What a fascinating international flavoured week! Long Haul flights brought clients into our Porto Golf Week from 3 continents! Satoko and Baba flew in from Tokyo, Wendy from Toronto and Ina, having survived the terrible hurricane that has devastated the Caribbean and parts of the southern States, somehow managed to get off the Island, leaving her home in the Bahamas, with no communication, electricity or any other services for that matter. We do hope you returned home safely to find no further unpleasant surprises and get back to normality before too long, Ina.
Mark joined us from the African continent and is a member of Zebula GC, Limpopo in the north of South Africa, where we spent an excellent few days 3 or 4 years ago.
He tells me the drought continues and so unfortunately the golf course is still suffering, which is a great shame as it is a really good layout. Mark has the Big Five for neighbours on his farm and often finds Elephants drinking his swimming pool water! A visit to the woods or stream ball searching in Vidago held little fear for him!
Canada, the Isle of Wight and most parts of England made up our 24 strong contingent!
The Vidago Palace Hotel and golf course is some 75 minutes from Porto airport and well worth the journey. Recently closed for 4 years and undergoing an €18 million refurbishment in keeping with the grand style of yesteryear, this 5 star award winning resort lived up to its highly rated reputation. A staff and management from the top drawer, both at the hotel and golf club, made for an excellent venue. In my experience very few resorts satisfy the golfer with one golf course, but like Benalup in its prime and San Lorenzo, this one does.
The golf course is a lovely test, a notch below San Lorenzo maybe, but most are! Set in a wooded area, the first 9 are quite flat but with avenues of trees and a meandering stream, a good and fair test. The second nine is built more on the hillside but, with the odd exception, cleverly plays more along it than up and down it and is not difficult to walk.
The hotel is so in the style of the early 1900’s that a drama series based in 1936 for Portuguese TV and already sold to several other European countries was being filmed there. It was quite surreal exiting the hotel one morning, to see vehicles from the 1930’s parked in front of the hotel and walk amongst people dressed from that era.
A team event, played at Vidago Palace the first day, signalled a sign of things to come. Hazel, Neville and Don winning with an excellent 79. Come Thursday and a day away at the superb links course of Estela, Hazel won the ladies individual with a commendable 34pts and Neville beat Don by one point on the back 9 tied with 33 pts. for the Gents bragging rites!
We drove some 90 minutes over the Spanish boarder to Montealegre GC the following day. This area is not a golf tourist area and we found ourselves, as so often in the UK, at a clubhouse closed on Mondays! However, no coffee before play seems to suit some. Richard and Val must have felt confident with a 4bbb score of 46 but found themselves 3 behind Mark and Sue on a staggering 49! We stopped for our first typical Portugal cuisine dinner in Chaves on our return.
The third round team event was played at Vidago Palace, two 86’s contested the lead and Ina, Wendy, Don and Vic pipped Rosemary, Patrick and Mark on the back nine.
Various tours where undertaken on the free day, either into Porto or the Douro Valley to sample the wines and port of the region along with excellent cuisine. Indeed, unsteady feet and absentees from the evening dinner, arranged a short walk away in the village, may be proof of an enjoyable day!
Thursday we embarked on another longish journey for golf at the aforementioned Estela Links course and stopped for dinner on our return in the lovely town of Guimaraes. The course is well worth the journey, although our driver managed to get lost and added a further 45 minutes to it! Not the best preparation for a round of golf I have to admit, however, a really good, fair links test in a stunning beach side location. In addition to the individual results reported above, the team event was won by Heather,Christine and Wendy. The par three competition was led by Ina and Sue on 11 points and best gent was Vic with 10 points.
We completed the week with a 4bbb, partially seeded and then drawn from the hat, and Mark again proved to be the perfect partner. He and Christine accumulated 45 points and were clear winners from Don and Ina on 42. The hotel Ballroom restaurant treated us to a third excellent dinner for our final evening at this lovely 5 star resort before flying off to our far flung corners of the world!
We will certainly return to this region and the Vidago Palace. I think it has all he ingredients for a golf & coaching or golf with clinics event and a slightly amended 5 star Golf Week.
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