My Algarve - favourites & hidden gems

The Algarve has always been a key part of our business at Your Golf Travel. It's just a short flight from the UK and with countless top class courses and superb weather well into the Autumn months, coupled with the the array of beaches, nightlife and restaurants; it's easy to see why. It's one of the most complete golf holiday destinations in the world and most importantly; it's very affordable too. Some of my favourite courses are in Portugal so I always enjoy returning for a visit be it with my wife or on a lads golf ti. If you're planning a golf holiday to the Algarve, here are some of my top recommendations...  

Quinta do Lago

Quinta do Lago is an excellent resort with three unbelievable golf courses, a superb 5* hotel and endless facilities including the Paul McGinley Golf Academy where you might even bump into the 2014 Ryder Cup Captain himself! The resort is really close to the Ria Formosa National Park so the setting is beautiful and you've got really easy access to the beach too. The cocktails at Koko Beach are amazing and I love dining at Bovino.

After golf:

Koko Beach Club

Koko Beach Club

Bovino- https://www.quintadolago.com/en/restaurants/bovino-steakhouse/

Koko Beach- https://www.quintadolago.com/en/restaurants/koko-beach/

The Shack- https://www.quintadolago.com/en/restaurants/the-shack/

Monte Rei:  

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Monte Rei

Monte Rei is arguably the best golf course in Europe and the club certainly offers one of the best "member for a day" experiences in the world. The levels of service here are world class and the facilities match the quality of the Jack Nicklaus Signature course too. Monte Rei is tucked away from the concentration of courses around Albufeira so it feels much more isolated and peaceful, with stunning countryside all around. 'Special' is a word I commonly use to describe this place so if you're happy to spend a little more than usual in the Algarve; Monte Rei is a must.

After golf: 

Town of Olhao (Between Monte Rei & Faro) - well known for it's fish restaurants, head for the ones closest to the fish market and you can't go far wrong.

San Lorenzo

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I know plenty of people who'd rank San Lorenzo as the best course in the Algarve and it's definitely one of my favourites. The first few holes ease you into your round and when you reach the 5th with the beach and sea in the background, the real fun begins. The next few holes run alongside the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve which again comes into play over the closing stretch of holes making San Lorenzo one of the most memorable places to play in Portugal. The Dona Filipa Hotel services the golf course and is one of the best in the region. An evening in the Duques Lounge Bar with a few drinks and some live music is a great way to unwind after a day on the golf course.  

After golf: 

Paixa wine cellar

Paixa wine cellar

Ria Formosa Restaurant- http://hotelfaro.pt/ria-formosa-restaurant

Paixa (Vale do Lobo) -http://paixarestaurante.com/en/intro

Monty's (Vale do Lobo) https://montys-algarve.com/

Casa do Campo (Almancil)- http://www.casadocampo-restaurante.com/www.casadocampo-restaurante.com/Welcome.html

Pequeno Mundo (Almancil) - http://www.restaurantepequenomundo.com/page1_Home.html

Old Course

Vilamoura is the beating heart of golf in the Algarve and in the evening, the marina is a great place to enjoy a relaxing meal, or a bit of partying in one of the many bars. We've been known to frequent The Irish Pub which is one of the most lively places to have a few pints of Guinness after round or two! 

There are so many golf courses to choose from in Vilamoura, but the Old Course is surely the best of the bunch. The Old Course followed Penina as the region's second course and it still offers one of the most enjoyable tests of golf in the Algarve which speaks volumes for the quality of the design. 

After golf: 

Puro Beach Bar

Puro Beach Bar

The Irish Bar- https://irishbarvilamoura.com/

Puro Beach- https://www.purobeach.com/en/beach-club-vilamoura/

Il Lamparo- http://www.illamparo.com/en/

Ramires Peri Peri (Guia)- http://www.restauranteramires.com

My Top 18 Golf Experiences in 2018

1 - The Masters, Augusta National

The 'can't believe your eyes' 10th Green at Augusta National where Bubba Watson's miracle shot played out at the 2012 Masters. 

The 'can't believe your eyes' 10th Green at Augusta National where Bubba Watson's miracle shot played out at the 2012 Masters. 

We’ve been taking clients out to Augusta National to experience The Masters since 2008, and it’s always one of the highlights of my golfing (and working) calendar. Augusta is the world’s most famous course for a reason and it really is a truly special place to watch the likes of DJ, Rory and Jordan Spieth compete for the Green Jacket.

The ultimate way to experience the golf at Augusta is with hospitality at Berckmans Place which is one of the most luxurious hospitality facilities in all of golf. The food and drink served here is world class and its location alongside the 5th fairway makes coming and going from the course very easy indeed.

Even away from Augusta, The Masters experience is a memorable one and you can tick some wonderful golf courses off your list during your time in the States. Sage Valley is the best course in South Carolina and is just 15 miles from Augusta, while Peachtree in Georgia is probably as close to a game at Augusta National as you can get.

A little further afield, you can play at places like the legendary Pinehurst Resort which is home to nine golf courses, as well as Kiawah Island. Both resorts are true five star establishments and boast major championship golf courses.  West Lake and East Lake are also courses that deliver every time. 

Of course, we try to make our Masters clients’ time at Augusta as memorable as possible so we often rope in the help of our Brand Ambassadors and other golf celebrities. I'm looking forward to seeing all our customers in the YGT hospitality arena, which is set to be the best yet. Head to Augusta with us in 2018 or start planning your dream trip for 2019 to see if you can out- drive Long John Daly!

Check out our packages and download our comprehensive Masters Guide here: https://www.yourgolftravel.com/us-masters

 

2- Celebrity Invitational, PGA Catalunya, Spain

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Throughout the years at Your Golf Travel, we’ve been lucky to have met, hosted and made friends with a number of celebrities and sporting figures who have a mutual interest in golf.

This year we’re taking the Pro-Am format to a different level by replacing our pros with sporting celebrities and moving overseas to host a special event at PGA Catalunya in Spain.

Stars of sport will join us and our clients at what is one of the best golf resorts not just in Spain but in the whole of Europe. Situated within easy reach of Barcelona, PGA Catalunya boasts excellent accommodation and facilities, as well as two championship golf courses.

There are a few spots left for you to join us in Spain, from 26th -28th February, where you can form a team of golfers featuring your very own celebrity guest to compete in a friendly (but fiercely competitive) competition on one of Spain’s best golf courses. The Stadium Course hosts the final stage of the European Tour’s Qualifying School and I’ve loved every visit I've taken there.

The event is proudly sponsored by our partners including Taylormade & Under Armour so there will be some excellent prizes up for grabs too.  

Contact Ellen Topley for more information ellen.topley@yourgolftravel.com or visit https://www.yourgolftravel.com/events/celeb-am

 

3 - Old Head of Kinsale Invitational, County Cork, Ireland

Old Head, situated on it's spectacular peninsula on the South coast of Ireland. 

Old Head, situated on it's spectacular peninsula on the South coast of Ireland. 

Someone recently asked me what was the best course I’d played in over the last year and I just had to go with Old Head down in Cork. This is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular golf courses in the world and, as well as an exhilarating day on the fairways, the overall experience from the journey into the club along a narrow pass with cliffs on either side, to the levels of service and quality of facilities throughout the club is is exemplary.

The food is superb too, both in the De Courcey Restaurant and out on the course at The Turn halfway house. There aren’t many courses in the world, let alone one in such a jaw-dropping location where you can enjoy oysters and champagne before heading back out for the back nine!

We’re looking forward to hosting our invitational at Old Head in 2018 and we’re sure our guests will be blown away by the experience.

Contact Barry Ross at YGT Select for further information barryr@yourgolftravel.com

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/old-head

 

4 - The Open Championship, Carnoustie, Scotland

Carnoustie - Host of the 2018 Open Championship. 

Carnoustie - Host of the 2018 Open Championship. 

It goes without saying that The Open is a highlight of our golfing calendar here at YGT. We’re always pleased to give our clients the opportunity to see the world’s best players competing for arguably the most important trophy in golf on some of the world’s most historic courses.

Carnoustie always produces memorable moments, from Van de Velde’s unfortunately infamous finish in 1999 to Padraig Harrington’s emotional playoff win against Sergio in 2007, and we’re sure 2018 will be no exception.

We’ll be rooting for our Brand Ambassador Lee Westwood to win the Claret Jug of course as he’s a top class player and deserves a major championship. I’ve got a feeling we might see a British winner this year with the likes of Tyrell Hatton, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood all in great form as well. Rory looked great on his comeback in Abu Dhabi so I’m sure if he stays fit he’ll challenge too.

As well as watching the golf at Carnoustie we also offer the chance for clients to play some golf of their own and around Carnoustie where there are some wonderful courses.     

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/openchampionship

 

5- Pine Valley, New Jersey, USA

Pine Valley has often been ranked as the world’s best golf course since it officially opened for play in 1919, and I’m lucky enough to have enjoyed a round there. It’s not for the faint of heart as it’s a supremely challenging course but if you leave any notions of playing to your handicap at the door, you can’t help but enjoy the ride.

Robert Trent Jones once wrote,

Pine Valley fills you with dread and delight...it takes your breath away...it’s a monster, but it’s beautiful.
— Robert Trent Jones

That pretty much sums the experience up. It’s rare that things that receive so much hype exceed your expectations when you actually get to experience them but I’m glad to say Pine Valley did just that.

If this has whet your appetite to play here Barry Ross is the man to help make those dreams a reality, email him at barryr@yourgolftravel.com to find out more. 

 

6 - The Ryder Cup, Le Golf National

Join Team Europe in Paris at Le Golf National for the most electric event in golf. 

Join Team Europe in Paris at Le Golf National for the most electric event in golf. 

You had to give the American side all the credit for their win in Hazeltine in 2016 as their whole team performed brilliantly. I’m obviously hoping Team Europe get back to winning ways in Paris and with so many Europeans in the Top 20 of the world rankings at the moment the teams look pretty evenly matched as it stands.

Having spoken to Lee Westwood about it, I’m sure Le Golf National will be a superb host course and we’ll be doing our best to send as many golf fans as possible to help the locals cheer on Team Europe.

European crowds are always fantastic so the atmosphere is sure to be electric in and around Paris in September and we can’t wait to be there to lend our support to the boys.

We will have former Captains hosting our clients as Europe fight hard to get back the trophy. We still have some packages available if you haven't yet secured your spot to cheer on Team Europe.  

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/ryder-cup

 

7- Monte Rei Invitational, Algarve, Portugal

Monte Rei in it's spectacular Portuguese countryside setting. 

Monte Rei in it's spectacular Portuguese countryside setting. 

The Algarve has been such an important part of the success of Your Golf Travel so I always enjoy heading back out there for some golf in the sun. It’s a world class golf destination with countless top end courses and hotels, as well as superb weather, great nightlife and excellent restaurants.

Monte Rei is arguably among the finest resorts in the region and our good friend Darren Griffiths, Director of Golf and his team are amazing hosts so we’re looking forward to welcoming guests for a long weekend of golf on the best course in Portugal, where they’re sure to enjoy plenty of laughs along the way.

There aren’t many Jack Nicklaus Signature courses in Europe and Monte Rei is one if his best. It’s not just the course that makes Monte Rei so good though. The levels of service are unrivalled in the Algarve so our guests will be really spoiled during their visit to Portugal.

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/monte-rei-resort

 

8 - British Masters Event, RAC Club

Join YGT ambassador Lee Westwood at the RAC club for a preview of the 2018 British Masters. 

Join YGT ambassador Lee Westwood at the RAC club for a preview of the 2018 British Masters. 

It’s been great to see The British Masters reinvigorate over the last few years and we were really proud of Lee Westwood’s efforts as host last year at Close House. How Lee managed to play so well with all that he had on his plate that week is beyond me but it’s testament to how good of a player he really is.

In the build up to Justin Rose hosting the event at Walton Heath in 2018, we’ll be hosting an event alongside Lee at the RAC Club in Surrey where he will be meeting and greeting YGT customers and giving us insider tips on the upcoming event. The RAC Club is a brilliant venue and it’ll be interesting to get Lee’s insights into what it’s like to host what has become one of the standout events on the European Tour only a couple of days before the event gets underway at Walton Heath.

Check our events page regularly for updates and further information on the event: https://www.yourgolftravel.com/events

 

9 - Urban Golf Evening with Paul McGinley

By and large golf is seen as a very traditional sport but more and more, we’re seeing developments that bring a refreshingly modern twist to the game. Urban Golf is just such a development and provides a great way to get a pretty realistic golf experience for those who live and work in the city, as well as when the weather over here in the UK isn’t quite as golf friendly as it can be in the summer months!

Enjoy all the comforts of a club smoking room (without the smoke) and all the golf.

Enjoy all the comforts of a club smoking room (without the smoke) and all the golf.

Later this year, we will be joined by Paul McGinley for a few shots at Urban Golf in London, as well as perhaps a drink or two before heading out for steaks, red wine and cocktails at Gaucho. Urban Golf offers the chance to try your hand at some of the world’s greatest courses including the likes of Pebble Beach so this will be a unique opportunity to enjoy hitting a few shots and picking the brain of the 2014 Ryder Cup winning Captain.

More details to be announced soon: https://www.yourgolftravel.com/events

 

10 - Desert Swing, Dubai

The impeccable Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club with views of the towers beyond.

The impeccable Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club with views of the towers beyond.

November and January are always big months for golf in Dubai and the UAE in general. The European Tour season culminates at Jumeirah Golf Estates each year, while in January, following the Abu Dhabi Golf Championships so impressively won this year by Tommy Fleetwood, you’ve got the Dubai Desert Classic.

This event and the host course, the Majlis at Emirates Golf Club had a huge part to play in putting golf on the map in the Middle East and the event always attracts the biggest names in the game, with past champions including the likes of Seve, Monty, Tiger and, more recently, Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

Since golfers first teed it up at The Emirates Golf Club, Dubai has kept plugging away and now boasts a whole host of world class courses which, as you can imagine, are complemented by some of the world’s best clubhouses, dining and leisure facilities.

And then there’s Dubai City itself...there’s no secret behind Dubai becoming one of the world’s best golf holiday destinations. It just has it all. 

Check out our array of venues and courses here for more inspiration: https://www.yourgolftravel.com/golf-holidays/dubai

 

11 - Sandy Lane, Barbados

Relax by the pool after a round at Royal Westmoreland.

Relax by the pool after a round at Royal Westmoreland.

Barbados is one of my all-time favourite holiday destinations and you can’t go wrong with a stay at either Royal Westmoreland or Sandy Lane, both of which are among the best resorts I’ve ever visited.

The golf offering at Sandy Lane is a little more extensive with 45 holes on offer including the world famous Green Monkey course, which is arguably the best in the Caribbean. But the two resorts are less than 10 minutes apart so there’s nothing stopping you from sampling all the courses in the area.

No matter which combination of holes you elect to play, a stay at either resort guarantees the utmost luxury, where fine dining and rum cocktails meet sunny skies and sandy beaches. If you’re in need of a little escapism there’s no better place in the world than the Caribbean.  

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/golf-holidays/caribbean-barbados

 

12 - Turnberry Invitational, Ayrshire, Scotland

Turnberry with the world famous Ayres rock and lighthouse. 

Turnberry with the world famous Ayres rock and lighthouse. 

Turnberry has always been one of the best resorts in the UK, and since it first hosted The Open in 1977, when “The Duel in The Sun” between Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson became one of the most legendary majors ever contested, the Ailsa Course in particular has been recognised as one of the very best in golfing world.

In a bold move though, the course was closed to reshape and reinvigorate the original layout, and while some thought it was risky to tamper with one of the most loved courses in the game, the “new” Ailsa has received nothing but thunderous applause since it reopened and I, from a personal perspective, think the changes have made it more spectacular and enjoyable than it has ever been.

I love visiting Turnberry, where we hosted a fantastic invitational late last year. I am really looking forward to seeing the new King Robert The Bruce Course which has taken the place of the original Kintyre Course. If that project is anywhere near as successful as the Ailsa refurb, I’m sure it will be a brilliant course.

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/turnberry-resort

 

13 - Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, 2020 Ryder Cup host

Whistling Straits 

Whistling Straits 

As I’ve mentioned above, The 2018 Ryder Cup will be hosted in Paris, but I’m already looking ahead to the 2020 edition of golf’s greatest show and Whistling Straits.

Don’t get me wrong, I cannot wait for Le Golf National this September, but I’ve loved the look of the Straits Course ever since it first hosted the PGA Championship back in 2004, and again in 2010 and more recently when Jason Day won in 2015.

The course looks so unique as far as golf in America goes and I’ve heard from various sources that the resort on the whole is just world class. This is definitely on my list of venues I want to play this year as I’d love to have played the course by the time The 2020 Ryder Cup rolls around.

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/golf-holidays/usa-wisconsin

 

14 - The Players Championship, TPC Sawgrass, Florida

The iconic 17th green at Sawgrass

The iconic 17th green at Sawgrass

While our main focus as far as Tournament Experiences go is usually on The Masters and Ryder Cup, we do work hard behind the scenes to offer our clients access to other prestigious tournaments too.

Outside of the majors, The Players Championship is arguably the biggest golf tournament in the world and the host course, Sawgrass is easily one of the most iconic and popular in the world.

Of course, Florida is one of the world’s leading golf travel destinations, with superb hotels, attractions and countless amazing golf courses all combining with excellent weather to offer a golf holiday experience that’s hard to beat.

Combine all that with a chance to see the world’s best players compete for “Golf’s 5th Major” and you’ve got a pretty special golf holiday on the cards…

Thankfully, as a Preferred Partner of British Airways, we can offer our clients Free Club Carriage as part of any Players Championship / Florida holiday too!

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/golf-holidays/usa-florida

 

15 - Northern Ireland Links Tour

Having played the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush a number of times over the last few years, I’m really excited to be edging nearer to The Open heading back there for the first time since 1951.

Royal Portrush is one of my favourite places to play golf and I know a lot of hard work has gone into making some changes to the course for next year’s showpiece event so I’m hoping to be able to get a round in there this year. We hope to be able to announce a hosted event with a familiar face for our VIP clients showcasing the amazing changes in the course for the 2019 Open. Watch this space.... 

Birdseye view of Portstewart. Northern Ireland is home to some of the world's best links courses.

Birdseye view of Portstewart. Northern Ireland is home to some of the world's best links courses.

Nearby you’ve also got courses like Castlerock and Portstewart which hosted last year’s Irish Open, and both are top class courses in their own right. If your travel arrangements suit, a round at Royal County Down, the world’s top ranked golf course according to many is a must as well.

Not only is Portrush such a great course, the town is a brilliant place to head out for an evening meal and a few drinks. I absolutely love The Ramore which has a number of excellent restaurants and bars so definitely check it out once you’ve finished up on the golf course for the day.

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/portrush-golf-tours

 

16 - Extreme 19th, Legend Golf & Safari Resort, South Africa

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Lots of the world’s best golf destinations are about so much more than just world class golf courses and that’s particularly true in South Africa.

The Western Cape & Garden Route feature some of Africa’s best courses like the Fancourt Links Course, Pinnacle Point and Arabella, and you can experience some amazing attractions like Table Mountain and Robben Island while you’re in the region. Of course the food and wine in Franschhoek is legendary and further North, where you have resorts like Sun City and Legend Golf & Safari Resort, you can also head out into the bush to try and track down The Big Five.

A jeep safari in South Africa I’m sure is on almost everyone’s bucketlist, but from a golf perspective, I’d love to try my hand at the Extreme 19th hole. The green is in the shape of the African continent and to get to the tee which sits some 400m above the level of the green, you have to take a helicopter, which also returns you to the green to complete the hole!

I’ve heard from a couple of the guys in the Your Golf Travel office who have played it that it’s one of the most exhilarating golf experiences imaginable so it’s definitely something I’d love to do the next time I visit South Africa.

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/golf-holidays/south-africa

17 - Italy

Sicily's Verdura Golf resort. 

Sicily's Verdura Golf resort. 

Having spent the day playing golf with Edoardo Molinari at The British Masters Pro-Am at Close House and spent time there on my honeymoon in 2016 I am now fully sold on an Italian Golf Holiday in 2018.

Italy might not be as synonymous with golf as other European destinations like Portugal and Spain, but there are some wonderful courses, particularly in the Piedmont Region in the North, as well as further South in Sicily where five star resorts like Verdura and Donnafugata offer a comprehensive stay and play experience. The Costa Smeralda is another notable luxury golfing destination with the Pevero Golf Club on the Island of Sardinia being truly exceptional. 

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/golf-holidays/italy-sardinia

Of course, the Italian culture is a huge plus point too so when you’re not playing golf, visiting one of Italy’s iconic cities such as Rome, Venice or Florence and sampling the sights and sounds, not to mention some of the best food and wine in the world, makes Italy all the more appealing.

The Italian Lakes such as Como, Garda and Maggiore are amazing too, so I (my wife) just needs to decide where to go first!  

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/golf-holidays/italy

18 - The World’s Largest Golf Resort, Mission Hills, China

As Your Golf Travel has grown rapidly over the years, new and exciting destinations and avenues have opened up for us and one such place that has always caught my eye is the Mission Hills Resort in China.

China is a huge growth market for golf and I’m sure we’ll see many more courses arrive on the scene in the coming years but when you visit Mission Hills, trust me when I say there is plenty of golf available on site…

Home to twelve 18 hole championship courses designed by a number of the most prominent names in golf including Sir Nick Faldo, Pete Dye and Annika Sorenstam, this resort is almost a country within a country! As well as amazing golf courses, there are a number of luxury hotels and arguably the most comprehensive facilities of any resort in the world.

I can’t quite get my head around a golf operation of such scale so I’d really love to see it for myself and China has always been a country that has fascinated me as a tourist destination too.

https://www.yourgolftravel.com/golf-holidays/china

One of many (many) golf courses at Mission Hills in the Shenzhen region of China.

One of many (many) golf courses at Mission Hills in the Shenzhen region of China.

My 10 Best Places to Play this Summer

While the majority of my time is spent making sure things are going to plan at Your Golf Travel HQ, from time to time I do get out onto the fairways too. The travel experiences below are, I believe, among the very best the golf tourism market has to offer.

Here’s what I’ve enjoyed, and what’s still on the cards for My Summer in Golf - insider tips straight from behind the scenes at YGT!

See you out on the fairways soon. 

Best golfing wishes, 

Ross Marshall
Co-Founder Your Golf Travel

1.  As a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, I always enjoy our annual golf trip, along with other friends of the show at YGT. This year we paid a visit to Palma, Majorca playing Son Gual which is undoubtedly one of Spain’s best courses. We also tried Golf de Andtratx (pictured here) which is a little “out there”, but seriously good fun.  

1.  As a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club, I always enjoy our annual golf trip, along with other friends of the show at YGT. This year we paid a visit to Palma, Majorca playing Son Gual which is undoubtedly one of Spain’s best courses. We also tried Golf de Andtratx (pictured here) which is a little “out there”, but seriously good fun.  

Pevero Golf Club

Pevero Golf Club

2. In June I travelled to Sardinia for the Costa Smeralda Invitational in aid of the Global Gift Foundation hosted at Pevero Golf Club. This is a superb event that welcomes celebs and sporting personalities to celebrate “La Dolce Vita” in aid of charity, taking in all that’s great about golf in Italy. Championship courses, stunning landscapes, all-out luxury and superb food and wine...what’s not to like?!

 

St. George's Hill - my home club.

St. George's Hill - my home club.

3. As a member of St George’s Hill, I naturally have a soft spot for heathland golf in and around Surrey, so it’s with great pleasure that we are involved with some wonderful events here. YGT host the annual Duel of The Jockeys event at The Berkshire, where teams are captained by Frankie Dettori and Jim Crowley in aid of the Injured Jockeys Fund, while we also sponsor The Nelson Trophy at St George’s Hill where we raise considerable amounts of money in aid of the Princess Alice Hospice.  As ever, I’m really looking forward to this year’s event on 23rd September.

4. Lake Como will always hold a special place in my heart. I spent time there during my honeymoon last year and a year on from then, I’ll be heading back to spend more quality time with my wife. We’ll return to Villa D’Este which is set right on the shores of the lake and is undoubtedly one of the best resorts I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.  

4. Lake Como will always hold a special place in my heart. I spent time there during my honeymoon last year and a year on from then, I’ll be heading back to spend more quality time with my wife. We’ll return to Villa D’Este which is set right on the shores of the lake and is undoubtedly one of the best resorts I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.  

Le Beauvallon

Le Beauvallon

5. While you might not typically associate destinations like St Tropez with stag weekends, that’s exactly what I’ve got in store for a good friend in August! I’m sure we’ll have our fair share of pastis and champagne, but I’m also looking forward to relaxing and taking in the surroundings during our stay at Le Beauvallon, and also playing golf at St Tropez Golf Club. If we have time, I’d love to try and have a meal at La Vague d’Or, a famous 3 Michelin Star restaurant, as well as of course soaking up the sun at Plage de Tahiti.

San Lorenzo 

San Lorenzo 

6. Although we have broadened our horizons since the early days of YGT, Portugal remains a firm favourite with our clients and I love the Algarve too. I’ll be visiting with my family soon and I’ve got a couple of “friendly” games of golf planned with my brothers at San Lorenzo, one of my favourite courses, as well as Monte Rei, which offers one of the best golf travel experiences in Europe.

Valderrama

Valderrama

7. Just like Portugal, Spain has been an important ingredient in the success of our business, so I always enjoy visiting. With Valderrama and Real Club De Golf Sotogrande, you’ve got two of Europe’s finest courses. Of course Valderrama hosted the first ever Ryder Cup held in Continental Europe, so I’m looking forward to some friendly Ryder Cup style rivalry while celebrating my good friend Chris Pinsent’s (co-organiser of The Nelson Trophy) birthday.  

Golf de Ibiza

Golf de Ibiza

8. We have a “work hard, play hard” mantra at YGT, so I’ll be blowing off some steam in Ibiza in September. As you can guess, I probably won’t be attending too many foam parties in Amnesia, but a round of golf or two at Golf Ibiza, which is really quite a stunning looking course, and boating in Formentera sounds good to me!

Lumine Beach & Golf Club

Lumine Beach & Golf Club

9. One of the most unique resorts we work with at YGT is Lumine Beach & Golf Club which sits on the Costa Dorada coastline about an hour and a half from Barcelona. I’ll be there in September to catch up with Calle Carlsson, a good friend of YGT and General Manager at the resort. There are two excellent courses there but I’m most looking forward to seeing the Beach Club and attending the Volcano closing party.

10. It’s always fun to catch up with Darren who of course has been a big part of the YGT brand image over the last few years. We’ve got the Darren Clarke Invitational coming up this October which will see our clients enjoy a truly bucket-list golf experience, playing the Dunluce Links at Royal Portrush which will of course host The Open in 2019, as well as spending time with the 2011 Open Champion himself!  

An insight into the life of Your Golf Travel CEO & Co-Founder, Ross Marshall

Ross headshot

Q: Why did you set up YGT?

My Co-Founder Andrew Harding came to me with the idea of setting up a high end golf travel business. We both loved golf and travelling and believed we could do it bigger and better than anyone else who was around at the time! With 11 years of hard work and real focus, thankfully we were right! Spabreaks.com, Racingbreaks.com, Love Velo, OutOfOffice.com and Albatross Club all just seemed to happen as part of the journey.

Q: Do you and your Co-Founder still get on?

Very much so. Andrew and I are still great friends  but at work we do not always agree.

I see this a strength though as we both bring different perspectives to situations which you need in a successful partnership. In high growth dynamic businesses such as ours you have to remain agile.

We tend not to do action or pursue something unless we both agree and we discuss many matters daily in private. Outside of work we still play and watch a lot of sport together and don’t really talk about the businesses at all. I was very proud to have him as a best man at my wedding last year.

Q: What were your earlier jobs like?

I had loads of jobs growing up. From doing a paper round as a young teenager, to working in a local sports shop to starting an online betting site at university through to my last corporate job at investment bank ING Barings. They were all entirely different but ultimately, they all taught me a lot about working with different types of people and varying management styles.

Q: What does your working week look like?

My days start early and end late.  I’m at my most productive first thing in the morning. I start my week with an early meeting with my assistant Alicia where we go through various tasks, agree my calendar and priorities and plan for the week ahead. She has me in breakfast meetings three to four times a week from 8am. I also have weekly meetings with senior managers across the business to give my input into key commercial projects and plan and hear what challenges they are facing in their departments. I’m often in the office until quite late much to my wife’s displeasure - or that’s what she tells me anyway! Thankfully our facilities manager kicks me out before the lights go out.

Q: What's the best thing about your job?

I’d have to pick two things. Hearing positive feedback from our customers about amazing experiences they have had on their holidays and the great people that I work with, I'm very lucky that I get to pick who they are. Thankfully most of the time we get it right. Over the last 18 months we have worked hard to build our senior management team and take the business into the next phase of growth. I feel that we are getting ever closer to our long-term vision becoming a reality. 

Q: Why are your businesses a great place to work? What makes them unique?

We are not a start-up anymore, yet even with near 300 people (and growing) in our Farringdon HQ, we are not a mature business either. So we are enjoying the best of both worlds. It’s entrepreneurial, it’s dynamic, it’s fun. People tend to think ‘golf’ when they see me, but we do so much more than that now. We have thriving travel companies across Spa and Wellness (Spabreaks.com), cycling adventures (Love Velo), horse racing trips (Racingbreaks.com) and of course our thriving LGBT tailor-made holidays business (OutOfOffice.com). We are a diverse bunch that is for sure!  

We value our staff and promote a work hard/play hard life balance. We have recently increased holiday allocation to a minimum of 25 days a year and reduced our core working hours to a 9am-5:30pm working day. We have an employee travel discount scheme called ‘Wish you were here’ which is expanding in what we can offer staff all the time. On a practical level, we provide fresh fruit bi-weekly, breakfast bars and  Nespresso coffee. More importantly we provide full training and clear objectives and progression paths for all our employees. It’s taken us a while but we are now in a place where everyone in the building knows what their individual objectives are and how they link back to the wider business goals. They also have the support they need in order to achieve their own goals through specific mentoring. And once those goals are achieved there are rewards- because we all need them! London and the South East are very competitive and it's increasingly tough to be a success here.

Q: What qualities do you look for when hiring new staff?

For us attitude, energy and a passion for pleasing the customer are essential. If you love golf, wellness, cycling or racing (depending on your chosen company) then you are flying! I feel those attributes are much more important than years of experience. You can’t teach attitude. I am desperate to work with people who have a real passion for sport, wellness and travel and are ambitious about their future. It is my job to harness that potential and help make their dreams a reality. It's our personal responsibility to provide a stable pathway to a better quality of life for our employees.

Q: How do you recruit?

We have some outstanding Resourcing Managers who manage the process internally end to end in tandem with our hiring managers. For Sales and CS roles it’s normally a telephone interview followed by an assessment day which can take a few hours where the candidates will get to find out more about us, their earning potential and also what area of sales they would like to go into i.e UK & Ireland, Europe, RoW or specialist event sales. After that an offer is normally forthcoming within a matter of two working days, pending references which we take very seriously. It’s a pretty quick process. New starters also get sent out an induction pack with information and points of interest that they are tested on when they join! For specific or senior hires we often work with the best headhunters.

Q: What do you want new staff to get out of their role/the company?

We want our staff to see progression and success within their role and the business. To see how their contribution affects the bottom line and importantly to be well rewarded for their efforts so they can enjoy their family life as ultimately that’s what life's all about. If our staff don't like coming to work, then we need to do a better job or they are simply not right for our culture.

We all spend so much time at work so none of us can afford to compromise on our enjoyment and progression in the workplace. We continue to invest further in learning and development from telephone skills, compliance and financials to customer service, be it on the job, e-learning, Personal Development Plans to a new “Fast Track” management plan.

Q: How do you relax and where do you love to play golf and travel on holiday?

I still play sport, mainly golf and cricket and travel extensively to unwind and broaden my perspectives in a globalised world. I enjoy spending time with my brothers, family and friends and try not to be stuck indoors too much throughout the year. Good food, BBQ's and good gin and wine is never too far away from me outside the office. I am also Chairman of horse racing and lifestyle syndicate the Albatross Club and a founding trustee of our charity Sporting Ambition.

My favourite golf course in England has to be my home course of St. George's Hill. Top of my list to play though is Pine Valley course in New Jersey - our brand ambassador golfer Darren Clarke still owes me a round there! Nudge nudge Slim..

I have learnt over time how important it is to take some time out and re-charge so for me a warm climate with a beach and some good golf courses and spas near by are paramount.

Although my wife is a fanatical skier, I prefer to stay closer to home and Island  hop around Europe. I will be in Majorca, Ibiza, Milan and the Algarve Portugal over the next 2 months. I can’t wait.

Saying that I recently travelled to Dubai with my wife to see the Dubai World Cup and I have to say their offering is outstanding for ticking all the boxes- even if the wine is a bit pricey! Outstanding hotels and levels of service. Ritz Carlton on the Palm is a new favourite there.

Q: What advice do you have for people wanting a career in sports, leisure and travel?

Never underestimate how far passion and determination can take you in life. Pick up the phone and make it happen. Life is way too short to sit on the bench.

Q: What fun stuff do you do with your staff?

There is always something fun going on. Last year we had Twickenham all to ourselves for a day, we played a touch rugby tournament with a BBQ and drinks. It was a great day. There is a company Cricket & Football team- for both the ladies and gents. We have quarterly socials hosted by a different department each time. A summer party and a big Christmas bash. This year we have an open roofed party in Hoxton and we have a phrase ‘if you can remember the Christmas party, it was a bad one…’ We also do company ski trips and regular familiarisation trips domestically and overseas most months.  

Q: What was the funniest thing that happened on a FAM trip in 2017?

A senior sales manager Ian - who was suffering from sleep deprivation following the birth of his first daughter - used the WC cubicle in Hotel Baia in Cascais for a 2.5 hr 'kip'..... whilst being hosted for lunch by the said hotel!!!!   Ooops Ian….guess you didn’t know I heard about that!

Q: Who was your favourite employee last year?

My assistant has told me this is inappropriate as I can’t be seen to have favourites! Thankfully I tend to ignore her -  It was a gentlemen called Neil who was outstanding and our employee of the year...

Q: Are you currently recruiting from new roles and what’s the best method of finding them?

Yes we are recruiting for over 50 new roles….we offer £500 travel vouchers for external referrals, which unsurprisingly has been quite popular with friends and family!

For more information on the roles and how to apply please see our careers page on this site or email recruitment@palatinategroup.com.