Winter Golf Academy October 2014
Its always great to get away from some of the weather the UK throws at us over the winter and a couple of times a year we are able to take a group of clients to somewhere warmer, its a nice change for us and our clients from lessons on the range at Dukes Meadows in West London.
After trying a few different destinations we have settled on Penina, the facilities there are very good with a championship golf course the resort course and a par 3 academy course, there is also a massive grass driving range with plenty of space for more than 100 golfers and there is a huge putting green and good pitching and bunker area for lessons and practice. The hotel is also very good with four choices of restaurant and very friendly, helpful staff.
Richard Ellis, my coaching partner and I left a rainy Gatwick at about 8am on Friday 24th October and arrived in Faro to unseasonably warm weather even for there at 27 degrees, we were told that the week previously it had topped at 37! We'd been checking the long range forecast for the time we were there and it had suggested good weather for the duration of our stay and we weren't disappointed, not once did we feel the need for more than a tee shirt and most of our clients wore shorts most of the time.
The flight with Monarch was easy and comfortable on a nice new plane and when we arrived the transfer was waiting and ready to take us to Penina, which is about a 40 minute drive, we did have one of our regular attendees with us, Jonny as he's always keen to squeeze in as much range time as he can.
Arriving a few hours before the rest of the clients gave us time to play 9 holes on The Championship course and prepare some lesson notes and schedule for the coaching ahead.
The clients arrived at the hotel at about 8 pm also reporting an easy journey, so there was time for a quick drink, freshen up and then dinner in Peninas best restaurant, The Grill, which has a fantastic menu with lots of fresh fish and delicious steaks and vegetarian options if required and the desserts are amazing!
The group this time consisted of 12 golfers with the majority joining in with the group session in the morning and some having private coaching with me or Rich in the afternoon whilst the others went off to play the course.
The days have a similar structure first thing is to take advantage of Peninas fabulous buffet breakfast, with a choice to suit everyone and then meeting on the driving range at 9am where we sit the group down to explain the day's session and what we will be trying to achieve. The session finishes between 11.30 and 12.00 after everybody has had plenty of individual attention from Me or Rich and practiced what they have just learned. We will then have a short questions and answers session to check everyone is clear on what they need to be doing. During this time we will announce the groups and tee times for the afternoons play on the course.
Typically the topics we cover are in this order:-
Day 1. Long game (usually 7 iron)
Day 2. Putting & Chipping
Day 3. Driver & Fairway Woods
Day 4. Pitching & Bunkers
There is usually about an hour to an hour and a half for lunch and then the groups go to the golf course, some play The Championship course but if people are not so confident they can play The Resort course which is much quieter and a bit easier. This trip everyone played The Championship course and we asked them to play stableford so we could assess their play.
Buggies are available and some choose this option and others walk but it's quite a long course, especially the back 9 and even those that walk the first couple of days sometimes prefer a buggy near the end!
Whilst the main groups are on the golf course Rich and I will take our private clients through a similar schedule although of course there is a bit more scope for flexibility to suit their needs.
When there is time after the private coaching we will often take a buggy out onto the course to see the groups and offer some on course coaching if needed, this also gives us a chance to get some great feedback on how people are getting on.
Over the few days the package usually includes 3 meals in the hotels various restaurants, usually one in The Grill, one in the Italian and one in the Buffet, this year we had two in the Grill which was fantastic. This gives the group a great chance to go over their day with us and each other and also get to know each other a bit better, some long standing friendships have been formed over the years that we've been doing our Winter Academies.
On the free evening people can choose to do as they wish but we do organise a night out to a fantastic fish restaurant in Alvor, a short taxi ride away. This year the whole group came and absolutely loved it, they do have a great steak, if like me you don't eat fish!
The last 2 days in the afternoons we organised a fun Texas Scramble on the Resort Course where everyone played in mixed ability groups, it's a format that takes some of the pressure off and allows everyone to play and feel competitive. The typical winning score is around 1 or 2 under par and that was true on the first one but on the last day Rich's team managed a fantastic 5 under par, not bad for only 7 holes! I guess everyone just got better!
So the last evening was spent in the Italian Restaurant, again fantastic food, this is when we also have a little prize giving from the Texas Scramble and we will both give a little speech thanking everyone for attending.
We had 10:05 flight in the morning so pick up was at 7:15, I've got a feeling there was a couple of sore heads, either that or people were exhausted!
Quite a few of our guests are repeat bookings and this also lets them know of forthcoming trips.
The numbers we attract are growing with each Academy we run and it's only through word of mouth so we must be doing something right.
If we do get larger groups we can cater for that either by bringing in another coach which we will make sure delivers the same message as Rich and myself or we can split the groups into differing standards putting on a coaching session in the morning and the afternoon.
As coaches we always get a lot out of our Academies as its great to spend longer periods of time with our clients and the clients improve more rapidly through the more intensive nature of the coaching, practice and playing.
Thanks for reading and if you are interested in future Winter Academies or any other form of coaching please use the contact page or email me email@example.com
As I compose this blog we are three weeks into the lockdown due to Corona virus and unless you happen to have a back garden like Padraig Harrington (who has been putting some great stuff out on the internet to help people) then you probably have limited space to practice your golf.