Whilst trying to find match reports for Boycie – admittedly, search isn’t brilliant on the site, it turns out I hadn’t actually posted Dougal’s epic tone poem to our time in Portugal – for shame – I was probably planning on including it in a tour souvenir or something else that never got finished.
Here goes – it’s quite a long read….keep going to the bottom to get to the pictures
Day 1 : The Advanced Party
Wednesday 2 October : It was 5.50 am on Wednesday 2nd October 2013, it was dark, gloomy and raining, but after numerous years of planning, anticipation and scrapeage into the sustainable funding model, I arrived at Birmingham Airport for the commencement of the WHVGS 10 year Anniversary trip – to Portugal. Happy days. Nonchalantly, I wandered over to the departures and checked for my passport, (which I had definitely picked up from the kitchen table no more than twenty minutes earlier, or had I?), there was no chuffing sign of it, anywhere. Calmly I checked again, then in an increasing state of panic, I triple checked and quadruple checked everything, still no chuffing no sign of it. Leaving my bags, I sprinted out of the Airport back to the taxi drop off point. Where lying in the dark, next to the grubby, damp, gutter, was a battered old passport, my battered old passport – Portugal beckoned once more. Happy days.
The Wednesday crew, the WHVGS Advance Party, were the real stalwarts – with the remainder of the troops heading out at various times over the next 48 hours. The Advance Party comprised:
- The Aust – The Organiser and Winner of the 1st WHVGS Weekender in 2003, at the Belmont in Hereford and the organiser of the 2nd in Tewkesbury in 2004;
- The Professor – The author of the WHV Constitution, the WHVGS Constitutional Advocate and winner of the first OoM Star/Flame in 2006;
- Noz – Two times winner and current holder, (although seldom wearer), of the Green Jacket. Two times OoM winner and organiser of the 10 year anniversary event, in Portugal, not Scotland;
- Butters – Back to back OoM winner after almost retiring after his first round at the St Mellion Nicklaus course, and
- And me – The WHV President, the largest total Ranking Point winner, the winner of two previous Claret Jug weekenders, one OoM and organiser of St Mellion and Celtic Manor, (the best two Claret Jug weekend venues to date)
Aust, Noz, Butters and I all flew from Birmingham and met up with The Professor in Faro airport, the Advance Party were complete, briefly. Noz and Butters then cabbed it to the Hotel in Villamoura, for a day of chilling in the sun, by the pool, reading Noz’s Terry Pratchett novel. An interesting choice and unfortunately it rained in Villamoura that afternoon.
Whereas the Aust, the Proff and I headed in the other direction, to the “Monte Rei Golf and Country Club”, including the Monte Rei North, Portugal’s finest golf course and one of the top dozen courses in the whole of continental Europe. Fortune favours the brave and whilst the book worms were getting rained on by the hotel pool, it didn’t rain in the picturesque foothills of the Eastern Algarve, where there are sweeping views of the Serra do Caldeirao mountains to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. It didn’t rain at a place where golfers enjoy their game in a relaxed setting, designed so each hole will be theirs for that moment and they are cocooned in their own golfing wonderland, undisturbed by other players. It didn’t rain on a course where each hole is a design gem, blending effortlessly into the natural canvas, where the ingenious shape of the sculptured bunkers, the lakes, indigenous plants, native grasses and trees, complement the drama of the landscape and provide golfers with unforgettable moments to cherish in a unique and tranquil golf environment. Having said that, perhaps the Terry Pratchett book was particularly good and required reading that afternoon…And Mike enjoyed watching Noz read it.
On arrival at the Monte Rei club house, our bags and clubs were collected by the enthusiastic valet service and we were ushered to the pro-shop, whilst our buggies were prepared behind the scenes. Equipped with our elaborate course planner we headed off to the Monte Rei Grill for breakfast – it was a millionaire’s play ground. I would like to think that we fitted in effortlessly, even with Aust wearing a grey hoody, with a union jack on the front… Fully fed and watered, we were escorted to the practise area, where pyramids of Calloway balls awaited our arrival. After about an hour of tuning our swings on the range, chipping areas and putting greens, (during which time our buggies were turned round by the staff), it was off to the 1st. What a site, a glorious dog leg right, played from an elevated tee. The more aggressive players, (Aust and Pedro), took the opportunity to aim over the right hand corner, avoiding the bunkers and leaving the a short iron to the green – the starter was impressed. I put mine right, a long way right and lost….
The starter then informed us of Monte Rei’s local rules…. Basically they use an inferior version of “R4”… Effectively if you are off the fairway or semi-rough, you are either in the drink or in unplayable sh1 t3, so all rough as marked as a hazard, allowing a penalty drop at the point of entry. Personally, I went on to lose 16 balls during my round – my golf was erratic at best, but the course is magnificent. There are no weak holes and vast majority of them have epic views, superb bunking and interesting, subtle features, requiring strategic shooting or poor scoring.
The Aust won quite convincingly, (having taken an 11 on one hole), with the Professor in 2nd , (having lost a ball in someone’s infinity pool on the same hole) and I bought up the rear. It was truly fabulous.
To be honest I could bang on about the whole Monte Rei experience, which in my opinion is the best course that any WHV associated round has ever played, but I won’t. However, I would like to sincerely thank the Aust and the Professor for making the trip with me and for not balking at the headline price, or the cost and direction of the taxi… If anyone is ever in the area again, you should definitely make the trip, it’s a corker.
After a lengthy cab back to Villamoura for the smiling Monte Rei three and a detour to the wrong “Dom Pedro” Hotel, we arrived and met up with the damp Pratchett Two. The Advance party were complete once more and headed off the Marina for some nose bag and a couple of scoops….
We ended up at the Mayflower restaurant, a reasonably flashy eatery next the marina, the food was good, (Aust was a particular fan), but there was a lot of consternation about the “cover charge” for the bread with accompanying accoutrements and the being charged €10 for water, chunter, chunter, “we won’t be going back there again”…. We then found the [I have no idea what it was called] bar, a roof terrace affair and hit the Bombay Sapphire, we would return here several times over weekend, in fact we ended up there on 5 out of the five nights.
Most people headed home at about 2 (I think?), while Noz and Professor went to the cash point at 03.30 and onto the Casino at 03.45 to hit the Blackjack. At 03.55 Noz (the small bet), took a card “knowing it to be a 10”, when he should have sacrificed himself for the Professor (the Big Bet, who definitely knew it was a 10), but he didn’t, Noz took the card. The Proff then lost, both his “large stake” and his “large win” due to Noz’s poor, selfish. amateurish play – at 04.00 the table shut and they tried to negotiate themselves past the doormen into the club for free. They couldn’t. They went home.
Day Two – White Wine
Thursday 3rd October : The skies were blue and sun was shining, the weather was glorious and the boys who wanted Scotland were at largely at home, at work, enjoying the autumnal weather….Bruce and Ads joined the Advanced Party at around 10, so there were now 7 WHVGSers in town. 5 nursing hangovers of varying degrees and the two newbies, headed off to the Marina to get some breakfast, so that they could soak up the pre-flight and in-flight sauce. We all met up in reception at noon, and discussed how idiotic Noz had been to take a card, which he knew to be a 10 which was rightfully Pete’s…, After this debate we headed off to the “Laguna” course for the Pre-Amy round, in the bus Pete simply explained the “Red Box / Black box swapping paradox” to Bruce.
Laguna is set out with numerous water hazards, which affect most holes and apart from the lakes, there are 79 bunkers and wind that picks up in the afternoon (according to one of Bruce’s windsurfing buddies). We decided on a matchplay format, with 7 people… Donk and Aust, taking on Ads and the Proff, with Bruce taking on both Bacon and the Pres individually. The course had a few good risk reward options and the golf was close(ish), although Mike, (who had declared that he did not want a buggy and wanted to walk), ran out of puff, got told off like a school kid for hitching a buggy ride and hadn’t quite got his continental metronomic swing in tune – he lost to Bruce, Donk and Aust beat Ads and the Proff and Baxter came back from 3 down after the 12th to beat Juice. (Nerves of steel from the 2012 and 2013 Match play champion)
After a swifty, we headed back to the hotel, to meet up with the next three arrivals, Web Donk, Gregs and Curt, who were waiting for us in the Pool Bar. The Donk and Curt were on the Sagres, whilst Gregs was on the white wine, because he “drinks white wine all the time and can handle it much better than beer these days”…. Half an hour later the white wine was starting to take its toll and Gamble Gibbon opened its doors… Various bets were taken, including.
Bruce : 5 euros @ 15/1 – Baxter to get the most Stapleforth points over the Amy Austin and CJ event (Gamble Gibbon had already taken a bet from Noz at 14/1 that Baxter would win the AA and the CJ)
Donk 10 Euros e/w @ 13/2 – Donk (himself) on the AA (Donk could not remember the last time he was not in the top 3 – He was up for the this weekend)
Pete and Curt : 200 euros @ ridiculous odds – for Curt to come last in the AA. Mmmmm, 2012 matchplay anyone? (Although this has never been confirmed or denied I believe that at this point Gregs was considering scoring Zero points at the AA and thus guaranteeing last place.)
Bruce : 2 euros @ 175/1 – Gregs not the complete all the rounds in full. Gregs took the bet then starting ranting about “Force majeure”, which was picked up by a table of non-associated golfers – who were duly threatened to be thrown in the pool….
A bottle of white wine arrived and most people decided it was time to leave the pool bar, to head back to their respective rooms to hide, er sorry, I mean for post golf showers and to get changed. After half an hour everyone gingerly made their way back the pool bar, expecting to find a whirling dervish in full flow, but it was all quiet. At 8.25, Gregs had taken himself, and his bottle of wine to bed. In high spirits the remaining 11 of headed off to find the “O Colonial Restaurante bar”, which after extensive research by Noz does the best gluten free food in Villamoura. When we eventually found it, down some dubious backstreet, it was empty. “Table for 11, (at peak time on a Saturday night)?”, certainly sir, which one do you want…. We sat down, Noz visibly salivating at the thought of proper gluten free chips…. We all ordered, Noz armed with a Portuguese translation of “Please Sir, can you serve me your finest gluten free chips?”. They had absolutely no idea what he was taking about and suggested that he had boiled potatoes. Aust and I ordered terribly and Curt had Steak and “roquefort cheese” soup. The service took ages, but we ensured that no one ordered bread or water.
We all headed off to the “Roof terrace bar” which we went to 5 nights out of 5, but I have no idea what it is called… A number of us were amazed by, bartered for and bought lasers (with batteries), which apparently (according to Donk) are powered by “gamma” rays and fire 4km. Amongst other things they are to be used to ward off urban foxes from patios and to stop them feasting on trainers… (I sincerely hope that the AA match report covers off our second introduction to Inspector Gadget Style Lazer Implements…)
At some point people headed home…
Friday 4th October – The 2013 Amy Austin : The fact that I am not writing this Match report means that Noz lost his bet on the Baxter clean sweep of the 2013 AA and CJ. Although I do hope that it includes Pete’s tirade about “not chuffing about with the design of tools” and Teddy Sherringham. We all headed off to the “Roof terrace bar” which we went to 5 nights out of 5, but I have no idea what it is called…
Day 3 – 2013 Amy Austin – Millennium Course – Friday 4th October (By the Web Donk)
By the time the party beasts arrived in Vilamoura, oiled by white wine and Magners, some of the members were completing their second round of warm up golf. That evening’s descent into the familiar pattern of steak and Bombay Sapphire is a tale for the President to write – but it is worth noting that the proprietor of GambleGibbon had moved from being engaging and entrepreneurial on the flight (scoring himself 8 out of 10 on the ‘not banal’ scale) to being a white wine mentalist.
After getting lairy with some pensioners who laughed at his use of force majuere on top of general loutishness, he turned on the members for not having any balls to place wagers. As this was now around the 7th hour of braggadocio I’d had to put up with, and I wasn’t drinking coke, I asked for value and weighed in – 10 Europe’s e/w on Donk to win the Amy, at 13/2 – a very sensible bet. Several hours later I placed a foolish bet of my own with Bruce, similarly a tale for the President’s report.
We arrived at a very busy Millenium Course, to note that the buggy shed was empty. We were told there might not be the 6 we needed – this was a very worrying turn of events, as Mike had volunteered to walk the day before and ended up regretting every moment of that – the course layouts in Vilamoura luxuriate in space from green to tee.
The buggy issue triggered a response I’ve never seen in 5 years of being on tour – Aust sprang into action. He collected money, saw the clubhouse people, and the buggy people and got us sorted, as the rest of us enjoyed the sunshine and the enormous putting green.
We eventually got started on a track that came in about 6 different pieces on various parts of the estate – under tunnels, in the trees, out in the open. It was my first round in 2 months, and it felt like I was swinging with someone else’s arms for a few holes. I was pleased to see that the greens, although at some high number on the stimp meter, were actually pretty slow – suits me.
As we dawdled through the millionaire’s estates, we were appreciative of Rui Costa’s villa, and the fact that you really really had to be playing badly to lose a ball – in my four ball even Mike was spraying it into the pines and getting out to score.
Whenever we ended up on a tee with the group in front or behind, nobody claimed to be scoring, although Dougal had his enigmatic smile – “Doing Alright”. Eventually, we heard he’d weighed in heavy on the front nine.
From gaining a 4 point 4 for par (thoroughly ridiculous) on the first, the President accelerated through the front nine – gaining 22 points. He was closely pursued by Pedro and Bruce on 19, highlighting the benefit of the practice rounds.
On the 9th tee, the President was 7 shots clear of the Donk.
And then, my golf clicked back into place and I scored 27 points in 10 holes – only dropping 3 shots to par, and holing an eight footer on the last to card a 40.
Turned out that Bruce also got a 40, but didn’t have a heavy back nine. So we were waiting to see how Dougal had held up – he managed to hole a big putt on the last himself, despite the usual barracking from Noz, who really needs to watch his mouth when stood on the 18th green, his respect for the games of others once his is over, is very poor indeed.
I broke the news to Gregs that it looked like my big wager was in danger of paying off – as Aust totted up the scores, he read out 19 for the back nine – giving Dougal 41 points and saving Greggors 100 Europes. Except…Aust wasn’t adding up the interesting back nine, he was doing his own! Dougal had 16 on the back nine to total 38 points and land in third. Of course, this lead to a lot of disappointment from GambleGibbon (exacerbated by my refusal to place another bet with him all weekend).
I measured the Big Dog by Noz at around 240 yards, and Mike hit a soaring iron to around 3 feet to win the Shark and the first appearance of the shark visor.
As a result of squeaking the Amy Austin on countback, the Donk saw his playing handicap drop 2 strokes – would these 4 shots prove critical over the Jug weekend?
Day 4 – The WHVGS Open (Day 1)
Saturday 5th October – The WHVGS Open : Day 1
The skies were blue and the sun was shining, the weather was glorious and the boys who wanted Scotland were at largely at home mowing the lawn, or something similar…. On the other hand the 12 competitors for the 2013 CJ were in Portugal, happy and hungover. Various people missed breakfast and ended up in various eaterers for “bunch” before meeting in the hotel foyer for transportation. Today we were playing Pinhal, however the buses were full of excitement and chatter about the pending 50 Europe throw-off between the Web Donk, (with his undoubted bulk advantage and secret “Canadian baseball throwing schooling” from back in the day) and Bruce (who was probably injured, (he always is), and of slight frame). It was going to be a monumental challenge and one for the WHVGS annals.
Pinhal was the second golf course built in Vilamoura having originally been designed by the architect of the nearby Vilamoura Old Course, (the course for the Sunday round), so we were expecting good things. We actually got (another) slightly bizarre trip round a fancy housing estate, surrounded by trees – there were a lot trees and the majority of the rough was under the pine trees, which made it look a bit scruffy. In the main the holes were relatively interesting, (front 9 better than the back 9), but the distance between green and the next tee was quite remarkable at times and on occasion required crossing reasonably main roads…
Anyway, after arriving at Pinhal, we went to check in and pay for the buggies that we had reserved the previous day. Where we were told in no uncertain terms that because we hadn’t actually paid for the buggies (even though we had never actually been told to pay for the buggies), that they weren’t reserved, there weren’t any spares and that we would have to walk. Aust got quite fired up in the club house, Noz couldn’t handle the stress of it, so went for a kip, after various boys fuming for 20 minutes or so, buggies from the morning rounds trundled back in and we all got buggies.
Now it was off for the throwing competition… the excitement was tense as we picked an area near the driving range… The video camera was turned on and the contestants introduced… First up The Donk, with his Canadian trained, mighty, throwing arm… The run up began and “Boom”, er I mean, “plop”. (My son Lincoln is currently 5 months old and if he had been there I would have bet 50 euros that he can throw further than Donk.) Donk’s effort was terrible, the troops were so disappointed it is hard to put into words. Bruce then walked up and threw his about 10 times further… Utter nonsense, Pete was distraught and walked off shaking his head, feeling robbed.
We all headed off to the first, where we had the best group photo for some time and Gregs for once didn’t ruin it – although any of you who are eagle eyed will notice that neither the Green Jacket or actual Claret Jug were present. Nozza tee’d off as reigning champion and we all started our 5 hour round, the first three holes took an hour….
I had the pleasure of playing with the Professor, who on the first hole lost his ball in a the top of a pine tree and on the 5th tee, drove off with his normal level of composure and control, finishing with one foot in the air and facing the wrong direction, nothing new about that. However, this time he ended his swing routine by busting out some serious dance moves, (similar to whenever, “Is anybody out there?” by The Bassheads comes on), and removing his shirt. An oversized continental wasp/creature had flown into his shirt mid-thrash / swing and proceeded to sting away. Pete’s shirt lay on the floor for a while, while we tried to ascertain whether or the angry beast was still trapped – at which point Pete’s cap fell off and hit Curt’s foot, resulting in Curt jumping in the air and screaming like a girl, thinking that a baseball cap size insect was attacking him. It wasn’t, it was a largish(ish) inanimate object.
The scores on the doors at the end of day one were pretty close, apart from a couple of outliers. Baxter was in the lead with 38, Donk 2nd with 31, the other 9 players spread between 30 and 27, with Gregs bringing up the rear with 19. Baxter won the shark (one of only 2 people to hit the green) and Juice won the Saturday hulk, (although to be quite honest he was unable to fill the “Saturday Hulk Shirt” which hung off him limply throughout the evening), with an uphill belter.
It was back to the hotel, couple of cheekies and out for either a Saturday night curry or Chinese. Curt was in charge of restaurant choice and started hustling… For a long time it looking like we were going to go with a turbaned gentleman, with a fine beard, to his Chinese ?! restaurant, but we ended up, getting 10% off an Indian.
As the overnight leader tradition dictates, I had to eat my meal with the “extender fork”, however, the extender fork was in Bristol so we had to improvise…. coming up with the “Extender multipurpose Sonic Laser Screwdriver Fork”, complete with; extender function, a red laser, reading light, magnetic tip, infrared light, screw driver and a fork heavily sellotaped to it. It is a genius piece of equipment which cost 5 Europes, it bemused the waiters…
We had a wonder round the marina in search of a different spot, but all quickly ended up at the “Roof terrace bar” which we went to 5 nights out of 5, but I have no idea what it is called… At about 2pm, I realised that Mike and Pete had sloped off early, had a rant and left. Mike and Pete hadn’t actually left early and I walked back with Donk, apparently.
Sunday 6th October – The WHVGS Open : Day 2 – The Final Round (Just for Noz “BAXTER CHOKES AGAIN”)
The skies were blue and the sun was shining, the weather was glorious again everyone was in fine fettle. The boys who wanted Scotland were largely at home in the rain picking their noses, or something similar…. On the other hand the 12 competitors for the 2013 CJ were in Portugal, happy and slightly less hungover than the previous morning. Today was “The Old Course” in Villamoura, as the name suggests it is one of the oldest in the region and renowned all over the golfing world. Often described as the Grande Dame of Algarve courses, it meanders throughout impressive pine trees, over undulating natural terrain. It was a good looking gaff.
On arrival at the smart club house, we were surrounded by staff and our clubs were collected, to be taken to the buggy station… Happy days, we all had buggies without having to argue. Though we did still have to pay for them at €20 per man, making the round a grand total of €150… Everyone hit the putting green and the talk, mainly from Noz and Bruce, was all about Baxter bottling, choking and all sorts of other nonsense. Noz announced that if he were to win, the match report would be entitled “BAXTER CHOKES AGAIN”…. To be honest this all sounds very odd to me; as the back to back winner and holder of the WHVGS Matchplay title, being the winner of the CJ in 2008 and 2010, and coming 2nd in 2007… Which is best forgotten.
Having said that, the Donk got off to a flyer, whereas my start was somewhat more sedate… The 4th hole was the nearest the pin, a short picturesque number, with a lake and large tree in front. Aust was under instruction from Amy to bring the Shark home and he hit a great shot to about 15 feet, he did a little dance. Then Wooly stepped up and put it to about 8 feet, Aust stopped dancing. Baxter failed to get onto the green for 6 and blobbed, the lead was down from 7 shots to 3 after the first four holes…
The next hole was the Big Dog, I was off last flowing the previous Mr Blobby and I had a little motivational talk to myself, along the lines of “Come on Baxter, come on Baxter, etc.. etc…”. I won the Dog and despite some flirting with the out of bounds with the next shot, it was a two point hole for me – the rot had stopped and I had a really good run of two, three and four pointers…, by the 12th I was 11 in front (was I playing well or had Donk choked….?) We picked our way round the trees and the scores ebbed and flowed, with Donk starting to take a few back towards the end…. Was Baxter choking….? No. The Donk scored 39 points round a tight course and Baxter scored 38, (Baxter gets accused of being a bandit, even though Simon actually beat him on the Friday and the Sunday – in fact over the three rounds Baxter scored 114 stapleforth points (3 rounds of 38 points) and Donk would also have scored 114 Stapleforth points had he not had a 2 shot (per round) cut after winning the AA with 40 points on the Friday). To be fair both chaps had played well (and after losing 16 balls on the Wednesday round, I hadn’t lost a ball throughout the whole of the CJtwo days – If Noz had picked the Monte Rei at the course for the final round, it might have been so different….), Butters got 35 points and Bruce got 33, both very commendable for the first time round a tough track at the end of 5/4 days away. The remaining 8 players all shot between 30 points and 25 points. With Aust dropping from 4th to 11th over the final round, what on earth would have happened to him without buggies…
We couldn’t do the presentations at the Old Course, because Noz had failed to bring the Jacket or the Jug…., so it was time for a swifty, then back to the poolside bar. Donk did some more Donking and the presentations were made. The final positions were:
Rank Player Round 1 Round 2 Total RPs
1 Pres 38 38 76 72
2 Donko 31 39 70 54
3 Butters 30 35 65 41
4 Juice 29 33 62 30
5 Nozza 30 30 60 23
6 Cuz O Woolly 27 32 59 18
7 Pedro 28 31 59 18
8 Woolly 30 29 59 18
9 Curt 27 30 57 18
10 Ads 29 28 57 18
11 Aust 30 27 57 18
12 Greg 19 25 44 18
Club House Leader Pres
Sunday Best Donk
Sunday Dog Baxter
King of the Fives Baxter
King of the Threes Adam
After the presentations and the awarding of the specialist 2013 caps, we all headed down to the Marina for the final time and the end of tour meal – bizarrely ending up in Primo – the gaff we had complained about on the first night. It was superb. We sat around the second best table we have ever congregated at, (2nd only to the Gun Room table), we all had a right old laugh and the food was superb, as was the special port. (Bruce had used some of his £££ winnings from Gamble Gibbon on the highest points scorer over the AA and CJ and picked up a really nice bottle of Port to celebrate the 10 years of the WHVGS as a Society asset, to be consumed at the 2013 AGM – In the end we drank it there and then, all the important people had bothered to come to Portugal….What was the point for saving it for the AGM?)
We all headed off to the “Roof terrace bar” which we went to 5 nights out of 5, but I have no idea what it is called… And hit the Bombay, for a change…