Q&A with Finca Cortesin Golf Club Course Manager Ignacio Soto

It’s been busy few years for Finca Cortesin and one of the biggest changes we’ve made has seen us convert our greens to a new, more environmentally-friendly type of Bermuda grass. Taking the decision to become the first venue in Spain to undergo such a process was not one that was taken lightly but the rewards have been clear for all to see.

With Covid-19 having brought play to a temporary halt, we took the opportunity to catch up with the man who led the project, head greenkeeper and course manager Ignacio Soto, to get his thoughts on the work that has taken place and how the changes in working practices are helping to benefit the environment.

Can you give us an outline on the changes that you’ve made over the last three years?
Ignacio Soto: We have introduced many new practices to make the golf course more environmentally sustainable and to improve the player experience. Growing new grasses on the greens has resulted in a reduction in the amount of pesticides that we use, a reduction in water usage and has allowed us to use 100 per cent organic fertiliser.

Have there been any obstacles that you’ve encountered with the transformation process?
IS: The only obstacle that we’ve faced has been time… unfortunately you cannot do that transformation in 24 hours. It takes time to convert greens and other areas with grasses that are more environmentally friendly. A few years later, we’re now experiencing better quality and increased resource efficiency. This has allowed us to invest time and effort into improving other areas of the course.

How exactly did agronomy services change at the resort e.g. use of fertiliser, watering, type of grass used?
IS: All parts of the resort’s agronomy practice are now linked to each other. The right grass species need less water which, in turn, requires less pesticide and less pesticide produces better grass coverage which needs less fertiliser … and so on.

What feedback have you received on the new playing surfaces?
IS: The response that we’ve received has been very positive, and we receive numerous compliments regarding the playing surfaces daily.

What were the main motives for making the changes?
IS: It was important to make this change as the climate in the south of Spain is ideal for this type of grass and we realised that it was going to benefit the environment and improve the quality of the playing surfaces. At Finca Cortesin, we are determined to be at the forefront of sustainable golf resorts and are the first golf course in the area with this type of grass, and we are sure other golf courses will eventually follow.

In light of the current situation caused by Covid-19, how will the course be affected? Following Government-issued advice from the Ministry of Health regarding Covid-19 and for the health and safety of our members, guests and staff, our golf course is currently closed. However, the maintenance team continues to work hard to ensure the course is the best it’s ever been when golfers return. We are able to use the time to carryout essential work on the greens, while also giving attention to landscaping – including the planting of more native flowers, enhancing native areas and further improving the lake on hole 4. The golf course is looking beautiful and we can’t wait to welcome back golfers as soon as possible.

Watch the process of our greens renovation project in 2017