Ivan Morris Column - Time is ripe for golfing in the sun

Ivan Morris Column - Time is ripe for golfing in the sun

THERE’S no better time than now to jet off to sunnier climes with your golf clubs in tow.

There's a discernible cabin fever amongst the golfing fraternity right now, not to mention 'attacks' of General Electionitis, which means there is no better time to put the awful Irish weather behind and head for sunnier climes with your golf clubs in tow.

Talking to David McMahon of Premier Irish Golf Tours in Tralee about his 2016 offerings of Outbound Golf Tours to Spain, Portugal with Villamoura, Lisbon, Murcia and Malaga to the fore and also unchartered South Africa (from my point of view) has given me twitchy feet.

I have been very lucky to visit Villamoura on the Algarve of Portugal several times. Not only is there an abundance of golf courses but the quality is of the highest standard.

The seven Oceanico courses are outstanding but I do have to mention special favourites - the exquisite, San Lorenzo and a mere 20-minute drive from Faro airport, The Old Course designed by Frank Pennink, which is not only the oldest course in Vilamoura but also arguably the best. O'Connor and Faldo Courses near Sives are not far behind. You must play them both to settle the constant debate over whether Faldo’s tight and strategic course is better than the more open, hillier and slightly more user-friendly O'Connor Course. Pacakages to Portugal are usually slightly more expensive than their Spanish equivalents - 4-star accommodation for 5-nights, 4-rounds of golf and transfers from €795 per person is not excessive.

Moving across to Murcia in Spain sees more great options. Murcia has unarguably the best winter weather in the whole Iberian Peninsula.

The Jack (Nicklaus) Trap package has become one of the most popular golf tours with playable courses and affordable prices.

Premier Tours uses the exciting, Mar Menor Resort as its base camp where there is a fabulous practice facility with a grass driving range, chipping green and massive putting green.

Golfers can choose from 6-courses, all of which are good enough to have hosted professional Tour School tournaments.

El Valle Golf Club is probably the best of them. It's a medium-length, par-71 golf course featuring elevated, “Table Top” greens with deep, closely-mown run off areas and large bunkers.

At 6,100-yards off the medal tees and just under 7,000-yards off the back markers, El Valle is suitable for all bearing in mind that imaginative shot-making will always be rewarded.

The last time I was there an Irish Republic tricolour was seen fluttering in the gentle breeze high above our heads on one of the enormous rocks.

It left me wondering about the bet that must have been behind such a scandalous adventure? If it is still there I hope it will inspire to shoot a birdie on the spot!

Prices on the Jack Trap package start at an incredible €295 per person for 5 nights’ accommodation with daily breakfast, 3 rounds of golf and transfers to and from each golf course.

If you are looking for a once in a lifetime adventure, surely the Rovas Golf Adventure is right up there? This package allows you to explore South Africa from a luxury Steam Train while playing the best courses the African Continent has to offer.

Among those included are the signature, Zebula Gary Player (voted #3 in SA) and Leopard Creek (voted #2 in SA).

Another amazing feature of this package is the Extreme 19th experience with a Helicopter flight included.

This hole is the world’s highest and longest par-3. You start by taking a helicopter ride to the tee box which sits high up on Hangklip Mountain.

From the platform tee, it is a trifling 576-metres drive to reach the green but because the tee box is 430-metres above sea level the hang time can be as much as an astonishing 30-seconds.

Many of the world's best players have had a go at winning the ZAR 100,000 prize for a hole-in-one, which is open to all-comers but nobody has succeeded yet (not surprisingly.)

To create added drama the green is shaped like the African continent, surrounded by a single bunker. Premier Irish Golf Tours can offer a wide range of trips to South Africa, all include the option of professional guides for the entirety of your visit.

Another popular tour is the Ultimate Golf and Safari package. This includes 12-nights of accommodation at exclusive, 5-star resorts, with 6-rounds of golf including the #1 ranked course in South Africa, Fancourt Links and the #2, Leopard Creek.

The opportunity to experience the wildlife of Africa as you travel between destinations is unique. This package is priced at, including your personal local guide, an attractive €2,250 per person (excluding flights).

To be frank, there isn't much point in going all the way to South Africa for less than 10-days. It should be noted that unlike travelling to the USA, especially the West Coast, you do not have to deal with unsettling, time differences - a huge plus.

South Africa is a unique and 'out-of-this-world golfing destination that is growing in popularity year on year. For more information on any of the above, you may contact Premier Golf Tours by E-mail: info@premieririshgolftours.com or, Telephone- +353 894110421 or, visit www.premieririshgolftours.com

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