A Great Team Effort – Madrid 2018

Robin Hiseman, the architect of the new golf course designed for Madrid’s bid to host the 2018 Ryder Cup, gives a personal insight into his work as the winning bid announcement looms.

The wait is nearly over. On May 17 2011, Ryder Cup Europe will announce which country has been awarded the rights to host the Ryder Cup in 2018.

My involvement with the process is as the golf course architect for the Spanish bid, through my position with European Golf Design.

We were engaged by the Spanish Golf Federation to appraise a selection of potential sites around the capital Madrid, once they had determined that the existing stock of courses were not capable of hosting an event of the scale of a modern Ryder Cup.

We quickly settled on a quite magnificent plot of moorland, adjacent to the town of Tres Cantos, some 15 kilometres north of the city. This outstanding property encompassed 230 hectares of lightly vegetated, open grasslands, with spectacular views towards the Sierra Guadarrama mountain range. It reminded me immediately of the beautiful glaciated terrain of Gleneagles, in Scotland, where the 2014 Ryder Cup will be staged. Indeed, it looked almost like there was a golf course there in the past, so perfectly suited was the terrain to the requirements for a world-class golf course.

It’s all very well having a beautiful site, but the Ryder Cup is about far more than that. Future Ryder Cup venues have to be able to combine a thrilling golf course with the capability of hosting 50,000 fans a day, following just four matches, together with immense merchandising, catering, hospitality and media operations within the confines of the course. At the beginning and the end of the day’s play, these 50,000 people need to be moved into and away from the course quickly, efficiently and comfortably.

Our task in Madrid has been to accommodate all these varied and demanding requirements, without compromise.

After much planning and a fantastic effort from a dedicated and very close-knit team, we believe we have presented a bid package that ticks all of the boxes and will, if selected, be the best European Ryder Cup venue in the history of the event.

My focus has been on the design of the golf course, which, if we get the nod, will for a time be the most scrutinised, analysed and dissected golf course on the planet. So no pressure there then!

Helping me out immensely is the sheer quality of the site at my disposal. It is the most attractive inland golf course site I have ever seen. I love it as it is now, in its raw state, full of wild herbs, broom bushes, Spanish oaks and grazing sheep. I want the golf course to be draped gently over the existing terrain, with the minimum of artifice. We are only going to move earth if we have to. For the most part we will follow the natural contours and preserve the indigenous vegetation outside of the playing corridors.

It is not untypical for a new championship golf course, developed on agricultural or ex-industrial land, to require an earth moving volume of several million cubic metres to reshape and sculpt the land for the purposes of providing an attractive ‘golfscape’. At Tres Cantos, we will move just 200,000 cubic metres and that is mostly accounted for by the construction of the lakes in which we have to store our irrigation water. This is a Ryder Cup venue that has the preservation and enhancement of the natural environment at the very core of its ethos.

Our design has already passed a rigorous Environmental Impact Assessment and our innovative water capture and recycling scheme quite literally defies gravity to ensure that we get the most out of every drop of rain that falls on our land.

Madrileños are passionate about their city and passionate about sport. Madrid’s 2018 Ryder Cup bid reflects this passion. It has been put together by a wonderful team of people who really care that the show they hope to be entrusted with staging is better than it has ever been before. Our work is done for now and our bids fate is in the hands of the Ryder Cup committee. All of us involved can look each other straight in the eye and know that everybody has done the best they can. No stone has been left unturned. No avenue unexplored. May 17 is going to be a big day.

Featured first on www.sportindustry.biz