Miguel Angel Jiménez, the oldest winner in European Tour history, hopes to help the next generation of golfers after launching his new golf academy in his native Spain.
The 19-time European Tour winner was joined by many of his friends from the world of golf as he inaugurated the Miguel Ángel Jiménez Municipal School of Golf, in Torremolinos.
Guests included fellow Spanish professionals José María Cañizares, Manuel Piñero, Juan Quirós and Manuel Quirós and European Tour Rules Official and Tournament Director José María Zamora, as well as dignitaries from the local authority, national and Andalucían federations.
The school consists of a practice ground and a nine hole par three course on seven hectares of gently sloping land, parallel with the railway line that runs between Málaga and Fuengirola.
“This is a dream come true,” said Jiménez. “Golf has given me everything and I want to give back.
“One of my goals was to develop and promote golf in this area and it’s been achieved today.
“The land is a 50 year concession from the Town Hall. We have very popular prices and will be focused mainly on children and families with special discounts for them.
“I have designed the Par threes. The seventh honours the 12th hole at Augusta National, one of my favourite holes in the whole world. Playing my first Masters in 1995, I practiced with Seve (Ballesteros) and José María Olazábal. I hit a perfect eight iron to the 12th green and said: ‘Is this the difficult hole you talk about’? They laughed and answered: ‘Wait, wait till the tournament starts’. On Thursday, I am on the 12th tee and the green had disappeared.”
Holes on the par three course range in distance from 54 to 128 metres. Two artificial lakes are linked by a stream that comes into play on a number of holes and nine bunkers surround the course, which demands accuracy.
The driving range is 250 metres long and has a capacity for 40 players who will be able to practise on either natural or artificial grass. There are 15 pylons that light up the driving range making it possible to use the facility all year round at night.
The Academy is also equipped with a swing analysis centre, while the clubhouse, car park and relaxation areas will be built in the second phase of the project.
Jiménez broke Des Smyth’s 11 year record as the oldest European Tour winner when he captured the UBS Hong Kong Open in November at the age of 48 years and 315 days.
But his hopes of claiming a 20th title are currently on hold after breaking his leg in a skiing accident in December.
“I’m feeling strong,” he said. “I’m doing four mornings per week in the gym working on the upper part of the body, and three afternoons in the gym working on my leg. Hopefully I will get back for the BMW PGA Championship in May.”