Golf in Catalonia
Since 1997, when Spain acted as the host for the Ryder Cup Golf tournament, the sport has gained a lot of popularity in the country. The Golf courses at Alcaidesa, Valderrama and Sotogrande are only a few of the many courses covering several parts of the country.
Spain also ranks well among the professional golfers, especially Severiano Ballesteros, who was the winner of the United States Masters on two occasions and also won The British Open tournament on three occasions. Other well known Spanish golfers include, José María Olazábal, who won the master title twice, and Sergio García who has ranked amongst the top ten golf players of the world and currently holds the number 8 position on the rankings list.
Several variations of golf are popular, especially in the Catalonian region of Spain where the game is referred to as Pitch and Putt.
Pitch and Putt is a variation of golf, and is generally classified as an amateur sport. The game has many similarities with the official golf game but it has been grouped in a sports category of its own by the FIPPA. The game originated in Ireland, where it was played and expanded upon during the 1940s. The game evolved into a developing sport currently played in all countries of the world. International regulations for the sport dictate that the length of the hole cannot be more than 100 yards, with a total maximum of 1300 yards. Players are limited to using only two irons and one putter. Pitch and putt is played from artificially raised teeing platforms and comes with a handicap system that is unique to the game.
For locally organized competitions the rules of the game, especially regarding the distances, can differ from the International rules and can vary per area where the game is played. Special rules for compromises regarding the International system are in place, which can be applied to the specific situation.
In any event the game comes with a unique handicap system, where the rules are applied taking the countries specific exception into account. Each country has its own set of approved exceptions, which they are allowed to apply in case the situation calls for it.
The game was first introduced to Catalonia during the 1980s, when the first Pitch and Putt course was created in Solius. The popularity of the game has increased ever since and now has more than 14 thousand players of the game who are a member of the Catalan Federation of Pitch and Putt (FCPP), and the number of available Pitch and Putt courses has increased to over thirty.
The FCPP played a large role in the founding and formation of The International Federation for Pitch and Putt (FIPPA), and has been a member of it ever since it was founded. The FIPPA organizes the World Team Championships every two years. These events have been won by Catalonia on two occasions, once in 2004 and again in 2006. Barcelona serves as the base of operations of the FIPPA, under management of José Maria Anzizu and John Manning.