Algarve golfers pitch and putt to a higher level
Swiss national Richard Amey is a well-travelled expat now proud to call the Algarve his home. Before settling in Portugal, Richard’s family lived in Spain for six years where young son Alex first displayed an interest in golf. In particular, the aspiring young player enjoyed pitch and putt which provided a great environment for developing his golfing skills.
On settling in the Algarve, however, it was surprising and disappointing to discover that there was a dearth of pitch and putt facilities and no official P&P organisations. While P&P exists in other parts of Portugal, the absence of courses in the Algarve seemed an obvious omission in the region’s stellar golfing portfolio.
Richard made a decision to address the situation and the result is that now, just two years later, the P&P dimension of Algarve golf has burst into life.
The fledging movement was named the Philia Cup, and events were first staged at the Oceânico Amendoeira resort in central Algarve. The rapid rate of progress last year resulted in no fewer than eight events, and the prestigious Vilamoura Golf Club also providing invaluable support.
The Algarve club agreed to establish the first ever official Algarve P&P club, giving players the opportunity to become formally registered and acquire an official P&P handicap.
The Algarve competitions soon gained national recognition as increasing numbers of golfers participated in the competitions. What had begun as Richard Amey’s wish to simply provide an appropriate facility for his son, had developed into a new and exciting dimension of golf in the Algarve.
Under the auspices of Vilamoura Golf Club, the latest P&P event was staged at the Balaia Club near Albufeira, with a total of 29 competitors taking part in fabulous sunshine. However, as Richard Amey explains, it has not all been plain sailing: “I decided to organise the Philia Cup to try and establish official handicaps and national rankings for players. It then took me one year fighting and trying to change old habits. This latest event at Balaia, the first of 2019, was a fantastic challenge in beautiful conditions for the 29 players, but also a great reward for those of us involved in making it happen. The people at Balaia gave fantastic support on the day and also with the event’s preparation. It must be said, too, that an absolutely crucial factor in developing P&P in the Algarve has been the fabulous support of Vilamoura Golf Club.”
Vilamoura Golf Club established the first official Algarve P&P club and registered the region’s first P&P players. The significance of this development is reflected in it being recognised by the Portuguese Golf Federation (FPG) and is the result of tremendous work carried out to promote the concept to various organisations, including local golf clubs, and ultimately of course the FPG itself.
Going forward, the objective is to now see even more Algarve golf clubs supporting Pitch and Putt for juniors, seniors and indeed any golfer wishing to participate in the sport.
Indeed, Richard Amey has recently underlined that, “especially with official recognition and backing, P&P in the Algarve has really taken off with players now able to register and obtain their national handicaps”.
Full details of the recent Philia Cup event at Balaia can be accessed on the Facebook page and on the FPG website, and the prize winners were as follows: 1st gross: Luca Lopes (Vilamoura); 2nd gross: Tiago Abrantes (Quinta do Lago); 1st net: Hugo Espírito Santo (Quinta das Lágrimas, Coimbra). The proud winners are featured in the photograph here with equally delighted organisers including Richard Amey (third from the right).
The next official P&P event in the Algarve is sure to be extremely popular once again, and details will be announced on the Philia Facebook page and FPG website.
By TOM CALLAN
Photo: Success all round at Balaia