Emma Villacieros, an Honorary Life Vice President of The European Tour who dedicated much of her life to popularising the game of golf in her native Spain, had died at the age of 86.
Mrs Villacieros was President of the Real Federación Española de Golf from 1988 to 2008 and played a leading role in securing golf’s readmission to the Olympic Games in 2016.
George O’Grady, former Chief Executive of The European Tour, paid tribute in saying: “Emma was a remarkable lady with her administrative achievements probably equalling her distinguished playing career.
“While she was exceptionally proud of the construction of the Centro National de Golf in Madrid, where her drive to get the site, the permissions, and the finance to build a public facility open to all, virtually in the centre of Madrid, was such a great achievement, it is probably her non-stop campaigning for golf's return to the Olympic Games that she should most be remembered for in an International sense.
“She was an absolute titan in this respect and galvanised all the European Federations and all golf's world leaders and the IOC to take this step that she felt, quite rightly, could change the face of global golf.
“Spanish golf and the European Tour were very lucky to have her at the helm for so long in our developing years.”
Many Spanish golfers also paid tribute including World Number Three Jon Rahm, who said; “All my support to her family and friends. With no doubt, many of us would not be where we are without the great job she did for Spanish golf.”
Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño said: “Very sad to hear Emma has died. A key figure with Seve Ballesteros in the developing of golf in Spain. My sincere condolences to her family and friends.”
Pedro Oriol, commented: “Courageous, ambitious. Did everything with love and dedication. Emma, thanks for everything you have done for Spanish golf. RIP.”
Jorge Campillo, said: “RIP Emma Villacieros. Thanks for all your help with national golf and specially with golf in Extremadura (the region Campillo comes from). We, golf lovers, will always be in debt with you.”
Mrs Villacieros, herself a formidable golfer and administrator, joined the Royal Spanish Golf Federation in 1965 and served as President from 1988 to 2008 before becoming Honorary President of the Federation. She become Honorary Live Vice President of The European Tour in 2010.
She played a leading role in the remarkable increase in golf courses in Spain from 91 in 1989 to 324 in 2008 and was a key figure in The Ryder Cup being awarded to a Spanish venue for the first time at Club de Golf Valderrama for the first time in 1997.