Tour got underway on Saturday 24th September. 7 days with 6 days of golf and hopefully some decent weather to enjoy. So lots of golf, a number of competitions and lots of scoring for Sean to manage… all for the glory of Tour Winner to be decided on Friday at The Old Course.
Met at Gatwick through traffic on M25, Grubbster making it down from Manchester beating a few of the more local to check in.
Flight delayed due to baggage handlers which wasn’t ideal so we were sat on the runway for well over an hour with tired kids, worn out parents and vom’ing toddlers. Eventually got away but a poor start to the trip thanks to BA.
Arrived at the familiar Vila Gale Ampalius hotel and headed out for beers and food at a local tapas restaurant with fantastic sushi. Wasnt the fish but something didn’t agree with Mr Jaggs, but those of us that were up for it then headed out to the bars and were pleased to see Phil Thorley out with his friend’s stag do. Glad to have arrived, weather fantastic… let the golf begin.
New course to me at Laranjal Golf, not many trees, great layout, reasonably generous off the tee and it was in great condition. Mr Jaggs wasn’t in the best of form after the meal but we were all up and ready for the day.
Turns out Brian C was on fire… and possibly peaked a tad early in the tour and came in with a massive 41points. Greens were quick and I had far more three putts on the day that I wanted to count. A bit of a mess but could only improve. He was the recipient of Jim horrific skull n crossbones visor for tour lead and the fez for daily winner.
We had a tour handicap comp, a club handicap competition, team games and pairs matches to keep track off… all managed by Sean with help from ‘Rain man’ Strong and Simon.
Some of us then headed to the sea for a swim and then beers in the beach bar close to the hotel before the evening where half of us headed for an Italian and the rest a curry.
Karaoke bar proved a popular venue throughout the week again and we had a few more beers to get over the highs and lows of the day’s golf. A rather uncomfortable duo with Jim and Graham Lovely a highlight on the mic, Jim was fine Graham just a bit creepy. #lostinaushapedmarina made an appearance in the Whatsapp group at some mad time in the morning.
Day2: San Lorenzo
Late tee off so a relaxing start of the day recovering from the excesses the night before. A hot, humid day for San Lorenzo Golf. I hadn’t enjoyed my last visit here as 2years ago I thought a black shirt was a good idea in the hottest day of the year when we had to walk due to a lack of buggies. Ouch.
Buggies were again in short supply this year and staff not that friendly but we were kind of expecting that. San Lorenzo looking a tad shabby but it is undeniably a great layout with holes winding around with 4 holes out by the coast before sweeping back to the clubhouse.
In our fourball, Simon and I were up against it with Phil and Chris but we came out on top in the end. Jaggsy by his own admission had a mare but did manage to clear the 260+yard carry over the lake on the par4 18th… to only grab a 6. Unlucky Mr Jaggs.
Simon took the win (and fez) on 35 on countback from Richie who took the visor from Brian. Day ended with very nice tapas in the evening followed by beers around the marina.
Day3: Monte Rei (the big one)
Monti Rei is a top European course and No1 in Portugal. Nicklaus signature design course, this was the business. Fanastic welcome, clubhouse and course layout. Every hole was special with the course working its way over and around valleys with bunkers put in just the right (or wrong places) and plenty of water around the greens to gobble up anything short (or long).
The second Swindle Portugal tour are due out there in a few weeks… expect Mr Town to be saying “faaaaantastic” at every opportunity. Take plenty of balls chaps.
Grubbster turned in a fantastic display, helped by some superb driving. Sean had a mare with 5blobs in a row to end his round, provoking some interesting exclamations, and Winkle didn’t have his best day at all.
The FishShack for some of us in the evening, a great restaurant round the far side of the marina… followed by another late night.
Day 4: Victoria
More sore heads for the venue of the Portuguese Masters, Oceanico Victoria. Big, quite open and with great facilities, it’s a popular venue for the tour. It has been very hot this year in Portugal and they were clearly building up for the upcoming pro event and were watering and sanding quite a bit of the course. Bit frustrating to hit a good drive to find the ball in a sanded area making it feel the approach shots were from long bunkers.
Welcome wasn’t that great unfortunately, they didn’t manage the buggies well but we set off in good spirits playing the 9 holes in reverse due to the course maintenance.
Special note to Winkle’s birdie on the par 5…. 4iron, 4iron, 5iron to 2feet. Great golf. Playing with Mark against Jim and Ritchie we had a good game with Jim taking it on the 18th with a birdie.
Grubbster takes the tour lead but Phil won the day by a stretch despite grumbling he’d had a mare.
Split up in the evening with some heading to a very nice coastal fish place near Val Do Lobo whilst the others enjoyed a nice meal in Vilamoura.
Day 5: Quinta South… moving day
A favourite of a few of us, a great track and I was looking forward to playing Quinta South again. Much better nick than San Lorenzo and I personally think an even better layout.
We fought out the day for final positions in the fourballs for the next day. All to play for.
Another very hot day for golf, the course was busy but we did at least play the front9 first (whereas my last trip we playing the back first).
Improved putting from the start of the tour and I came in with a steadier score and Winkle put some great shots together in our fourball.. Chris managed to hit nearly every tree and won a pine cone from our group for his troubles. I believe Sean won the day with 38.
Day 6: The Old Course
Final day at the fantastic Old Course. A fave course for many, several having played it lots of time before. A great day of warmth and sun to see us around.
I managed to scrape a slot in the middle group recovering from some awful putting first few days despite been pretty steady off the tee all week. Old Course is a great track. Uncompromising trees which hoover up balls, dropping them straight down… if you don’t hit the branches which ping your ball miles away.
Another very enjoyable fourball of myself, Jim, Sean and Mr Loveless. Few sore heads amongst us all but a great finish to the week. Ritchie crowned winner in the late afternoon sun as we had the prize giving over a few well earned beers.
Final evening and after more beers we dived into taxis over to the excellent Italian outside of Vilamoura. Another regular venue on the tour and we had a great last meal with more drinks into the early hours.
No golf today and we had an early evening flight. Extended stay in the hotel rooms meant we didn’t have to spend the day out of a suitcase (a great result) and we enjoyed the fantastic sun either in the sea or at the local beach bar.
BA redeemed themselves with a decent flight back, the chaos of Faro airport on Saturday afternoon wasn’t too pleasant but we all rolled in our respective homes around midnight. Phew.
Thanks and congratulations
Finally, well done to Ritchie in securing the overall tour win, run close by Simon with myself and Grubbster sneaking into share 3rd.
Winkle did get the wooden spoon (just) but was comforted by a nice orange/red Old Course polo shirt as a prize (which nearly matched his face on last day in the sun).
Philip did a fantastic job again as point man for the tour organising with Your Golf Travel. Many thanks from us all. Monte Rei was a last minute switch but proved to be the favourite of us all (and the toughest).
Sean did a superb job managing the many scores, slopes and handicaps for the whole week. Helped out ably at the end of each round by Strongbow and Simon.
A great tour all round.