Angel Gallardo, one of the most highly respected and influential figures in the world of European golf over the past four decades, is to take on the new role of European Tour Ambassador from January 1, 2017.

The move comes after the charismatic Spaniard announced he was stepping down from his position as Vice Chairman of the European Tour Board of Directors at the end of this year.

Recognising his considerable knowledge and influence on the golfing world, the Board moved quickly to announce his new position, which will see him continue to utilise his wealth of contacts in the game and in particular in Spain, Portugal and Morocco.

Gallardo has held the position of European Tour Vice Chairman since 1976 during which time he has been instrumental in helping shape the Tour’s global strategy, both under former Chairman Neil Coles and, for the past three years, under current Chairman David Williams.

As well as his presence on the main European Tour Board, the 73 year old Barcelona native – a passionate supporter of Barça and a season ticket holder at the Nou Camp – has also been President of PGA European Tour South since 1984.

Gallardo was honoured at his last Board Meeting on Monday November 28 when he was presented with an engraved silver salver by David Williams who spoke warmly of his contribution to the European Tour not just as an administrator, but as a player of renown too.

David Williams said: “It has been a privilege to have worked with Angel. He is a consummate professional just as he was in his playing career when he was one of the pioneering Spanish players in the early days of our European Tour. I’m delighted that we will continue to work with him.”

Angel Gallardo said: “It has been a true honour to serve the Board over these many years as I have always held the European Tour very close to my heart. We have come a long way since 1976 and I think the next few years will see us continue to go from strength to strength and I am delighted to continue to be a part of that as an official European Tour Ambassador.”

Ángel Gallardo y Nathan Kimsey ganador Escuela Clasificatoria 2016 Getty Images
Ángel Gallardo y Nathan Kimsey ganador Escuela Clasificatoria 2016 Getty Images

As well as his administrative qualities outside the ropes, Angel Gallardo was a formidable competitor inside the ropes too. A member of the European Tour since its inception in 1972, he finished in the top one hundred on the Order of Merit in each of his eleven seasons on the Tour and reached his highest ranking of tenth in 1977, the year he claimed the Italian Open title following a play-off win over Scotland’s Brian Barnes at Golf Club Milano.

That triumph followed numerous previous wins including the Portuguese Open (1967), the Sumrie Clothes Better-Ball (with Maurice Bembridge) (1969), the Mexican Open (1970 and 1973) and the Colombia Open (1972).

His most memorable victory came in 1970 when he captured his native Spanish Open at Nueva Andalucia in Marbella, his four under par total of 284 being good enough to beat, ironically, the man with whom he would share over three decades on the European Tour Board, England’s Neil Coles.

Away from the individual arena, he represented Spain in the World Cup of Golf every year from 1970 to 1973, and he holds the record of 17 holes in one in European competition. He was also only the second non-British golfer to be elected as Captain of the PGA of Great Britain and Ireland in 1982.

A renowned golf coach, he has also forged a successful career as a golf course architect – designing, amongst other venues, the acclaimed Stadium and Tour Courses at PGA Catalunya Resort – the venue for the European Tour’s Qualifying School Finals for the past nine seas