’s Open in September 2017.
There may be 18 Spanish stars in the field this week for the LET’s season finale at the Andalucia Costa Del Sol Open De Espana but homegrown talent Azahara Munoz is among the pre-tournament favourites as play gets underway from November 26-29.
A two-time Open De España champion and former winner at Real Club De Golf Guadalmina in her last visit in 2017, Munoz has happy memories of the par-72 layout having not only grown up down the road in Marbella but having honed her game on the narrow treelined fairways and testing greens since the age of nine.
Back for her third LET event of the season, the 33-year-old is one of more than 20 champions in the field but returns home for more than just a trophy and a slice of the €600,000 prize fund.
Adored by the locals and fellow club members, Munoz is one of the top talents to come from the region but has never forgotten her roots and even has a chipping and putting area named after her at the club. Located at the bottom of the driving range, ‘Aza’s Corner’ as it is aptly named, is a renovated area with a junior hut filled with clubs and equipment for upcoming talent.
“It was nice to see them name the area after me, it means a lot. I always love coming home, so it gives me a good feeling ahead of the week and I feel comfortable and relaxed. I love coming back to Europe, all the girls are so nice and especially here at the Spanish Open, it is nice having my family around, which is one of the reasons why I normally play well.”
Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 restrictions, the fairways will not be lined with fans this year to witness the drama unfold but the memories of Munoz’s victory followed by a dip in the club’s pool are enough to satisfy the excitement of all.
“I am going to miss the crowds, a few years ago it was nice having all the members following me and having their support, but I know they are with me in spirit. My family and siblings are going to be here though, and it will be nice to have them. I’m not going to make any promises of jumping in the pool this time though.”
Having achieved worldwide success with five victories on the LET, one on the LPGA and representing Team Europe in four Solheim Cups, Munoz still has the same mentality she had as a teenager.
“I feel like young Aza here, I don’t feel like a superstar coming home. Some of the girls do ask me questions though, especially the Spanish girls. But it is great to see the lots of new faces and it is great for the game.”
Munoz is not the only player in the field this week to have honed their game here as a teenager. Laura Gomez and Noemi Jimenez Martin are both Real Club De Golf prodigies with Gomez’s Father the club professional.
Acting as a caddie this week, Castor Gomez will be hoping to impart many years of local wisdom as his daughter competes in only her eleventh LET tournament since turning professional in 2018.