Real Club Puerta de Hierro
Real Club de la Puerta de Hierro (Spanish pronunciation: [ře ‘al ‘klub de la ‘pwer ta ðe ‘je řo]), commonly known as Puerta de Hierro, is a private country club based in Madrid, Spain. It owes its name to the nearby iron memorial arch. Notorious for being associated with the royal families of Europe and the long-established elite, American President Gerald Ford called it “the club of kings and the king of clubs”.
It was established in 1895 as a polo club by a group of prominent noblemen led by the 16th Duke of Alba, with avid support from the then young king of Spain, Alfonso XIII. Along with the Ritz Hotel, it was founded as an effort to equal the likes of the most luxurious venues of London and Pris. In 1904, Harry Colt and Tom Simpson designed in the club what was to become mainland Spain’s first golf course, “el de arriba” (the upper). In 1966, Robert Trent Jones Jr. and John Harris designed the second course, “el de abajo” (the lower), while Kyle Phillips was the architect of a third short nine-hole links. The golf courses at Puerta de Hierro have hosted the Spain Open, Madrid Open, the 1970 Eisenhower Trophy and the 1981 Vagliano Trophy, and are considered “one of the finest and most classic courses in continental Europe”. Besides golf, the club has a long-recorded history and sections in the fields of equestrianism, polo, tennis, padel and croquet.
Puerta de Hierro is well known for its strict membership policy. For almost half a century, admission remains closed; only sons, daughters and spouses of existing members are allowed to join (the latter lose their status as members if they seek divorce). The club has been subsequently referred to as “the most exclusive and segregated club not only in Spain, but possibly in the world, where one can fraternize with the restrictive high society of Madrid”.