First Published January 29, 2014
It started, as it usually does with a chat over a post round pint “what about going to Portugal in January for 3 days of golf?”
Mike organised the deal via Golfbreaks – 3 nights b&b in Pestana with unlimited Golf and transfers to and from Faro airport for £179 each for the 4 of us.
I don’t know how that compares on price with other golf breaks – click here to visit their website, but it seemed like pretty good value to me as 3 rounds on decent courses could easily cost that.
We all booked flights seperately – Ryanir on the flight out from Manchester and Monarch for the return journey.
I opted to take my clubs with me, mainly because I’ve practiced a lot with my driver and it has 15 degrees of loft which helps me get a decent flight. I knew that this angle was way above the standard 10 degrees of loft for a driver and having tried one with that loft, and struggled, I didn’t want to risk it.
That cost me an extra £50 with Ryanair and £30 with Monarch
Gez took a similar deal but Mike and Big Dave opted to hire clubs in Portugal.
I also booked a hold bag which cost me another £40 or so
And I bought a flight bag for the clubs – click here to see what I bought.
On reflection, I’d have probably just gone with the flight bag (lots of room to pack clothing in) and a 10kg cabin bag. I was also aiming to bring back 3kg of Golden Virginia though, so I took an unusually cautious approach to baggage.
We arrived in Faro at midnight Wednesday and were met by our transfer driver, who was happy to call in at a motorway services for us to purchase a few bottles of beer to chill out with once we reached our accommodation.
On arrival at Pestana, we stopped at the security barrier and the security bloke showed us to our accommodation which was about 15 yards away.
And it was great – big kitchen, big lounge with French windows to garden, two decent sized bedrooms ( one en suite) with twin beds.
We’d booked tee times around 9.45am for each day, with the first days round at Vale da Pinta – a 10 minute free shuttle away.
But first breakfast, so we strolled over the the Gramacho clubhouse for sausage, bacon eggs and coffee.
At Pinta we hired 2 buggies at E43 each, warmed up on the putting green, then commenced our round.
The course was a joy to play with most holes, other than the par three’s requiring a drive off the tee, unless you’re called Gez in which case a 250 yard 3 iron works just as well.
I got plenty of bunker shot practice, a shot that I don’t normally have to deal with, and there’s one tee shot across water which was very entertaining.
Mike struggled with his hired putter and Big Dave just strugled as he was suffering with a heavy cold.
I hit 118 and considering that the course is longer than most courses I play on, and that the sand traps work well!, I was happy with my round. The greens, I should add are quick and with the occasional impossible pin position.
After a quick lunch of pint and a burger, we went back out and played another 10 holes till dusk called time on golf for the day.
We ate at the clubhouse – decent food and reasonably priced, but we had to wait an hour for it to arrive which seemed odd given that the place wasn’t busy.
Day 2 and after breakfast we strolled over to Gramacho – literally a few hundred yards from our apartment.
Hired buggies again and were then treated to a short history lesson and course instructions by Nevada Bob
In our opinion, the course isn’t as pleasant as Pinta and it was definitely busier. As at Pinta, the marshalls kept an eye on play. Most reviews that I’ve read complain about slow play problems and a lack of marshalls. We experienced neither of those problems. However, we did feel hurried, much more so than Pinta and we did let a 3 ball comp play through.
When we finished the round, for which I carded 115, we spoke to the starter who told us that we’d gone round in 4 hours and that the average for a 4 ball was 4.5 hours, so we certainly weren’t slow.
After a similar lunch to the previous day, we went out again, but this time were asked to pay again for buggies, we declined, but big Dave decided he needed one.
I was suffering from toothache and really didn’t enjoy the dozen or so holes we played that afternoon. Nothing seemed to be working for me and I duffed my way around another dozen holes or so.
After buying beer, food and tobacco at the supermarket located about 50 yards away, we stayed in and chilled out, ready for our final day tee time of 9am back at Pinta.
A thouroughly enjoyable round ensued with all 4 of us playing well in bright warm sunshine – I shot 114 and was happy with that.
After a couple of beers, our driver picked us up at 2pm and returned us to the apartment.
Packing done, the minibus arrived at 3pm and took us to the airport.
A really great 3 day break – we plan to do it again in October.