Lions, Tigers & Birdies: Experience South Africa on a PerryGolf cruise

Those who opt for the Kruger Safari might come this close to a rhinoceros.

A world-class city, terrific dining and wine, breathtaking scenery, an elegant ship and excellent golf with a genial group of companions, who may become lifetime friends. Yes, a winter cruise to South Africa with PerryGolf, a international leader in golf travel, sounds inviting indeed.

PerryGolf is pleased to escort guests to South Africa in January for a 10-night, 4-round cruise, hosted by Founding Director Colin Dalgleish.

This exceptional golf voyage includes pre-cruise and post-cruise options. Combined, they extend the trip by eight nights and four rounds. The pre-cruise portion includes three nights at the exquisite Jock Safari Lodge, golf at Leopard Creek, ranked No. 2 in South Africa, morning game drives, happy hour in the bush and ample time to relax and recharge in the middle of the day when the animals are resting.

Leopard Creek played host to a Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf match between Ernie Els and Nick Price in 1996. The course was renovated in 2017 and the greens were converted to Champion Bermuda grass. The par-5 No. 13 borders the Crocodile River and is unforgettable.

The Jock Safari Lodge is the ideal place to rest in between lion and tiger sightings.

Gordon Dalgleish, PerryGolf Founding Director, visited South Africa in 2014 and offered these observations. Cape Town has developed into a vibrant, diverse and cosmopolitan destination over the last 20 years, reckoning with its past to emerge an inclusive city that attracts more than 1.5 million visitors annually.

With an array of activities to experience and sights to see in a temperate climate, it’s easy to understand the global appeal of Africa’s southernmost city. During our cruise on the excellent 690-guest Azamara Quest in January, the average high temperature will be 83 degrees fahrenheit and the average low will be 63. Expect sunshine 90 percent of the time.

In need of a strenuous workout? Hike the Platteklip Gorge to the peak of Table Mountain, then enjoy a relaxing ride down in a cable car, overlooking the city. The national park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and in 2011 was designated as one of the seven new Wonders of the World.

Roughly an hour outside of Cape Town, the cities of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl featured rolling vineyards, grand estates, and three of the country’s top restaurants.

Read more about South Africa, one of the world’s top five golf destinations.

South Africa has a storied tradition in golf history, starting with none other than Gary Player, the eight-time major champion, who in the 1965 U.S. Open became the youngest player to win the career Grand Slam at age 29. Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods later broke his record. In addition to his role as an ambassador for golf and healthy living, Player is also an accomplished golf course architect. He was the initial designer of The Montagu at Fancourt, which is available to those selecting the post-cruise option.

His countryman Ernie Els has been a world class player for three decades, winning three major titles as one of the best players of his generation.

Pearl Valley is a Jack Nicklaus signature course, known for its excellent turf condition and constant threat of water hazards on the right.

Durban Country Club has been a frequent host of the South African Open and also entertained the European Tour’s best in the Volvo Open in 2013 and 2014. Zimbali CC meanders through the forest and the ocean as architect Tom Weiskopf met strategic challenges without disrupting the land’s delicate ecological harmony.

Of course, we’ll also enjoy three easy days at sea aboard our vessel, Azamara Quest. The Azamara experience is built on four key pillars: destination immersion, extraordinary service, fine cuisine and wine, and wellness and vitality.

Does November 2020 better suit your schedule? If so, consider our Escorted Tour

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5 Reasons to visit France on a Customized Golf Tour

PerryGolf guests traveling on the Best of Southwest France Escorted Tour this month will savor the beautiful Biarritz, which offers the country’s pleasures – cultural, scenic and gastronomic.

France is the ultimate destination for lovers of wine, food and culture. In recent years it has become a budding locale for golf travelers as well. The 2018 Ryder Cup held outside Paris at Le Golf National was memorable not only for the Europeans trouncing the Americans again, but also for showcasing a golf course that is but one of many highlights on the roster. France has four of the top 10 courses in a Top 100 ranking of Continental Europe, including Tom Simpson’s gem Morfontaine, which was ranked No. 1. Here’s more information on the best courses in France to help you plan your next PerryGolf Customized Tour to this phenomenal region.

The 15th hole at Le Golf National demands bravery and accuracy.

The Albatros course at Le Golf National, designed by architects  Hubert Chesneau and Robert Von Hagge, in collaboration with Pierre Thevenin, is a demanding layout, requiring accurate tee shots and courageous approach shots over the many water hazards that dot the property. Fontainebleau, set inside a forest, is a classic private layout originally designed by Tom Simpson opened in 1909 and redesigned on several occasions through the decades, including a Fred Hawtree touch up in the 1950s. Deauville features nine holes designed by Simpson and nine holes by Henry Cotton. A former host of the French Open, it’s a wonderful mixture of tree-lined, parkland holes and there are now 27 holes on the site. Medoc – Las Chateaux, set in the heart of wine country, features wide fairways bordered by heather, gorse, and broom, enticing golfers into the delights of carefully preserved nature. The fast greens, the influence of winds from the Atlantic Ocean, and the technical difficulties of the layout make this championship course a constant challenge. Chantilly Vineuil, 30 miles north of Paris, has also played host to the French Open (Nick Faldo won here) and Bobby Jones also walked these fairways. Another gem from Simpson, avoiding the numerous bunkers is a key to success on this classy layout with a British feel.

GASTRONOMY – Perhaps no other country is more synonymous with excellent cuisine. There are myriad delicious options scattered about. Enjoy dinner at Chateau du Tertre in the Bordeaux region. Savor a typical French brasserie dinner at La Coupole in Paris, where the seafood is excellent, Patty Smith played guitar on the terrace and authors Henry Miller and James Joyce were frequent guests. Delight in the wild turbot with summer vegetables prepared by executive chef Patrice Vander at Les Fresques, a Michelin One Star restaurant and perennial favorite among PerryGolf guests when they visit Monestier.

Conde Nast Traveler’s Best Restaurants in Paris

WINE – If delectable dining brings fine visions of France to mind, then the reds and whites on the table here, only accentuate those tastes, aromas and feelings. More than seven billion bottles of wine are produced annually in France, originating from vineyards sprinkled across the country in a practice that dates to the sixth century B.C., heavily influenced by wine’s role as sacrament in the Roman Catholic church. Wine-producing regions include: Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Corsica, Loire and roughly a dozen more. PerryGolf Escorted and Customized Tours to France often include multiple wine tastings, allowing guests to sample the spectrum of flavors in exquisite settings such as Château Smith Haut Lafitte. The Savoie region, in the southeast corner of France near the Italian and Swiss border is a perfect destination for wine lovers.

PALACES – The Palace of Versailles, originally a hunting lodge for Louis XIII, was completely transformed by his son, Louis XIV. It is a massive building, including the famous Hall of Mirrors. The state rooms are full of beautiful paintings, gilded furniture, exotic china, sumptuous materials and ornate rugs – all the trappings of an extravagant lifestyle and a must-see attraction for those visiting the area. Of course, there’s more. Château de Chambord, Marie Antoinette’s Petit Trianon and Château de Fontainebleau offer a leisurely way to pass the day.

MUSEUMS – With nearly 10 million visitors annually, the Louvre is one of the world’s iconic museums, home to the Mona Lisa and the Venus of Milo. Located in Paris, the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, open until 6 p.m. during the week and approximately 9 p.m. on the weekends. Musee d’Orsay is also located in Paris and is one of the five most visited museums in France while Musée de l’Armée is the French military museum and the site of Napoleon’s gilded tomb.

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Distilleries enhance the allure of St Andrews

Any trip to St. Andrews will certainly, hopefully, thankfully include a round on the Old Course, a couple rounds at the Dunvegan and a stroll around the campus of Scotland’s oldest university, where William and Kate met as students.

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Old Tom Morris designed the St Andrews New Course which opened in 1895. Avoid the bunkers.

Wander to the banks of the harbor and gaze across the North Sea toward Carnoustie. Tackle the New Course (which isn’t so New after all) or perhaps venture to the lovely Kingsbarns, a modern gem among the classics.

Tour the ruins of the Castle and the Cathedral, stroll the lovely streets in the quaint village, eat lunch at the St Andrews Links Trust and return to the Fairmont St. Andrews on the outskirts to absorb a scintillating sunset and majestic view of the town.

Then again, there are many other ways to enjoy the Home of Golf.

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Taking the time to tour one of the local distilleries is a fascinating experience that will reveal the method, nuance, time and skill required to craft world-class whisky, beer or, even gin.

About three miles northwest of St. Andrews is Eden Mill, Scotland’s first single site brewery and distillery. The Haig Family made spirits on the property throughout the 19th century, and current ownership revived operations in 2012.

Eden Mill combines an excellent water source to an outstanding, experienced international team of distillers, producing a palate pleasing product that aims to be the world’s best small batch single malt whisky.

The operation expands further in the summer of 2020 enabling Fife’s top tourist attraction to double from 25,000 to 50,000 the number of visitors it can accommodate annually.

https://www.perrygolf.com/theopen/2021-st-andrews-british-golf-the-open-championship-packages.php

While Eden Mill is an obvious starting point for a guest wanting to learn more about the fabric and backbone of Scotland, there are other options available near St. Andrews. On a summer day, delight in a refreshing gin-and-tonic produced in a farm cottage near Kingsbarns by brother-and-sister team William and Isabella Wemyss, proprietors of Darnley’s Gin. What makes their product unique? They say it best …

 We handcraft Darnley’s Original Gin using a combination of 6 botanicals including elderflower, coriander and lemon peel to create a classic juniper led gin that is smooth and elegant with fresh citrus and floral flavour. 

St Andrews is undoubtedly the home of golf – spiritual and physical – and nearby Lindores Abbey Distillery claims the title of ‘spiritual home of Scottish whisky. While you’ll have to wait until 2023 to sample the first run of the product, which was stored in Woodford Reserve and Old Forester bourbon barrels in 2017, it’s a fascinating trip to this 12th Century abbey and neighboring farm where whisky production dates to 1494 and King James IV.

After a 523-year hiatus, Drew MacDonald restored whisky production. Attention fans of the 1995 hit movie “Braveheart” or history buffs: William Wallace rested in Lindores Abbey after The Battle of Black Earnside in 1298 and the ruins are also open to the public.

Heading north out of St Andrews one arrives in the legendary Speyside region, in the northeast of Scotland, which has earned a global reputation by creating some of the best whisky in the world. The Macallan raised the bar in distilleries to a unprecedented level in 2018 when it opened a stunning £140 million building on the exquisite Easter Elchies Estate.

Golfers who enjoy a Scottish Highlands & St Andrews Customized Tour relish the opportunity to tour the majestic Macallan distillery and Visitor Center.

Italy: Blossoming Golf Destination

Villa d’Este is scenic and challenging and one of Italy’s many elite golf options.

Toward the end of Tiger Woods’ post-Masters press conference an Italian journalist asked the freshly jacketed champion about the 2022 Ryder Cup, which will be held for the first time in Italy.

Woods brushed off the query. The event is three years away. His answer was unimportant, anyway. The question – and the performance over the last year by Woods’ final round playing partner Francesco Molinari – are examples that golf is thriving these days in Italy, a country with 250 courses and 90,000 regular golfers.

Earlier in the week, before he squandered the 54-hole lead, Molinari was asked about golf’s growth in his homeland and to measure the impact of his impressive victory last summer in The 147th Open at Carnoustie.

PerryGolf’s 2020 British Isles Golf Cruise includes final round of The 149th Open.

“I think fortunately, golf is starting to be, you know, very different now from where it was when I was growing up, and dreaming of just purely being here one time and playing in one major, would have already been a dream coming true,” Molinari said. “So I think now, the situation is a lot better. Obviously I’m helping a little bit with getting golf in the news and hopefully, you know, kids will see more and more about me and about golf in general and pick up the game, and there’s going to be more Italians in the future.”

Molinari, No. 7 in the world golf rankings, wasn’t the only Italian golfer who competed in Augusta in April, either. Four ladies participated in the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur, giving another indicator of the game’s health in Italy.

With its Old World charm, beauty, culture and gastronomic delights, Italy has forever been a prime destination for travelers. Now, excellent golf options make it an even more attractive option.

PerryGolf’s Best of Italy Escorted Golf Vacation is a 12-night tour from Aug. 30th to Sept. 11th in 2020 delivering five rounds of golf, including a round at Marco Simone, site of the aforementioned Ryder Cup in September 2020. Located 10 miles from the center of Rome, the club was named for the castle on the property which was built during the Middle Ages.

Jim Fazio and David Mezzacane designed the original golf course in 1989 and Marco Simone won the bid for the Ryder Cup in 2015, selected over courses in Austria, Germany and Spain.

The 24 competitors in the 2022 Ryder Cup matches – and the guests on PerryGolf’s 2020 Tour – will tackle a completely redesigned golf course. Tom Fazio II (son of Jim Fazio) is working with European Golf Design to build holes that will test the best in the game. The renovation also creates a more efficient infrastructure, allowing the necessary room for hospitality suites and grandstands.

Golfers will continue to enjoy views of St. Peter’s Dome on a property enhanced with new ponds, lakes and an irrigation system for the golf course.

“We are truly honored and fully committed to host an ‘epic’ Ryder Cup,” Lavinia Biagiotti Cigna, President of Marco Simone Golf & Country Club, told RyderCup.com. “We are excited to share our passion and to open our doors to every player, amateur and fan who wishes to be part of the spectacular transformation that is taking place. We are working to build a strong legacy for the next generation of golfers.”

Marco Simone will carve its place in the Ryder Cup’s storied history soon enough. It’s the centerpiece of any golfing journey to Italy but hardly alone in a discussion of the nation’s elite golf courses.

Firenze Ugolino opened in 1934. The layout, designed by U.K natives Cecil Blandford and Peter Gannon, ripples through the Chianti hills, accentuating the landscape of olive trees and indigenous vines.

On May 1st, 1983 the late, great Seve Ballesteros chipped in for eagle on the 18th hole in the final round of the Italian Open to force a sudden-death playoff with Bernhard Langer and Ken Brown, which he won.

Villa d’ Este, located near the beautiful Lake Montorfano was also designed by Gannon. The course sits roughly 1,200 feet above sea level and meanders through a variety of native woodland areas. A quaint par-69, this well-manicured course attracts the nation’s premier golfers annually.

PerryGolf has delivered seamless customized trips to the world’s premier international golf destinations since 1984. We are uniquely qualified to arrange every aspect of your vacation.

Meet the PerryGolf Concierge Drivers: Joe Marshall

Joe Marshall (right) and fellow PerryGolf concierge driver Gerry Martin enjoyed meeting Tom Watson, 5-time champion of The Open, while accompanying clients to Royal Dornoch.

PerryGolf’s Concierge Drivers play an essential part in any Customized or Escorted Tour. They fill many roles during your trip abroad – from recommending restaurants to sharing nuggets of local history and culture while also making certain every part of the Tour from the airport to the hotel to the first tee runs smoothly on schedule. This post is the fourth in an ongoing series, during which we’ll profile the devoted, diligent Concierge Drivers who help PerryGolf guests: Play the Game. See the World.

Patience and a sense of humor.

Those are the keys to thriving as a PerryGolf Concierge Driver the way Joe Marshall sees it.

Marshall would know, of course, having served in that capacity for nearly two decades, shepherding clients around his native Scotland, pointing them toward the pubs and restaurants where they can hang with the locals, taste the flavor and savor each experience on their trip.

“It’s my hobby as well as a job,” Marshall said. “When I stop enjoying it, I’ll stop doing it. I like golf, I like working with people. I’ve made a lot of friends over the years at the golf courses and with the regular clients.”

It was through a friendship with another member at his home club that Marshall’s tenure with PerryGolf began. John Finnegan competed against PerryGolf co-founder Colin Dalgleish on the amateur golf circuit and was working as a concierge driver in 2000 when he told Marshall the company was expanding its tours.

Marshall, 60, was working as a taxicab driver in Glasgow at the time. He jumped at the chance to pilot golfers around the land where he’s lived his entire life and where the game was born.

“I had no experience in this line of work,” he said.

He adapted quickly and excelled easily, understanding that on certain tours there might be as many as 16 golfers, pulling in different directions, each having a unique vision of the ideal golf vacation.

Learn more about the VIP Coaches & Concierge Drivers

“There are only so many things you can do in a day,” Marshall said. “People are here to have fun. They want to laugh.”

Marshall keeps the mood light and the spirits high. He chuckles when clients arrive in Scotland with predetermined notion of the restaurants and pubs they should visit in the evening.

“They’ll look at guide books and think they know where they want to go,” he said. “The places that are listed in guide books, I reckon they’ve paid advertising fees to get in there. Very few are the ones I would use, I like the local flavor in St. Andrews, Turnberry and Troon.”    

As for his own golf game, Marshall said he’s never won anything other than the ‘odd five pounds’ in a match the club where he’s belonged his entire adult life, Haggs Castle Golf Club. The course, built in 1910, is a parkland layout considered one of the best in western Scotland. For many years it was site of the Glasgow Open and in 1986, the Scottish Open, won by television commentator and host David Feherty.

Near the end of a tour, it’s typical for clients to start planning ahead to their next visit to Scotland, wanting to experience the courses and cultures of one of the country’s unique regions, from the Highlands to Ayrshire to Aberdeen.

With a slight prod, Marshall lists his favorite links in Scotland: The Ailsa Course at Trump Turnberry, basking in the light of its recent renovation; Kingsbarns, host of the Dunhill Links and the first Scottish course to be built on linksland in 70 years when it opened in 2000; Royal Dornoch – an absolute must play for aficionados of prolific architect Donald Ross, who designed more than 400 courses in the United States.

You probably won’t enjoy the good fortune which spun toward Marshall and a group of PerryGolf clients on a trip to Royal Dornoch. They were honored to meet Tom Watson, the American legend and one of the first to convey to the golfing world the joy awaiting on the ancient links where Ross apprenticed under Old Tom Morris.

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However, having been there many times, Marshall will offer this piece of advice for those venturing north to the Highlands to play Royal Dornoch – play it twice, on consecutive days because the first round is certain to present a challenge quite fierce.

Marshall remains happily busy during the golf season from April to October, helping host a variety of trips with groups as large as 16 people and lasting anywhere from 5 to 12 days.

During the winter, he rests – as much as his seven grandchildren will allow.

His four sons and daughter all live within a five-mile radius of his home in Glasgow.

“They keep me on my toes,” he said.

He always looks forward to resuming his duties behind the wheel. Like other longtime PerryGolf concierge drivers, Marshall relishes the relationships formed through the years.

“It’s good when you get to know some of the clients,” he said. “Over the years we’ve become friends. And we stay in touch two or three times a year and get to know our families … build a bond and a friendship.”