There was something old and something new for our two opening events of the 2018 season. We stayed at the El Rompido Golf Resort for the traditional January Golf & Coaching week and what an excellent venue it is. The Hotel, the 36 holes of very good and varied golf, set in a nature reserve, threading through pine trees and wetlands, fine coaching facilities and a lovely setting, all contributed to a most successful opening week to the 2018 program. The old was provided by a return to the refurbished and upgraded Vila Gale Tavira Hotel and the excellent courses of the Eastern Algarve.
Benamor, an older Henry Cotton design, upgraded over recent years to what has become a lovely holiday test, is complimented by the two newer, more modern designs of Quinta da Ria and Quinta da Cima. Good golf throughout and wonderful views as one plays the back nine of the da Ria course in particular. However, the truly magnificent Nicklaus design and setting of Portugal’s no.1 course, Monte Rei, has to be the pick of the bunch. But perhaps the star of this week is the town of Tavira itself. Dating back to Roman times, it provides the ambience of the real Algarve, coupled with some fine down to earth restaurants and coffee shops. I think I can confidently say that the week was much enjoyed by all, given the number of requests for a repeat next year! We were also blessed with a two weeks of sunshine for the most part, which is more the norm at this time of year than many think.
So, what else is old and new on the golfing scene? Bernhard Langer continues to dominate on the senior tour despite being quite old even for that! Several of the stars from the PGA and European tours are in the twilight of their careers and will soon join him, whilst there appears to be an endless stream of new talent. It will be interesting to see who comes through and indeed, which of the current crop of youngsters maintain the level they have already set or become legends of the game. Of course, being Ryder Cup year we may see an amazing battle between the young guns from either side of the Atlantic. The white hot pressure of this event will tell us a thing or two of what we might expect from them over the next few years.
As for equipment, I still have the hickory shafted niblick that I learned to play with and which is considerably older than me.. honest! Wooden shaft, rusty headed, an old, shiny leather grip and the narrowest of soles with which one had to conjure up all manner of shots from 100 yards in. The new golfer does that with a set of 3 or 4 wedges, customized lofts and lies, various degrees of bounce, sharp grooves etc. etc. And, if you look at old footage of ‘The Big Three’, Nicklaus, Palmer and Player, in their younger days, note the blade putters and wristy action employed on the greens; not quite as pure as today’s play. Now, the putters are all shapes and sizes to help line up and to keep the face square. The players themselves using some quite peculiar grips to eliminate ‘twitchy hands’ on super smooth greens. I wonder how they would have coped on today’s fast greens putting for a million or two dollars when one had to rely on steady hands and a steely nerve!
Following on from the opening events of our 2018 program, long established venues to be visited are South Africa, where I will be visiting for the 21st time when you read this, and on my return, Easter at Staverton Park where summer schools and latterly Golf and Coaching events, have been running since 1996. New venues this year include 10 days in Bermuda from June 28th and what promises to be a truly stunning tour of a life time to New Zealand in November. Closer to home Woodhall Spa, where I’ve been playing since the mid 60’s is on the agenda and Barney is going to pastures new with Kent and Shropshire.
January was super for Jennie and I as we went to see her lovely mum and dad in Florida. Weather this time was a little up and down, although considering the alternative in the UK, very good! The big news in the US (apart from one D Trump esq who seems to have several channels devoted to his musings) was Tiger Woods comeback to competitive golf. He looked very fit and was pounding the ball huge distances, if not always on the fairway, so good to know even he suffers like the rest of us with a bit of ring rust after a spell of litttle golf.
However, his powers of recovery and sure putting were intact and he had a very respectable 23rd place posting for his week. Of the many stats that week (Tiger to be fair produces more than most) I thought his 2 under par 3rd round caught my eye, with him only finding 3 fairways and 9 greens in regulation! This is the part of the newsletter where I gently clear my throat and roll out the words of our great leader David “practice your short game” as clearly Tiger has.
David was talking about the variety of golf courses we are fortunate to play during our various escorted trips and I am certainly looking forward to hosting our UK golf tours this year. With visits to Kent, Cornwall and Shropshire, we certainly will see some different geography and enjoy golf courses old and new. I am particularly anticipating playing Princes on our Kent Tour, scene of the 1932 Open Championship won by Gene Sarazen. He is credited with inventing the sand wedge, which considering there are 100 plus bunkers there, this was a timely invention. Playing Princes almost completes my visits to all the Open Championship venues, which unfortunately my attempts in Open qualifying didn’t manage, however I can console myself that not being born was the only reason I didn’t get into The Open at Princes. These trips are really good fun and if you can’t make all five days, Iain is always happy to accommodate a shorter stay.
We mentioned Tiger’s prowess with putting, so I thought I would include a Golf Monthly video we recorded with some putting tips. The great thing about putting exercises is that you can do them indoors (highly recommended at the moment) and effectively “build” your stroke, so when we get out in the spring / summer our putting movement feels bullet proof.
All the best
I trust that you are well.
Being British, one must of course first address the weather! Although I spend most of my time living in Asia, with four seasons that essentially are as follows: ‘hot’, ‘very hot’, ‘excruciatingly hot’ and ‘hot with warm rain’, I remain tuned into the BBC every day and avidly follow the seasons back at home. And it has of course been a very long winter. David though has currently escaped the winter blues with his tour party to South Africa, and Barney will soon be packing shorts and polo shirts (light cotton ones recommended) for his first trip to Asia together with a number of clients.
And with March on the horizon, the first hints of spring will soon be in the air, especially I hope for the Easter Golf & Coaching weekend, which many clients have signed up for.
Indeed, the events that we are running for the next four months are all fairly booked up, and thank you to those of you who have booked one of the forthcoming events. With the availability for the events quite limited, I have listed below the events and the current number of places available for the more imminent events:
Sat 17th March: Tavira Golf & Coaching Week, Algarve, Portugal – 6 places remaining
Sat 7th April: San Lorenzo Golf Week with Clinics, Algarve, Portugal – 3 places remaining
Sat 21st April: San Lorenzo Golf Week with Clinics, Algarve, Portugal – 4 places remaining
Sat 5th May: Sesimba Golf Week with Clinics, Lisbon, Portugal – 7 places remaining
There are also places available on both the Kent and West Country tours, the 26th May UK Golf & Coaching weekend, and subject to availability at the time of enquiry, the tour to Bermuda.
For the autumn there has been positive demand for the Italian Lakes tour and as always the two weeks in Tenerife prove very popular. As I mentioned in the last newsletter, it is also very good that we are now able to return to the Fairplay Resort in Benalup, Spain, and indeed bookings have already been taken for one of the weeks. As David has referred to in his section, November is also the time of the much heralded tour of New Zealand. A long way to travel yes, but equally a trip of a lifetime, with some of the most wonderful golf courses in the world, together with three iconic regions of New Zealand. For clients interested in this trip, we can help break up the journey with a night or two either side in Singapore if required.
Moving further forward the details of the Festive tours are imminent, as is the tour to Southern California next February.
If you are on either the South African or Thailand trips, have a super time, and as always a huge thank you for taking an interest in the trips that we arrange. I assure you that you our client, are always our number one priority and we will always do all that we can to ensure that the trips that you embark on are ones to remember.
As Barney said, it was great to see my mum and dad and be there to celebrate Dad’s 89th birthday!
I am now busily putting the finishing touches to updating the website and packing for my very first trip to Thailand. To say I am looking forward to it, is an understatement, some might say that I am over excited, Anyway, it will be terrific to be in the sunshine as the last week at home has been challenging.
Thanks to all of you who have sent in photo’s from your events or added them to the website, your comments and views are always welcome.
Until the next Newsletter, enjoy your golf wherever you are.