Tours and Reviews

Gnomes to See

The sight of eight gnomes and an accompanying pair of plastic characters that looked like they came out of Huckelberry Finn made me inquire, What the heck? I laughed because it made me think of that hilarious scene in the classic English movie, The Full Monty. But I saw these small statues on Hole. No. 11 at Sunset Ranch Golf Club in Kelowna not during a serious job interview like the flick. There is a story behind the placement of these guys. Ask the pro shop about it.

Now, back to the golf course. After a friendly greeting from the pro shop we were on our way with a very economical deal of golf cart and golf. Alison and I roared off to the first tee. The grounds looked very nice and I others told me of the good value of playing at this course. The opening drives on the first three holes were tight as trees lined both sides. I came to understand that this course strongly suggested that you hit long irons or fairway woods on many of the holes. The greens rolled well.

My personal favourites on the front nine were No. 6 and No. 7. The drive on the longer par 4 6th had to be positioned away from the red stakes on the left hand side and a wonky hill on the right. My hybrid club delivered the shot but it needs to be accurate. The following shorter Par 5 has a tremendous view with the green neatly tucked into the beautiful backdrop. This is one of the holes you can smash the driver and I did with great affect. The green is reachable in two if you can hit the long ball. 

One of the comforting sounds on Sunset Ranch is the running water of Scotty Creek. It meanders throughout the course and you first hear it on the side of the first green. It comes into play on several holes. A lake lurks on No. 10 and the final hole. I like the finishing par 5 as you have to place the ball strategically away from the water on your drive and trees that may come into play on the right hand side near a creek running in front of the green. Some may feel they can reach it in two but it needs to be hit very well and precisely or add a stroke penalty.

 Alison felt that this had an Ontario feel to it. The trees were there to enclose the holes. Some of the sights and sounds included: a deer munching on shrubs only a few yards away from us as we drove our cart by it at the end of the second hole; a red squirrel carrying a pine cone bigger than its head back into the woods on No. 9 tee; an airplane landing in the background of No. 9 green; chimes quietly singing in houses set along No. 12; a rusted Inuksuk sculpture by the 17th tee reminding you of the Vancouver Olympics; and the electricity running through the power lines on No. 6.

Other top views to appreciate are: the 4th tee looking backwards, No. 10 from the tee through the shoot on the drive, and the clubhouse as the backdrop on No. 18.

We finished off with a drink and some finger foods on the nice patio. After chatting with our waitress we found out that business is going well. There is a good established membership, the club holds many weddings and golf tournaments and the course has been busy with daily players. This bodes well for this course that also promotes the sales of homes surrounding the course. It looks like Sunset Ranch has found a solid position to cater to those golfers who want good value, a tree-lined but not beat you down golf course and nice scenery including wildlife sightings. Well done.

The Jewel of Victoria

Golfers, writers and other pundits like to say Victoria Golf Club on Vancouver Island share similarities to Pebble Beach. Yes, I can see some of these attributes after having played Pebble a few years ago and immensely enjoying this experience. I played scenic Ardglass in Northern Ireland and this gem is marketed as the Pebble Beach of Northern Ireland. Yes, I see some of these connections. Perhaps however, Pebble Beach and Ardglass should say they share similarities with Victoria Golf Club. After all, this magnificent golf course on Vancouver Island is the oldest one in Canada still on it’s existing grounds and older than the other two beauties.

My friend Alistair who is a member at the private Victoria Golf Club treated my wife and me to a round. From the full parking lot where you could look up to see a large bald eagle’s nest residing on a tall tree beside the historical clubhouse, to the initial beautiful views of the ocean and manicured confines you knew you were entering somewhere special. Its own history and stories did not need to be relegated to the back seat to anyone.

A caddie program is still used at this course and this is very much a walker’s venue. I have only come across Hamilton Golf and Country Club as the other Canadian club still offering golfers this wonderful caddying experience. I actually didn’t see an electric cart throughout the round and I found this enlightening. As a golfing traditionalist I like the option of walking.

We chose the big wheeled push carts and the walk was not onerous. This comfortable stroll at Victoria Golf Club heightens your senses. The impressive sights of the sparkling ocean and the feel of the tickling breeze on those holes creeping closely to the cliffs on the coast were highlights. The fairways were beautiful and the fine greens sometimes offered tricky undulations.

This is not a course for what I term, “Master Blaster” golf. The scorecard shows a shorter course in the 6200 yard range but don’t let that number fool you. The course plays longer and it is the crosswind that is its potent weapon, especially against those feeling cocky at the outset of their round.

Numbers 3 and 4 share a partial fairway to allow for some maneuvering and made me smile. It was like my first experience playing links golf at Crail in Scotland where one pondered wearing a helmet to protect one’s skull. Here, players knew the etiquette and waited patiently for each group to hit without a cranium knock. There was civility and people sported wide grins as golfers passed with friendly hellos.

There are certainly holes you can attack if conditions are right. Elevation changes throughout the course are not overwhelming and there are well-defined places you want to land your shots. I like to summarize this course as a thinking man’s course where wind comes at you in different directions. Alistair offered great guidance on how to play shots and such tips were most welcome. Often club selection was one more than your brain calculated because of the challenging winds. The holes shift in direction, sometimes subtly so. He knew spots where you did not want to be on the wrong side of the hole since the greens run quickly. And the temperature can drop a few degrees suddenly on holes close by the water. This gives you a quick prompt to stare into the ocean.

Following No. 6 when you hit a blind tee shot and another approach shot that can be blind, make sure you appreciate number 7 from the tee. Your line is at a bullseye in the distance to the right hand side but your heart says to cut closer to the left corner, on what you believe is fairway. In fact, after I hit what I thought was a good drive I did not hear good drive but rather an ominous silence. “That may be over the cliff” Alistair stated matter-of-factly. Hmmmm…I wandered down the fairway and viewed boats crashing through waves to show tourists gigantic whales. The beautiful mountains in Washington State were just over yonder and then I looked down to see my ball resting comfortably in the rough by a sand trap and the cliff not five yards away marked by vivid red stakes. Now only a wedge. Certainly not my intention if I was sane!

Back to back par 3’s on No. 8 and No. 9 are treats. The first one is a shorter one with the ocean at your back and a swirling wind. No. 9 also has the ocean beckoning in the back but you have to strike a long iron and play the left to right slant into this 200 yarder. Both come at different angles so the wind can be in your face or like links golf, and this is links style golf, the ball can be pushed sideways. A treat to play such “technician golf”.

The back nine start has the ocean at the rear. Take a moment to admire this special view and forget about your score for a moment as you will head inland towards the clubhouse. A strategic par 4, it is positioning into this green from the left side that is important with a tree lingering to the right. The back nine may not have the great views of the ocean but it is longer, has some tree-lined fairways to force accurate shots, and sometimes is more demanding than the front.

After crossing another hole’s fairway we cross the road that peculiarly winds itself through the course and where windshields have been smacked. Legend says that the ghost of the slain Doris Charnock Thomson Gravlin wanders the course and lasers drivers with her wicked stare. Sounds like a hazard to be driving a motored vehicle! Alistair has us stand by the snack shack on No. 11 and educates us in saying he can see almost a piece of each hole but two from that viewpoint. No. 11 is the longest par 4 and brute force is needed to get home in two. Also, as you traverse the back nine golfers can still glimpse parts of the ocean outside of perhaps number 15, a wicked dogleg left and challenging positional tee shot. There are even back to back par 3’s on the back. I thought Ballybunion was unique by offering a short par 3 and then a beastly difficult long par 3 on the back nine consecutively but this must be a first to have this par 3 combination on both nines.

The final three holes are a mix of a strategic par 4, a shorter par 5 and a good finishing par 4 with a dogleg left approach. Fantastic and neatly tidy golf is needed at Victoria Golf Club. A drink in the warm confines clubhouse oozing tradition following the round was very enjoyable and a fine reward for a job well done. I can see why being a member at this club is a privilege and with the mild temperatures of Vancouver Island many can play all year round. Lucky chaps I say!

As you leave the club check out the 120 foot flagpole with the massive Canadian flag. This is a friendly wave to the Washingtonians across the water. And then ask, “when does the bald eagle come out to play?”. For more information on Victoria Golf Club please go to http://www.victoriagolf.com/club

Unlimited golf in France on 18 oceanside courses €149

Must be purchased by September 30th 2013

Blue Green golf operates over 50 golf courses in France and Belgium.  This special offer is for unlimited golf on 18 of their oceanside golf courses over a 2 week period from June 15th to July 15th 2014.

There are a limited number of these packages available so act quickly and give us a call!

 

2014 Old Course Tee Times

Old Course application date is September 4th, 2013

St Andrews beachThe link below is one of your best chances to get on the Old Course in 2014 – unless you want to stump up for those expensive packaged hotel nights with guaranteed tee times. Every year The St. Andrews Links Organization offers the application process to Golfers around the world for a chance to play the Old Course.

This  year the application time is from 2:00pm UK time on September 4th, 2013 which is 6:00am Pacific Time.

Set yourself up for success – if you are not ready to file the application at 9:00 AM EST and leave it for much more than a couple of hours you may well be unsuccessful. Around 2000 requests will more than likely be made within the first couple of days and this will probably exceed the number of  available tee times.

Please see the following link to the Old Course Application http://www.standrews.org.uk/getmedia/f36d4930-47ab-469c-a75c-569b895f49aa/Advance-Reservations-Form-2014.pdf

Winter Golf Break – San Jose del Cabo, Mexico 2013/14

An outstanding 1 week winter golf break in Cabo, in the beautiful southern region of the Baja

$ 1465 CAD per person – Includes all taxes and fees

(High season, some blackout periods apply)

15.3

Home to San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, as well as outstanding highly rated golf courses, accommodation has been arranged at a price range to suit every budget, all at superb ocean side venues.

This holiday features four outstanding golf courses, ideal location, superb weather, and for most, just a short flight before you feel the warmth of the Baja sun. Athlone Golf & Sports Travel in Oak Bay, British Columbia can make all your flight arrangements, wherever you are located, with Westjet offering direct flights from many parts of Canada as well as indirect flights from Alaska Airlines.

Winter is the perfect time to go… warm, sunny weather for playing golf and enjoying the San Jose nightlife. Your tour begins in San Jose del Cabo where you transfer from the airport to one of three superb oceanside hotels. Choose from the comfortable Royal Solaris all inclusive seafront hotel located directly in San Jose del Cabo, or the all inclusive Melia Cabo Real with its spectacular beach and second to none facilities. For those looking for more luxurious surroundings, the 5* Pueblo Bonito Beach Resort is the way to go. Wherever you stay, you’ll have a perfect base for daily trips to some outstanding golf courses all within a drive of 30 minutes or less. We can also arrange your car rental as well, although taxis are very reasonable. You’ll be playing Cabo Real, Club  Campestre San Jose, Puerto Los Cabos and Palmillabut we will leave plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beach and sun. We can also organise a fishing excursion for those who would like to get out onto the water. Athlone Travel can arrange your Alaska Airlines or Westjet flights which fly daily to San Jose Del Cabo from many western cities.

Detailed Brochure, Golf course information and photos here 

Holiday includes 7 nights (sharing) at the Royal Solaris Hotel or Melia Cabo Real. 4 rounds of golf as detailed. EXTRA: Car Rental (smaller vehicle for two, larger vehicle for 4) fishing excursion not included around $200pp

PEAK SEASON PRICING!
Any time from January 1st to April 19th 2014
SOME BLACKOUT PERIODS APPLY – PLEASE ENQUIRE
Ground Price based on two sharing at the ROYAL SOLARIS or MELIA CABO REAL

$ 1465 CAD per person – Includes all taxes and fees
$ 885 CAD for non golfing partner at the Royal Solaris
$ 335 CAD addition for single occupancy at the Royal Solaris

UPGRADE TO 5* PUEBLO BONITO PLEASE ENQUIRE

Royal St. Georges Golf Club

The ancient town of Sandwich is just 30 minutes from Canterbury, and your arrival at Royal St. Georges will take you through the old town, down narrow lanes past ancient stone walls and out into the dunes and sheep pastures that define the landscape of seaside Kent.

The Clubhouse and buildings at the course are like an oasis in a green desert, and the feeling of spaciousness is unparalleled. The course was laid out in 1887, and has undergone few changes over the years except the addition of new tees for today’s longer ball. Although the course may seem long at 7100 yards, meticulous review of the day’s wind and weather ensure that the course is prepared with the tees of the day in a position appropriate for the conditions. Few courses can produce play so differently from day to day or even hour to hour, as the wind changes direction and strength.

Most golfers know the Open Championship has been held here on many occasions since the first in 1894, but it is so highly regarded by selection committees it has also hosted the Amateur, the English Open, the Walker Cup, the European and PGA Championship and the Curtis Cup in 1988. The board listing the winners of all these competitions is truly a who’s who of golf and is a must see.

One of the great joys of St. Georges is the wide variety in design of golf holes. No two are even remotely similar, and you will likely be able to recall your first round many years later. The famous 4th hole, featuring the most fearsome “hell bunker”, has recently become a par 5, the tees moving back a little to once again bring this seemingly 40ft. vertical trap into play. However, should you take this approach, the hole will open up nicely, and a host of trouble on the left side of the fairway will be avoided. Your approach will now be to a large, elevated, two tiered green, with out of bounds beyond, a tangle of deep rough to the right, and a pit of deep rough short and to the left. Should you be lucky enough to find the green, two putts will serve you well.

Hell Bunker at Royal St. Georges


Hell Bunker at Royal St. Georges

The bunkers that feature so heavily are large and in the most part steep and revetted. There may be occasions when a sideways or even backwards stroke is the most sensible course of action to escape.

The wonderful clubhouse features a bar with a grand window to view the weather in safety, relaxing in deep leather chairs and sofas, enjoying the log fires and contemplating the famous golfers who have enjoyed this fine room before you.

St. Andrews Golf Holidays

If you have ever Googled the subject of St. Andrews golf holidays, it is likely to produce the largest number of results for any search string which includes golf. I think this is principally for two reasons: It is a highly popular golf destination, with the oldest golf tradition on the planet, and secondly, it has such an incredible choice of accommodation and golf courses most first time visitors don’t know where to start.

It also has the unfortunate reputation in the industry of having the most expensive golf holiday package anywhere: The Old Course Experience. It is a huge shame, from our perspective, when the Links Trust offers a single travel partner access to an exclusive block of tee times on the Old Course who then package them up with the Old Course Hotel at highly inflated prices. Yet wealthy golfing visitors continue to buy these packages believing this is the only way to play the Old Course.

So let us tell you how to visit the Home of Golf, play the Old Course as well as the many other outstanding golf courses in the area for a fraction of the cost of these Experience holidays.

At the top of every first time visitor’s list is the Old Course. The first thing you should know is that most seasoned golfers would agree that the Old Course is not necessarily the best course in St. Andrews. Indeed the course has a number of highly quirky holes, which is by no means a negative, but taken altogether can detract from what would otherwise be a fine Links layout, were the course played the correct way around. That’s right…..often the course was originally played backwards, and indeed, on at least one occasion each year the R&A play the course in this configuration. Many of the bunkers will seem lie at a more appropriate angle and landing areas become much more sensible. For a superb write up of the Reverse course and an entire commentary on every single reverse hole, with photographs, see the scholarly piece by Jeremy Glenn of Golf Club Atlas

So which is the best course at St. Andrews if it isn’t the Old Course? Well that depends. In my view the Jubilee is probably the sternest test but is the most fair. The New is outstanding and I would never argue with a golfer who claimed the New or the Old as a preference over the Jubilee. I think it can be fairly said that every day on a Links Trust course is a joy, and I include the Himalayas Putting green, beside the 1st fairway of the Old Course. You mustn’t miss this wonderful 18 Hole experience. At £2 a round, it is also the best value in Scotland, but be prepared for toddlers, prams, very senior Seniors as this is a highly social venue for all of the St. Andrews townsfolk.

The Strathtyrum course is a fun, more straightforward Links, designed by Donald Steel and is just 5600 yards, and like the 1500 yard Balgove course is a superb choice if you come to St. Andrews with family or friends who are new to golf, or very young, or perhaps looking for a very relaxed game.

The Eden is often underestimated, but every time I play it I am always reminded of how good it is, with many raised tees bordering the Estuary, adding to the exposed nature of the layout, where a 300 yard hole can seem like 450 yards or 150.

The latest addition to the Trust portfolio is the eagerly awaited Castle Course, a David Kidd design (Bandon Dunes) which is getting very good reviews, although the greens are considered too severe by some and may be due for some revisions judging by the rumors we hear.

Green fees for these courses vary wildly, with the New and the Jubilee never more than £70 in the High Season whilst the Old Course and Castle are a hefty £150 and £120. For full pricing for 2012 see the Trust website:

So most readers have heard of the ballot. You or your hotelier complete a card which must be placed in a box down near the 1st tee of the Old Course for a request to play the following day. Here are a few tips for getting on this way. Firstly, make sure you are not balloting for a day when any events, no matter how small will reduce your odds. You can find the events calendar here. Secondly, complete the ballot with four names and make sure to request caddies. Third, have your ID and handicap certificate with you if you are successful: you will be turned away if you try and send a substitute.

The other way of getting on the Old course is to queue up first thing (and I mean first thing) at the Starters hut as a single or double and wait for a group which is not full. You may end up playing with R&A members, students, or townsfolk, who all have priority access to different times. But don’t feel you can only get on the course by the early morning ritual. On a recent June visit, on the day of our arrival at lunchtime, 3 members of our group headed straight for the starter and all of them were on the course within the hour.

So far you have paid only the retail amount for your green fee on the Old. To keep to your budget, ensure you play the New and the Jubilee as well as the Eden. Total so far is £150, £70, £70 and £45. If you really want to play the Castle course, make sure you buy a 3 or 7 day ticket. The Castle course is included in the rota and if you play the New and Jubilee you save £70 just on a 3 day ticket alone in High Season (£190 vs £260).

Transport
Getting to St Andrews is easy from Edinburgh airport. We recommend the highly dependable and almost unintelligible Gordon, of G&S cabs in St. Andrews. They can be pre-booked, but also offer a very affordable shuttle service to and from the airport. The St Andrews Shuttle will collect you from home in St Andrews at a prearranged time, so no dragging heavy luggage around town in the early hours of the morning. They will also meet and greet you at Edinburgh Airport.
They have 4, 6 and 8 seater vehicles available and there are no confusing tariffs – the fare is £18.00 GBP per person per journey, whether you are a single passenger or part of a group while the shuttle is running, see the timetable for applicable dates and times.
For many journeys on the timetable they offer a heavily discounted rate of £70 per car for up to four people (full metered rate is £110) or £85 for 5 to 8 people depending on luggage.
The St Andrews Shuttle is a new St Andrews based service, which started in November 2008. You can ontact G&S at + 44 (0)1334 47 10 11 or by Email: info@gandscabs.com.

Once you get to St. Andrews, don’t even think about renting a car. It is not necessary. The Links Trust operates a terrific shuttle bus to which loops around the golf courses and town, is easy to board with golf clubs and best of all is completely free.

So the final question, of course, is where to stay. This depends somewhat on your preference, but there are numerous B&Bs in St Andrews. I would try and get one on The Scores as this is on the route for the shuttle but is also a short walk down the 1st tee of the Old Course. Here is a good list to start, but you will need to check their location on a town map and make sure you are far away from the shuttle route.
http://www.standrewsdirectory.com/category/bedandbreakfasts.html

My own preference, based on many visits, is one of a few good family or small hotels. Don’t get me wrong, I’d happily stay in the Old Course Hotel at the drop of a hat, but this article is about affordable St Andrews, and the American owned hotel ( by the Kohler family, who own the American Club in Wisconsin) is full-on 5*!

http://www.hazelbank.com/  Around GBP140 per room per night high season.  The proprietor, Michael, and his family, take expectional care of their clients and the place is squeaky clean – not always the case in some St. Andrews hotels.

http://www.russellhotelstandrews.co.uk/ Around GBP150 per room per night high season

http://www.bw-scoreshotel.co.uk/ Around GBP200 per room per night high season

http://www.ardgowanhotel.co.uk/ Around GBP125 per room per night high season.  Great brekky and good bar, beds are quite small

So there you have it – the best value hotels, the best way to play the courses and the best way to get around.  In another post I will tell you where to eat.   In the meantime, if you would like Athlone Travel to arrange your holiday, please let us know. We’d be delighted to help.

San Francisco to Monterey – a golf aficionado’s dream

The Monterey peninsula is most famous for its legendary golf course at Pebble Beach, but there is so much more to the area for golfers who take the time to look around.

Many visitors who come to Monterey do so via San Francisco. The drive down is no more than about two hours, although those with a little time on their hands should definitely take the coast road from SFO via Half Moon Bay and make sure to play one or both of two terrific courses, neither of which is connected to the Ritz Carlton resort of the same name. Both are very accessible. The Ocean course has spectacular scenery, mostly barren of trees save for a copse of Monterey Cypress and is a delight to play although not nearly as challenging as the Palmer course, which is now encircled by many homes, occupied by both permanent and temporary residents. Some visitors find this detracts from their experience, but just enjoy some of the largest cypress trees to be found outside Royal Melbourne, a continent away.

Your next stop should be the legendary Pasatiempo golf course, Alister Mckenzies final masterpiece, located just outside Santa Cruz. You can read my detailed review here. At this point you should think about staying at the Peachwood Inn, located just outside the front gates and a wonderful throwback to an era of road hotels which are based on economy and thrift. The understated Peachwood restaurant grills much of its meat and fish on Peachwood charcoal and is excellent.

Heading around Monterey Bay, you should stop and play the two courses at Bayonet. Notoriously difficult, my sense is that their reputation is based largely on ever present ocean winds, and tricky greens, but catch them on a calm day and they are thoroughly playable and very enjoyable.

You have several choices for reasonable accommodation at this point. Whilst those without a budget will no doubt head to the Pebble Beach resort, this $600/ night venue is not within the budget of most, and you can stay down the road at the very comfortable Hyatt, located on Del Monte golf course, or perhaps over at Carmel Valley ranch, which also has a fine golf course on property.

Playing Del Monte golf course, the oldest course in America west of the Mississippi (1895) will give you a wonderful taste of the origins of golf in this part of the world. Don’t get your expectations up for spectacular scenery or sweeping vistas – this was a course built without moving much dirt – all the effort has gone into the greens and surrounding bunkers, which are small, extremely undulating and just a joy to experience. And all this for less than $100 if you look for a good deal. We played first thing in the morning, at 7:30 as a twosome, and were finished before 10:30am. Surely one of the best kept secrets is that the second course built by the Del Monte family was originally known as Del Monte #2, and only later became Pebble Beach.

Many aficionados of golf on the peninsula will tell you that the two best courses are Spyglass and the Links at Spanish Bay. Keep an eye out for reasonable green fees for these two gems. They are not nearly as busy as they used to be and discounts abound. The Links, to me, is one of the toughest challenges of the group: narrow fairways and difficult greens, joined by a regular breeze. Make sure you tee it forward – it will be a better experience.

Opened in 1966, Spyglass features two distinctly different kinds of terrain through which Robert Trent Jones Sr. crafted a masterpiece. The first five holes roll through sandy seaside dunes challenging you to carefully pick the safest path. The following 13 holes are cut through majestic pines with elevated greens and strategically placed bunkers and lakes to grab the errant shot. The course is rated as one of the toughest courses in the world from the Championship tees, with a course rating of 75.5 and a slope rating of 147. During the 1999 United States Amateur, the stroke average of the field during medal play was in excess of 79.  So guess what, for maximum enjoyment, don’t even think about playing from the back tees!

Although the Preserve Golf Club is strictly private, it is a remarkable and spectacular golf course and one which you just have to find some way to play.  You won’t see any signs to the golf course, and it is in a truly remote location, some 30 minutes drive up to the high velt that makes up the Santa Lucia Preserve. This surrounds the course and the few homes that dot the terrain.

The Preserve Golf ClubThe Preserve’s 20,000 acres are home to a community of about 300 families and a golf course in a glorious setting. Tom Fazio had 350 acres through which to craft the course. Apparently, when he saw the land, he said “this is as good as it gets; you really don’t need me; the course is already here”.  Fazio’s routing plan used the land’s existing contours to create natural challenges. He meticulously planned each hole to be distinctive, and indeed with so few players at times it can seem utterly deserted.  Each hole is almosty completely separate from the others. You play golf through  undisturbed tranquil rolling hills and valleys: a serene natural world free of noise or distractions, save the occasional cry of a red-tailed hawk, or huge wild turkeys that seem to find the pristine tees a suitable preening ground.  Keep an eye out for coyotes and mountain lion.  You will have a forecaddie to advise you on how to handle the many varieties of wildlife to be found, but above all, remember that you walk in a place which is largely unchanged for millions of years, where the first people to settle in California no doubt felt they had found Shangri-la.

Carmel village is a must stop for the spectacular array of art galleries featuring questionable art at huge prices, legions of offices belonging to wealthy plastic surgeons and quaint shops that sell bricabrac to wandering visitors. It is also home to a a truly superb Italian restaurant, Cantinetta Luca, which although not inexpensive is an absolute must stop, just for the aroma from the wood fire oven.   It also has it’s own salumeria and the cured dried and smoked meats are indescribably delicious.

 

Extended stay unlimited golf in the Algarve

Outstanding value from $60 per day for a months stay!

Pricing for 2014 is due to remain the same, but contact us for updated quotation

Play as much golf as you like during your extended winter stay in this beautiful part of the Algarve. We have arranged extended holidays of 3 or 4 weeks starting at the outstanding price of CAD$60pp per day based on two people sharing a 1 bedroom apartment. There are 5 outstanding courses to play. The Gramacho/Pinta resort located on the west of the central Algarve is one of Portugal’s hidden gems. The Algarve has one of the highest ratios of sunshine per day, so for sun lovers wishing to soak up some natural vitamins, the sun bed, pool and parasol area is also waiting for you! Athlone Golf & Sports Travel in Oak Bay, Victoria can also make all your flight arrangements, wherever you are located in Canada.

The Gramacho and Vale da Pinta Golf Resorts consists of 1, 2 or 3 bedroom apartments, and 2, 3 and 4 bedroom villas, which are set in carefully maintained gardens. These well appointed and stylish homes are fitted to the highest standards to meet those seeking a peaceful and relaxing holiday in a pleasant atmosphere. All with spacious living areas, complete bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, all rooms with heating, telephone, safe satellite TV and hairdryer. All the apartments share a communal pool, while the villas each have a private pool. The holiday apartments are located near Carvoeiro on the Algarve. There are also tennis courts, multi-purpose play court and bowling green. Each holiday apartment is full equipped and furnished. All holiday apartments have fully equipped kitchens,lounge and large balconies.

Vila Sol Golf course

SUMMARY
pdf brochure here 

2012 package includes 21 or 30 nights (sharing) in a resort apartment or villa at the 4* Gramacho/Vale da Pinta resort All taxes, resort fees, included. ALL FOOD & DRINK IS ADDITIONAL.

UNLIMITED GOLF * Gramacho Golf * Vale da Pinta Golf * Silves Golf * Alto Golf * Vila Sol Golf

SITE & SERVICES * 4 Bars and Restaurants * Supermarket * Beauty Salon (Massages & Facial Treatments, Manicure & Pedicure) * Baby sitting service * General maintenance service * Car Rental service * Currency Exchange Service * Doctor (available 24 Hours) * Library * International Airport Faro (ca. 50 km) * Free parking & 24H Resort Control & Security

2012 Azamara Club Golf Cruises

2012 Itineraries – 8 spectacular golf destinations around the world

Hurry to save up to $2000 per person – book before December 31st 2011 – CALL ATHLONE NOW ON 1 800 488 1857 to find out how

The two Azamara ships of the Royal Caribbean  fleet offer a unique combination of golf and cruising which promises to be one of the most enlightening and relaxing Golf experiences imaginable. Their flexibility allows them to offer an eclectic and fluid portfolio of cruise experiences aboard medium-sized ocean cruisers.

There are eight golf cruises aboard the 694-guest ocean cruisers (Journey and Quest) of Azamara Club Cruises – one of “Travel + Leisure’s” Top 5 Cruise Lines for 2010; Whichever the selection, you can cruise assured that your experience as a guest of Azamara will be completely and expertly managed … from stem to stern.


They stay in port longer so you can play a full 18 holes, with some time at the 19th as well. Azamara Club Cruises have created a spectacular itinerary of golf cruises to take you to the world’s most famous courses. You can play at the legendary Portmarnock in Ireland; tee up at Sperone in Corsica – a true hidden gem on the rocky Corsican coast; or challenge one of the 12 courses at Mission Hills, near Hong Kong. This World Cup host is the world’s largest golf complex with courses designed by Nicklaus, Faldo, Sorenstam, Dye and Els among other notables. Each Azamara Club Golf Cruise is designed to give you an exhilarating golfing experience at some of the world’s premiere courses.

AZAMARA CLUB GOLF CRUISE ITINERARIES :

DATE DAYS EMBARK-DEBARK SHIP
Jan 16, 2012 14 Hong Kong – Singapore Azamara Quest
Feb 13, 2012 14 Hong Kong – Singapore Azamara Quest
May 16, 2012 12 Amsterdam – Southampton Azamara Journey
May 28, 2012 12 Southampton – Amsterdam Azamara Journey
Jul 5, 2012 11 Copenhagen – Amsterdam Azamara Journey
Jul 27, 2012 12 Leith – Southampton Azamara Journey
Sep 24, 2012 11 Rome – Barcelona Azamara Quest
Oct 5, 2012 10 Barcelona Roundtrip Azamara Quest

Detailed Jan 16th Itinerary Here 
Detailed Feb 13th Itinerary  here 
Detailed May 16th Itinerary here 
Detailed May 28th Itinerary here 
Detailed July 5th Itinerary here 
Detailed July 27th Itinerary  here 
Detailed Sep 24th Itinerary  here 
Detailed Oct 5th Itinerary  here 
Detailed Itineraries for all sailings here 
Pricing  for all golf cruises here 

AZAMARA CLUB GOLF PACKAGES INCLUDE:

  • Pre-event Hotel stays as indicated on individual package.
  • Green fees and starting times for five or six rounds of golf including shared golf cart (certain golf courses also include a caddie, excluding gratuity).
  • All transfers to and from the scheduled golf courses in luxury air conditioned transport.
  • Practice range and range golf balls where available.
  • Welcome & Farewell Cocktail parties with hors d’ouvres.
  • Golfers Social onboard after each round of golf (where scheduling permits).
  • Casual tournament format with awards.
  • Golf tee prizes for all participants.
  • All golf bag handling between ship and golf courses.
  • Club storage while onboard ship in a secure location.
  • All gratuities for all personnel including starters, bag personnel etc.
  • Standard beverage package onboard Azamara Club Cruises for the duration of your onboard experience which includes standard liquors, domestic (US) beers, cocktails, frozen cocktails & daily wine pouring.
  • Full time Golf Manager for Azamara Club Cruises throughout the pre-voyage and voyage.
  • Selected special events onboard for non-golfers, such as Spa Experience, Culinary Classes and wine tasting events.

Enjoy the ultimate golf vacation with Azamara. There’s a world of great play ahead of you! For pricing, dates and detailed information about golf courses, contact Athlone Golf Tours in Victoria, British Columbia on 1 800 488 1857

2014 Argentina Invitational Golf Tournament – Buenos Aires

March 2nd to March 8th 2014

Just awaiting final pricing for 2014.  Here are the details from the previous edition:

Unbeatable value from $895 per person

Don’t miss this unique opportunity of visiting Buenos Aires, the most famous city in South America, and competing in a 72 hole individual amateur golf championship. We invite you to join a limited number of golfers and their partners from all over the world to the rth edition of the ARGENTINA INVITATIONAL, March 2013. This event is open to all golfers with registered handicaps who would like to participate in a unique, unbeatable value golf competition and holiday. Starting at $895 per person this is outstanding value thanks to the many sponsors who make this event so unforgettable. More than 100 Men and women played in the 2011 event and came from dozens of countries around the world. Athlone Golf & Sports Travel in Oak Bay is the tournament representative for Western Canada and can look after all your flight and booking arrangements, so call us soon and book your places for this unforgettable event.

Late February and early March is the perfect time to go… warm, sunny days for playing golf and for seeing all the magnificent sites in this stunning South American City. Old world cafes, colonial architecture and stylish shopping, it’s all to be found in Buenos Aires. The golf tournament itself will be played on 4 superb golf courses, including the renowned Olivos Golf club.Plenty of complimentary food and drink can be found at each event and there will be a wide range of prizes and trophies for players in all categories. Many winners and top performers will receive complimentary return invitations so there is a lot to play for !
——————————————————————————————–

The Program – Itinerary

Day 1: Sunday Feb 26th – Arrival
Arrival to EZE Intl Airport in Buenos Aires. Check-in at hotels.
7:00pm Welcome Cocktail. Introduction to the event, review of the schedule, tournament categories, rules, Tee-times, etc.
Day 2:Monday February 27th – Golf
1st Golf Round at Golf Club Argentino (caddies/ trolleys) or Lagos de Palermo GC (McKenzie Design) TBA
Free evening at leisure.
Day 3: Tue Feb 28th – Golf.
2nd Golf Round: At Lagartos Golf Club (walking) or Estancias GC – TO BE ANNOUNCED
Free evening at leisure.
Day 4: Wed Feb 29th – Free Rest Day
Free evening at leisure, or to arrange a golf day.
Day 5: Thu March 1st – Golf
3rd Golf Round: Olivos Golf Club (caddies/ trolleys)
Free evening at leisure.
Day 6: Friday March 2nd – Golf
Final Golf Round: Hurlingham GC or Golf Club Argentino – TO BE ANNOUNCED
9:30 pm Farewell Prize-Giving Dinner.
Day 7: Saturday March 3rd – Departures.
Check-out by 12:00 pm for departures
——————————————————————————————-

The Package

Land Services Included
- 7days / 6 nights sharing DOUBLE STD room, including buffet breakfast and taxes.
- 4 golf rounds (Tue to Fri). Including: Green Fee, warm-up balls, free drinks on the course, private transfers IN-Out Hotel/Golf Courses.
- Welcome Opening Cocktail on Sunday Feb 27th.
- Farewell prize-giving dinner (three courses w/soft and alc drinks) on Friday March 2nd
- Trophies, Prizes, Gifts raffle products from our sponsors.
- Professional video and pictures coverage of the event.
Not Included
- Air tickets to get to Buenos Aires.
- Transfers in-out from International airport to hotels.
- Any activity or service not mentioned in the “Included” list.
- Caddies: 30 usd p/round, one p/person. (MUST be pre-booked).
- Trolleys: Brand New trolleys rental for 40 USD for the whole week.
- Electric/gas carts: 30 USD per person per round, one cart for two people.
Extra Services that can be pre-booked:
- Caddies: 30 usd dollars p/round, one caddy p/person. NO carts avail. in the mentioned courses.
- City Tour of Buenos Aires (in private or regular service)
- Dinner Tango Show (including regular transfer, three courses dinner w/alc drinks)
- Football tickets to experience the Argentinean passion LIVE! (depending on the schedule)
- Practice golf rounds before, after the event, and on Wednesday FREE DAY.
- Packages to visit other destinations (ie. Patagonia, Mendoza Vineyards, Iguazu, Punta del Este).
—————————————————————————————————
2012 Rates and Options (in CAD funds) all taxes and fees included
Elevage 4* Downtown
Golfer Sharing DOUBLE STD $895
Golfer on STD SINGLE occupancy $1,268
NON-Golfer Sharing $715
NON-Golfer SINGLE occupancy $1,066
Extra Night per room per night $143
————————————————————————
Recoleta: Etoile 4*
Golfer Sharing DOUBLE STD $988
Golfer on STD SINGLE occupancy $1,417
NON-Golfer Sharing $793
NON-Golfer SINGLE occupancy $1,196
Extra Night per room per night $160
————————————————————————-
Recoleta: INTERSUR 4*Superior
Golfer Sharing DOUBLE STD $1,034
Golfer on STD SINGLE occupancy $1,469
NON-Golfer Sharing $832
NON-Golfer SINGLE occupancy $1,242
Extra Night per room per night $166
———————————————————————–
Loi Suites Recoleta 4*Sup /5*
Golfer Sharing DOUBLE STD $1,164
Golfer on STD SINGLE occupancy $1,814
NON-Golfer Sharing $962
NON-Golfer SINGLE occupancy $1,625
Extra Night per room per night $228
————————————————————————-
Alvear Palace Hotel (Luxury 5*, Recoleta)
Golfer Sharing DOUBLE STD $2,464
Golfer on STD SINGLE occupancy $4,160
NON-Golfer Sharing $2,256
NON-Golfer SINGLE occupancy $3,952
Extra Night per room per night $579
NOTE: All fares are subject to surcharges or refunds based on Foreign Exchange fluctuations.  You will be notified in advance before payments are due whether there are any variations.

2014 Causeway Coast Amateur Golf Tournament

Sponsored By : To be announced – rumour has it that another well know whiskey company is coming back to sponsor the event!
Portrush, Northern Ireland
7 Nights from Saturday June 2nd 2014.
Tournament Dates: 1st or second week of June 2014

From CAD $1275 per person based on two sharing

The Tullamore Dew Causeway Coast Amateur Golf Tournament is one of the top three highlights in the Northern Ireland sporting calendar and regularly attracts up to 1100 golfers from as far afield as South Africa, Canada, Australia, the USA as well as Europe. Golfers appreciate the camaraderie, hospitality and above all the magnificent setting of the area, known as a ‘golfer’s paradise’. The tournament takes place in the beautiful and awe-inspiring scenery of the Causeway Coast, a World Heritage site and Northern Ireland’s premier tourist attraction. The Portrush Valley, Portstewart, Ballycastle and Castlerock clubs provide some of the best golfing anywhere in Europe and will host the 2012 competition.Enjoy the tournament whilst staying in the heart of the event at the 4* Adelphi Hotel in Portrush The competition’s international profile, its huge popularity and prestigious reputation have made the event one of the largest and most popular events in the world. Formerly known as the Bushmills, Tullamore Dew has been a hugely popular sponsor of the event for some years. The four-day 72-hole individual Stableford competition, played in groups four, is perfect for amateur players at every level, and incentives of individual and daily prizes are on offer throughout the tournament. Please note the maximum handicap is 20. Participants must have a handicap certificate from a recognised golf union.
PACKAGE INCLUDES:
- 7 nights accommodation Adelphi Hotel, Portrush based on double occupancy with Full Irish Breakfast
- Welcome reception drinks and buffet dinner for all Athlone clients at the Adelphi on June 2nd
- 4 Competition Rounds at Portrush Valley, Portstewart, Ballycastle and Castlerock
- Opening night Reception will be held in Royal Portrush Golf Club on Sunday 3rd June 2012 at 8.00 pm
- Prize giving at Portstewart Golf Club: evening of Friday 8th June at 10.30pm.
- All entrants not residing in Northern Ireland are entitled to a free practice round on all courses.
(NB on Saturday and Sunday prior to the competition normally only be available after 4.30pm.)
Free practice rounds will not be permitted before Thursday 31st May 2012 and tee times will be arranged in advance

- Car hire available at a special rate for all competitors. Pick up from a variety of airports including Belfast and Dublin

Itinerary & Costs

These are the approximate dates – 2014 dates will be published soon

June-01-11FridayDepart Canada

June-02-11SaturdayArrive Belfast International Airport (Recommended airport)

Arrive Portrush at 5:00pm

Check in 4* Adelphi Hotel, Standard Double bedroom, based on two sharing, includes full Irish breakfast

Welcome drinks and buffet dinner at Hotel – provided by Athlone Travel – 7:00pm

June-03-11Sunday18 Holes  Practice Round

June-04-11Monday18 Holes  Causeway Coast Amateur

June-05-11Tuesday18 Holes  Causeway Coast Amateur

June-06-11WednesdayOne Free Day

June-07-11Thursday18 Holes  Causeway Coast Amateur

June-08-11Friday18 Holes  Causeway Coast Amateur

June-09-11 Saturday Check out

TOTAL GROUND PRICE

Per Person based on 2 sharing $     1275.00

Includes all taxes and fees

Single Supplement $       375.00

Includes all taxes and fees