Desert Springs & Millfield Inaugural European Schools Team Championships

Sixty-eight full time students accompanied by fifteen coaches and staff representing; Millfield, Bradfield, Durham, Loretto, Reeds & Wellington School, competed in the inaugural ‘Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships’ at the Desert Springs Resort.


Desert Springs Resort, Europe’s only international award-winning luxury family resort and championship desert golf course in the Almanzora region of Almeria in south-east Spain, was host to the inaugural Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships between Saturday 15th to Tuesday 18th February 2014.


The Team Championship was open to boys and girls of all ages with a maximum handicap of 24 and was held over 3 days (54-Holes). The tournament format was 4 Ball-Better-Ball Stableford Points on day 1 & 2 with day 3 being the Best two Individual Stableford Points Scores from each Team being combined to achieve the Teams accumulative Stableford score.


Lorreto School Golf Academy Winning Team Members Marcus Crowe, Cameron Blair, Oliver Duley & Yannick Artigolle with (Far Right) Loretto Golf Academy Director of Golf Rick Valentine.


“It’s a great warm up for the season ahead! The practice facilities were excellent and the competition was of a high standard.”


That is the verdict of 18-year-old Marcus Crowe, from the Loretto School Golf Academy based at Scotland's leading Scottish private boarding school, set in 85 acres of leafy campus just outside Edinburgh that provides an all-round education for just over 600 boys and girls aged     3-18.


Loretto School Golf Academy Director of Golf, Rick Valentine commented:

“This was a great event to start off the season. The teams enjoyed their stay and their golf has benefitted from both the competition and practice.”


The inaugural Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships got under way at Desert Springs Resort on Saturday 15th February with a practice round on the Championship Indiana course, providing all players the opportunity to experience Europe’s first and only true desert golf course in preparation of the tournament rounds, followed by a Welcome Reception evening at the Resorts Crocodile Club restaurant.


Sunday 16th February saw tournament day one take place on the Indiana course where the teams played 4 Ball-Better-Ball Stableford Points for team rankings.


Team ‘Loretto 4’ lead the way with 83 points, 12 under par followed by ‘Bradfield 2’ on 79 points, 8 under par and ‘Reeds 1’ with 78 points, 7 under par.


A student plays their approach shot into Hole 15 “Abyss” on the Indiana course at Desert Springs, Europe’s only international award-winning luxury family resort and championship desert golf course in the Almanzora region of Almeria in south-east Spain.


The tournament format was repeated on day two Monday 17th February, and in true golfing fashion this was the day for some teams to try and hold their position whilst others would be trying to climb the team rankings!


Team ‘Bradfield 2’ lead the way with an improvement on their first round total by 3 points, achieving a score of 82 points, 11 under par, however the main charge was made by team ‘Loretto 2’ who also scored 82 points, 11 under par, equaling the best score of the day and improving on their opening days score by 5 points.  Overnight leaders ‘Loretto 4’ dropped off amassing 72 points, 1 over par, which resulted in some movement in the second day standings.


Enjoying their evening meal at the Resorts Crocodile Club restaurant the competitors were informed of the team rankings going into tournament day three which were; ‘Bradfield 2’ with 161 points, ‘Loretto 2’ with 159 points and ‘Loretto 4’ with 155 points, claiming first, second and third position respectively.


Particular mention should go to ‘Millfield 1’ Team member Alfredo Curbishley with a playing handicap of 1 who scored a Gross 66 (5 under par) helping the team improve to fourth position in the team rankings!


A student plays their approach shot into Hole 18 “Last Chance” on the Indiana course at Desert Springs, Europe’s only international award-winning luxury family resort and championship desert golf course in the Almanzora region of Almeria in south-east Spain.


Tuesday 18th February was to see the final tournament round with the Best two Individual Stableford Points Scores from each Team being combined to achieve the Teams accumulative Stableford score. Further, there were trophies on offer to be awarded to the player with the Best Individual Scratch and Stableford Points score!


Best Scratch score was awarded to John Ralph from Team ‘Loretto 1’ with a playing handicap of 5 and an impressive score of level par 71. Edoardo Lipparelli with a playing handicap of +2 from Team ‘Wellington’ followed him closely into second place with a score of 72, followed in third place by fellow school team player Ryan Lumsden, who with a playing handicap of 1 scored 73.


John Ralph from Team ‘Loretto 1’ Winner of both the Individual Scratch and Stableford Points competition on tournament round three.


John Ralph cleaned up with the trophies on offer as he also posted 41 Stableford points to claim the Best Individual Stableford score of the day due to his lower handicap, beating second place Nick Hammond from Team Durham 2 who also scored 41 points. Third place was fiercely contested for with David Buttler & Lorenz Woehl of Loretto, Dominic Salmon of Durham, Alex Gadd and Lewis Brown of Reeds all posting 38 Stableford points. Due to having the highest handicap of all the players third place was awarded to David Buttler.


When all the shots were played and all the putts sunk the Team event was the closest of them all!


Team ‘Loretto 1’ who were 10 points behind the overnight leaders ‘Bradfield 2’, made a strong charge on the field as well as a statement of intent by posting not only an impressive, but also the days best-combined score of 78 points, 6 under par.


At the same time ‘Bradfield 2’ were loosing their grip on the Trophy slipping back down the leader board after posting a score of 67 points.


That left the tournament open to whoever could see it through to the end and Team ‘Loretto 2’ were up for the challenge, holding their nerve to post a final score of 71 points.


In the end, Team ‘Loretto 2’ who were lying in overnight second place staved off all challengers to climb one further place and become crowned the champions of the inaugural Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Champions by posting a three day total of 230 Stableford points, followed by ‘Loretto 1’ with 229 points and ‘Bradfield 2’ with 228 points.


A fitting and climatic end to a tournament played in the best sporting spirit!

17-year-old Matthew McClerry, from Bradfield College remarked:

“This was the ideal venue to hold the Schools Championships. Comfortable accommodation, excellent practice facilities, a challenging but enjoyable course and very tasty food! I very much hope that I get the chance to return to Desert Springs, not only next year but later in life as well.”


Colin Burgess, Head of Golf at Bradfield College commented:

“I will be deeply unpopular with my colleagues when I return. I have had a genuine holiday in spectacularly scenic and comfortable surroundings enjoying a very well organized tournament, excellent meals and a lifestyle to which it is all too easy to become accustomed. How soon can I book for next year ?”


Karen Nichols, Millfield School Director of Golf, commented:

“The tournament enables all age groups, levels and standards of golfers to play together. School golf is the future of golf and this event has provided opportunities to all. Desert Springs is a great resort with a great golf course that provides a challenge to all.


Stuart Wells, Millfied School Head Coach remarked:

“The tournament format worked really well. A handicap event where players of all abilities could compete against each other and all be in with a chance of winning. This is just what schools golf needs to help young players gain experience and develop as golfers.”


Simon Coaker, Desert Springs Director of Golf, remarked:

“Desert Springs has become renowned for successfully hosting warm winter weather golf training for national and county union golf teams, as well as club and school teams, from the UK and Europe. We are particularly proud of our relationship with Millfield School and it was a natural progression to partner together and introduce this event, which provided the opportunity for schools from within Europe to come together at one meeting point and compete against other schools in a friendly atmosphere, some of whom they would not normally compete against. The whole event has been a great success for all involved and we are already working on the dates for next years event!”


Accommodation for the Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships players, coaches and staff was provided in the Apartments, Townhouses and Pueblo Villas available at Desert Springs.


  1. For details of Golf & Sports Training Camps, Corporate Golf Events and Meetings at Desert Springs call 01242 680 116 or visit the website,
  2. To find out more about the Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships visit the website


Additional background Information

Warm weather winter training camps at Desert Springs


Desert Springs, Europe’s only international award-winning luxury family resort and championship desert golf course, is proving to be one of the most popular destinations for warm weather winter training camps among the growing number of schools with their own golf academies and teams, currently estimated at around 90 in the UK. Visiting groups have included golfing pupils from, Hartpury Golf College, Lee Westwood Golf Academy, Darren Clarke Golf School, Millfield School, Reading Blue Coat School at Sonning-on-Thames, King Edward’s School in Bath and Loretto School at Musselburgh near Edinburgh.


All school golf trips to Desert Springs are bespoke. If desired, the programme can include time away from the golf course for some local sightseeing in what many regard as ‘the real Spain.’


During their stay pupils have opportunities to swim, play tennis, football and use the gymnasium, trim trail, jogging tracks, paddle tennis and beach volley ball courts.


Desert Springs is easy to reach from the UK, thanks to three international airports. They are: Almeria Airport, around 40 minutes away by road; Murcia Airport, 80 minutes by car, and Alicante Airport which is a drive of less than two hours. Airlines currently flying to the region from the UK include easyJet, Monarch, Ryanair, Jet2, Jetair Fly and Thomas Cook.


Already well known as a resort specialising in family holidays, Desert Springs is gaining popularity as a centre for warm-weather training for cricketers and footballers, as well as golfers.


Accommodation is provided in the apartments and villas available for holidays and short breaks at Desert Springs. Meals are served in the resort’s Croc Restaurant, part of the family-friendly Crocodile Club that is geared up for a wide variety of leisure activities and the award winning El Torrente Restaurant at the Club House.


A spokesman for Desert Springs said that, depending on the size of the group and its requirements, the total cost of a four-day trip for warm weather training, including flights, would work out at between £350 and £400 per person.


The Desert Springs Resort & Golf Club

Facilities already completed and in use at Desert Springs include:

  • a par 72 -18-hole USGA Indiana golf course designed by former Great Britain and Ireland Golf Team Captain Peter McEvoy who was inspired by the desert courses of Arizona and California;
  • a golf academy whose PGA qualified teaching professionals cater for several international teams, for the women’s elite squads of the Golf Union of Wales and for many of the English County Union’s elite squads; PGA European Tour and LET players.
  • two hard tennis courts, two paddle courts, beach volley ball and two football pitches – one is a full-size grass pitch; the other is designed for five-a-side games;
  • a Cricket Academy with facilities that comprise; a six bay grass wicket and run up with nets, a two bay artificial wicket with nets, a full length artificial grass wicket, a Professional Bola Bowling Machine with 28 ball feeder, a slip catch cradle and a specific hard standing area, which provides outside space for facilities such as a free weights gym, stretching mats and a medical area
  • a Spanish colonial style Golf Club House with a lounge, bar, restaurant, locker rooms, TV and reading rooms, and a Ralph Lauren Golf Boutique;
  • The Crocodile Club which provides family fun at the heart of the resort with pools, equipped sand play areas, a kid’s battery powered John Deere Gator circuit and a games room as well as a Jacuzzi, sun lawns and a pool bar;
  • a health and fitness club and spa.



In 2005 Desert Springs won the Daily Mail Best Almeria Award and the Bentley International Property Awards for the Best Spain Development and Best Architecture.  In 2006, it was awarded the Spanish National Madera Verde Prize for Environmentally Sensitive Development.   In 2007, the El Torrente Restaurant received the New Millennium International Gastronomy Award for the Tourist, Hotel and Catering Industry. This award was created by the Trade Leaders Club with the aim of distinguishing companies from all countries, for the outstanding quality of their products or services.


The climate of the Almanzora coastal region

Desert Springs takes it name from the region’s desert microclimate, which is unique in Europe. It has the warmest winter weather on the continent with an annual average of more than nine hours of daily sunshine and maximum daily temperatures of between 16°C (60°F) and 30°C (86°F) throughout the year.  Annual rainfall is less than 200 mm.  The Almanzora’s coastal waters are among the cleanest and warmest in Europe, attracting both fish and diving enthusiasts.



Reader enquiries:

NOTE: High Resolution Images available upon request.

Simon Coaker

The Almanzora Group Ltd

The Manor, Boddington, Cheltenham,

Gloucestershire GL51 0TJ

Tel: +44 (0) 1242 680116