The European Girls' Team Championship has taken place to great acclaim at The European Tour’s newest Destination Venue, Golf Club St. Leon-Rot near Heidelberg.
The host club earned considerable praise for their professional staging of the under-18s event, in which Sweden emerged as champions with victory over Spain in the final. Denmark finished third with the host nation, Germany, in sixth. England had started the week by winning the 36-hole strokeplay qualifying by a record 21 shots.
But most importantly, the event brought golf to the attention of a new audience through a variety of online platforms as well as interactive events during the tournament.
During the five-day event, which was launched in style with an atmospheric opening ceremony at Heidelberg Castle, St.Leon-Rot played the role as hosts to perfection and ensured that the competition remained in the public eye across all digital platforms.
In association with partners Allianz Deutschland AG and the German Golf Association, the Club launched a Championship Facebook page, capturing over 3,300 “friends” within three weeks of going live. The page proved a massive hit with fans, providing constant information, results, videos and photos.
Offline, there were golf programmes specially designed for schools, with children visiting the tournament on hiking excursions and not only seeing top-class golf played by young amateurs but also actively participating in the game for the first time.
This included a mini, five-hole putting tournament on the “Bambini” course supported by SNAG-Golf. Both competitors and spectators enjoyed the excellent facilities on offer at the Club, with the perfectly prepared St. Leon course offering ideal conditions for the 120 players from 20 nations.
Players, media, support staff, officials and spectators were able to take advantage of the venue facilities and special events staged during the tournament week, including the well-appointed clubhouse, large leaderboards, on-course scoring, media centre, fun competitor shoot-outs and post-event party.
Eicko Schulz-Hanßen, Managing Director of St. Leon-Rot Golf Club, summed up the mood: “We are delighted to be able to organise this top international tournament for young golfers along with the German Golf Association and the European Golf Association and to have thrilled so many golf fans of every age.
“We are particularly pleased that we have been able to encourage such a high degree of intercultural exchange among the players, trainers and support staff. It was also great to see what fun the schoolchildren had on our programme – and maybe it will encourage them to take up our lovely sport.
“Those were two key factors for us in the lead-up to the event. None of that would have been possible, of course, without the hard work of many voluntary helpers, the children from our club and our business partners: A big thank-you to everyone.”
The week also marked the presentation by The European Tour to Golf Club St Leon-Rot of the official European Tour Destination plaque.
David MacLaren, the Tour’s Director of Property and Venue Development, was an interested spectator during the tournament and presented the Destination plaque to Mr Schulz-Hanßen saying: “We are delighted to have St Leon-Rot as part of The European Tour Properties family.
“The commitment of the venue and its owner, Dietmar Hopp, to the development of junior golf at all levels is shown by their immaculate and imaginative staging of the European Girls’ Championship and the inclusion of activities for younger golfers visiting the tournament”.
About St. Leon-Rot Golf Club (www.gc-slr.de)
The club, founded in 1996, has two 18-hole championship courses, both of which have played host to the Deutsche Bank SAP Open on TheEuropean Tour. Tiger Woods, who spent a total of 600 weeks in his career as world number one, made his first appearance on the European mainland at St. Leon-Rot and won the tournament in 1999, 2001 and 2002. The two courses, 'St. Leon' and 'Rot', have both received multiple accolades in the specialist press.
The Rot championship course won the sought-after Golf Journal Travel Award nine times in a row up to 2010, as 'Germany's most popular golf course'. In 2011 and 2012 the award went to the St. Leon course. In 2000, Golf Magazin named Fairway 9 on the 'Rot' course one of the 'Top 500 Holes in the World'. The club also has a nine-hole short course and a five-hole 'bambini' course.
The venue also offers spacious, high-quality practice areas including two driving ranges, an innovative video training centre, and various pitching, chipping and putting greens. In 2011 the large, innovative Short Game Center of Excellence was opened; this now allows the club's key players to practise all year round. In April 2012, the St. Leon-Rot Golf Club became the tenth Destination member venue of the European Tour’s thriving collection of world class golfing facilities. The club is also known for its outstanding position in the field of German amateur golf.
For years, an exemplary, systematic youth development scheme has formed the basis for sporting success. Thus St. Leon-Rot produced the German men's team champions for seven years in a row from 2004 to 2010. There was also one European Championship win. The women's team boasts five German championships and five European Champion titles. On top of all this, the players Stephan Gross (2008) and Sophia Popov (2010) took home an Individual European Championship title. A key role in St. Leon-Rot's rise to become one of Germany's best golf clubs is played by club president Dietmar Hopp, a co-founder of the Walldorf software corporation SAP.