Ever since the birth of mass tourism back in the 1960s, the beautiful Mediterranean island of Mallorca has been one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations. With its enviable climate, gorgeous scenery and glorious beaches it particularly appeals to sun-starved tourists from norther Europe, especially those from Britain and Germany.
Anxious to both go upmarket and extend the season, the tourist authority has always been keen on golf. With their high disposable incomes and immaculate manners, golfers are very attractive visitors. Not only that but they are also happy to travel outside of the more popular months of the school holidays in what people in the travel industry call the ‘rump’ season. In other words in the spring and autumn.
The only area where golf could possibly conflict with the stated aims of Mallorcan tourism is over environmental issues. The island is proud to have avoided the mistakes made on the Spanish mainland where unbridled development has irreparably damaged significant lengths of coastline. But worries about scarce water resources have put golf courses under scrutiny.
They have responded by going to enormous lengths to demonstrate their genuine green credentials, protecting sensitive areas and introducing vigorous recycling programmes. Regarding water, they have reduced their consumption and switched to brackish and recycled water. In this respect, the development of new grasses that both need less water and are more tolerant of impure water has helped significantly.
With the approval and support of the authorities, it is therefore unsurprising that golf has flourished and the number of courses has expanded so that there are nearly a couple of dozen today. And the quality of the courses is exceptionally high.
Although there is something of a concentration in the south-west corner of the island close to Palma, the capital, the courses are pretty well scattered throughout the island so that, wherever you are, you’re never very far away from a golf course. Indeed, it is said that no two courses are more than 40 miles apart.
Mallorca has been hugely successful in its tourism strategy and the island benefits enormously as a result. Golf has played a crucial role in its success and other holiday destinations have sought to copy its example. Climate change poses a significant threat, especially as it will increase the pressure on scarce water resources. But golf has demonstrated its ability to adjust to changing circumstances and one development that has been observed on Mallorcan courses is an increase in low maintenance ‘waste’ areas that don’t require either watering or mowing. But golfers will do well to reverse the traditional warning and to ‘Keep ON the Grass’.