The first Fairways golf coaching holiday took place from the 24th to 27th October 2011, and 12 brave souls had signed up to take on the challenge of 4 x 9 holes of golf at Vila Sol in Vilamourra in Portugal’s Algarve region. Many of the group had only played on a 9 hole short golf course before, but were looking to have an intensive 4 days of golf to help them really get into the game.
Vila Sol is a perfect venue for novice golfers, there is a fantastic open air golf range which the group had exclusive use of with great putting, chipping and bunker practice facilities as well, everything that we could ever want to help the players improve their golf and all at our private disposal. The hotel is 5* and the accommodation that we had was spread amongst the gardens and was beautiful appointed for ease of getting to the golf range for the coaching.
So after a short journey from the airport in the stimulating company of Arthur the taxi driver, we all gathered at the golf clubhouse for a buffet lunch and a review of the plan for the next few days, basking in the early afternoon sunshine.
Fed and watered, we were transported to the end of the golf range for a coaching session to get into the swing of it if you will pardon the pun. From there we trooped out onto the golf course for the first time, last off so there would be no other players chasing up behind, we tried to do everything we could to make the experience as pleasant as possible.
I went with the first group, and after a problem getting the first shot past the ladies tee, things got underway in style. On the second hole, a short par 3, the proximity of the gorgeous villas that line the fairways of the golf course became very apparent as a tee shot was beautifully struck, but went heading to the right towards the adjacent properties, we all stood in open mouthed silence as the ball flew over the trees and we waited for the inevitable noise, and then it came, the unmistakable sound of a golf ball striking a roof tile smack in the middle and shattering it in two. This was followed by howls of hysterical laughter, and the tome for the weekend was set.
Many more errant and erratic shots were to follow that afternoon, with a liberal sprinkling of sheer brilliance on the fairways. Many balls took a dip in the many water hazards that guarded the greens. By the time darkness fell as the last group were just finishing the 9th hole, many golf bags were lighter than when the player began the round.
After a busy afternoon on the golf course we trooped down to “OSCARS” for some much needed food and refreshment before a dozen or more sleepy heads turned in to prepare for the golfing onslaught the next day.
A perfect blue sky and sunshine met us at the golf range after breakfast. The academy is sited at the far end of the golf range and although built with every need for the discerning golf professional in mind, has been unused for many months, maybe even years. There is a grass tee line, along with a chipping green, 2 bunkers and away to the side a top quality putting surface. My plan was for the group to split into 2 with Grant looking after one group and I had the other, with my group spending the first hour on short game and Grant on long game and then after an hour we swapped round. This worked great and not only allowed the class to practice their irons, hybrids and drivers as they would do at the World of Golf driving range, but also plenty of pitching and chipping off grass which is a real novelty for them, and we had a go at sloping lies which we knew they would need when playing on the course in the afternoon.
A well deserved lunch was consumed at the golf clubhouse and then we ventured onto the golf course for the second time. The 2 couples I played with did very well, and it is safe to say that everyone went through that cycle of hitting some really good shots and then suffering a catastrophic loss of motor skill. John had one of these attacks on the 6th tee, a mild meltdown would also be a way to describe it, and I am not quite sure what happened, but I can only think he popped the equivalent of a golfing Viagra pill, as the next 2 shots on that hole were brilliant. Followed by a great pitch shot onto the green, just missing the par, the tee shot on the par 3 next hole, virtually on the green, the chip was close and again just missed the par, and the tee shot on 8 was immense, down the hill round the corner, then the fairway shot matched it leaving him a 9 iron shot to the green over the stream, and then the effect of the pill must have worn off as the total loss of motor skill kicked in and the ball dived into the water never to be seen again.
In the clubhouse later the stories of glory and disaster were coming thick and fast, all had had the joy of success and the exhilaration of the shot going where it was intended as well as the abject misery of the failure of some shots, so again it was time to go and drown our collective sorrows and this time the beautiful marina was beckoning with its choice of 50+ restaurants and bars, offering food from all corners of the globe, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian and even the odd Portuguese and specialty fish restaurant. Bellies filled, one or two of us after a beverage at the Irish bar sampled the delights of the nightlife, and a good time was had by all.
Day 3 dawned after a heavy nights rain, the course absorbed it brilliantly, no standing water to be seen, and as this was the day of the rugby world cup final and my teaching professional colleague is a kiwi, I knew the coaching would be down to me this morning, and a bunch of the players that were not into the rugby met at the end of the range again and a lot of bunker practice was the order of the day.
The afternoon sun was glorious and off we set for another 9 holes, again splitting the groups up so that everybody played with different people each day, and again there were some great shots, I got a chance to play but was being out driven and out played by Sonny Hasan, much to the delight of the rest of the group, so much so that on the last hole, he once again hit a perfect drive down the centre of the fairway and I was baited by the rest of the players to out drive him, so I would it up and sent a superb drive away into the distance, and I am sure it would have easily gone past where Sonny’s ball was residing on the emerald fairway, if it hadn’t have plunged deep into the middle of the lake on the left hand side of the fairway, stupid place to put a body of water in my opinion.
Our last evening out on the town in the marina and we chose a traditional Portuguese restaurant and the food was great, the ambiance of the staff a joy, a very pleasant evening was had and back to the hotel bar for a nightcap.
During the night, there was the biggest storm imaginable, during which a tornado strength wind hit Faro airport, only 15 minutes away, removing a fairly large section of the roof, the rain pelted down and the wind was fierce, but by 9am when I went down to the golf clubhouse to meet the players for our last mornings knock on the golf course, the sun was out, the wind had died and it was the start of another perfect day in the Algarve.
By now all the group were playing not only much better but also much quicker, the first 9 holes had taken the thick end of 3 hours to be completed, now they were getting round in 2 hours 10 minutes, which I must say was quite handy as they had a plane to catch.
In most cases this last 9 holes was the best they had played on the trip which was a super way to finish the holiday, and after a skirmish with the French golf party that were sharing the buffet lunch, they reluctantly returned to London Gatwick and back to normality, but with a bunch of memories to treasure form a great golfing weekend.
If you would like to join the next Fairways golf coaching holiday trip to Vila Sol on Feb25th to feb 28th 2012, contact firstname.lastname@example.org