TEE TIME

Colombia 2014 | TOURISM | VIP INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Yolanda Rojas de Bernal, General Manager of Club Campestre los Arrayanes, on how the club was born and its current activities.

What is the significance of Cartagena's hosting of a major PGA golf tournament in 2014? What does Colombia have to offer the international golf circuit?

Colombia has many golf players today, and with such events we support the development of professional golf players in our country. The Colombian Golf Federation is an active organization in opening new golf courses, promoting the country as a golf destination, and supporting clubs in their development, and that of their most talented players. The locations of the country's diverse clubs are beautiful, and in addition we have golf courses with completely different designs, which offers players a range of golfing experiences.

How did this club come about?

The founders of our club were passionate football supporters of the Santa Fe club. In fact, the origin of the club is the great love of football among a group of close friends, including Gonzalo Rueda Caro, Simon Ferro, and Enrique Rodríguez, among others, who gave birth, in 1953, to what was known as the Club Campestre Santafé. Many of our members today are also passionate supporters of this club, and we have had the players of Santa Fe visiting our facilities several times. Today we have several sports modalities available to our members. Given the passion of its founders for football, a solid team was formed and their respect for the playing fields was so great that it became known as the “sacred ground." In fact, the quality of the club's football team was so great that they repeatedly invited professional teams like Santa Fe and Millonarios to play with them. During the bullfighting season, the “sacred ground" was used by masters such as Luis Miguel Dominguín “Chicuelo," Antonio Ordóñez, Damaso Gómez, César Girón, Pepe Cáceres, and Joselillo of Colombia, among others, who every year visited our court to share entertaining moments. When the Santa Fe Country Club changed its name to Club Campestre la Colina, football suffered a period of transition where other sports flourished. Later, thanks to the drive and desire for the continuous improvement of its partners, the Club Campestre la Colina, in its small but comfortable facilities, would be the origin of what we now know as the Club Campestre los Arrayanes. Undoubtedly the biggest change was the having the club move its headquarters from the grounds of the La Colina to the grounds of Los Arrayanes, which was made possible thanks to the acquisition of Los Arrayanes in 1972 under the direction of the Management Board, which was presided over by Pedro Gomez Barrero. Once in Los Arrayanes, and in 1976, the 18-hole course and the 22 tennis courts were built. By 1978 the 50-meter indoor pool and the head office, which by then was considered a great work of architecture and design, were built. A date to remember is August 27, 1977, the day the club was officially named Club Campestre Los Arrayanes. With this change came new sports, new developments, big goals, and great dreams.

“We have a number of international partnerships with clubs in Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela, and several other countries."

What are some of the main services the club currently offers?

We have a golf course for senior players and another one for children. There is also a practice golf course for training purposes. We have 70 children playing golf in our academies. We also have a consolidated and qualitative network of coaches. Regarding our tennis facilities, we have 22 tennis courts and several academies; there are over 220 children playing for our tennis academies at the moment. Let me say that some of our young players enjoy scholarships in the US on the strength of their talent, and we have high hopes for the future. We also have equestrian facilities for amateur and professional riders, and a 50-meter indoor pool and swimming schools. One of our strongest points is that we combine facilities for both professional and amateur practitioners, so everybody can enjoy their sport regardless of their level and purpose. Furthermore, we have a complete wellness and spa area with Turkish baths, beauty salons, and an area called Arrayalandia, which is a children's playground.

What are some of the landmark achievements of your foundation since incorporation?

The foundation was set up by the members to ensure that young workers at the club, including for example golf caddies, receive an education. This educational support extends also to the children of our employees. What's more, the foundation supports access to the housing market as well as financial support for the refurbishment of our workers' housing.

What are the requirements and conditions of membership of Club Campestre Los Arrayanes?

We offer four types of membership program; natural membership for Ps140 million, legal membership for Ps180 million, and alternate membership, a useful offer for those who travel and want to put their membership on hold (from six months to over two years), thereby opening a vacancy that is covered by a kind of lease on the membership. We also offer so-called adhering membership for companies whose employees or directors will be here for a short period of time.

What role have partnerships with other clubs played in the expansion of the Los Arrayanes and what plans do you have for the future in this regard?

We have a number of international partnerships with clubs in Panama, Ecuador, Venezuela, and several other countries. We are about to close exchange agreements with certain clubs in the US and Europe. We are open to expanding our international profile in the near future, as we know the importance of such agreements in offering added value to our members when traveling abroad. We also have partnerships with travel companies, which allow us to offer products to visitors in Colombia who want to use our facilities.

© The Business Year - August 2014