Three bids followed by two years of negotiations have paid off. The Costa del Sol, with Marbella as the area’s golfing epicentre, will host the Solheim Cup in 2023. The bid for the Solheim Cup needed Marbella. Let’s not forget that this is the leading town for golf courses on the coast, with 15 across the municipality and a total of 243 holes, more than 20 per cent of the total on offer on the Costa del Sol.
When the opportunity arose in 2017 to bring the Solheim Cup to the Costa del Sol, Marbella did not hesitate in pulling out all the stops to avoid it getting away. Mindful of what holding the Ryder Cup in 1997 had meant not just for Valderrama but also for the whole of the Costa del Sol, the municipality, with its mayor and councillor for Tourism Ángeles Muñoz at the helm, set out on its plan to repeat the success of the Solheim’s sister event.
The initial studies carried out in preparing the bid presentation showed that the direct financial impact of the Solheim Cup on the local economy would be over 227 million euros. So, it was really important for Marbella, for the golf courses, for the hotels and for the area’s entire business community that the LET went for their bid.
Women’s golf has clearly gained a higher profile recently, with the economic and media impact of women’s tournaments increasing every year. In addition to its undeniable sporting appeal, the Solheim Cup is the ideal platform for attracting visitors from America and Asia, markets where the Costa del Sol still has room to grow.
With that clear vision, Marbella believed the Solheim Cup would be the ideal vehicle to promote its advantages as a visitor and sporting destination to a worldwide audience. By way of an indication of the potential impact, the last time it was held in Europe, (Gleneagles 2019), more than 90,000 spectators from around the world attended, and the 2021 tournament, to be played in Ohio, is expected to attract 160,000 fans. In terms of television exposure, there were 859 hours of coverage on five continents, something that is hard to imagine for any another event.
The strength of the Costa del Sol bid proved irresistible to the LET. Five years hosting the Open de España, sponsorship of the LET order of merit (Race to Costa del Sol) for four years and the Solheim Cup. The news of the award of the Solheim finally broke on 13 October 2020. The Solheim Cup would be coming to the Costa del Sol at last.
Spain will be hosting the Solheim Cup for the first time in 2023. This will join the long list of major sporting events that have been held on national soil, including the 1982 World Cup, 1986 Basketball World Cup, 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the Ryder Cup in 1997 and the America’s Cup in 2007 and 2010. Once again, Spain, Andalucía and the Costa del Sol will be able to demonstrate what they can do, making it clear just how suited they are to hosting elite sporting competitions.
Although it is not just because of golf that the Marbella brand played its part in the Solheim Cup 2023 bid. The resort could draw on the prestige of an internationally successful tourist brand, good connectivity – it is only 30 minutes’ drive from Malaga’s international airport, as well as its range of hotels, including the largest number of luxury properties in the province.