Friday, 12 January 2018

Nearly - again!

As the holder of one hole in one already I wonder if I am getting a bit greedy and wanting more?

You may recall my post in May 2015 where I got another nearly?

Well I've only gone and done it again - another nearly - this time at the amazing Praia D'El Rey golf course in Portugal, a 109 par three stroke index 18 with a slight breeze off the sea on the left and a little mound on the right, I picked up my pitching wedge and knocked it slightly right, to maximise the mound. A clean shot, a touch right, a little bounce left and it started to roll towards the hole - closer and closer.
Love this picture of Sean jumping out my pocket!
At that time, what does go through golfers mind?  Is it oh no my bar bill will rocket with these fish I'm playing with?  Is it a little heart skip and I'm going to get a hole in one?  I can't honestly remember what I was thinking at that moment in time, but I do recall my playing partners were jumping up and down - the odd expletive was shouted at my ball, then it stopped - the shouting and the ball as my ball came to rest less than a balls width from the hole.
No amount of jumping up and down, blowing the ball or wishing for the infamous gust to wind is going to aid it along; it was simply not going to happen; it just sat there menacing in appearance as sadness and joy swept over me equally.
One never really appreciates how close the ball is to the hole until you get closer; how many times have you attacked the flag thinking thats pretty close only to find its at least a metre away and you're left with one of those tricky length putts to finish?  The same thoughts pop into your mind but in reverse when approaching a nearly hole in one, oh its going to be miles away, but gradually as you get closer the smile creeps across your face as you realise the next shot is a sure gimme.
Oh well, in another two and half years I'll give it a go again - or maybe even before, one never knows with the game of golf.
Good luck with your game of golf in 2018 and fingers crossed for a hole in one - for one of us at least!
Feel free to comment on this post.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

British Airways miss my customer satisfaction mark by a mile

My debacle travelling back from Lisbon at the beginning of December, and whilst I have got my bag back now - after it had been on a round the world trip it seems, I still have not heard a word from British Airways - sad thing is, I'm due to book some flights to various destinations for 2018 - and I'm not so keen to use BA - heres why:

4.6 square miles of plane spotting excellence was bought to a standstill yesterday (10th December) as chaos reigned over the stranded passengers trying to get in and out of London Heathrow, 10th December in a snow flurry.
On a flight from Lisbon my flight was delayed from its scheduled departure time of 1040am  by some 2 hours, despite being loaded on a quick-time fashion as the terminal announcement is made for the  final call for all passengers on BA flight 501 to London Heathrow.  Passengers scurrying along to make the flight - to then be sat for two hours waiting with only a half glass of water offered in that time.
Passengers waiting for hours to get off the plane at LHR
Finally air-bound and with joy we winged our way to London with ease, food was served by those wiling to pay airline prices or who were simply hungry having missed breakfast.
Arriving in London we made up some time.   Unusually we were on the left of the airport, a part of the airport the Captain didn’t know as he’d never been there before that snow clad day. 
Landing just after 3pm, we were met with news that the airport was full. London Heathrow is the third largest airport in the world with planes landing or taking off every 45 seconds and serving over 70 million passengers a year, with Atlanta and Beijing being first a second largest respectively.
Passengers from many destinations painfully watching the bags from previous flights get dizzy on the carousel, still no sign of their own bags after hours of waiting
Hour after hour passed, with the Captain occasionally saying he wasn't able to give us any further information but was trying to pull in all favours and even took to the gang plank aisle despite being asked pretty much the same question by everyone who stopped him.  Credit to the Pilots who did make appearances, who did share what little knowledge they knew, unfortunately one member of the crew was less helpful, as she rudely brushed past passengers stretching their legs during that arduous wait at Heathrow.  A passengers asked how much longer, her curt and unnecessary reply was ‘we’ve been on the plane longer than you have’   We had been on that plane since 1020 that morning, we had been given half a glass of water and that was all, grumbling were being made by passengers by about 7pm, some 4 hours after we had landed.  I noticed the front of the cabin had been given drinks, with some left over for passengers in the cheap seats immediately behind the business travellers. But they ran out and the rest of us were left gagging. So I asked for some drinks and they eventually bought us 150ml mini cans some just after 7pm.  The first bus arrived 715pm, taking less than half of the passengers to the correct terminal by bus to collect their luggage.  The rest were left standing, literally, until we were also transferred some 35 minutes later along with the crew in their own bus and taken back to Terminal 3.

Bags stacked for hours with no on to claim them
At 930pm I left the terminal, very tired and without my bag.  There are in excess of 70,000 people working at Heathrow, but that night, they must have all been on holiday; bags were strewn all over with none being taken off the belts and with no floor space to put the bags if they had been.  I had a 2 plus hour drive on top of my journey, I was getting tired, and I just  wanted to go home, I wanted to sleep!

I filed a report for a missing bag, and my messages back it is on it was to my destination airport, Newark…..

Update - 9th January - one month later - got my bag back after nearly 2 weeks - it clearly had a nice holiday in Newark, but I have not heard anything from British Airways - nothing at all about this claim.  So no, at the moment Im not particularly proud of my national airline - British Airways, you can do so much better than this - surely?

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Few hours to kill in Hong Kong

Killing a few hours in Hong Kong
With many international flights to the Far East connecting through Hong Kong what do you do with a few hours or an overnight layover to kill in Hong Kong?
On a recent trip to China, I had an overnight in Hong Kong, something I was relishing after an absence of nearly 30 years.  Arriving in the afternoon heat and after a quick shower and with comfy shoes on I was ready to explore this bustling metropolis.  In 1997, China took back the governance of Hong Kong from the British and I was looking forward to seeing the changes. 
I was in for a bit of a shock.  I expected it to be a bit tatty, teaming with loads of people and the “copy watch man” hounding you at every turn.  Not at all. Hong Kong actually seemed quieter than I remember.  I was no longer dragged along the street when stepping out of my hotel into a sea of people. I actually had control of where I was going and could make that decision without having to navigate round many bodies littering the street in ‘Shaun of the Dead’ fashion.  The air was clean, the atmosphere was vibrant and the “copy watch man” was almost nowhere to be seen.  In fact the only time we did see him was at the Temple Street night market, still an amazing place to visit, although it did seem somewhat smaller than I recalled?  He popped out occasionally from between buildings to gently hound you in a less brazen, almost in a sneaky underhand way before retreating back into his dimly lit gap between buildings, as a spy into the dark slinking away into the abyss.
Temple Street night market is the place to visit if you’re only there for one night. It is littered with local street food vendors but you’re guaranteed a good local meal despite possible cleanliness issues.  Napkins are by way of a small box of tissues provided by a quick toss onto the table in the fast pace restaurants where more than 2 sittings per table are not uncommon in one night. 
But, with just a few blocks of buzzing life, you get the feel for Hong Kong, Temple Street night market with its canvas covers protecting make-shift stalls being used to showcase their wares of cheap Chinese non CE or kite mark goodies on sale by the masses.  An exotic atmosphere with smells of waffles accompanies you as you bump along in a stream of locals and tourists alike in the centre of Chinatown in Kowloon. As you return to the sanctuary of your pristine hotel or back to the airport for your onward flight, you leave this exciting city with good memories and with self-made promises to return to explore more on offer in Hong Kong.

Break up your long haul trip, if only for a few hours in the vibrant and exciting city of Hong Kong

Friday, 13 October 2017

Red Tee Tour 2017

Hello ladies, I am pleased to provide you with loads of detailed information about three amazing events we ran this year in aid of Breast Cancer Care

In our third year to support Breast Cancer Care, we had ladies come from all over to take part in this fun and friendly golf competition, the Red Tee Tour.  An 18 hole pairs betterball tournament playing off 90% handicap

Playing just over five and half thousand yards from the red tees the ladies were in for some cardio exercise as they meandered their way around the lush green golf course.  Lush and green as we had a drop of rain the day before, which in turn made for some slow putts, but otherwise the course stood up to the elements fairly well.

It isn’t the easiest of courses for ladies, it does undulate and give you a good workout but it also gives rewards and the ladies ‘lovingly’ regaled stories of how they made (or missed) the putt on…. after a glass of wine

Nearest the pin was played on hole 6, named stalkers walk a 133 yard par three with a clear view to the green enticing the ladies to go for it, and a number of them certainly did, before the winner of the nearest the pin, which apparently was very close and yes she did make her Two was Bridget MaCauley from Naunton Downs GC.

The longest drive was hole16, called Welcombe Run at 447 yards this par 5 was not an easy hole, with a stream to think about for the second shot and a tiered large green there was no option but to go for the flag.  The longest drive was won by Lorna Godwin from Study Wood GC.
The best thing about playing hole 16 is seeing the imposing lavish Jacobean hotel in the distance, dominating the landscape and offering some respite knowing that was where lunch would be served in two more holes!
Overall winners were Linda Sherry and Jane Petts from Northampton GC with a great score of 38 points closely nipping at their heels with 37 points were Lynda Pearce and Tina Lewis of Cotswold Edge GC who beat Katie Greenwood and Lois Price of Ross on Wye GC on count back for second place.  All prizes were donated by the Andalusian Tourist Board and the main price by the venue itself for a return stay with golf and food.

The host venue provided a very tasty and substantial hot buffet after play of three main dishes, a side and salads, which the ladies loved whilst enjoying the view over the gardens from the Nestfield Suite.  18 holes of golf and an amazing spa make Hallmark Stratford  a great place for a short golf break.

Linda gave an enthusiastic speech, thanking the venue and ourselves for the hard work whilst acknowledging what we are doing for ladies golf and were chuffed to have won the Red Tee Tour at Hallmark Stratford and of course really happy to be returning for their prize.

Series two and three of the Red Tee Tour was held at Murrayshall, Perthshire and Formby Hall near Liverpool

Perthshire is inland Scotland and arguably a beautiful area to attract lady golfers, especially those not so keen on Links golf but still want to experience the Scottish golf and hospitality.  Picking Murrayshall was a great move to partner with to host the second Red Tee Tour for 2017, the hotel is friendly and comfortable and the golf course, albeit a bit tough in places is right on the doorstep.  A golf course offering views across the county and beyond was well received by the ladies .  The nearest the pin on the 4th hole, aptly named ‘the pond’ leaving the rest to your imagination was won by Lesleyanne Tufft, one of our lovely regular supporters.  The longest drive was a bit of a monster by Morag Wardrop on the 13th Hole  a 366 par 4 hole- well done both Morag and LesleyAnn, both great achievements and well deserved prizes courtesy of the Andalucian Tourist Board.

Despite the wind blowing a gale and the girls being swept here, there and everywhere the golf course played well and the winners of the Red Tee Tour evert at Murrayshall were Catherine Gerrard and Ann Coleman of Loundon and Bonnyton Golf clubs with a very respectable 37 points.  Runners up from Dunbar and Peebles Golf clubs were Lorraine White and Denise Richards, former winners of the Northern ladies who put up a good fight with 36 points.

Lunch afterwards in the clubhouse was a relaxed affair enjoying the lunch of soup and sandwiches and a welcome respite after the windy game of golf the ladies experienced.  Soup and sandwiches didn’t really showcase the excellent food at Murrayshall, but the ladies who overnighted got to see the versatility and skill of the chef.
Winners Catherine and Ann won a selection of amazing goodies from the Andalucian Tourist Board and a voucher to stay and play at either Linden Hall or Cardrona Golf Hotel resorts part of the MacDonald chain.

Formby Hall bought a small but perfectly formed group of ladies battling it out for their event
near Liverpool.  A purpose built venue for golfers and spa users alike, with the hotel being a simple walk across the car park to the first tee.  The weather wasn’t the best as these ladies went about their business with a massive smile on their face and Im sure whisky or something similar in their water bottles?  The course did play tough, in fact all three courses in the series have been tough for the ladies, so I guess that pretty much makes it even!

A modern and friendly hotel and staff greeted the ladies with the spa being a hit for the ladies who overnighted the night before and sneaked in a practice round beforehand.  A lovely lunch of sandwiches and chips awaited the player after their games. On the day Lydia Brannan made the longest drive leaving a number of ladies quite a ways behind her tee shot on the 7th hole a par 5 428 yard hole off the red tees.  The nearest the pin was a tricky shot over the water on the 16th, a par three measuring 126 yards beguiling its actual yardage by a troublesome stretch of water to negotiate.  I am pleased a lot of the ladies made the green but the winner on the day was Jean Nanson.  Both Jean and Lydia won prizes donated by the Andalucian Tourist Board.
Winners on the day with 38 points were Alice Apel and Jean Nanson of West Lancs and Allerton Manor golf clubs.  Well done ladies for winning the great goodies from Andalucia and a voucher to stay and play at any UK Q Hotel.

The purpose of the event is for Breast Cancer Care and we have raised a whopping £863 which is made up of the charity donation for the prize draw of a Sun Mountain Golf bag and the committed contribution we made to the charity from the entry fees received.

The golf bag prize draw was done on the final day at Formby Hall by one of our winners on the day and the winner is Mandy Ellis who was actually present and a participant of the Red Tee Tour at Formby Hall, who took the bag with glee.

Thank you to the host venues : Hallmark Stratford, Murrayshall and Formby Hall; to our prize sponsors: Hallmark Stratford, Linden Hall/Cardrona and Q Hotels and thank you most of all to the Andalucian Tourist Board who helped us fill those great goodie bags and provided wonderful prizes for the ladies

Interested in playing any of the host venues, or taking part in the Red Tee Tour next year?

Please contact

Friday, 29 September 2017

THE LBD of Miami

In a meeting Turnberry Isle in Miami was described to me as the little black dress??

Every lady has a little black dress, it may not be black or even a dress - but its is your go to outfit, one that is consistent, can be jazzed up or worn as day wear.

But how can that relate to a golf resort? 
Turnberry Isle is a stones throw from Miami airport and also from downtown.  A little oasis hidden in the middle of high rise buildings, the entrance doesn't even give you the true sense of what this luxury golf resort brings.  But why is it an LBD resort?
Simple - you can take Turnberry Isle and stay to have a great time in this five star autograph Marriott collection hotel, but jazz it up a little with the on site 18 hole golf course, the newly refurbished extensive spa or just sit by the pool and relax in Italian style decor  Add a jacket for the evening and dine in the excellent Michael Mina Bourbon Steak Restaurant, then push the boat out - add the pearls, or in this case try the excellent cocktails, an experience enhanced by the extensive knowledge of Rafael, Assistant GM and guru on the menu, even contributing his own carefully thought though and I dare say ‘researched' cocktail - Shogun - a must try to truly understand this mans depth of commitment and knowledge to enhance the success of the already great restaurant.
Daily entertainment can be by way of playing one of their two 18 hole golf courses.   Not particularly long courses, but with the option to choose the tees befitting your ability, you can make your game more of a challenge if you wanted to.  Incredibly pretty courses, with gardens spilling onto the course at tees and greens giving tranquility its best shot in amongst the high risers.  That said, I didn’t feel over-looked or that the buildings were on top on me whilst playing, the buildings have been designed to celebrate their individuality, whether deliberate or by happy accident this adds to the experience of playing Turnberry Isle.  The course is narrow in places, greens undulate and require some thinking, but be careful not to over think that, on the surface of it, tricky putt.  Water is in play a lot, always with bail out but nervy courses none the less.  Not forgetting the crows - menacing by appearance and menacing when they decide to take your ball and drop it out of play.  I cannot understand why, playing the percentage game, the ball was never dropped by the pin or even further up the fairway.  It made for amusing games - but they did like the shiny new golf balls and were quite fussy about their quality too - Pro V’s were their speciality.

Think about shedding your LBD and visit one of two swimming pools, one for the families and the other for the adults offering welcome respite after a game of golf, both attentively served by willing staff ready to bring the odd glass of much appreciated cold ice water - or whatever you want to your sun bed as you relax in the Miami sunshine oblivious of the world outside this oasis resort.  Relax and enjoy a sip of ice cold water infused with fresh fruit under the shade of a pool umbrella before taking a dip in the warm water of the pool - heaven in earth in a big city - you just wouldn’t know that.
A buffet or a la carte breakfast is served in the Laguna lounge, where pressure is just a word only applied to the waiting staff as they busy themselves to please the guests, everyone else is on a different plane relaxing and enjoying the extensive offerings with the attentive staff making this an easy transition.
Miami may or may not be your destination of choice for a holiday, but it can almost certainly enhance any experience you may have when visiting for work by simply adding on a couple of days to relax and unwind, play some golf, or simply relax in the amazing Spa, where treatments range from near medical to massages to pedicures, the choice is extensive.  

Beach access and a shopping Mall across the road, this resort really does have it all - and the best thing - your LBD will be right at home at Turnberry Isle Miami, whether you choose to dress it up or not you will be embraced into this all encompassing resort.

So I finally  got it, Turnberry Isle Golf Resort and Hotel really is the LBD of Miami in the golf world