4,000 golfers “lost to Portugal in just one year”

Portugal may be the world’s best golfing destination – with the Algarve classified as Europe’s finest – but it has been losing golfers nationally hand over fist.

In the last four years, data points to as many as 4,000 federated players dropping off the fairways.

Now, golf umpire and journalist by profession José Carlos Rodrigues has a brave new plan for pulling a “birdie” (if not an Eagle) from the jaws of disaster.

Backed by a founding team of 16, he has launched “Indy Golf” – a new independent association focused on winning back Portuguese golfers by giving them real value for money as well as attractive discounts on goods and services.

Explaining that most club memberships involve shelling out at least €1,000 per year to play just one course, Rodrigues said it was hardly surprising that thousands of hobby golfers had now ducked out altogether.

“If they were people who played once a month, and if they paid €1,000 a year, each game would cost them €100”, he told golftattoo website.

Notwithstanding his quirky maths, the “glorious game” that can see grown men throwing their clubs into palm trees is under pressure.

CNBC news reported earlier this year that stocks that have exposure to the sport are also under fire.

An example is German sportswear conglomerate Adidas which saw revenues for its golf segment decline 18% in the first half of 2014.

Thus Rodrigues’ intervention is a bid to stop the rot.

Indy Golf memberships have the added benefit of opening up the whole country to the nation’s golfers.

The bottom line is that for an annual payment of €145 (handicapped players) or €120 (non-handicapped), golfers will be able to play “practically all the courses in the country for prices that go from €25”.

For residents around Lisbon – the part of the country that has lost most hobby golfers in the last few years – green fees for 18 holes will range from €28 to €45.

Rodrigues has been gathering support up and down the country, not least in the Algarve, where clubs from Quinta do Vale in Castro Marim in the east all the way to Parque da Floresta in the west are reported to have opened their doors with open arms.

“I went to every club personally,” Rodrigues told golftattoo. “It represented a significant effort in terms of money and time, but I think it will compensate our associates”.

Rodrigues is now setting his sights on Madeira and Azores to bring island courses into the scheme.

Included in the Indy association will be various tournaments, the first of which, “Lisbon 9 Tour” will run over nine courses including Penha Longa and Estoril’s Blue Course during May and June this year.

To find out more, access: http://indygolf.pt

By NATASHA DONN [email protected]