The history of PGA Catalunya Resort is as extraordinary as the naturally beautiful landscape from which its two golf courses have been created.
Originally, the land was set aside for a Formula 1 racetrack, and then a purpose-built venue for the 1997 Ryder Cup . As it happened, PGA Catalunya Resort’s future was to take a different path, but one that was ultimately to create one of Europe’s finest golfing estates and host venue of the Spanish Open golf tournament.
Our story starts in 1992 when PGA European Tour board member and former tournament professional Angel Gallardo was asked to look at the possibility of developing a purpose-built golf course to host the Ryder Cup in Spain in 1997. Simultaneously, the Royal Automobile Club of Catalunya (RACC) was set to abandon plans to build a Formula 1 circuit on a 230-hectare site close to Girona and called Gallardo to see if the land would be suitable for a golf development.
On his first visit, Gallardo instantly saw the potential for what he believed could be one of the greatest golf courses in the world and an ideal venue for the Ryder Cup.
“It was clear that there was so much land, with wonderful elevation and mature forest, that we would be able to create not one great golf course, but two,” recalls Gallardo. “I knew PGA Catalunya Resort was going to be special.”
With the help of European Tour golf legend Neil Coles , the Stadium Course – originally called the Green Course – took shape. Designed with the Ryder Cup in mind, its spacious holes and banking meant that there would be good viewing for more than 30,000 spectators.
However, for a number of external reasons, it was not possible to start the project in time to meet the deadline for the 1997 Ryder Cup.
However, when PGA Catalunya Resort did open in 1999, it immediately hosted the Sarazen World Open , won by Thomas Bjorn, and the Spanish Open in 2000. Colin Montgomerie, who competed in the Spanish Open, told Gallardo that it was an outstanding golf course – Golf World magazine agreed, placing PGA Catalunya Resort in its Top 10 Courses in Continental Europe and, in 2010, its World Top 100 Courses.
The Tour Course – formerly the Red Course – opened in 2005, with an acclaimed design that Gallardo and Coles had envisaged while they were designing the first course. An enjoyable, generous golf course, ideal for resort play, it was nevertheless championship standard and co-hosted the European Tour’s Qualifying School Final Stage , alongside the Stadium Course, in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The acquisition of PGA Catalunya Resort by Irish entrepreneur Denis O’Brien, the successful proprietor of the acclaimed Quinta do Lago, Portugal, has seen significant investment injected into the estate, culminating in a distinct, upmarket property development of considerable style and elegance.
“I think the next phase in PGA Catalunya Resort’s history is very exciting and I am pleased to see this wonderful estate being looked after and developed in this way,” adds Angel Gallardo. “For me, it really is one of the finest golf venues in the world and I am so proud of what we have achieved here. I would like to think that when I die, I will be remembered for the role I played in creating PGA Catalunya Resort. It is in my blood and my legacy.”