It was October 1988, and the European Tour’s top stars were about to write a new chapter in golfing history. They were gathering at a course making its major competitive debut in a newly-minted tournament that would decide that year’s order of merit winner…
The inaugural Volvo Masters at Valderrama was a limited-field event established to take advantage of a lucrative season-long bonus fund bankrolled by Volvo, to bring together the year’s leading players for an exclusive grand finale, and to showcase the daunting challenge of a course revamped by one of the greatest designers in the history of the sport, Robert Trent Jones.
Nick Faldo eventually won that first edition with a four-under total of 284, two fewer than runner-up Severiano Ballesteros, with Sandy Lyle third and Ian Woosnam fourth.
Royal Valderrama went on to host 16 Volvo Masters (won by other Tour luminaries including Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie and Justin Rose), two World Golf Championships (Tiger Woods beat Miguel Ángel Jiménez in a play-off for the 1999 title) and the 1997 Ryder Cup – the only edition held on the continent until this year’s event in Paris.
After a one-year absence from the European Tour, the club returned to the limelight with the 2010 and 2011 Andalucía Masters (Graeme McDowell and Sergio García, respectively, were victorious), then took another sabbatical until the 2016 Spanish Open won by social media sensation Andrew “Beef” Johnston.