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GolfBuzz - Episode 3

29 November 2016

He’s Back … the long awaited return of Mr. Buzzy …

Would you Play it or

Pass it

- Episode 3

RAGC Founded in 1888 and

A discussion about which courses, in a certain price bracket, to play or which courses to pass and not bother ! We work per country and each time, compare two courses and invite comments as to why you would play it or pass it. You can decide to play both or pass both, there are no rules.

the current tree lined layout dates from 1912 and was designed by Tom Simpson.

For Episode 2, we're heading to Belgium Would you Play or Pass the following courses and alternatives ?

Mr. Buzzy is back …

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GolfBuzz - Episode 3

29 November 2016

Royal Antwerp GC - Tom Simpson Course - GF €85 Week, €95 W’End The RAGC, founded in 1888 and the 2nd oldest golf club on the continent, moved to its present environment in 1912 when Tom Simpson laid out the 18 hole course. Some recent redevelopment has brought the quality of the course up to withstand modern day play while restoring some of the features of the time when the original courses was designed. This is golf history and built on heathland turf, the course remains playable even during the most adverse of weather. Dogleg holes require position rather than power of the tee and with greens featuring optical illusions on your approach, a tricky lay out altogether. The atmosphere is old school which you either loath or love but this is a 'tick the box' experience. 

Would you Play or Pass ?

Alternative Next Door: Rinkven G&CC, €65 - €85 Rinkven was founded in the 60's and initially offered 27 holes designed by Belgian architect Paul Rolin (who was influenced by RTJ). More recently, the course has received an extensive upgrading and rerouting which brought it up to 36 holes and the building of a new clubhouse. Again, laid out on sandy soil, the courses are always in good condition. This courses is an oasis carved out from the pine forests North of Antwerp.

Royal Route Golf Club @  €110 Week and W’End Knokke started as a links course in 1899 and an offshoot of the Bruges Golf & Sport Club. The area and course suffered during the wars and after WWII Lt Col Allen drew up lans for two links courses, the current championship and executive course. The final designs were done by Harry Colt. Knokke has always been a high end club and hosted several Belgian Opens, the last one back in 2000 and won by Lee Westwood. Knokke has also produced its fair share of Belgian amateur and professional golfers.

Although it started out as a links course and the course still has features that remind one of that, the current layouts are surrounded by houses and now play like a heathland course. Knokke always prides

With over 400 buyers, more than 500 golf tourism suppliers and in excess of 14,000 meetings taking place, this year’s IGTM has been a huge success.   

itself on the the conditioning although that can be hit and miss depending of the time of year. They always had the fastest greens in Belgium. It's definitely a course to play when you're in Belgium and the seaside resort of Knokke isn't too shabby neither. There is accommodation in the club house as well.

Alternative nearby: Damme G&CC @ €80 As golf grew in the 80's, people started building golf courses as there wasn't any room in the traditional clubs. Damme is a bit inland from Knokke and the historic town, a defence during the heydays of Bruges in the middle ages, is home to several excellent restaurants. The golf club designed by Paul Rolin is laid out on what was formerly agricultural land within the flat Flemish 'polders'. With a fair bit of water in play, this is not a push over course and combing Damme and Knokke makes for a great weekend away.

Which ones would you PLAY or PASS ? Reactions to golfbuzz@par4our.com or on our Facebook page.

Mr. Buzzy is back …

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GolfBuzz - Episode 3

29 November 2016

International Golf Travel Market, 2017 edition in Mallorca. The 2017 International Golf Travel Market was held in Mallorca and representatives from the world’s golf travel industry, suppliers and buyers, descended on the Balearic island. With over 14,000 pre scheduled meetings, this is where next year’s golf travel arrangements are made.

IGTM has been going strong for almost 20 years now and has become the major conference for golf travel in Europe and beyond. Organised by Reed but the brainchild of Peter Walton of IAGTO, this is a must attend event for anybody involved in the business of golf and travel.

This year’s event was held at the charming venue of Son Termes, a historic property a bit inland from Palma, the capital and with the namesake golf club adjacent and delegates from all over the world swarmed the event venue looking to conclude next year’s contracts.

Mallorca is one of Europe’s most popular golf destinations with plenty of courses to choose from. Easily reachable from most airports, it also has the Air Berlin hub hence the predominantly German influence on the golf scene. There are several German owned golf courses but there is golf for everybody. Palma is one of Europe’s most charming cities and judging by what bobs around in the marina, a destination for the famous and wealthy.

This year IAGTO award’s ceremony saw Costa Navarino take Golf Resort of the Year and Andalucia, golf destination of the year. A full list of winners can be found on the IAGTO website.

Handicap building in golf … a serious form of cheating ! According to the book, The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, in which golf gets a whole chapter, Dan Ariely, a Professor of Behaviour Science at Duke University, writes that almost everyone is dishonest to some degree if given the opportunity and there is a better than even chance of getting away with it.

There’s already been a lot written about a particular form of cheating in golf. No it’s not the leather wedge, the eraser, the ball down the trousers etc. It is a for more ruthless form of cheating … it’s ‘handicap building’ meaning striving to play to a higher handicap than your actual ability. This is indeed handy when having a little wager with an unsuspected victim or when playing in an event where there is a lot of pride and more so … prizes on offer etc.

I’ve heard the phrase ‘going back to the club to get a point 1 back, it’s captain’s prize next week’ uttered many a time after seeing a guy walk of the 16th tee, drive down the middle and 36 points on the book, only to finish with a couple of duffs, chunks, thins, OB’s and finish the round with … 36 points.

Many years ago, I’ve had a discussion with somebody high up in the local federation and when I told him I was from Belgium he dismissively and in a condescending tone said: “Ah, that explains it. You’re from the continent. Golfers over there are not that serious with their Mr. Buzzy is back …

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GolfBuzz - Episode 3

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handicaps.” Ding dong … what ? I spent one year on a mat hitting golf balls before I was ‘allowed’ to take my test. Yes, my test … 15 questions on the rules and 15 on etiquette. Open book admittedly but it made me at least go through the rule book and read up on white, yellow, red, blue stakes and much more. After having passed the test, I was then taken on the course for a 9 hole playing test to see if I could score a number of points of a 36 handicap. The whole process takes time and effort but it does make a golfer appreciate the game much more as to when you’re just handed a handicap and there you go. I’ve always had pride in my handicap and strived for it to be as low as I possibly could get it. By now it’s probably too low as I haven’t played many official competitions and therefore I am not featuring highly in the winter league at my home club. But then, scoring in the mid to high thirties stableford points on 14 holes is outside my reach and actually should be outside anybody’s reach !

Handicap building is cheating. Keeping a lower handicap than your playing ability is only making a fool of yourself, having a higher handicap than your playing ability is making a fool of the game, the club and your playing partners.

Golf in Porto, all thanks to Skeffington. For most people, golf in Portugal is mostly played along the Southern coast line in the Algarve. Lisbon and Porto for that matter seem to be insignificant in appeal to attract golfers. Well, I had a chance to tour some of the Northern Portuguese courses and not only was I pleasantly surprised with the quality and diversity, I actually thoroughly enjoyed the journey.

A little known fact is that golf in Portugal dates back to 1890 when British engineers working on the Portuguese railroads decided to build a golf course on the sandy banks just south of Porto. This was the third golf course to be build on the continent following Pau and Antwerp and it still hosts the oldest continuously played cup in the world. The Skeffington Cup, named after the founder and first president of Oporto Golf Club has been played for since 1891 without interruption. 

Playing golf around Porto is a real treat. They call it Portugal’s top golf destination but I would probably say it’s most diverse golf destination. When most golfers consider the Algarve to be the top destination in Europe, Porto adds something not even the Algarve can offer. The region is dotted with UNESCO heritage sites starting with the city of Porto which is a hotbed of culture and effortlessly marries the old and the new. On the one side, you have the medieval city centre and the historic Gaia part where all the port manufacturers hold fort and on the other side, modern architecture and scintillating nightlife. Outside of Porto, Guimaraes, the birthplace of Portugal’s first king, Ponte de Lima, Portugal’s oldest know village and the magnificent Douro Valley which embodies what the region is all about.

We did a tour around the region which started of at Oporto Golf Club. The old worldly feel of the club and course sends shivers down your spine as you tee it up for what is a short course, by modern standards, with small greens and subtle undulations. You can play well on this course but you should not stray from the obvious. Hit the fairways and hit the greens and you will do well. As with all traditional courses, the railway line runs adjacent and with the beach on the one and the small town of Espinho on the other side, you could envisage this to be either in England or Scotland where a lot of golf courses had to be serviced by a railway line to get the people to come. When in Espinho, stay in the 5* Solverde Beach Hotel. The Solverde group owns and runs several hotels in Portugal all close by one of their casinos. From the Atlantic Ocean we ventured Mr. Buzzy is back …

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GolfBuzz - Episode 3

29 November 2016

more inland to Amarante where the staff of the Relais et Chateaux Hotel Casa de Calcada were at hand to welcome us. This beautiful property with a medieval feel to it offers 30 individually appointed rooms, a Michelin star restaurant but also all the modern facilities travellers expect these days. It sits in the mountain village of Amarante and owns its own golf course which is an interesting layout to say the least. Carved out of the woods, hills and valleys of the Minho region, this course will test both your skill and mental toughness as it meanders its way up and down. You don’t have to hit the ball long but you do have to be precise on this course. Situated about 10 minutes from the hotel and with beautiful views over the surrounding hills, the hotel offers a shuttle service to the course.

Venture a bit more inland where the 5* Vidago Palace Golf Hotel awaits you. Build for the King of Portugal in 1910, the Royal Family never got to enjoy the place and instead it was turned into a hotel. It found itself in difficulties but new ownership and an extensive refurbishment brought the property back into its original state but with the added comfort much sought after by the discerning travellers. Golf was played at Vidago since 1930 when Mackenzie Ross designed the original 9 holes in front of the Palace. These holes were incorporated in the redesign by Cameron & Powell who specialise in making Mackenzie Ross’ courses more current. The Par 72, measuring 6,308 mtrs of the back tees starts in the treelined surroundings of the old 9 and heads out to the Vidago valley before heading back along the side of the hills with some spectacular holes to finish your round. This is a golfers’ course, play well and you will score well. Staying in Vidago Palace is always a treat and the rooms and facilities are genuinely top class. For those who want a more budgeted experience, the Primavera Perfume Hotel, on the other side of the road, offers themed modern rooms, again with all the mod con’s one needs to make a stay unforgettable. Needless to say that both hotels offer favourable golf packages.

Heading back towards the coast and passing Guimaraes, the alleged birthplace of the first King of Portugal, it is a UNESCO Heritage City and is a major tourist centre in the North. We end up in Ponte de Lima, Portugal’s oldest known settlement (1125) and its Roman bridge. The Axis Ponte de Lima Golf hotel is a contemporary design on two floors with the golf course a tale of two characters. The front nine offers spectacular elevation changes with holes winding through the forest and along hillsides while the back nine plays as a gentle parkland course with century old trees. 

Our journey ends back at the Atlantic Ocean this time North of Porto. Povoa De Varzim is a seaside village with high rise buildings and is home to Estella Golf Club. Built in 1988 by Duarte SottoMayor, a Trent Jones Sr. disciple, this  unique and traditional links course, with one exception … Bermuda Grass, will test every aspect of your game. With the ever blowing Atlantic winds, Estella is not to be overpowered. Trust me, I’ve tried, a ball that doesn’t land on the fairway results in not being able to go for the green. With constant views over the Ocean and surrounded by immaculate dune lands, playing Estella is always a treat. 

Mr. Buzzy is back …

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GolfBuzz - Episode 3

29 November 2016

Our journey ended on the South bank of the Douro river in Porto where we were privileged to sample some of the finest food and port wines at the Taylor’s Cellars overlooking the old city centre of Porto. A great way to finish the week.

This voyage around the North of Portugal is one of diversity. From the coastal planes of Espinho and Povoa de Varzim to the mountain sides of Amarante and Ponte de Lima through the valleys of Vidago. This journey is as much about effortless hospitality, friendly people, honest food and fine wines and ports as it is about golf. Don’t go if you want golf and beer … go if you want to enjoy a week’s golf, culture, luxury hotels and fine dining accompanied by arguably which can be considered being among the finest wines in Europe. Fly into Porto and take on the North of Portugal. I guarantee it, you will not be disappointed.

But remember …

Golfer to caddy: You think I can carry that bunker ? Caddy: Don’t think so, there’s about 2 tons of sand in it !!! Till next time … Mr.Buzzy

Mr. Buzzy is back …

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GolfBuzz - Episode 3

Mr. Buzzy is back …

29 November 2016

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Golfbuzz episode 3 Nov 16  

The third episode of the revamped GolfBuzz.

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