Donald Murray wins his first Grantown Open
Ian Wilson - man for all seasons - wins the Spring Stableford and the Masters
Bob Millar wins the Seniors
Portugal again but this time, it's the Lisbon Coast
Following the appointment of an official pratt as manager of the Garth Hotel, the Ben Mhor was given the opportunity to host the GGS Spring Tour. Epic singing from Alfie and the bar manager (but no Jim Reeves!), a waitress on the wacky baccy, the ex-Strathspey Hotel owner doing back-flips in the bar, and a thirsty night porter called Harry made for an interesting stay.
Apparently, Ian Wilson won the Spring Stableford.
A Friday morning round at Kingussie got the summer tour off to a slightly damp start. Loads of Par 3s, but no 2s!
The Garth pratt was given the nod over the Ben Mhor disarray, and with the weather improving, and Donnie's car approaching roadworthiness again, the scene was set for a fine weekend's golf.
A field of 6½ contested the Grantown Open over two rounds of strokeplay on the Sunday (surrounding a Muckrach Lodge lunch) and Donald Murray collected his first GGS Major by five shots - BG succumbed to the pressures of the tour at lunchtime.
Over a leisurely 18 holes of stableford competition on a glorious Monday morning, Bob Millar emerged from a select pack of four to take the Seniors crown by five shots. Click here to view out the combatants relaxing in the morning sunshine.
September Week in Portugal
Day 0 - The Journey
Having mastered the Algarve over the previous two years, the GGS team decided the area to the west of Lisbon would be their next challenge. After an obscenely early start from Edinburgh, with only a couple of bottles of champagne to dull the pain, the boys were soon booked into the splendid Quinta da Marinha hotel and ensconced on the clubhouse terrace for lunch. Slightly misty conditions which had turned to dense fog by the time we had descended into Cascais, our eating and drinking base for the week.
The recurring theme for the week was a Snooker Matchroom League with points awarded for individual Stableford scores, which also contributed to the Rooms 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 - Quinta da Marinha - Room-Mates Better Ball
After some judicious reconnoitring of some of the trickier holes the previous day, the first assault on the home course was soon under way. Joe's excellent early form with 38 points was enough to see him and room-mate JDK first onto the official money list with €15 each. Donald and Dave pick up nearest-the-hole consolation prizes of €5 each, with Bob and Dave recording the first 2s of the week worth a 'winners round banker' purse of €35 each.
On the Donald Murray handicap system, Joe was awarded a minor cut, Bob stayed stable(!) and the rest of the guys benefited from some modest increases.
Day 2 - Penha Longa - the Masters
An excellent venue for our prestigious overseas major, and a serious test of golf. Donald and Ian emerged from the fray as joint leaders on 34 points and no amount of encouragement, threats, downright slagging could get them back onto the course for a play-off.
Bob continued the supply of winners' rounds with another 2, and Dave was nearest the hole at the 7th.
Good vistas all round the course including the practice for the Portuguese Motor Cycle Grand Prix at nearby Estoril.
'Probably the best bar in the world' was Gordon's unbiased view of the half-time refreshment halt!
Day 3 - Oitavos - Portuguese Tug O' War
Another magnificent course and clubhouse (only open for one year) with one minor flaw - the bar was closed! Despite this obvious setback. The format was four man teams with all four balls counting in a step-up stableford counting system that was far too complex for Dave's computer. Jim, Dave, Bob and Donald were adjudged the winners, with Bob and Dave picking up bonus prizes for nearest the hole.
The course staff did their best to make up for the lack of a bar by allocating a dedicated drinks buggy to the GGS group, (not difficult as there was only one other group on the course). The generosity continued at the finish with free beer, wine and sandwiches, and a photo-shoot featuring some scantily clad models just outside the clubhouse.
A trip into Sintra for the evening meal in a very up-market restaurant, resulted in JK winning lunch from Joe over the singer of 'Goodbye Cruel World'. (It was James Darren for the record). Joe retaliated by consuming the entire winners' round budget on one very large Cognac - see the evidence!
Day 4 - No golf - day trip to Lisbon
Culture day with a train journey into Lisbon followed by an open-topped bus tour around the capital, punctuated by the occasional stop for refreshments and lunch - it was very hot! Back to the 'Backgammon Bar' in Cascais via Estoril to stake out the biggest casino in Europe for a future visit.
Day 5 - Quinta da Beloura - Matchplay Semi-Finals
As the web quote on Quinta da Beloura had stated, nice clubhouse, shame about the course!
With quite a lot of renovation going on around the course shortening some of the holes, and some of the greens sinking to near-Baberton standard, the best that could be said about this course is that it allowed all of the players (except Gordon!) to regain some dignity on the Donald handicap system.
However, as a result of a mystery format derived from the first three days' play, the semi-finals of the World Matchplay saw Bob and Jim defeat Gordon and Ian, and Brain and Dave triumph over Donald and Joe, the latter only after some dubious interpretation of the GUR rules on the 18th!
A better-ball hidden partners competition gave the Wilson twins an early €15 stake for the casino visit, with Brian and Gordon picking up the minor prizes for nearest the hole.
Into Estoril in the evening to break the bank at the casino.
Day 6 - Quinta da Marinha - the conclusion
Final day and back to the home course. Loads to play for, including the Matchplay final, the conclusion of the Matchroom League (team and individual), and a four hole playoff between Ian and Donald to decide the 2002 Masters.
Brian and Dave defied the formbook and defeated Bob and Jim in the pairs matchplay final for a significant wine prize that was later to be invested in winners' rounds back in Edinburgh at the GGS AGM. Brian and Joe won €10 each for being best at Par 4s and 5s respectively, Gordon got onto the unofficial money list with €35 for a 2 at the 7th, Bob pocketed €25 for being in the winning Matchroom League team, and Donald collected €25 as runner-up in the Masters playoff.
Apart form that Ian Wilson cleaned up with personal haul of €180! He beat Donald in the masters playoff (9-4) for €50, won the Matchroom League (Individual) for €50, (Team) for €25, best at Par 3s for €10 and a 2 at the 7th for €35. No wonder he's retired!
Some minor tomfoolery at the short 2nd hole on the way back to the hotel, then on to the very smart Villa Cascais for the final dinner, which was excellent despite the antics of pompous head waiter!
Day 7 - Goin' Home
Managed to avoid numerous minor pile-ups on the greasy motorway surface on route to Lisbon airport and began the slightly tedious journey home via Amsterdam. Votes will be for direct flights next time round.
Plans are well in hand for the 2003 tours with the weekend of 2 - 4 May already booked at Grantown. Majorca, Costa del Sol and the Algarve are on the short list for October - watch this space for updates!