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Tunisia IS coming back for golf

So I’m minding my own business  getting on with some work when I get a call out of the blue from the Tunisia Tourist Board in London inviting me  to participate in their inaugural journalist golf tournament in Tunisia a few weeks later.  My gut response – yes please.  I’m a bit of an adventurer,  I keep an eye on world affairs but also I’m a journalist and I feel it is my duty to go to various destinations to report my findings. Two weeks later meeting my fellow journalists and the colourful Tunisian Tourist Board representative who made it all happen, Moncef at the airport, we were set to go.
Arriving in Tunis airport, we transferred to El Kantaoui (el – can- too-ee), a bit late for dinner but ready for a welcome rest after the journey – after a quick drink in the welcoming bar! I quite like arriving in the dark to hotels, crashing on the bed then waking up to you don’t know what when you open the curtains the next morning. To my delight it was the large turquoise pool with vacant contrasting blue sun-beds, clean fresh and poised waiting for their next guest to take up their spot for a day, enjoying all The Concorde Green Park Hotel has to offer.  A U-shaped purpose built 5* hotel right on the beach with stretching tiered views from the room to the pool to the sea and sky beyond, a beautifully decorated new hotel not without charm yet still developing its character and colour of Tunisia.  The staff smiled constantly and were incredibly willing to please. In fact that was the theme of the whole time in Tunisia – all the people smiled as they went about their days, they seriously couldn’t do enough for you, in many respects we were treasured like individual jewels in their precious crown. The Concorde Green Park with it’s fine sandy beaches in the Port of El Kantaoui, Sousse, next to the famous El Kantaoui golf course – host of the Tunisian Seniors Open and oldest course in Tunisia, offered everything a holiday golf venue should. I was there for a Media Golf Tournament, I was one of two representing Great Britain and I hadn’t played well for a long time, so I had to dust off my summer golf shoes and get on with it, I was here on business, not pleasure! but playing well was part of it.  El Kantaoui is a 36 hole golf complex housing the Panorama and Sea Courses.  The tournament was played on the Panorama (but we did sneak a further 9 holes on the Sea Course after lunch for good measure! ) 

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Amazing ladies golf, plus some, in Costa Brava

Contemplating what makes Spain on the journey North from Barcelona, being driven through the concrete jungle glancing around the cars from all over the world; Japan, Germany, American, Italian, one could be anywhere in the world.  Relaxing back enjoying the ride, the real Spain starts to flirt with the eyes, tantalising you with glimpses of the country between the harsh concrete lines with its splashes of colour dancing in the sunshine.  Multicoloured traditional flat top buildings tumbling down the hillside like a spilt bag of dolly mixture candy replace the grey uninspiring roadside blocks as we speed towards the Pyrenees.   The scenery takes on a different appearance, monuments replace buildings sitting atop hillsides bathed in sunshine.  Spain is vast, buildings blend into the brown earth, despite their bright colours, they just merge together as one, buildings with tiny windows, coppices of trees gently dotting the landscape like freckles on a child’s face, to give you simple beauty.  Tall Cyprus trees give the roadsides structure, waving gently with purpose if only to give the roadside an end and the countryside a start.

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What about Andalusia?


The Andalusian Tourist Board have been the main sponsors of the ladies Red Tee Tour for the past two years, tantalising us with their great courses and places to stay and play in this vast region in Spain. It is only recently that I have had the chance to go along and see first hand some of the lesser known golf courses and resorts. Sitting just at the bottom of the country the climate is good all year round offering a nice reprieve from our great British weather. 

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What women doesn’t like gems? – How about Emeralds, how about the Emerald Isles?

Choose Ireland for your golf and you’ll find the ever coveted hidden gems, Ok they might not be the shiny ones to bling up your fingers but they are worth the trip with heritage and long associations to golf.
Visiting Ireland last month I arrived into Dublin Airport and drove a couple of hours up through Northern Ireland and into the most northerly part of the Republic of Ireland; Donegal.  Driving is a great way to see somewhere and the whole trip opened my eyes to landscapes and scenery befitting a well thumbed through coffee table book.  Coming from England, the drive was an easy one, the roads are the same as in the UK, the signage clear and a sat nav to aid the way for a pleasant trip.  I’ve never been to Northern Ireland before, certainly I know the names of the places, but never actually set foot in this part of the UK.  It caught me off guard when the speed signs changed from KM/hour to miles/hour as I drove into Northern Ireland though.  Money was another one. Now who can’t call off at local bakery and get a potato cake – so I did in one of the picturesque border villages for breakfast. “That’s £1.50” said the cheerful lady behind the counter, ‘but I’ve only got euros with me’ I exclaimed thinking I’m not going to get my lovely warm potato cake– Oh that’s OK we take Euros or pounds came back the reply.  These people are so accommodating, and I think she knew I’d do a runner if she didn’t give me my potato cake.  I’ve no idea what the exchange rate was, I didn’t really care. I got my lovely warm potato cake.  I was happy.
Off the beaten track – in fact the sat nav had a habit of doing this aided by my ignorance of the geography of Ireland, I think it had been programmed by Failte Ireland so visitors see as much as they can – and it worked, I welcomed the unspoilt Ireland, even at that time of the year it is beautiful.  Even the sheep looked content munching away on the lush green grass!
First stop, Rosapenna where I pitched my metaphorical tent and checked into this family run golf resort on the bay.  To be fair the  outside of the hotel building was a little ‘corporate’ so I expected it to be similar inside, you know ‘one size fits all’ kind of rooms-this was not at all.  They bucked the trend at Rosapenna by increasing the room’s sizes from 3 to 2 thereby loosing rooms but gaining a better quality and size of room, building into this new space character.
The restaurant and generous sized room overlooked the bay but my beautiful and tasty candle lit dinner for one was a little wasted on me.  Rosapenna opened its arms to me, and I fully embraced the warmth and sincere welcome received from the freshly baked biscuits in the room to the two 18 hole

and one 9 hole golf courses.  I played Sandy Hills with one of the members – this was something the Irish do very well, in my job I often play golf by myself, in Ireland they would not hear of such a thing and always paired me with members or with staff so I could enjoy the golf courses.  A luna landscape links course, Sandy Hills invites you to crack a straight drive down the centre of the fairway and envelopes around you softly encouraging you to enjoy the course.  A sunny yet cold and windy day open to ocean scenes is this elevated golf course in great condition despite the wet winter.  Testimony to this well maintained course was a temporary green which had been laid to give the new green chance to settle, the temporary green was as good and some of the main greens at other golf courses I’ve visited.  Needless to say the green staff were part of the family.

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Lisbon and the Central Region of Portugal

Lisbon Ladies?
City Gates to Golf Breaks
The simple pleasure of being in Lisbon is enhanced by its delightful gastronomy, its old and new parts of town, shopping, the café culture and welcome from the ever willing to please Portuguese people.  Lisbon in itself is worth a visit with easy access from London Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester to Lisbon up to 9 times a day with TAP.
But why stop there when there is so much to see and do.  Maximise your stay in Lisbon and sample some of the stunning unspoilt golf courses and hotels within 45 minutes of this lovely city.
I was lucky enough to be invited to join a trip to do just this recently on a trip to the Centro Region.
Arriving in Lisbon we were swiftly shuttled to Dolce Campo Real just 45 minutes away, we were met by a friendly welcome at the clubhouse bar for some local delicacies before being given the opportunity to sample their golf course.  Sadly it rained, no it didn’t rain it tipped it down allowing us only 9 holes of enjoyment, but those 9 holes were playable, even in those conditions the greens ran true and stood up to the wet sodden feet trampling across them, the tee boxes were in good condition and the fairways played well.  It is easy to stay and play one golf course, and you would enjoy yourself, but being given some information about alternatives could be just as welcome.  We were given this when we visited Hotel Areias do Sexio just 15 minutes from Dolce Campo Real, a small boutique hotel which prides itself on home grown local food with a twist of sophistication, encapsulating traditional recipes and adding a hint of modern taste to create mouth-watering delights.

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Club Champion – maybe next year

OK so here is a personal story about my golf and that of a much younger and better golfer than I am. Both Nike players both Nike should be proud of.

Last Saturday Sophie Price and myself qualified for the Club Championships.  Sophie has been steadily coming down in handicap, growing into a beautiful golfer full of personality. The club Champs are over 36 holes matchplay off scratch – so here I am at the start 5 shots lost straight away.
Nip and tuck for the first 18 holes left us all square at lunch time.  Both playing well under our handicaps and having fun whilst doing it too. Starting the second round of golf, I played to my handicap and Sophie continued to play under hers leaving me trailing 5 shots behind after 27 holes.  eekk.  Hole 10 saw some horrible golf by me and more of the same spectacular golf by Sophie. Yep you guessed it I lost on the 30th hole.  I am proud of my personal achievement bearing in mind the scratch play and Sophie’s youth but full credit has to go to Sophie who is one to watch in the future.  Good luck Sophie and carry on enjoying this great game.
Thank you Nike for providing us both with the equipment to get us here in the first place.

Nearly Hole in One – Always the bridesmaid!

I had the opportunity recently to play in a client golf day in Southend.  It was windy, it was wet and quite frankly quite miserable with a grey sky for pretty much the whole round.  Despite the weather the saving grace was the team I was in; three wonderful chaps who embraced me as a golfer to bring in a reasonable, but sadly not winning score.
We were battling the wind on pretty much every hole, with the only positive being the wind was with us on the odd hole. It was such a hole – a par three 190 yard innocuous yet inviting hole.
The boys had already taken their tee shots with varying degrees of success – short, left and right which left the green for the taking.
Picking up my new 26 degree Nike Vapor hybrid (5 iron equivalent) I hit the ball, a ‘lucky’ bounce sent it heading for the hole.
The boys were getting excited as the ball travelled towards the hole – then it stopped.  Being inwardly excited I dare not believe it was by the hole until I got close enough to see for myself.

Did I make the putt – absolutely – now that would have been embarrassing if not wouldn’t it!

Thanks boys for being great partners,and thanks to the puff of wind which blew my ball right and towards the hole.


I think Barcelona and I can’t help but sing (in my head – I’m not that cruel!) the tune to the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.  Maybe it is because the words aren’t that difficult to remember… Barcelona….Barcelona… It’s not, in my opinion a great tune, but it does get stuck in your head.  

Barcelona itself is a vibrant city located in the Catalonia Region of Spain, the city itself is a must visit whilst in the region playing golf. Two amazing cathedrals; Barcelona Cathedral- or to give it the justly deserved correct name the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia and the giant Sagrada Familia Basilica of Gaudi fame, which is still work in progress. Continue reading

South Carolina

For golf, southern hospitality, good food, the climate and a whole lot more….
This is my story June 2014
Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head and Charleston all spring to mind when thinking about South Carolina, and so they should and visit you should, but the State of South Carolina can offer so much more too..
With almost 100 golf courses in the Myrtle Beach area, playing but 2 and half rounds of golf barely makes a dent in what’s available. Before I wander my mind to the lovely Myrtle Beach area, I’ve got to mention up-state South Carolina – almost a contradiction in grammar, I flew into Greenville via Atlanta where I bumped into my Colombian buddy Fernando – so I knew we were in for a good trip!
A lovely group of people met us from all over the globe – all golf tour operators, all fun people ready to tackle the golf and what up-state had to offer.
As with most of these trips there is so much to see we often run out of time, so day one was meant to be 36 holes – we managed 27; 18 on River Falls and 9 on Cherokee Valley.  Playing with Ricky from South Carolina, Ronnie from Sweden and the infamous Fernando from Colombia at River Falls, we negotiated the undulations, valleys and managed a win on the final putt! after 18 holes – not a bad result as team Colombiweed (Colombia and Sweden) had 2 shots more than the dream team of red white and blue (UK and USA).  As River Falls was quite a short course for ladies, Ronnie decided that if Ricky and I were winning, I had to play off the tees one back from the reds (belle), I played a lot of holes from the Golds (Womens plantation), until team Colombiweed dug their heels in and I got to play from the very short Belle tees. Fair compromise – and I got to see two sets of tees! Belle tees measure 4775 yards, women’s plantation tees measured 5634.  A lovely Gary Player signature course. Continue reading

Carnoustie Update

Carnoustie has just been named as the venue for the 2018 Open – well deserved
 Play in the Carnousite Classic with us – May 2015.
See for full details – still not sure?  Read our blog on this amazing place

Carnoustie Classic 2014

If you haven’t played golf or even visited the area of Carnoustie – you are missing something in life that everyone should experience at least once in their golfing lifetime.

There are a few golf events that are up for grabs in Carnousite Country, I was invited to play in the Carnoustie Classic, which is over four days of playing four links courses. Montrose Medal, Panmure, Monifieth and Carnousite.
All links – all different – all demanding yet playable.
11th green at Monifieth

Participating in the Carnoustie Classic with about 140 other contestants of mixed abilities, both male and female from countries in Europe to further afield as Australia and USA making this a truly international and amazing fun event.

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