A sizeable squad made the pilgrimage north to Grantown for the Spring weekend in late April. All four seasons were experienced over the weekend, including hail and snow, but as usual, the worst of the weather happened over lunchtime or overnight. A morning gross 76, followed by lunch at the Dalrachney Lodge, proved to be an unbeatable combination for Joe, and he emerged as comfortable victor of the Spring Stableford competition
Despite a Wednesday start for some of the team, and a healthy pool of eleven on the Friday, only seven survived to handle the 36-hole stroke play competition for the Grantown Open on the Saturday. A tense finish saw Jim Kay clinch his first Open for fourteen years by a one-shot margin over new boy, Donald Murray.
October Week in Portugal
Day 0 - The Journey
After some very efficient organisation by Bob Millar and Jim Kay, Select Golf were duly appointed as the official GGS tour company for 2001. After the Millennium experience of two villas for six in Vilamoura, the luxury of 5* Le Meridien Penina Hotel near Alvor in the west of the Algarve was selected. Despite a very early start on 4th October, ten intrepid souls ventured west across the M8 for the Air2000 flight from Glasgow to Faro. Pre- and during-breakfast champagne helped the 3˝ hour flight pass quickly, and we were soon basking in the Portuguese sunshine, and into the hire cars for the 1 hour drive to Penina. Much more successful than last year's attempts to drive the few kilometers to Vilamoura, the team were soon checked into the Penina Hotel (Scoop McIlwraith wondering who he had upset this time, when he found out the room allocations!), and enjoying Joe's birthday lunch on the terrace.
Two fourballs ventured out for some light exercise on the Academy Course where JDK recorded the first two of the week, thus guaranteeing at least one winner's round with his 9,000 Escudos. Into Alvor for the evening for fine wining and dining.
The recurring theme for the week was the Formula Ten Championship with points awarded for individual Stableford scores, which also contributed to the Constructors Team Championship - click here for the final championship standings.
In order to preserve some respectability to the scores, an amended "Donald Murray" adjustment formula was to be applied over the week. Click here to see how your handicap fared over the week.
Day 1 - Penina Pro-Am
Format for the first full day on tour was a genuine pro-am at Penina Championship Course with Messrs. Montgomery, Woods, Olazabal, Clarke and Westwood jetting in for the occasion - JKCS sponsorship reaches new heights! After a tense finish, Ian, Dave and Tiger just saw off the challenge of Brian, Gordon and Jose Maria on the basis of a better inward half - strong finishers these tigers. A two for Dave and Team Audi streaked into a lead they were unlikely to relinquish!
Into Lagos for the evening's refreshments and the search for the elusive square!
Day 2 - Palmares
Early excursion to Palmares which we located despite the directions in the Select Golf instruction manual; except for BG's crew who used insider dealing to find the shortcut and benefit from extra drink!
A better ball competition saw Nic and Donald emerge as narrow victors over Joe and Donnie, with Nic taking the chequered flag in the individual race. (Nic and Donald also won the statutory matchplay bottle of wine by about 12 up over Dave and Brian).
A two for Donald promising more free drink!
Praia da Rochas was the venue for dinner with Scotland-Germany relationships being tested by JDK! No big winners at the Casino
Day 3 - Scramble at Penina
Dave reluctantly gave up the opportunity for an extra game of golf to let three teams of three take on the Penina Championship Course in a scramble format. Good scoring all round with Bob, Joe and Brian scoring a highly commendable 2-under par 71. Rumour has it that Scoop scored a 75 virtually single-handed.
No Grand Prix points or handicap adjustments today, but twos for Bob and Brian.
Back to Alvor for a fine (if slow) meal at the Vagabondo.
Day 4 - Penina
Disappointment at not getting the opportunity to play San Lorenzo, but the Seniors Competition was contested in parallel with the "My Favourite Holes" format at Penina. Each player selected their three favourite holes (at which they would score treble points), and their three next favourite (at which double points were on offer).
In the Seniors, Bob and BG were locked together on a very commendable 35 points (off national handicaps), and despite gentle persuasion, refused to entertain the idea of a play-off. The favourite holes competition resulted in Dave and the two Seniors Supremos sharing the spoils with 64 points each.
In the Grand Prix, two Audi drivers on the Podium, and even Donnie got into the points!
Twos galore, with one for Donald and two for Bob.
Late lunch of grilled sardines alfresco in Alvor - Donald punched Donnie in the mouth to demonstrate what he might do to the restaurateurs if they refused to cook for us!
Back to Alvor for an evening with a difference courtesy of restaurant selection by JK and Joe. All we could eat and drink for a tenner, and José Shand on the accordion. The Danish became the latest race suffer to abuse from the GGS diplomats. Memorable!
Day 5 - The Pinta Challenge
Good news - San Lorenzo confirmed for Wednesday!
Despite some less than efficient organisation at the first tee, and some very threatening rain clouds, the Pinta challenge (and Seniors play-off) got under way. A novel JDK/RJM/DJL format with the alcohol content of selected beers multiplied by the stableford score at each hole to calculate the score. With the multipliers varying from 0.2 (Kaliber) to 7.2 (Tuborg), the computer was required! Unsurprisingly, knowledge of drink triumphed over golfing ability, with JDK just easing out Joe at 194.0 points to 192.2.
Bob claimed the Seniors crown with the narrowest of victories over Brian at the second hole of sudden death, following deadlock after four holes.
Yet another chequered flag for Audi, and the constructors championship was just about theirs.
PS We got a little damp!
Back to Lagos where we found loads of squares, a restaurant and a pub or two.
Day 6 - San Lorenzo
An hour's drive back towards Faro saw the GGS squad arrive in "away" team gear at the splendid San Lorenzo course for the final game, and the last major of the season, the Masters. Playing in Constructors Teams, the team format for the day was aggregate stableford points off the "Donald" handicaps - would team orders come into play?
Dave picked up his first Masters win (and a two) with Gordon and Joe completing the podium positions.
The Vintage Rustbuckets came good with a team win on 69 points.
Wils took the chequered flag in the Grand Prix (and third place overall), and with Donnie scoring points again, the Ford team finally achieved some respectability. However Team Audi reigned supreme, with their two drivers, Dave and Joe, taking first and second place, but bookie Joe losing his shirt to JK on the result.
A minor thunderstorm did not dampen the enthusiasm for this magnificent golf course, considered to be among the top five in mainland Europe.
Back to Alvor for yet another fine meal, and the odd glass.
Day 7 - Goin' Home
Uneventful and quiet trip home for the team after an excellent week - even the Glentanna bus was there on time.
No firm plans yet, but the smart money says GGS overseas adventures have only just begun!