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.

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“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.”

Culture, Shopping, Dining and Coastal Breezes await in the Iberian Peninsula

 

Spend a week cruising the Iberian Peninsula on the lovely 690-seat Azamara Journey, stopping to visit enchanting cities such as Barcelona and Valencia or, to play golf at Valderrama, home of the 1997 Ryder Cup. Enjoy the delicious wine and warm breezes of the Algarve in Portugal, dine in the haunts of legends and savor each moment while basking in abundant sunshine and mild temperatures.

PerryGolf can help you fulfill this dream with two options to the Iberian Peninsula in 2019, one in May and one in September.

Book This Cruise by Feb. 28, 2019 for FREE Wi-Fi plus Your Better Half Saves 50%!

Barcelona, home to more than 1.5 million people, is a great walking city and a cultural powerhouse on the Spanish coast. Explore neighborhoods such as Barri Gòtic and the Raval on foot. There are also multiple modes of transportation, including eight metro lines, an urban rail network and two tram lines.

Breathe in the local culture, exploring museums and cathedrals. Taste a plate of esqueixada, a simple salad of hand-shredded salt cod, tomatoes, onions, olive oil, vinegar, and salt. Those who love coffee would be wise to memorize these three words – cortado (short), copa (regular cup) and jara (large).

Also, note that dinner is served late (10 p.m. on average) and gin tonic is the correct way to order the city’s preferred highball.

If it’s paella you crave, Valencia is the ideal destination. The rice-based dish originated here in the mid-19th century.  Enjoy at La Pepica, requesting a table on the terrace at the famous establishment where Ernest Hemingway and the bullfighters he admired ate, drank and carried on into the night.

Inside the City of Arts & Sciences, you’ll find the largest aquarium in Europe, an opera house, a science museum and a planetarium that offers live shows at night.

Expect temperatures ranging between the mid 50s and mid 70s in May and the mid 60s and low 80s in September.

Flamenco, Fiestas & Tapas are the order of the day in Seville. The Alcázar is another must-see destination. Originally founded as a fort in 913, it’s undergone many enhancements and improvements in the years since. Explore the stunning fortress complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its awe-inspiring palaces, patios, gardens, fountains, chapels, and halls.

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The Algarve region, in extreme southern Portugal along the coast, was once a collection of tiny, modest fishing villages but was transformed in the 1960s into a beautiful menagerie of hotels, villas and restaurants along the rocky coastline.

Delightful wines are produced in the Algarve; the main white varieties are Arinto, Malvasia Manteúdo and Syria, while the oustanding reds are Castelão and Negra Mole.

Interested in taking a dip in the Alboran Sea? It’s brisk, you’ll want to know. The water checks in around 63 degrees in May and 70 degrees in September. Better news lies in the average of nine hours of sunshine daily.

Gibraltar is a territory of the United Kingdom, strategically important due to its location on the northern side of the strait which separates Europe from African where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Mediterranean Sea. Spain tried numerous times to claim or recover the territory but was unsuccessful, ceding it to Britain in 1713 in the treaty of Utrecht.

Frankie Laine sang about the The Rock of Gibraltar, a 1400-foot high monolithic limestone promontory. Surrounded by the Mediterranean, “The Rock” enjoys a rich history – it was considered one of two Pillars of Hercules. Most of the upper Rock, starting just above the town, is a nature reserve with spectacular views accessible by cable car. Gibraltar measures less than six square kilometres and is inhabited by around 30,000 people made up of Gibraltarians, British, Moroccans, Indians and Spanish. There is a colony of the famous, camera-hogging Barbary apes who run free in a semi-wild state.

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Of course, a PerryGolf cruise also includes wonderful golf. This is a underrated region for enjoyable layouts. Royal Seville Golf Club, designed by the Masters champion Jose Maria Olazabal, opened in 1991 and played host to the 2004 World Cup (won by Luke Donald and Paul Casey of England). Alvaro Quiros, the long-hitting Spaniard, and Ireland’s Peter Lawrie won the Spanish Open the two times it was played on the flat, straightforward layout that challenges players with its small greens.

Valderrama is the region’s gem, however, equally enjoyable tests of golf are available throughout this cruise. Son Gual, in the heart of Mallorca, opened in 2007 to excellent reviews. Designed in the links style, the course has earned a reputation for being maintained in impeccable condition. Real Club de Golf El Prat located to the north of Barcelona at Terassa. It was the first golf course in continental Europe to be designed by Greg Norman to give it a unique character that places an emphasis both on aesthetic appeal and playability.

 

Bermuda and Charleston form the ideal combo for golf cruisers

 

You go to heaven if you want – I’d rather stay here in Bermuda – Mark Twain

Bermuda, located 665 miles east of North Carolina, consists of 138 islands offering a blend of British and American culture.

From bicycle trails in Hamilton to subterranean adventures such as Crystal Caves to exquisite shopping, dining and cocktailing, strolls on the the coral sand beaches amid an island vibe, Bermuda is a refined gem in the North Atlantic Ocean.

PerryGolf proudly takes you there in April on its 2019 Charleston & Bermuda Golf Cruise, which features a round trip from New York City and includes an option to attend the final round of the Masters. Partnering with the 690-guest Azamara Journey, you’ll be comfortable on Bermuda in April when the average high temperature is 72 degrees and the average low is 63 – the ocean registers approximately 68 degrees.

Azamara’s Guide to Cruising to Bermuda

The Mid-Ocean Club is the island’s shiny gem. Revered by recreational golfers, championship chasers and architectural aficionado’s alike, Mid-Ocean is a rare layout conceived and crafted by Charles Blair MacDonald, who is perhaps better known for his designs at National Golf Links, Piping Rock and Sleepy Hollow. He did impeccable work on the island as holes twist through undulating valleys and perch high on cliffs overlooking the brilliant blue water in Harrington Sound.

Tom Doak renovated the course in the mid-2000s and converted the greens to Tif-Eagle, ensuring they’ll roll true for decades.

I think Charles MacDonald, like the rest of the Golden Age architects, had a great insight into what separates great holes from average holes – and how they could be played by all levels of golfers. The latter doesn’t imply simply placing tees at varied yardage from the green. MacDonald kept the basic strategies intact at all three of his tee boxes by using angles and length to their best advantage. It meant, in his world, that different levels of golfers could play against each other in match play without giving all these shots we do today. – George Bahto, golf course architect and MacDonald biographer.

During your stay in Bermuda, also enjoy a round at Port Royal, which offers spectacular views to rival those of Mid Ocean Club. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1970 and the recipient of a $14.5 million renovation prior to the course’s run from 2009 to 2014 as host of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf. The 16th hole measures 235 yards from the championship tees, forcing golfers to carry the Atlantic Ocean the entire way.

Of course, this 11-Night, 4-Round journey departs New York City and makes its first stop in charming, historic Charleston on the South Carolina coast.

See why Charleston is known as America’s Friendliest City. Visit Fort Sumter, where the Civil War began, and tour the historic plantations such as Boone Hall, which may look familiar to those who have seen Gone With the Wind.

Or just stroll around downtown, shopping on King Street and treating yourself to a meal every so often. Not only is Charleston known for amazing seafood, the downtown area has also enjoyed a barbecue renaissance in recent years with renowned pitmasters Rodney Scott and John Lewis among those opening restaurants. Another winner sure to please any palate is Husk, the home of chef Sean Brock. It was Bon Apetit’s Best New Restaurant in America in 2011, developing its menu entirely from locally sourced ingredients.

There’s golf to be played in the Low Country as well.

The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island catapulted on to the global golf scene in 1991 when the United States and Europe battled in a thrilling Ryder Cup that wasn’t decided until the final putt as Bernhard Langer’s par attempt grazed the edge of the cup. The layout, ranked No. 25 in the world in Golf Magazine’s 2017 rankings, continues to thrill recreational golfers and is a walking-only course played with caddies.

Over on Isle of Palms, the Links Course at Wild Dunes is the first design ever crafted by American architect Tom Fazio, who has the most courses ranked in Golf Magazine’s Top 100. From the opening tee shot at Links to the gorgeous finish overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, enjoy a course that fits the landscape and feels natural as it weaves through the rugged sand dunes and windswept shore.

 

Top 3 Sightseeing Attractions in Australia – Off the Golf Course

Australia’s beautiful, mystical Great Barrier Reef is the largest living thing on Earth. It measures more than 1,400 miles in length and is visible from Outer Space. 

The timeless handiwork of Dr. Alister MacKenzie and architects of comparable acumen created incredible golf in the Melbourne Sandbelt.  There are myriad courses dotted across Australia that attract golfers and tourists to the land Down Under each year. It’s a particularly appealing destination to Northern Hemisphere residents eager to escape winter’s chill.

Of course, Australia is also a unspoiled country filled with appealing natural scenery, cosmopolitan cities of Melbourne and Sydney and home to some of the warmest, endearing and fun-loving people on Earth.

The Best of Australia Escorted 2020 is a popular journey with PerryGolf clients, featuring 12 nights and a half-dozen rounds of golf at gems such as Royal Melbourne, New South Wales and Barnbougle Dunes.

PerryGolf can fulfill your Australian dreams. Here are three sights not to be missed.

 

Sydney Opera House

From the brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda’s new musical to a John Lennon retrospective, ballets, plays, evenings filled with illusion and much, much more, there’s a diverse lineup of entertainment offered inside the iconic venue which U.S. architect Frank Gehry described as “a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology … that changed the image of an entire country.”

With more than 8.2 million annual visitors to the site, including 350,000 who tour the buildings, the Sydney Opera House is Australia’s top tourist attraction. It comprises multiple performance venues that present more than 2,000 shows to 1.5 million people each year, operating 363 days.

The Opera House enjoys a fascinating backstory. It’s located on Bennelong Point in central Sydney Harbour on what was known as Tubowgule – where the knowledge waters meet – to the native Gadigal people. They gathered here and danced, sang and told stories – a tradition that lives on today.

The Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, was awarded the project in a 1956 competition. He studied nautical maps of Sydney to better understand the landscape and crafted a vision in harmony with the area, capturing the spirit of the nation. With construction costs rising to four times what Utzon had projected, however, his relationship with the Australian government crumbled. And in April 1966, just halfway through construction, he departed the country and never returned again. The rising young Australian architect Peter Hall was appointed to take over and the Sydney Opera House enjoyed its grand opening in October, 1973.

“The human spirit must sometimes take wings or sails, and create something that is not just utilitarian or commonplace,” Queen Elizabeth II said at the ceremony.

 

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Considered the city’s most iconic structure, the Melbourne Cricket Ground was established in 1853, less than 20 years after Melbourne was founded. The nation’s primary stadium during 1956 Olympic Games, the MCG has also provided the stage for concerts by the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, The 3 Tenors, Elton John and Billy Joel. Popes and leaders of nations have been welcomed here and the MCG also provided military housing for U.S. Marines and U.S. Air Force during World War II.

Nestled in Yarra Park, a 10-minute walk from the heart of the city, the MCG is open seven days a week, located in Melbourne’s sporting center near Rod Laver Stadium, site of the Australian Open tennis championship. In addition to the epic cricket matches waged here, the stadium also is the home of Australian Rules Football, drawing near capacity crowds for the Melbourne Demons vs. the Geelong Cats and other rivalries.

The adjacent National Sports Museum features 3,500 objects from countless sports and is another must-see for visitors who share a love of sports and desire to learn more about cricket and the massive popularity it enjoys in Australia and around the globe.

(For more information on exhibits, tickets and opening times, visit here).

 

Great Barrier Reef

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and designated as a World Heritage Site, about one-third of the Reef is protected from fishing and other intrusive activities. Estimated at 20,000 years old, the Great Barrier Reef lies off Australia’s East Coast, contains an abundance of marine life and comprises 3,000 individual reefs.

A visitor to the Great Barrier Reef can enjoy many experiences including snorkeling, scuba diving, aircraft or helicopter tours, bare boats (self-sail), glass-bottomed boat viewing, semi-submersibles and educational trips, cruise ship tours, whale watching and swimming with dolphins.

 

Of course, don’t limit yourself to these highlights. Australia offers an array of sightseeing options and PerryGolf is thrilled to guide you Down Under, providing all the assistance necessary to help you enjoy the links and beyond.

 

Recent Visit to The Machrie, Isle of Islay, Scotland [Thru Our Eyes]

The Machrie, Isle of Islay, Argyll and Bute, Scotland - PerryGolf.com
The Machrie Links, Isle of Islay, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. (Picture Credit / Phil Inglis)

By Cameron Reid
Vice President, Sales & Operations

The Machrie on the Island of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland, had always been a favorite of mine having visited it many times since the 1990’s. Islay is famous as the source of world class malt whisky due to its heavily peat soil which creates a very distinctive flavor of whisky. The golf course was as traditional a Scottish links as you could find with as many as 8 blind tee shots and 8 blind approaches, a throwback to a different era. You had to play it on several occasions to learn the correct lines and how to play in the different conditions that face you. It wasn’t a long course but it didn’t need to be, however you had to find the fairway and that is where the difficulty lay. It was a special place to play golf, the feeling of isolation, just you versus the course and the elements. It was however not for everyone, you could say the course was too hard even for the average player, the blind shots combined with rough so thick you rarely found a ball that missed the fairway. Read more “Recent Visit to The Machrie, Isle of Islay, Scotland [Thru Our Eyes]”