Archive for the ‘TSG Course Reviews’ Category

Best golf courses in London…

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

Although living the UK’s capital can have many benefits, it’s always a good feeling to get out on the fairways and refresh the mind with a good game of golf. However, as space in this global city is always at a premium, finding a great golf course requires some know how…

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the best golf courses in London for you to check out.

The Grove

The Grove

Best golf courses in London – The Grove…

Tucked just inside the M25 north of Watford is the luxurious golf course, The Grove.

This 7,152-yard championship golf course offers all of the premium golfing opportunities that you could wish for, but what makes it all the more inviting is the fact that it doesn’t have a restrictive membership system, so anyone can play whenever they choose.

Set in the 300-acre grounds of an 18th-century mansion, it’s definitely one of the best-looking golf courses in the London area. And with a string of tournaments being held throughout the year, it’s definitely one of the most highly recommended courses out there.

What differentiates The Grove from other courses, is that there is no membership and it is only open to ‘Pay and Play’ and corporate golfer.

And The Grove has recently been named as the host of the 2016 British Masters.

Now whilst its way too early to start thinking about the potential winners of this event, there are plenty of places to find the latest golfing odds. Betway is just one of the sites where you can get all of the latest news, tips, and sporting information including the current Turkish Airline Open.

 

The-ShireBest golf courses in London – The Shire…

Located just outside of Barnet, the Shire golf course offers another great treat to all golf enthusiasts who are looking for something a little extra.

At the turn of the Millennium, the Menai-Davis family invited Severiano Ballesteros to visit England to look at a large piece of land north of London, on which they planned to create a spectacular golf course.

In 2001, just 72 hours after Seve’s first visit, a deal was agreed. Shortly afterwards, the Spanish maestro and his Trajectory team set about creating what would become The Shire London.

Several key principles of golf course design, honed by the Spaniard at over 20 previous locations around the world, were applied: Seve’s insistence that there should be an even mix of par threes, fours and fives, and that no two consecutive holes should play to the same par, being but two examples.

As such, the course is unique in the sense that it has 6 x Par 3’s, 6x Par 5’s and 6 x Par 4’s.

The course has a fantastic layout with many water features that can cause the occasional upset for the amateur, and the separation between the fairways means that it never feels too crowded.

As the course was the only course developed by golfing legend Seve Ballesteros in the UK, it provides the perfect opportunity to try and play like a pro.

The clubhouse itself is also very fresh and modern and the food is very reasonably priced and to a great standard.

 

Best golf courses in London – Walton Heath…

Walton Heath Golf Club

Walton Heath Golf Club

If you’re looking to play on one of London’s most iconic courses, then take a trip to the Walton Heath which is located just within the southern edge of the M25.

Walton Heath is one of the world’s most famous and prestigious clubs.

The members are delighted to share the outstanding facilities with visitors from all over the world.

Established in 1903, the two courses at Walton Health provide some interesting playing options with the rough heather features making play particularly stimulating.

The course was opened in May 1904, with an exhibition match between the legendary Triumvirate of Harry Vardon, J.H.Taylor and James Braid.

The course was laid out by W. Herbert Fowler, a leading amateur golfer. It was his first golf course venture and he went on to become one of the leading golf course architects of his era, both in the U.K. and America.

It is a tribute to his genius that he created one of the finest examples of heathland golf, which so closely resembles the traditional seaside links courses, out of a jungle of heather, gorse and bracken.

Likewise, it is a testament of his creativity that, what became known as, the Old course is still, today, ranked as one of the top 100 courses in the world.

Although the entry fee might be a little extravagant, the sheer peace and tranquillity offered on the golfing greens more than makes up for the cost.

Known for its wild heather and tricky greens, this venue has hosted some great competitions including The Walker Cup.

And with the historic clubhouse offering unparalleled levels of luxurious hospitality, Walton Heath provides the perfect way to play and relax like a professional and truly is one of the best course in London.

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By Ian Mullins

Golf in The Algarve …

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014
Golf in The Algarve

Golf in The Algarve

When one dreams of golf in the Algarve, one thinks warm climate, sun-kissed fairways, immaculate greens and a break from the old routine.

On my recent trip to The Algarve, that’s exactly what I got… four days, sixteen guys, four rounds of golf and two designated drivers, what could possibly go wrong!

Golf in the Algarve – The Tour

This trip we ventured west of Faro having booked through Your Golf Travel (although no sign of Darren!), playing at Villa Sol, Vale da Pinta and twice at Gramacho.

We had a very early start on an EasyJet dawn breaker, we picked up the people carriers at the airport and headed straight for our first stop Vila Sol, the home of the Portuguese Open in 1992 and 1993 before heading to Vale da Pinta/Gramacho where we would be based for the next few days.

Having never played golf in Portugal, I was very excited about pitting my wits against some of the more well-known courses in The Algarve and enjoying some winter sun.

And whilst it was only just December, the warm sunshine was balanced well with a cool breeze coming from the north.

The Courses…

Obviously any golf course review is often biased by the way you play on the day, but I have tried to be objective in my observations and put my own playing ability to one side when writing these reviews….

Golf in the Algarve – Day 1 – Vila Sol

Vila Sol

Vila Sol

This course is well known to me purely because another TSG member has been a member here for a number of years and spoke highly of it, so I was keen to see it for myself.

The clubhouse on first sight is welcoming although quite difficult to find your way round at first.

The course itself is quite tight but not to the point of distraction or frustration and is set out in two loops of nine returning to the clubhouse.

All the fairways are lined with a combination of pine, almond and fig trees, plants, flowers, lakes and streams – and it makes for a good and pleasant stroll.

However, this course, despite its history is very scruffy in places with unfinished housing, terrible fairway weeds creeping across many of the holes suggesting that it has seen better days.

There is poor signage between holes (very important to the visitor).

The course layout is good and the greens are fair and true but I would be lying if I said it was anything special.

Of course, there are some great holes, most notably the Par threes stood out for me but I am not sure I would describe the place as PGA Tour standard.

In addition, the food served pre round was pretty poor, unless you think a deep fried soggy chicken sandwich is standard Portuguese fare.

All the staff were friendly but I am not sure I will be rushing back anytime soon.

Golf in The Algarve – Day 2 – Vale da Pinta

Vale de Pinta

Vale de Pinta

Day two and following a big first night on the local wine, we headed to our second course of the trip.

Now THIS is more like it. What a great course this is!!

And in contrast to the flagship course of the Pestana Group (Vila Sol) this more than lived up to expectation.

This IS why I came to play golf in The Algarve.

Designed by Ronald Fream, Vale da Pinta is considered one of the best layouts in Europe and you can see why.

Vale da Pinta is a parkland course built into the natural contours of the terrain.

After a fairly easy start the course then starts to test you with undulating fairways, plateau greens, stunning views, playing off fairways like carpets. Millionaire golf!

The course has played host to the Seniors Tour in recent years and we were there the day before the regions PGA championship was taking place.

There are two big lakes on the course, which invites you to challenge yourself but I would save my praise for the Par 3 -7th (165 years plateau to plateau) and the stunning approach to the Par 5 – 12th.

Most greens on the course are beautifully guarded with multiple bunkers, but don’t be put off – they are full of soft, fluffy sand.

There are also works under-way around some of the course but all very subtle and it does not detract from the course in any way.

I can honestly say it’s one of the best courses I have had the pleasure of playing (and I have played over 120 in total to date).

The clubhouse is cool and airy and the Pro shop staff welcoming and helpful.

The views from the patio allow you to watch the golfers tee off and play the entire uphill first hole.

However, I have one criticism…. why build a course, so that the last two holes you are playing directly into the sunset?

And why put the 18th green 500m away from the clubhouse leaving a steep walk back, right at the end of your round?!

This is of course nit-picking as most will visit here and take buggies and I would jump at the chance to play here again!

Golf in The Algarve – Day 3 & 4 – Gramacho

Gramacho

Gramacho

We saved this for the final two days as it was our home and the location for our apartments, meaning it was a short walk to the first tee from here on in.

Gramacho is again a great course again designed by Ronald Fream but with the help of former world no.1 and Open Champion- Nick Price.

The layout is forgiving, open and attractive on the eye.

The fairways are wide (mostly) and rewards the big hitter, as many green are drivable if you take the right line. But don’t be discouraged if you aren’t, good placement will also be rewarded.

After a simple start you are then tested by some undulating holes with neatly placed stone walls and palm-lined fairways.

The course loops away from the clubhouse and only returns back at the 18th.

Again you are met with two main water features with fountains and palm shade but don’t stop to admire the course too much. ou will need to concentrate

You will need to concentrate, to tackle the many sloping greens where a three-putt is common and four putts are not unheard of.

I really liked this course. All the tee boxes were in good condition and despite the finishing holes being in the sunset line (Why?!) I would love to play this again.

If there was one point to note for the greenkeepers – I heard one of our party mention that ever Par 3 was the same distance 150m and they all required playing the same club –  a fair comment, I myself used an eight iron on every one. So perhaps something to consider when laying out the course in future.

So perhaps something to consider when laying out the course in future.

That aside, all the staff were friendly and couldn’t look after you enough and very polite. We were even greeted by owner on 1st tee!

After the golf – The Accommodation…

Pestana have built a great complex at Gramacho and all the apartments were roomy, clean with English TV (if that’s your thing) and come with a good size kitchen and patio.

We also had a full cooked breakfast every day made by our in-house chef, although this is not available to everyone, as he was in our party but he had all he needed to spoil us!

Eating Out

Once we had returned to the room and refreshed ourselves, we headed out to three separate eateries each night:

  • Casa De Bife (Carvoeiro) – Stone cooked steak restaurant – very good
  • Rui Marisquiera Restaurante (Silves) – Seafood farye – I am told good, I went for the steak again
  • Joao’s – Casa de Tapas (Ferragudo) – Superb atmosphere and great Tapas, served by the lovely Catarina

The final verdict on golfing in The Algarve….

What a fantastic trip. Great golf, great company and great food. I’ll be back soon.

Obrigardo!

By Ian Mullins