Our final days of 2017 and first few of 2018 were spent on the Algarve and had me reflecting on the quality of golf courses there and those we have played throughout the world during the previous 12 to 15 months. Compared to the UK and Ireland, all courses on the Algarve are of a ‘new’ design. However, even taking the original Vilamoura Old Course and one of its later sister courses, the Arnold Palmer designed Victoria course, one can see the difference in design and the thinking of the modern architect, which is influenced by the equipment, more powerful hitting and the ball flight of the modern golfer.
Throughout the world, much of the best ‘golf land’ has long been swallowed up or has preservation orders slapped on it to preserve the environment. Where our wonderful links courses and many fine parkland layouts have been laid out allowing for the natural contours, wood and heathlands to shape them, the modern courses have often been built from scratch, the golf architect being presented with a piece of land either featureless or so mountainous his or her imagination and principles of design are well tested. The Links at Fancourt comes to mind, where Gary Player took an old airfield, moved millions of tons of earth, imported grasses representative of Scottish links and produced the most amazing copy of a links course some 25 kilometers in land and on a different continent! On its doorstep is George Golf Club, so natural, undulating and playing through magnificent pines on indigenous broad blade grasses that are so different to play from, not to mention the mysterious grain or nap it injects into the greens.
The climate and natural grasses of the regions do of course play a large part and add welcome variety in how a course plays. In November 2016 in Sri Lanka we experienced a course laid out in colonial times and dating back to 1891, and a more modern layout, by coincidence called Victoria, both at 7000 feet in a sub tropical climate above the tea plantations. Come November 2017 we were playing in the Cowboy country of Arizona amongst huge cacti, rattle snakes (we didn’t see any), on Indian reservations and all kept alive on just 7 inches of rain per year. Only modern design and engineering make that possible. I can’t remember the rainfall in Sri Lanka but it’s fair to say they probably get Arizona’s annual amount overnight at times and don’t suffer the same problems!
So, where will 2018 take us? Following our return to Tavira for the traditional January golf week, South Africa beckons. Two weeks that include Cape Town, the Winelands and Garden Route, bookended by two weeks at the fabulous Fancourt at George where a little coaching is included. While Fancourt offers the best of new design with two superb parkland type layouts and the aforementioned Links course, everyone’s favourite in the Cape, Clovelly, and my favourite, Plettenburg Bay, on the Garden Route, like George, offer lovely golf in the most natural of settings with a family or two of baboons and some smaller, prettier looking monkeys thrown in! It’s not too late to snap up a place for one or all those weeks!
Easter will see Barney and I at Staverton Park for the usual Easter Golf & Coaching where we hope to set you up for a good summers golf. I move on to San Lorenzo in the Algarve for a three week stint of Golf with Clinics throughout April. These are not intensive, a tip or two to push you back on track with three rounds on the much heralded San Lorenzo course and two at Pinheros Altos. One week I believe is already full and the other two already fairly booked up.
Late June and we head off to Bermuda, which is a new venue which already has bookings and there won’t be many more places available, so if it appeals, get in quick! Then it’s back to the UK to, yes, still my favourite, Woodhall Spa! It is a wonderful, unrelenting and fair test, but unrelenting is the word! A couple more Golf & Coaching weekends with Barney during August and then we are off to Italy to golf in the Lakes region. While I have been most pleasantly surprised over the last few years of the quality of golf in Sweden and Prague, Italy always proves amazing, great variety of golf, culture and Italian cuisine; don’t miss it!
And finally, a much talked about and likely to be a one off November tour of New Zealand. The details are on the web site and it promises to be a bit special!
I look forward to seeing you in 2018.
I really enjoyed the start to my New Year in a beautifully sunny Algarve. Jennie and I hosted a super group and had a lot of fun on and off the course. To be fair any trip that features golf on San Lorenzo is a good one. The excellent Dona Filipa Hotel laid on a terrific New Year party on the Great Gatsby theme giving us an interesting dressing up option, live music, a very lithe acrobat, a spot of firing eating, fantastic fireworks and an excellent meal. Lots of pictures to be found here on our events blog. To make it extra special our New Years Eve golf had been on the brilliant Vale do Lobo Royal course in a balmy 70 degrees.
DSG regular Bob finished the year off in style by having three 2s on his card, with one of them on the picture postcard 16th (apparently the most photographed hole in Europe).
On the Pro scene Dustin Johnson doesn’t look like he is giving up the World No.1 position any time soon and started off the year with an emphatic win in the Tour of Champions in Hawaii. A big talking point was his incredible 433 yard drive which secured a tap in Eagle (a nice experience which hopefully we will all enjoy in 2018). As I write this Europe have just secured a win over a very competitive Asian team in the Eurasia Cup. A super display in the singles meant Europe overhauled the overnight one point deficit and in the end won comfortably 14-10. Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn got some useful practice in marshalling the troops and already has an excellent bond with the players. Although overcoming the US in the Ryder Cup in September looks a tall order, I am beginning to think we might have a chance.
Mentioning Asia, Jennie and I are really looking forward to Thailand in February / March. The golf courses look amazing, the days out really interesting and the food experience will be fascinating.
After that spring beckons with visits to Tavira in March and April. I know the latter one is fully booked, however if you fancy an early season warm up at the excellent Robinson Club and stealing a march (sorry couldn’t resist) on your UK golfing friends, there are some places available.
The next month or two in the UK may provide a few challenges whilst on the course, so my tip would be to play 9 holes so less time to get cold and talk your regular 4 ball into some foursomes golf, a lovely way to get round the course briskly, just don’t do it in medal format! My other thought would be work on your set up and posture in front of the mirror in the warm. Check your grip, alignment of the shoulders and general posture. When you are in the correct stance, that is the moment to think “what does it feel like when I’m in my best position”. That feel is unique to each of us, so when we play we are taking a feel with us for set up rather than a list of to do’s. You know the one that goes – get the grip right, not too hard and not too soft, flex the knees, bend from the waist, back straight, weight on the balls of the feet etc. etc.
Wherever you are enjoy your golf and I look forward to meeting up with as many of you as possible in 2018.
All the best
I trust that you are well and that you have had a good start to 2018. To think that we are already half way through January is quite bizarre; where does the time go?!
David and Barney are both about into ‘long-haul’ mode with David heading to South Africa and Barney to Thailand. If the thought of another artic blast at home is too much to bear, there are still places available on both tours!
Both David and Barney return to the UK in March, Barney having a quick turnaround before heading to the Algarve for a weeks’ Golf & Coaching at the Robinson Club in Tavira (17th – 24th March). We do have places available on this week, as it is the ideal opportunity for a pre-season fine-tuning of one’s game, as well as a boost of early spring sunshine! At the end of March both David and Barney host the Easter Golf & Coaching weekend, which is always so popular. We do have places available on the weekend, but they are beginning to diminish now; hence if you are thinking of this weekend, please get in touch soon, as we always tend to get a flurry of booking activity at this time of the year and the number of available places can reduce rapidly.
April is a busy month in terms of the number of events scheduled. However, both David’s San Lorenzo week and Barney’s Robinson’s week, which respectively commence on the 14th April, are fully booked. David also has a San Lorenzo week commencing on the 7th April and again on the 21st April, but these too are now filling rapidly; hence please do let me know at your earliest convenience if you wish to book on one of these weeks.
In May Barney heads off to Lisbon, to the south side of the City, and the beautiful coastal suburb ofSesimbra. This week too is proving popular, and rightly so, as the combination of the golf, the setting and the local sea-food restaurants will surely make for an excellent week. We also have one UK Golf & Coaching Weekend in May, which takes place over the second Bank Holiday weekend, should this be of interest.
June, July and August feature the UK programme, with tours to Kent, Cornwall, Lincolnshire andShropshire, together with two Golf & Coaching Weekends at Staverton Park in Northamptonshire in August. David also has the 10-night tour to Bermuda, and there are still two places available, if this is of temptation.
Many clients have also enquired about Italy, and whilst it has proved to be quite a challenge to obtain the correct balance between quality and cost (the Lakes area is very expensive), we are just about there! The tour will now take place from Saturday 29th September for a 7-night duration, with time reserved on the Sunday afternoon to watch the climax of the Ryder Cup. The tour will be based in Stresa on the shores of Lake Maggiore, but will also include one full days sightseeing of Lake Como. I will email clients who have expressed interest in the tour, as soon as the revised programme is live on the web-site.
Have a good few weeks, keep warm and dry and if you are joining one of David’s or Barney’s imminent tours, have a wonderful time.
I am looking out at a very sunny, but cooler Florida at the moment, supposed to be 12 degrees on Thursday, but I am not too worried as it is getting back to mid 20s not long after that.
2017 has been great meeting with many of you in places various and having some really fun times. New Years Eve was a blast even though I wasn’t drinking! Like Barney, I am really excited to be going to Thailand in February as it is my first visit to this part of the world.
Wishing you all a fabulous 2018.