THE SOLHEIM CUP 2023 – THE WORLD’S LEADING WOMEN’S GOLF CHAMPIONSHIPS – COMING TO FINCA CORTESIN, COSTA DEL SOL
May 3, 2023
The dates 22-24 September 2023 will forever be etched in the history books pertaining to golf – and women’s sport in Spain as well as on the world stage.
Finally, the Solheim Cup, the biggest event in the women’s international golfing calendar is being held at the stunning Finca Cortesin Resort home to one of the most acclaimed championship courses on the Costa del Sol.
Speaking at a recent Costa Press Club meeting, event organizer Alicia Garrido talked with notable pride and anticipation as one of the key figures responsible for this sporting coup for Spain, Málaga province and the Costa del Sol.
For those not in the know, the Solheim Cup is the female equivalent of the Ryder Cup, one of the most sought-after golf championships worldwide. As a consequence, playing in this tournament, hosting the event and supporting this key women’s sporting fixture bring prestige to all involved.
In the same way as the men’s Ryder Cup, the top 12 women golfers in Europe battle it out on the greens and fairways against the top 12 female players fro the USA. The event has been running since 1990 when the first edition of the tournament was played in Florida, USA.
As joint director of the sports management company Deporte & Business, along with her husband, Alicia Garrido is understandably moved and proud to see this major event coming to Spain for the very first time.
The couple initiated their quest to bring the event to Spain back in 2009 – and have persisted in their attempts until finally succeeding with the upcoming 2023 edition.
In 2011 it went to Ireland, 2013, Colorado, USA. In 2015 Germany hosted the tournament and in 2019, Scotland won the bid with a 27 million euro offer. Spain 2023 is the event’s first time to be hosted in a Mediterranean country.
Alicia explained that the bid for Spain was ambitious, taking in not just the Solheim Cup but a 5-year, 5-event project including the Spanish Open and the Race to the Costa del Sol Tournament, and culminating with the Solheim Cup this year.
Gaining support from the authorities promoting Andalucía and Costa del Sol proved definitive in winning the bid for the Solheim Cup, and finally bringing the event home to the so-called Costa del Golf.
This accolade is a massive boon not only to golf, and a huge boost to the local economy – as a landmark event in the history of women’s sport worldwide.
Raising the Profile of Women’s Golf
At the time of winning the bid, the Solheim Cup was the women’s international sporting event with the most spectators attending – a huge achievement for women’s golf and women’s sport.
Alicia admits that when she first got behind the Solheim Cup in 2009, no-one had really heard of the event here in Spain… However, thanks to 110 women ambassadors for the Cup in Spain and other countries spreading the word, their passion for golf and the event have conspired to finally bring the Solheim Cup to Spain for its 18th edition.
Playing for honour and prestige alone – the winners of the Solheim Cup are not awarded prize money – the honorary President of the event is none other than Queen Letizia of Spain, who will be attending the event as guest of honour.
Showcasing women’s solidarity and sportsmanship, Alicia is adamant that women’s sport is underfunded compared to men’s sporting fixtures and is doing everything possible to close the gap in funding, sponsorship, media coverage and spectators.
Running with the hashtag slogan #vamosgirls Alicia is open about the disparity between the financial support available to men and women’s sporting events – and this event is a case in point.
Having been instrumental in raising the 21 million euros backing needed to stage her company’s bid for the 5 events leading up to the Solheim Cup, Alicia points out the fact that the next Ryder Cup for 2030 has 96 million behind it – so there is a vast gap to bridge in terms of the financial support and sponsorship of women’s golf.
A Life on the Golf Course
Although more of a hobby golfer, herself, (“I have a good swing but I barely play 6 times a year…”) Alicia comes from a family with a fine golfing pedigree; her father Antonio Garrido was the winner of the first European Tour in 1972, World Champion in 1979 and one of the first Spanish players to take part in the prestigious Ryder Cup.
Born and raised around golf courses and tournaments, Alicia’s brother Ignacio is also a pro golfer and had the honour of playing in the Ryder Cup in 1997 in Sotogrande, Spain. It’s fair to say that the golf course was Alicia’s childhood playground, and the family have fantastic memories of traveling around Europe with the sport.
With more than 60 golf tournaments under her belt, Alicia began this professional journey by organizing Juniors against Seniors tournaments.
While still at University, she was asked to organize a corporate tournament. This led, eventually to Alicia setting up her event management company Deporte & Business with her husband some 25 years ago. Their big break came in 2002 when they got to organize their first Spanish Open. Since then, the duo has gone from strength to strength specializing in the niche market of the organization of Ladies Professional Golf tournaments, the Solheim Cup naturally being the icing on the cake.
The 18th Edition of the Solheim Cup in September 2023
Over the years Alicia became more invested in women’s golf and is proud to be supporting the women’s game. “ The women’s game is more about accuracy, and less about strength and power and it is gratifying to see more public attending women’s sporting events.
So far, 70,000 tickets have been sold from around 30 countries. Approximately 6 per cent of tickets have been bought by clients in the USA. With around 75 per cent of attendees coming from abroad, the visitors will not only enjoy the golf, but also discover the beauty of the area, the gastronomy, the climate…
As Alicia elaborates, “Men generally outnumber women as spectators – but let’s see… Golf events tends to attract groups of men to holiday here – but the women’s event will attract families that come with their children, do more activities, spend more…
“We are sure that spectators are going to love the event in September. Finca Cortesin is truly spectacular. The course and the resort are already benefiting with new members – and potentially sales of real estate… Along with travel, accommodation, hospitality and ticket sales of the event, the economic impact from this event on the area will be in the hundreds of millions of euros.”
Prior to the main event, is the Junior Ping competition for amateur golfers under 18. (The Solheim family own the golf equipment brand Ping). Being staged within the exclusive La Zagaleta Golf & Country Club in Benahavis on 18-10 September, in the days leading up to the Solheim Cup, this tournament is sure to attract a large number of spectators who will make a week of it.
The preliminaries to the event will kick off with a concert at the Arena in Puerto Banús, this edition of the tournament will be about more than the just the competition itself; it’s a celebration of women’s golf, “girl power” and the fabulous courses of the Costa del Golf.
Alicia’s support of the women’s game goes all the way to the top stating, “To really put women’s golf on the map in Spain we need one of our girls to become the World Number One…”
The European team won the 2021 edition and with expectations riding high for the fast-approaching tournament, there is nothing Alicia Garrido would like more than to hear the Ryder Cup being referenced as “the male version of The Solheim Cup… And why ever not?
To support the Solheim Cup, visit: www.solheimcup.com and follow the hashtag… #vamosgirls