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Spain to create golfing 'Bull Ring' in Ryder Cup quest

By Sam Sheringham, for CNN
  • Spanish golf course to feature stadium hole known as "Plaza de Toros" in 2018 Ryder Cup bid
  • Par-three hole will accommodate 25,000 spectators at work-in-progress course in Madrid
  • Concept inspired by par-three holes like 17th at Sawgrass and 16th at Scottsdale
  • Club de Campo Tres Cantos venue is expected to be opened in 2015

(CNN) -- Catalonia may be giving bullfighting the boot, but it seems Spain's love affair with the controversial sport remains alive and well.

The iconic imagery of the bull ring is being used as the cornerstone of a bid to host golf's Ryder Cup in 2018 by the Spanish Golf Federation and the Madrid tourist board.

Plans are well under way to create a par-three stadium hole, known as the "Plaza de Toros" at the Club de Campo Tres Cantos course, which is being built from scratch in the country's capital.

Some 25,000 spectators will encircle the 16th hole to ramp up the tension and drama as matches in the biennial matchplay duel between the U.S. and Europe reach a climax.

Spain's Catalonia bans bullfighting

The course is being designed by Robin Hiseman, of European Golf Design, who recently created the Bahrain Royal Golf Course in conjunction with Europe's Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie.

"A bull ring is a very historical, typically Spanish construction and we decided to work on that concept to try to create that sort of intense atmosphere and really make a feature of this hole," he told CNN.

We want to create that sort of intense atmosphere and really make a feature of this hole
--Course designer Robin Hiseman
  • Golf
  • Ryder Cup
  • Spain
  • Augusta Masters

"Being a matchplay tournament, a lot of the games are going to get to the 16th hole. We wanted to enclose the hole for matches that get to this very pivotal point.

"We've christened it the Plaza de Toros -- at the moment it's just a concept but we are going to work on some mock-ups and see how we can make it a reality."

The hole will be a 230-yard par-three, with the contours of the green designed to encourage players to run the ball up to the flag.

A steep bank along one side of the hole will form a natural vantage point for spectators, with grandstands to be erected on the other side of the hole, behind the green and behind the tee to create the perfect golfing amphitheater.

Hiseman says he was inspired by the atmosphere of some of golf's other signature par-threes, such as the 16th at Augusta, the 17th at Sawgrass with its infamous island green and the 16th at Scottsdale, where every year thousands of fans surround the green, cheering good shots and booing the bad ones.

"Maybe it's a little over the top but the players behave differently when they play that hole, they become more of a showman than they usually would be," Hiseman said.

"Whether they could bring themselves to do that in the tension of a Ryder Cup, I don't know."

Spain is competing against the Netherlands, Portugal, Germany and France for the right to host the 2018 Ryder Cup, with the final decision to be made in April next year.

The Club de Campo Tres Cantos is expected to open in 2015.