Following an excellent three weeks at the Dona Filipa Resort last month, I was reflecting on what have been the favourite venues over the years, and what makes them work from an overall ‘package’ point of view. Although a long haul destination, Fancourt, arguably South Africa’s No.1 Golf Resort, would top the list. 36 holes of excellent golf, plus the option to play the quite unique Links course, complimented by a warm up and practice area available free of charge throughout the day. Sumptuous breakfasts, four choices of restaurant from the casual clubhouse fare, to the fine dining in Henry Whites. Spacious accommodation, set in pristine gardens that extend throughout the golf courses and the ever present backdrop of the Outeniqua Mountains, the outdoor pool and beautiful spa……..yes, it’s definitely top of the list! And we are returning there in March by the way!
Closer to home, the 5 star Dona Filipa Resort in the Algarve is always well received and along with the San Lorenzo golf course is very much a favourite amongst clients. A short transfer is required to the golf, but the courses are well worth it and the upside is a hotel by the beach and the Praca, with its selection of bars and restaurants a short walk from the front door. No spa here, but a well heated outdoor pool.
Set a few Kilometers back from the humdrum of the Costa del Sol coast, in the foothills of the mountains of the Mijas region is 4 star La Cala Resort. The Resort presents 54 holes of exhilarating golf with buggies included and a very efficiently run operation only a short walk from the hotel. The only slight downside is a 5 minute mini bus ride to the golf academy, but this is efficiently run on request by the hotel. When we tour at La Cala, we take a half board package that entitles us to eat from the a la carte menu. Super indoor and outdoor pools, plus the lovely spa complete the resort. The next opportunity to stay at the Dona Filipa will be with Barney and Jennie over New Year, and I am pleased to report that La Cala will return in the autumn of 2019.
Back to this year and we are more than a third of the way through it already! After the busy early spring season, I’ve got a few weeks to recharge the batteries before departing for Bermuda next month. Barney however, being a young spring chicken, is keeping the show on the road in his usual inimitable manner. Kent, Cornwall, Lincolnshire and Shropshire all feature within the summer programme, as well as the two ‘Golf & Coaching’ weekend at the Staverton Park in August. The long, wet winter finally seems to have come to a close, so if you fancy experiencing some fine and varied courses around the UK, do let Iain know. My year will conclude with a return to the Italian Lakes (very much enjoyed previously) at the end of September and the much anticipated Tour of New Zealand in November, before seeing the year out in the Algarve.
On the world stage, wasn’t it good to see real flashes of the old Tiger at The Players Championship? A shot or two too far back, only making the cut on the line, and then not quite able to finish off the final two rounds as in his glorious, dominant years, but eight under after twelve and six under after thirteen on the final day, who would bet against him adding another Major or two to his record? Like Patrick Reed at the Masters, I thought Webb Simpson a worthy winner, confounding the critics taking a five shot lead into the third round, he played exemplary golf, especially in that third round when he was expected to come back to the pack. Maybe his US Open win of a few years ago should have told them, given the opportunity, some players have an inner strength. So, our next Major approaches, The US Open, how about a Tiger and Phil shootout in a battle of the oldies?
Talking of favourite venues, I am certainly adding the charming seaside town of Sesimbra where we went earlier this month. Our fun group enjoyed the golf there too and the fresh fish in the evenings washed down with the local vino!
Our first UK tour of the year to Kent is just approaching and I there are some places available. We have an excellent array of courses to play, so if you fancy joining us please contact Iain.
Like David, I enjoyed The Players Championship from the fiendishly difficult Sawgrass. Interestingly the winner Webb Simpson was officially the shortest hitter off the tee in the field. However, he lead the stats in the putting and perhaps the old adage of “Drive for show, Putt for dough” is not wide of the mark. Jennie and I were lucky enough to play Sawgrass last year and although we held our own round there, the dreaded 17th with the tiny island green (trust us it’s tiny) did for both of us. When considering the slings and arrows of difficult golf courses, here is what Pete Dye, world famous course designer and Sawgrass architect had to say :- “Golf is not a fair game, so why build a course fair? The ardent golfer would play Mount Everest, if someone put a flag stick on top”.
This week sees the flagship event of the European Tour, the PGA Championship at Wentworth. It is a super field with McIlroy, Casey, Poulter, Fleetwood and the big easy himself, Els.
For our golf in the UK we incredibly are now playing firm fairways and greens as opposed to the rather soft condition of only last month. Something to factor in to our game, is how much the ball is going to run. This applies to tee shots, where a combination of warm air (playing in shirts sleeves is definitely my favourite temperature) and firm ground, can bring bunkers and water hazards into range. On our approach shots think about where the ideal place to land the ball is, as that may well be the fringe rather than the green itself. The chips will run further and of course the putts will be pacier, so get on the practice green! My YouTube video might help with this department of the game.
I look forward to maybe seeing you on one of our summer events.
All the best
It seems that spring / summer has finally arrived, with some prolonged sunshine over the coming weeks, and quite right too, after the long, wet winter.
Before I launch into updates on availability and new events, I just wanted to thank everyone who sends their feedback on the various events. The feedback is invaluable, as it allows us to understand what works well, what needs fine-tuning and how to shape the future planning of the trips. Even after 25 years, the requirements and expectations of the trips constantly evolve and we always endeavour to make sure that we try and reflect your expectations, and if we can, to exceed them. In recent times for example, it has become clear that slightly less intensive days, earlier times for dinners and off-site courses closer to the hotels, are very much favoured. These wishes have duly been factored in to the planning of the 2019 programme where we can.
In terms of the forthcoming events, we have places available for the Kent, West Country, Lincolnshire and Shropshire tours over the summer period. Although these events are four or five night itineraries, it is no problem at all if you wanted to attend for a shorter duration. The two ‘Golf & Coaching’ events in August at the Staverton Park Hotel, Daventry, Northamptionshire also have availability.
For the autumn period, we have changed the format for October slightly. There is now a ‘Golf Week’ at the super Guadalmina Golf Resort near Marbella in Spain, followed by the ‘Benalup Golf Week with Clinics’ further along the coast. There are still places available for the Italian Lakes week and also the two Tenerife weeks in November, and New Zealand too. The Festive events are all live on the web-site and starting to book up now. The two traditional January weeks, the ‘Golf & Coaching’ week and the ‘Algarve Golf Week’ are also now live.
Moving further on, the Southern California tour in February is now live on the web-site and encompasses a week in Palm Springs, a week in Temecula and a week in Santa Barbara. The tour can be booked as one three week entity, or bookings can be taken for weeks 1 and 2, or 2 and 3 for example. We have endeavoured to feature three super locations within the tour, each with its own unique character. Barney is hosting the Southern California tour, whereas David heads off to South Africa in March, taking in Fancourt for a week, a week at the luxurious Selborne Hotel & Spa, south of Durban and a week in Durban itself.
There are date place holders on the website for the 2019 Programme of Events. The European options throughout February and March, with David hosting a trip to Gran Canaria in February and Barney a ‘Golf & Coaching’ week in Morocco in mid-March. The details of the events for April 2019 and beyond will be launched over the coming weeks, and I will discuss them in more length in future newsletters. The usual favourites of San Lorenzo and La Cala will appear, and look out for a week in the Azores in May and a week at the exclusive, but affordable, Westin Costa Naravino Resort in Greece, which is one of best Golf Resorts in Europe. Oh and Mauritius too in November 2019!
For now, enjoy the sunshine and the decent weather and the feast of different sports that are about to come our way.
Thanks as always for your interest and your bookings and we will always do all that we can to ensure that the events are ones to remember.
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