To understand what the irruption of Severiano Ballesteros In the world of golf it is convenient to look outside of Spain. It is not that here the due importance has been stolen, which would be, at least, debatable. It is simply a matter of checking the scope of his figure, his legacy, often undervalued within our borders because, perhaps and only perhaps, Spain is still a footballing country to the extreme, where golf does not finish taking off that sport vitola elitist, restricted and even, why not say it, posh.
World golf changed him forever Seve Ballesteros, the son of a peasant. He has explained it many times Michael Robinson, that Englishman who came to Spain to play football and stayed to tell us the thousand and one nights of our own sport. He was 19 years old when his father gave him a five-day pass to follow the British Open that was played near his home, at the Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club, in Blackpool. The party of Jack Nicklaus, the great Golden Bear, when among the public began to spread a rumor that had printed a surname of difficult pronunciation for the Anglo-Saxons: "Ballesteros, Ballesteros". Robinson found him on hole 5, with the ball hidden behind a large dune that prevented him from seeing the flag, going up and down the mound in search of a line that seemed impossible to trace. His blow, with an implausible effect from left to right, stuck in his retina forever as the precise moment in which his perception of golf changed forever.
It was the year 1979 and in Spain 15,712 federative licenses had been issued which, thanks to the boost of the exploits of the Cantabrian, increased to 58,644 in 1991, a season in which Seve was proclaimed winner of the Order of Merit of the European circuit last time. Its impact seems incontestable and, nevertheless, it is almost insignificant in comparison to the earthquake that Seve organized beyond our borders, where children from all over the world started hitting balls trying to imitate that insultingly young, handsome, shameless Spaniard and even a so frivolous in his way of understanding a sport imprisoned by his own corsets. Today, however much we intend to observe the evolution of golf in Spain with optimism, and despite having world-class references such as Sergio García, Jon Rahm or Rafa Cabrera-Bello, the number of federated practitioners in our country is 272,084. A good data if compared with the 1991, worrying if it meets the 2010, our historical peak with 338,588 licenses. Since then, the fall of practitioners is constant year after year.
Thus, while golf seems to be democratized in the rest of the world – when Seve appeared as a religion in several countries – in Spain it not only seems to be stagnating, but in a clear regression. Mitigate this dark sensation the successes of some professionals, often recruited by American universities that bet decidedly by their talent and where the golf does not drag that stigma of capricious pastime, of sport for rich. And that is a debt that Spain still has pending with the memory of Severiano Ballesteros: the boy who already reinvented his sport when, as a child, he imagined golf courses while taking care of the cows.