European Tour visits popular PerryGolf destination Doha Golf Club

The European Tour continues its trek through the desert this week, stopping in Qatar for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

The Doha Golf Club is a popular stop each year for the Tour’s professionals, who know they’ll enjoy ideal weather and a course in mint condition which offers plenty of scoring opportunities.

Eddie Pepperell is the defending champion and the tournament has produced a host of outstanding winners, including Branden Grace, Sergio Garcia, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Retief Goosen and Ernie Els.

No different than Al Mouj Golf, the Greg Norman designed layout where Kurt Kitayama prevailed last week in the Oman Open, the delightful course at Doha remains a popular option for guests enjoying one of PerryGolf’s Cruises to the region on the 690-guest Azamara Quest.

For starters, viewers tuning into the Golf Channel’s coverage this week will see a beautiful piece of property, featuring eight artificial lakes, 5,000 shrubs, 6,000 trees and 10,000 cacti imported from Arizona. What once was a bland parcel of rocks and sand has been transformed into a magnificent landscape with the city skyline presented in the background. The clubhouse is also a ornate beauty, crafted in the old, traditional Arabic style.

Like any proven championship course, the Doha Golf Club delivers a closing stretch which can create wild swings on the leaderboard. Walking in the footsteps of the pros, PerryGolf guests can take their swing at taming these holes, handling the shots presented here.

No. 16 is a 307-yard par-4 which most of the field can reach with a solid, accurate tee shot, presenting an opportunity late in the final round for the pursuers to chase down the leader.

The 17th is a short par-3 to a kidney-shaped green which is protected by a bunker in front and a collection of rocks to the left. Again, birdies will fly here as the golfers often encounter calm conditions and receptive greens, fostering an aggressive mindset with a short iron in hand.

The 587-yard par-5 finishing hole can create a thrilling finish. Eagles are available – but bogeys lurk.

There’s still time to join The 2019 Arabian Gulf Golf Cruise hosted by PerryGolf co-founder Colin Dalgleish.

PerryGolf is proud to offer multiple options for guests who wish to visit the alluring and exotic Arabian Gulf. In addition to excellent golf at courses such as Abu Dhabi and the Earth Course in Dubai – annual host to the European Tour’s DP World Championship, won by Danny Willett last November. That event serves as the final even in the season long “Race To Dubai” won by Francesco Molinari, capping a terrific season highlighted by his impressive victory in The 147th Open at Carnoustie.

Attend the 149th Open at Royal St. George’s

 

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.”

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.

 

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.

 

World Cup of Golf shines light on Melbourne Sandbelt

The Metropolitan Golf Club is in pristine condition entering this week’s World Cup of Golf. (photo by Gary Lisbon)

While the 2018 portion of the current U.S. PGA Tour season concluded last week on frosty Sea Island, Ga., there’s still professional action on the schedule in the final weeks of the year.

The ISPS Handa Melbourne World Cup of Golf begins Wednesday Night in South Victoria, Australia. Golf Channel is televising the entire 72-hole stroke play event which features 28 two-man teams representing countries from around the world. The first round coverage is from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m., Eastern Daylight Time. Rainy weather is in the forecast for the first two rounds, which feature a round each of fourball and foursomes.

Host country representatives Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith enter the tournament on form and heading the short list of favorites. Leishman won the CIMB Classic on the PGA Tour last month while Smith tied for seventh at the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges and is ranked No. 33 in the world.

PerryGolf is thrilled to offer multiple options for guests wishing to travel to Australia.

The English pairing of Tyrell Hatton and Ian Poulter will also be a formidable duo, as will American representatives Matt Kuchar (who won with Gary Woodland in 2011) and partner Kyle Stanley. The U.S. has 24 World Cup victories while Australia and South Africa are next with five apiece.

The Metropolitan Golf Club was designed by J.B. MacKenzie in the early 20th century, saw modifications from Dr. Alister MacKenzie in 1926 and underwent a back nine renovation by American architect Dick Wilson in 1959. The course is consistently ranked top 15 in Australia and is yet another gem in the Melbourne Sandbelt, which also offers Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Victoria, among others.

The par-3, No. 11, measures only 154 yards for the participants in the World Cup, however the well-bunkered undulating green is certain to puzzle even the most polished professional.

 

PerryGolf guests enjoy a refreshing beverage after a round at Metropolitan Golf Club.

 

PerryGolf takes you Down Under with the Best of Australia Escorted Tour in 2020. 

Greens mown sharply into bunker edges is a distinguishing characteristic at Metropolitan and a prevalent feature throughout the Sandbelt, which is a favorite golfing destination of the American star Rickie Fowler, among others.

The affable Leishman, ranked 21st in the world, shares a strong affection for the strongest golfing region of his home country.

“It’s one of the best golfing destinations in the world. You hear of Bandon Dunes, or trips around Scotland, or Pinehurst and places like that but Melbourne rivals them all. In terms of a golfing holiday, you couldn’t get much better, particularly at that time of year if you’re an American fan. Get out of the American winter and get into the Aussie summer and enjoy yourself.” – Marc Leishman

 

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The Presidents Cup will be held at Royal Melbourne in December 2019, with the International squad aiming to break the Americans stranglehold on the biennial matches. Ben Everill, a staff writer at PGATour.com and an Australian, makes a compelling case on why Americans – or any other golf loving travelers – would be wise to plan a trip to Melbourne on a golf holiday. From penguin parades to fantastic dining, coupled with beautiful scenery and friendly, engaging citizens, it’s a wise choice indeed.

5 Sights to See in Melbourne, Australia