For more than thirty years Michael Brown has been organizing tours for golfers, originally starting out with a company called Eurogolf, the pioneers in golf tourism. More recently in partnership with Helena Vicente, they have been specializing in Iberia and Algarve golf holidays for Seniors with their flagship company V&B Senior Golf Fiestas, which in 2012 will celebrate its 15th year.
It was in 1997 that Bob Lloyd Jones, an old friend of Michael's from Eurogolf days (who himself had been running golf tours each winter for Saga), felt that something rather better could be done for Senior golfers.
Unable to persuade Saga management to adopt his suggestions, Bob Lloyd Jones approached Michael with a view to working together to arrange a series of Iberia and Algarve Golf Holidays that were specifically designed for the Senior golfers out there.
In 1998 the first of the Senior Iberia and Algarve Golf Holiday Fiestas was held, and was based at Riu Canela on Isla Canela near Ayamonte in South West Spain, close to the river Guadiana that separates Spain from Portugal.
The strategy from the outset was to organise a two week tour, due to the fact that many Senior golfers felt one week was far to hectic. Golf competitions would be arranged for three of the days per week, leaving the other free days for participants to pursue other interests.
Whether that was to play some more informal golf, go sightseeing, bird watching or simply explore the local small towns and villages to sample the food, wine and culture of Southern Iberia.
In the first two years the day to day running of the tours was left to Bob Lloyd Jones, whilst Michael and Helena simply made the car hire and golf course arrangements, as well as helping out with the social events and prizegiving dinners, and this would have continued but for Bob's untimely death soon after the conclusion of the second Iberia and Algarve Golf Holiday Fiesta.
So since 2000 Michael and Helena have not only made all the tour arrangements but have stayed with the groups for the whole of the Senior Iberia and Algarve Golf Holiday Tours, doing all the match making, confirming tee-times, starting the matches and checking all score cards.
The après-golf sessions in the bar before dinner are also an important part of the running of the Iberia and Algarve golf holiday fiestas. It's here that the organisers hear the whispers that enable them to avoid, as much as possible, any clashes of temperament in the match making, as well as iron out any problems that participants were having with car hire, rooms, injuries, what to do on free days, etc.
It was also in 2000 that Keith Robson, an experienced PGA Tour player and coach, and an old friend of Michael's, joined the Iberia and Algarve Golf Holiday Fiestas for Seniors. Providing the group with his excellent clinics on four of the free days during the Fiesta and playing with the amateurs during their competition days.
From this moment on the groups began to take on their own now established house-party atmosphere, with participants and organisers all gathering before dinner to chat over the days events, meet their partners for the next day and arrange dinner companions. Many of the participants played bridge after golf and dinner.
In 2011 they introduced their first golf and wine tour, based in Cacais near Lisbon, where they had a week with three golf days at Quinta da Marina, Estoril and Penha Longa. Keith Robson gave his clinics in the mornings of the free days and then visited the famous Adegas at Colares and Quinta Sant'Ana for wine tastings and splendid lunches, travelling by coach to and fro. These wine tours will now be a permanent feature of the Iberia and Algarve Golf Holiday Fiestas for Seniors.
From the beginning they have tried to create a personal service tailored to the senior golfers, male or female, whether travelling alone or as a couple or in a small group. These tours have proved very good for those travelling alone, as they are immediately in the company of like minded travellers and never left wanting for company or support.
All participants are met personally at the airport and are helped with finding their car hire or transfer to the hotel. For those who do not drive, transfers are arranged to and from the airport, as well as to and from all golf days and clinics.
At the beginning of each session there is a welcome cocktail party, which gives everyone a chance to meet old and make new friends, and at the end of each session there is a prizegiving which is usually hilarious, followed by dinner all together.
The fact that so many participants have come back year after year to the Iberia and Algarve Golf Holiday Fiestas for Seniors, some for almost all of the tours, is a great reward for the organisers, who feel that they have made countless friends over the years.
If you consider yourself a Senior golfer who is interested in making new friends and enjoying the very special atmosphere created by one of these Iberia and Algarve Golf Holidays, then please take a moment to find out more information about these unique Senior Golf Holiday Fiestas.
Written by Jack D A Brown.
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