All golf fans are invited to enjoy the NH Collection Open free of charge when the inaugural edition of the event takes place at La Reserva de Sotogrande from April 3-6.
This new dual-ranking event, split equally between the European and Challenge Tour categories, will open its doors to all willing to watch both seasoned veterans and upcoming young talents compete on the highly acclaimed Cabell B. Robinson layout.
Although increasingly popular with amateurs since its opening in 2003, this exciting new tournament will mark the debut of La Reserva de Sotogrande as European Tour venue.
Its architect and designer Cabell B. Robinson is happy to see yet another of his designs hosting an international professional event after Finca Cortesin, Spain, played host to three editions of the Volvo World Match Play Championship.
Cabell B. Robinson: “It makes me very happy that the NH Collection Open is taking place at a golf course designed by me. I am so proud of La Reserva de Sotogrande, one of my favourite designs. Most of the best courses in Spain are located in that part of Andalucía and this new event will bring very good publicity for the area, it’s good to show the world the quality of the golf courses available in Spain.
“I came to Spain in 1970. Started working for Robert Trent Jones in 1967 but after three years I told him: 'I really like working for you but I want to move'. I did not enjoy at all living in New Jersey. He asked me to open his office in Europe to which I responded 'no!' and he said: 'Why, have you ever been to Europe? No, you haven’t. So, don’t give me a stupid answer and go!'
“At that time, Trent Jones had already done RCG Sotogrande and Las Brisas and was working at Las Aves (known as Valderrama), where I was involved. I ended up opening the office in Fuengirola (Málaga), which Mr. Jones could never pronounce and used to call 'Funny Gorilla'. I worked in all his projects in Europe until I went on my own in 1987.
“La Reserva de Sotogrande’s master plan was done by Almenara designer Dave Thomas, but not by me. I came in later and thought the land was fantastic on my first impression; the Southwest corner of Spain is a lovely part of the country with beautiful trees.
“From the plan I was given showing the guidelines I thought the course could be a bit tight in some areas, so I asked whether we could have a bit more of land which they provided me with. I was able to change the limits in some holes and the course looked much better. The fairways are generous and greens about average size: 600 square meters, moderately contoured. I am very pleased with the result and very grateful to Sotogrande, they let me work as I wanted; no one was looking over my shoulder.
“I came for a few years but have spent 44 in this country! I love Spain: the villages, the people, the food… Chuletones and fabada are my favourite. I know the country quite well, enjoy travelling around and have stayed in most of the Paradores, which are fantastic. Maybe I should not be mentioning Paradores as the new event is sponsored by NH Hotel Group, but I must say they are different and two great hotel chains. Spanish hotels have very good reputation.
“Financially, Spain has suffered and has had tremendous difficulties in the last years, although I think we have reached bottom and the country is coming out of it. Money was too easy to make during some years, just look at some stupid projects, giant buildings, empty airports…
“As for me, I do not have a mobile phone, people don’t believe me but I’ve managed without it. I love what I do. I have lost count of the courses I have designed. I enjoy working on site with the bulldozers, the machinery… don’t like to work on paper, that’s not for me. Golf courses should be designed modelling the land.”