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.”

Countdown to the Ryder Cup accelerates as team rosters take form

Expect to see the team of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth often during the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National. They won five of a possible seven points as partners in 2014 and 2016.

We’re three weeks away from the Ryder Cup, the biennial competition between the United States and Europe. The U.S. leads the all-time series 26-13 and holds the Cup after winning in convincing fashion at Hazeltine in 2016.

We’re counting down the days until the opening tee shot, no doubt.

Recent history, however, favors Europe, which has won the last five matches held on its home soil. The U.S. last won in Europe, in 1993, at The Belfry when Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth were less than a year old.

Le Golf National is the host course for the matches, which head to France for the first time.

PerryGolf is thrilled to offer a fully managed Escorted Tour to Southwest France in September, 2019. Guests will enjoy five rounds and four wine tastings during this 11-Night journey through the Bordeaux and Biarritz regions. While France might not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning a golf trip, the presence of this year’s Ryder Cup proves the country is rapidly growing in appeal and opportunity. Medoc Les Chateaux is a terrific links inspired design offered on this Escorted Tour while Saint Emilion is a recent addition, yet another polished gem from the creative genius of Tom Doak (Barnbougle Dunes, Cape Kidnappers).

Indulge in the rich gastronomy and exquisite wines of Bordeaux, enjoy the refined sophistication of elegant Biarritz, tour Saint Jean de Luz, a noteworthy tourist destination since the early 19th century.

As it pertains to the upcoming Ryder Cup matches, he 12-man roster for each team is rounding into shape. Both teams are stacked. Anticipation always surges in the days prior to the Ryder Cup, still expert analysts feel these could be some of the best matches ever. Earlier this week, NBC Sports golf analyst Mark Rolfing told Sirius XM PGA Tour radio hosts Brian Katrek and John Maginnes that the 2016 Ryder Cup was the greatest sporting event he’s ever covered or attended, including several Super Bowls and other major spectacles around the globe. No one would be surprised if these evenly matched teams in 2018 surpass that lofty mark.

U.S. captain Jim Furyk made three of his four picks Tuesday afternoon and there were no surprises as he selected Ryder Cup rookie Bryson DeChambeau, winner of consecutive FedEx Cup Playoffs events, and wily veterans Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. The American legends have combined to appear in 18 Ryder Cups, participating in 78 matches.

Team Europe captain Thomas Bjorn also added experience with his four selections on Wednesday. He selected Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Henrik Stenson and Paul Casey – who bring a wealth of winning memories in their combined 19 appearances.

Poulter has played well over the last year and has a phenomenal Ryder Cup record, including victories in 12 of 18 matches and a perfect singles record. Garcia has struggled this season but is on the record calling the Ryder Cup his favorite event. He’s claimed 22 points in eight appearances during which he’s been on the winning side five times.

Furyk has one final selection to make after this week’s BMW Championship at Aronimink, outside Philadelphia. While the soon-to-be 29-year-old bomber Tony Finau appears to be the leading candidate, Kevin Kisner, Xander Schauffele or Brandt Snedeker could play their way into consideration with a victory this weekend. 

Of course, the Ryder Cup has been contested throughout Europe over the last decade as the European Tour has shown the wisdom and foresight to expose an array of nations to the exciting matches in an effort to enhance interest and grow the game.

PerryGolf can take you and your favorite golfing partners to walk the same fairways and greens where matches have been decided, cups won and champagne-soaked celebrations spilled deep into the night.

Our 2019 British Isles Golf Cruise includes attendance to the final round of The 148th Open at Royal Portrush, and also a round at the K Club Palmer Course, site of Team Europe’s Ryder Cup victory in 2006. The Gleneagles PGA Centenary Course, which played host to Europe’s convincing 16.5 to 11.5 romp in 2014 is a popular selection on any of our Custom Tours to Scotland.

The dramatic finish at Valderrama was the ideal setting for the 1997 Ryder Cup when the late Seve Ballesteros captained Team Europe to victory over an American squad that included a rookie named Tiger Woods. Perhaps no golfer is more synonymous with the Ryder Cup than the fiery Spaniard. His presence, when the team expanded to include all of continental Europe in the late 1970s, helped elevate the matches to the worldwide status they enjoy today. Ballesteros and fellow countryman Jose Maria Olazabal, known as the Spanish Armada, breezed to an 11-2 record in their fourball and foursomes matches. Valderrama is a staple on PerryGolf’s many Cruises to the region, including the 13-Night Spain, Portugal & France Golf Cruise in late May / early June 2020.   

The Open field taking shape; PerryGolf takes you there in 2019 & 2020

The 147th Open at Carnoustie begins in 10 days. Final Qualifying was held last week at Notts (Hollinwell), Princes, St. Anne’s Old Links and Renaissance in the U.K., and continued last weekend on the PGA Tour where the top four finishers inside the top 12 at A Military Tribute at the Greenbrier who were not already exempt punched their ticket to Scotland. Kelly Kraft, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Kokrak and Austin Cook earned their way into the field.

Ballyliffin’s Glashedy Links – and its sister Old Course – are popular featured options when PerryGolf visits Ireland’s northern coast. Glashedy Links proved an admirable host for the European Tour’s qualifier for The Open – the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Ryan Fox, Zander Lombard and Andy Sullivan added their name to the tee sheet at Carnoustie through their strong play at Ballyliffin.

The final two spots in The Open are reserved for the champions of the Scottish Open and John Deere Classic – if those players are not already in The Open field.

PerryGolf is pleased to offer an array of Escorted Tours, Custom Tours and Cruises for golfers interested in tackling the majestic links of The Open rota and sites of Final Qualifying that are sprinkled throughout the British Isles. In addition we’ll guide you through the U.K. and Ireland’s multitude of other venerable layouts, including the familiar world renowned designs and the delightful hidden gems. Every package presents attractive options in course selection and trip duration, catered to fit the specific needs of each guest.

Royal County Down is consistently ranked top-5 in the world.

Anyone wanting to experience the action and excitement of The Open next year as it makes a historic return to Royal Portrush, join host  PerryGolf co-founder Colin Dalgleish on a 12-night, 5-round voyage from Edinburgh to Southampton, including rounds at Royal Birkdale, Ailsa Turnberry and Royal County Down. Attend the final round of The 148th Open and watch the game’s best golfers battle for the Claret Jug. (See all the details below).

https://www.perrygolf.com/golfcruising/the-open-at-royal-portrush-2019-golf-cruise-package.php

PerryGolf also delivers several other appealing options for golfers aiming to play Ireland’s best and enjoy the final round at Royal Portrush – here’s one example of such a Custom Tour: https://www.perrygolf.com/standard-quote.php/115139/The-148th-Open-plus-Dublin-Newcastle–Londonderry.html 

Those wanting to brush up on their history before next week’s championship by learning more about past champions of The Open will want to tune into “Chronicles of a Champion Golfer,” which is produced by the R&A. The first two seasons are available on Netflix, and elsewhere, while the third season is currently airing on Golf Channel. We watched the Nick Pride episode recently and found it compelling. Price, a gentleman of the game, discussed serving in the Rhodesian Air Force during wartime, the impact of losing his father at a young age and near misses at The Open before he prevailed in 1994 at Turnberry.

 

This is the eighth time Carnoustie has played host to The Open and the links considered the most difficult in the rota certainly has carved its place in the championship’s rich, storied history.

Padraig Harrington hoisted the Claret Jug at Carnoustie most recently, defeating Sergio Garcia in a playoff in 2007. The legendary Ben Hogan won The 82nd Open in 1953 in his only appearance in golf’s oldest championship. Hogan was also the last golfer to win the first three legs of the modern Grand Slam. He was unable to play the final tournament the PGA Championship, due to a scheduling conflict and the 36-hole-per-day match play format, as he came back from a horrific auto accident.

Yet, it’s quite possible that one particular championship at Carnoustie – The 128th Open – will live forever in infamy. It was a unforgettable moment in golf history, and one, unfortunately that will always be recalled for the man who squandered the Claret Jug and not the champion who eventually claimed it.

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Jean Van de Velde, a unheralded French pro, played flawless golf for 71 holes that week in 1999. He arrived at the tee of the daunting par-4 18th holding a three-shot lead, needing only a double bogey to secure the title. An errant tee shot was the first of a series of mistakes that ultimately created a three-way tie atop the leaderboard and a playoff won by Paul Lawrie of Scotland. (Here’s a good trivia question to ask while having a pint with your golfing pals: Who was the third participant in the playoff?).

This evening, Golf Channel debuts “Go Down Swinging,” which projects as an excellent documentary of the events 19 years ago. You can relive the agony of the final hole fiasco featuring commentary from the inestimable Peter Alliss, below. The answer to our trivia question is Justin Leonard.

5 Fantastic Courses in Portugal, the ideal golf destination

The Oceanico Faldo course is just one of many excellent layouts in Portugal, which is a popular and growing golf destination for travelers from around the globe.

 

Portugal might not be the first destination that comes to mind when planning your next trip. Yet in many ways, the beautiful country that borders Spain along the Atlantic Ocean presents everything required to make it the ideal place to enjoy great golf.

Warm breezes and gorgeous scenery are par for the course in Portugal. The food and wine selections are legendary. The region has developed a reputation for its laid back vibe and welcoming nature. In 2016, more than 11 million visitors visited Portugal and PerryGolf offers a variety of options for travelers interested in adding another stamp to their passports. In a given year, more than 400,000 golfers travel to Portugal to tee it up on one of the country’s 90 courses.

Our six-night, three-round Custom Tour includes two full days for sightseeing in Lisbon and Sintra. Or you can cruise on one of our partner Azamara Club Cruises’ majestic 690-seat ships and tour the Iberian Peninsula in May or September of 2019. Explore these options using Quick Quotes to find the package that suits you best.

https://www.perrygolf.com/standard-quote.php/93929/Portugals-Golf-and-Culture.html

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Whatever your pleasure, incredible golf awaits. Here’s more information on the entertaining variety of courses you’ll enjoy on a PerryGolf journey to Portugal.

Oitavos Dunes

Ranked No. 55 in Golf Magazine’s 2017 Top 100 Courses in the World this is the best of prolific architect Arthur Hills’ many excellent designs. While not a true links, the course offers views of the crystal blue Atlantic as it winds through thick strands of pine trees, shaggy sand dunes and wide open coastal areas.

The layout is filled with memorable holes and spectacular views and a pair of par-3s, No. 9 and No. 14, are certainly atop the list. Not extremely long by modern standards – the course measures a shade under 7,000 yards from the back tees, a quite reasonable 6,537 from the members tees and 4,950 for the ladies – expect to feel the warm salt air breezes freshening through the day on a course that plays firm and fast and delivers pristine putting surfaces.

As a bonus, the Oitavos Hotel provides some of the finest accommodations in Portugal, including a world-class spa, multiple fine dining options and a delightful pool, complete with a bar where myriad food and drinks are available.

Oceanico Faldo

We’ll let Sir Nick himself tell us about this terrific layout.

“The land at Amendoeira is dramatic and the project has the potential to be a real talking point in the Algarve. With so many courses in the region, that’s no mean feat,” architect Sir Nick Faldo said during his visit in 2007.

The six-time major champion designed a gem in the Algarve. Cacti, wild herbs and olive trees dot the landscape. As expected, the master strategist Faldo crafted holes which give the players options off the tee and reward the accurate player on a championship layout that measures nearly 7,200 yards from the back tees. The course is consistently ranked among the top 10 in Portugal.

“This was a very exciting project, which gave me a great opportunity to exploit my passion for design the same way I exploited my passion for playing,” Faldo said. “You have incredible views, beautiful undulating land and any time you have natural terrain like this, it is great fun to work with.”

Vale do Lobo

The 16th hole at the Royal Course at Vale do Lobo has been described as the most photographed hole in Portugal. The tee box on this par-3 is perched atop a cliff and features a demanding forced carry over a ravine to the green. The ninth, a virtual island green par-3, is another of the lasting memories for anyone fortunate enough to walk the fairways of this Rocky Roquemore’s design.

The noted American architect designed the course in 1997 based on the original drawings of the legendary Sir Henry Cotton, who won The Open in 1934, 1937 and 1948 and was one of the founding fathers of golf in Portugal. Cotton, the leading British player of his generation, designed the Royal course at Vale do Lobo.

“The Royal and the Ocean are two great courses,” said 11-time Portugese national champion Antonio Sobrinho. “On the Royal, you have to hit the ball straight – you’re going to be in trouble if you don’t. The Ocean is different, it forces you to shape more shots and I really enjoy that.”

Praia d’el Rey 

Cabell B. Robinson is an American architect who built a career creating outstanding courses across Europe. A protege of Robert Trent Jones Sr., the mustachioed Robinson owns degrees from Princeton University and Cal – Berkeley. He spent nearly two decades running the European office for RTJ and opened his own shop in 1987. Over the last 30 years, he’s designed golf courses in France, Spain, Cyprus, North Africa and of course, Portugal where Praia d’el Rey winds through dense pine forests and provides spectacular vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and Berlengas Islands.

The course opened in 1997 and quickly became a favorite for anyone visiting the region.

Penha Longa

Robert Trent Jones II is another of the esteemed architects to capitalize on the terrain and coastline to create, Penha Longa, yet another staple for golfers visiting Portugal.

There are 27 holes at Penha Longa and each offers a distinct challenge. The course is a past host of the Portugese Open, with its demanding tee shots and undulating greens testing the skills of the top professionals and amateurs. It’s typically rated among the top 100 courses in Continental Europe, where RTJ Jr. has enjoyed a long, extensive career.

Located a couple hours drive north of the Algarve region, there are many lakes and rivers feeding the lush vegetation in these foothills. Be sure to take advantage of your time on the driving range before the round, because the starting holes are demanding and force a golfer to be sharp from the outset.