IAGTO Madrid Trophy puts Spain’s capital in the spotlight

03 October 2023

Spanish capital Madrid was the focus for attention when it hosted almost 40 tour operators from 20 countries from across Europe as well as the US, Mexico and South America for the IAGTO Trophy.

Staged over four days, the event was organised by the Madrid Golf Courses Association together with global golf tourism industry body IAGTO (International Association of Golf Tour Operators) and the Community of Madrid regional tourist board, which spans the Greater Madrid metropolitan area.

Participants, who also included local hosts, played golf on four golf association member courses, with nine holes on the Club de Golf Retamares, Real Club de Golf La Herreria and Golf Santander courses, culminating in the IAGTO Madrid Trophy 18-hole tournament on the championship golf course at the Centro Nacional – the Royal Spanish Golf Federation’s National Golf Centre, host to the Spanish Open in 2007 and 2018.

There was also a half-day workshop at the Club de Golf Olivar de Hinojosa, where the tour operators received presentations about the Madrid Golf Courses Association’s 19 members and the regions of Madrid, cultural and gastronomic highlights before meeting representatives from the courses and suppliers from Madrid hotels and other tourism sectors.

The tour operators, who stayed at the city-centre VP Plaza Design Hotel, were also hosted for dinners at luxury shopping centre Galeria Canalejas and in art and historical museum Galeria de las Colecciones Reales, in addition to a flamenco show and dinner at renowned Michelin-starred restaurant Corral de la Moreria.

Explaining the rationale behind hosting the IAGTO Madrid Trophy, Luis Martin, CEO of tourism for the Community of Madrid, said: “We are working to position Madrid as the main urban golf destination in southern Europe throughout the year. Madrid’s golf tourism offering combines, in addition to a large number of high-quality golf courses very close to the city centre, all the tourist, cultural, gastronomic, and leisure attractions of the capital of Spain and many other destinations in the region.”

Madrid Golf Courses Association Director General Javier Gervas said the seeds of the event were first sown about six years ago, when the association started discussing the concept with IAGTO.

“IAGTO has been very helpful all the way and very understanding with the logistics of making this happen,” he said. “We are very happy with the quality and diversity of nationalities within the tour operators. It was a huge effort financially, but we need to evaluate the results and build from that for the future.

“Madrid is an unknown golf destination so this first step was with tour operators predominantly from Europe, but should this prove successful, we are interested in targeting more fully the USA, Asia and Latin America

“All suppliers are extremely happy with the initiative.  We have helped to make their product more visible internationally and we are all conscious that it is a team effort to place Madrid as the main urban golf destination of Europe. The region of Madrid is a special golf destination.  We have many golf courses within a 25km radius, designed by the best and most famous golf designers but, above all, we have culture, gastronomy and nightlife which is incomparable with any other golf destination.”

Inigo Garamendi Acha, President of the Madrid Golf Courses Association, added: “It was key to let the world of golf know that Madrid it’s an amazing destination. It was the first time that we had the chance to show the destination to IAGTO members and I think it was a great success. We tried to show in a short period of time what Madrid has to offer but there is a lot more.

“The feedback was really good from both sides. I think this trip will bring sales in the near future.

“Madrid is a good golf destination because it’s not only golf, it’s a lifestyle – and probably one of the best in the world.”

Madrid was a hit with participating tour operators. Neil Bird, Director of UK operator Hashtag Travel Group, said: “The event was a great success and showcased the Madrid region perfectly. We have already sent some clients to Madrid without knowing the region too well. Following the event, we now have that knowledge and will be able to confidently sell Madrid to more of our clients.

“Madrid has a great golfing and non-golfing appeal, there’s a good selection of excellent courses and the city has so many attractions for both the day and night time. The timing of the event was perfect to take in some other sporting events with the final stage of the Vuelta de Espana cycle race and a trip to the Bernabeu to watch Real Madrid.”

Maitta Kotaniemi, CEO of Finnish operator MaiLux, said it was her first trip to Madrid and praised the “wonderful experiences” that the group enjoyed in the city.

She added: “The destination will be great for couples or small groups where some people don’t play golf and some who would like to play; there is something for everyone.”

Nathan Wiegratz, Vice-President of Sales and operator for US tour operator Wisconsin Golf Trips, praised the event, saying: “The facilities were top notch, the hotel was gorgeous, modern, and clean, and the food was probably the best I’ll ever eat over a three to four-day period in my life!”

He added that he knew “very little” about golf in the Madrid area before he arrived and said if he had been asked a year ago if Madrid had great golf, he would have been unable to answer.

“That perception has changed. I had never been to Madrid before. It doesn't get as much press as, say, Paris and London. But I would definitely recommend it for both golfers and non-golfers alike. Although Madrid wouldn’t be the first choice for the majority of my clients, the quality of golf in the end is what they’re looking for.

“I would highly recommend Madrid to a client who’s well-travelled internationally and wants an experience that others can’t say they’ve had. I anticipate Scotland and Ireland/Northern Ireland remaining the first choice for many travelling to Europe.  Spain, particularly Madrid, is now part of that conversation.”


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For further Information:

Peter Walton
Chief Executive, IAGTO

Established in 1997, IAGTO is the global trade organisation of the golf tourism industry, and has nearly 2300 members in over 90 countries including more than 640 golf tour operator members in 66 countries, which control more than 90% of golf holiday packages sold worldwide and which collectively have annual sales of over €2.5 billion. IAGTO runs annual Asia, Europe and North America Golf Tourism Conventions, along with regular Destination Conventions. IAGTO established the International Golf Travel Writers Association in 2000, the year in which the first prestigious annual IAGTO Awards also took place.


Peter Walton - Chief Executive
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8906 3377
Email: info@iagto.com
Website: www.iagto.com