“Finca Cortesín has something very special: it’s own personality”
Francisco de Lancastre has returned to Finca Cortesín five years after working at the acclaimed Costa del Sol resort as golf director for two years. Now, having served as general manager of Troon International’s three courses in Abu Dhabi, he is returning as general manager of golf and leisure operations at a key moment for Finca Cortesín, home of the 2023 Solheim Cup.
Holding this major intercontinental women's team event will be another significant milestone for Finca Cortesín, which hosted three editions of the Volvo World Match Play Championship (in 2009, 2011 and 2012), involving many of the world’s top stars.
Referring to his experience in the United Arab Emirates, Francisco de Lancastre says, “It was fantastic, not only for professional advancement but also as a personal experience.” Now, he is "delighted" with his return to the Málaga province resort.
How was the reunion? Has Finca Cortesín changed much since you left?
Finca Cortesín is truly a very special resort and golf course, and all I have found has been continuous improvement on how good it already was when I was here as golf director. It is amazing to see the resort’s consistency of quality. After almost five years, the feeling is like I have not even left.
Among the improvements and changes that have been carried out, what is the most remarkable, in your opinion?
There have been several, but the most significant has been the new grass on the greens. When I was director of golf, we were already planning a change on the greens from Agrostis to Bermuda mini green, and it is fantastic to see now, years after it was completed, how well it has gone and how it has helped to improve the quality of the course, and maintain it all seasons of the year. Not only for the quality of play, and the quality for putting, but also for its sustainability, in terms of saving water, chemicals, fertilisers, etc.
Environmental care is a hallmark of Finca Cortesín, one of the golf courses that uses a larger volume of regenerated water for irrigation...
Yes, it is. Sustainability is a priority for us, and increasingly so. We work with various institutions to improve all sustainability issues on the golf course. The grass species that we have are a very important step in this regard, as is using 100 per cent recycled water from Acosol (the public utility company that supplies recycled water). Apart from that, we have other initiatives such as nests for native birds and beehives, which contribute positively to the ecosystem, while in the near future we will produce our own honey, for consumption in the resort.
You are arriving at an important time for Finca Cortesín, with the next Solheim Cup being held here. What does this mean for the golf course and the resort?
I love the experience of international tournaments. Over the past almost five years I have had the opportunity to be directly involved in various tournaments on the Ladies European Tour and on the (men’s) European Tour with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Rolex Series. The Solheim Cup is an event of global relevance that will have a very significant impact not only for Finca Cortesín, but also for the Costa del Sol and Andalucía.
As I have noted, the resort is very well established, and the golf course is a standard-bearer at European and international level, as is our hotel. There will be no major changes, but we will give it all the necessary attention so that during the week of the tournament the golf course is in fantastic condition, as well as the entire resort being ready to host an event of this magnitude. We are very excited that Finca Cortesin remains forever connected to the history of global golf.
Is the course going to be a special challenge for the Solheim Cup players?
I think Cabell Robinson's design goes very well with the match play format. Already, in the Volvo World Match Play, the players loved the strategy involved in playing the course, and I think that for the Solheim Cup the players are going to have the same feeling. It is a perfect course for match play.
Will the resort hotel be used as the team’s headquarters?
Yes, the hotel is also going to be part of the event. It will host the teams from the United States and Europe, and I really cannot think of a better hotel to host an event of such worldwide relevance as the Solheim Cup. The logistics for the teams will be perfect for the players, who will be able to walk to the clubhouse – while the treatment they receive will be fantastic.
Finca Cortesín has always distinguished itself by supporting women's golf. What is the resort's commitment in this regard?
Finca Cortesín has made a strong commitment to supporting women's golf. We have given firm support to Noemí Jiménez for five years and to Laura Gómez more recently, and in the future this collaboration will probably extend to other players.
What in your opinion is the most remarkable feature of Finca Cortesín? What is it that makes it stand out from other golf resorts?
I have worked at various resorts worldwide and from my experience I can say that Finca Cortesín has something very special, which is its own personality. When you are here it is easy to understand that it is at a different level, for its quality, but also for its simplicity. The hotel is an international standard-bearer, as is the golf course. The work of Íñigo Soto (greenkeeper) is truly fantastic and for me a reference point, as is the entire team at the resort and club, who every day aim to deliver to our clients “the Finca Cortesín experience”. And then there is everything that surrounds it, including the real estate, which, due to its high quality, provides incredible added value to our business model and creates a very appreciable sense of consistency in all the resort's business areas.