- and it actually happened!
After many years of speculation, the GGS Members finally got their act together, and over a glass of port in the lounge of the splendid Dalrachney Lodge Hotel in Carrbridge in May '99, the momentous decision was made that the Algarve was to be given the honour of hosting the first full overseas tour by the boys.
With the aim of convincing the outside world that we are a professional, organised outfit, the team was kitted out with matching shirts and caps (supplied by Image Scotland) and golf balls all bearing the newly conceived GGS logo, a Red Squirrel - only minor mutterings from Donnie on this choice.
Day 1 - Getting there
Following a leisurely lunch at the Airport Hilton the team flew from Edinburgh to Faro on Thursday 28th September 2000, with a couple of bottles of champagne to calm the pre-tour nerves. Despite rainy conditions on arrival, and negligible idea of how to get to the apartments at Pinhal de Marina in Vilamoura, the boys got there and the tour was up and running.
Day 2 - Vilamoura Millennium Course
Slightly dull conditions with a few spots of rain but nothing to worry the boys. Despite being at the course over three hours before tee-off time, we still managed to have the traditional last minute panic to get onto the first tee on time - this was obviously due to spending too much time on the practice range - and only two of the team censured for unsuitable attire!
The format of the day was teams of two with hidden partners. Bob Millar and Peter Turnbull first onto the official overseas money list (4,000 Escudos each), with Gordon McIlwraith/Jim Kay and Joe Wilson/David Lyle sharing second spot and making an early podium appearance. Bob Millar and Ian Wilson claimed 1,000 Escudos each for nearest the hole.
A reasonably gentle start to the tour, but scoring was high enough to encourage the adoption of the "Donald Murray" handicap adjustment system for the rest of the week.
Day 3 - Vila Sol
Weather a bit brighter but no blazing sunshine yet. The better ball format saw Tommy Connolly and Jim Kay scooping the first prize of 4,000 Escudos each. Gordon McIlwraith picked up both nearest the hole prizes of 1,000 Escudos each. Highlight of the day was three 2's, none of which was converted from the green - Jim with a full 5-iron, Donnie and Joe with chips from off the green. Each player won 11,000 Escudos unofficial money for their skill, which secured winners rounds for the evening.
It was decided to compete the Grantown Seniors over all five days of the tour - Jim set the early pace on 39 points, but with the Donald Murray scheme sending handicaps sharply upwards, would he hold on?
Day 4 - Nae Golf
All of the team took advantage of the rest day and stayed clear of the golf courses. Most took an excursion inland to explore the more natural Portuguese countryside.
Day 5 - Ria Formosa
Clear skies and hot sunshine greeted the team for the early tee-off time of 08:40 for this inaugural overseas major, the Millennium Masters, played off national handicaps. A sensible approach to the previous night meant that the boys were on the tee with plenty of time to spare.
Full-time golfer Brian Glennie proved too good for the rest of the field winning the Masters by two shots from Joe Wilson, with David Lyle completing the podium line-up after some "manipulation" of Gordon McIlwraith's handicap.
Dougie Pritchard continued the theme of unlikely 2's by holing a bunker shot which, it is alleged, would have cleared the green by a considerable margin had it not struck the flagstick!
Still no challenge to Jim in the Seniors.
Day 6 - Vale do Lobo
The hot weather continued with unbroken sunshine, which tempted several of the boys into hiring buggies, complete with satellite navigation system. (This was supposedly to help judge the distance to the hole, but with some of the wayward drives, was handy to guide the players back onto the golf course! Breakfast on the terrace was sponsored by Bob Millar, courtesy of a minor win at the Vilamoura Casino a couple of nights earlier.
The team outfits for today were sponsored by JKCS, very kindly provided by Jim Kay, (if he had a JKCS website, it could be promoted here!)
The format was teams of four with the best two out of four Stableford points counting. Gordon Nicol, Ian Wilson, Peter Turnbull and Jim Kay emerged as narrow victors with 86 points - 2,500 Escudos each.
No 2's and still no challenge to Jim in the Seniors.
Day 7 - Vilamoura Old Course
The final day and the sun continues to shine - even JK succumbs to using a buggie! It's Joe's birthday and he very kindly hosts a traditional Portuguese breakfast on the clubhouse terrace.
The format was better ball from teams of two (room-mates), and with the Donald Murray system having had four days to establish itself, the handicaps could only be whispered in case we were barred from the course!
David Lyle and Tommy Connolly trounced the opposition with 55 points (2,500 Escudos each) with Brian Glennie/Gordon Nicol runners-up on 53 points. The week-long room-mates prize was also decided today with the singing duo, Peter and Gordon, winning by a mere 7 points (2,500 Escudos each).
The Seniors trophy went to Ian Wilson on 46 points (4,500 Escudos), with Gordon Nicol a gallant runner-up on 43 points (1,500 Escudos). David Lyle and Gordon McIlwraith each recorded a nearest the hole for 1,500 Escudos, and Gordon spoiled the run of play by holing out for a 2 - with his putter! (11,000 Escudos unofficial money).
One of the more unusual prizes was a week-long eclectic sponsored by Donnie and Wils. Joe, Nic and JK were top dogs on 54 points with Joe's better inward half (equivalent of the afternoon round at Grantown) netting him the prize of a natty pair of Old Course shorts, tailored of course.
Yet another excellent dinner in Vilamoura rounded off a superb week with the feeling that this was not the last trip to this area for GGS. JK, as official overseas treasurer, worked wonders with his credit cards and ensured that it seemed like a free holiday, at least until we got home!
Day 8 - Goin' Home
After an early start and only a short delay at Faro airport, the team was back in Edinburgh in the early afternoon ready to face the real world.
Click on any of the hyperlinks to get more information on the courses.
PS An EGM decided the Algarve deserved to have us back, and the 2001 tour based at Penina with the opportunity to play at San Lorenzo, was conceived.