“WHEN I’m up here, I feel a million miles away from Gibraltar, traffic and the stresses of everyday life.”
It is easy to see why the Rock’s only professional golfer Trevor Garcia loves the peaceful surroundings of Almenara golf course.
As we wind our buggy through pine trees and across lakes on wooden bridges, we quickly forget Gibraltar is a convenient 15 minute drive away.
Garcia, 41, has been coming here since 1997 to train, six years before turning pro, and is still beaming to show me around his escapist paradise.
“I come up here whenever I can because I know I can completely switch off,” he says.
“Almenara is very special, of all the great golf courses around here this is the place I come to practise and play in total peace.”
Garcia fell in love with the game aged 22, and a challenging but ultimately rewarding professional career ensued.
He has played on the European PGA tour, the Asian tour and most recently on the Costa del Sol’s Gecko tour.
But difficulties in obtaining sponsorship and the lack of financial support proved the biggest stumbling blocks to Garcia’s career.
And when the opportunity arrived to work for the Gibraltar government’s sports department recently, the prospect of financial security was too much to turn down.
“I look back and think I’ve done pretty well considering I didn’t have the financial backing to get to all of the tournaments,” says Garcia.
“I would always leave a tour and then have to wait four or five months before my next, which meant I could never quite get to that elite level I wanted to.
“I do wonder if I had been pushed to be the best I could be, maybe I would have been able to become an elite player.
“But it was a tiring way of life with lots of traveling, although I do miss it, the excitement, the nerves and competing with the best.”
However, Garcia now has his sights firmly set on training the next generation of Gibraltarian golfers. And this time around, he’s hoping one of them can make it to that elite level.
Gibraltar itself is the perfect training ground for golfers, with a multitude of immaculate courses on its doorstep including the legendary La Reserva and Alcaidesa.
“I have been very lucky to have all these great courses here,” adds Garcia. “I am sure that is what motivated me to train and practise and make it to professional level.
“And now I hope Almenara and Alcaidesa are going to help me produce Gibraltar’s next professional golfer.
“There’s one eight-year-old I think has got a great future.”