Stirling & Martin has been selected to design a new golf course in the grounds of Pazo de Xaz, an eighteenth-century mansion near the port city of A Coruña in northwest Spain.
Stirling & Martin was chosen from six golf design firms that participated in a tender process organised by Inveravante, an investment firm led by Spanish property tycoon Manuel Jove Capellán.
“The old mansion of Pazo de Xaz dates from the seventeenth century and for years was a meeting place for Galician high society. Indeed, the house was visited many times by King Alfonso XIII, monarch from 1886 to 1931, and his wife Victoria Eugenia de Battenguer,” said Marco Martin, a principal at Stirling & Martin.
The historical building, which will become the golf clubhouse, is surrounded by both formal and informal gardens and the property has an abundance of plants, flowers and specimen trees, as well as an eighteenth-century chapel.
The brief to the designers was to create a strategic and attractive golf course that would: preserve the specimen trees and vegetation alongside the two rivers that cross the property; integrate existing buildings in the 160-acre golf area into the design; maximise views to and from the main building; require only wastewater for irrigation; and integrate several sports including jogging and bike trails within the course.
“More time was spent analysing and walking the property than drawing on computers in the office,” said Martin. “The site is full of beautiful huge trees, dense vegetation, old fountains, scenic views and more, all in gentle topography, with slopes ranging from four to eight percent.”
Martin said that while most golf development in Spain is associated with significant earthmoving, extensive irrigation systems, huge water storage lakes and real estate, Pazo de Xaz is the complete opposite. “A Coruña gets an average of 1,000mm rainfall a year, so irrigation water is not a problem. There is lush vegetation everywhere and the topography is almost ideal. The challenge was to find the best eighteen holes and preserve the beauty of the site.”
Construction work has now started and the first nine holes and driving range are scheduled to be shaped before the end of 2018. Local contractor Lopez Cao is aiming to complete as much work as possible before the usual heavy rains of November, which Marco Martin said can delay or even stop construction.
He added that he and partner Blake Stirling “are deeply involved in finishing golf grading plans, detail sketches, drainage, irrigation, grassing plans and the full engineering project.
“The design must meet smart budget requirements. Some golf architects are given zero budget requirements, are free to do anything, and cause owners to suffer and struggle financially. We are known for helping owners to achieve a positive financial return.”
Pazo de Xaz will be one of the first new golf course projects in Spain since 2010. “After ten years working on projects in Morocco, Bolivia, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, it is a pleasure to be back at work in Spain,” said Martin. “We now have five projects in Spain, a combination of new courses and remodelling, from Pazo de Xaz to projects in Madrid, Murcia, Alicante and Estepona.”