He began his professional career in golf club management in 2008 at Santa Clara Golf Granada, as director. In 2017, he joined Lauro Golf in the same position, thus returning to his native Malaga province. He remained at that club for three years, until in June when he was hired as director of Santa Clara Golf Marbella. "It was like coming home," he says, alluding to the fact that he is once again working for the same owners as when he began his golf career in the city of the Alhambra.
He had been in charge of the Marbella club for just a few days when we sat down for this interview. Despite the effects that the coronavirus pandemic has had on tourist numbers in general and golf courses in particular, Santos is optimistic about the potential for recovery in the short term.
“We have a leading golf destination, with an unbeatable range of courses, a climate that allows you to play golf 12 months of the year, and leisure options that are difficult to match, so things will return to the old ways as the general situation becomes normalised.”
As for his new working "home", this outgoing, jovial character from Málaga says, "Santa Clara Golf Marbella is a great course that has many things to offer to ensure that players can enjoy a pleasant experience." In this regard, he talks about the course’s design and presentation, the sea views, the club’s location (just four kilometres from Marbella’s city centre), its convenient access from the main Costa del Sol highway, and the delicious dishes offered in the clubhouse restaurant, whose prices are surprisingly low.
Santos also highlights the first-class maintenance carried out at the course, for the past few months under the supervision of new greenkeeper Pedro Montero, who had also previously worked at Santa Clara Golf Granada. "A fantastic job is being done that is reflected in how spectacular the course is," emphasises Santos.
To try to attract visitors to the course in this time of fewer tourists, Santa Clara Golf Marbella is marketing a wide variety of offers. “We have five, 10, 15 and 20 green fees, and bi-weekly, monthly and all-summer season tickets… and with one special aspect. All passes include unlimited golf, so you can play, for example, 18 holes in the morning and then in the afternoon another nine or whatever suits you." Santos is convinced that, "despite the harsh situation we have suffered, the national Spanish public is likely to respond very well”.
Among the objectives outlined by the new club director is a return to significant competition activity. "It’s very important to host good tournaments here with good sponsors; plus, of course, official championships played under the auspices of the Andalucian and Spanish federations.”
He also highlights the fact that Santa Clara Golf Marbella is one of the courses taking part in Royal Andalucian Golf Federation’s Young Golf program. "It’s fantastic because kids under the age of 15 can play 18 holes for €5, provided they are accompanied by an adult, and from 15 to 30 years for €30." He considers the program, which runs throughout the year, to be "highly positive because we have to contribute to creating a nursery of players and promoting golf among children and young people".
Boosting the club's golf academy, run by David Guarch, is another of Santos' main goals. "We offer very interesting products, many of which are endorsed by the Spanish federation, such as golf for associations and in schools, as well as introductory and advanced classes and programs."
Another of his objectives for Santa Clara Golf Marbella is strengthening the potential of its “Select” members initiative, on an annual or half-yearly basis, “adapting to the particular needs of each person, because there are residents who live here all year round, but It is also true that there are many foreign clients who only stay for a few months”.