Loretto School Golf Academy at Desert Springs

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News Items

Dateline: 16th February 2018
Source: Desert Springs Resort
Subject: Millfield European Schools Team Championships

Loretto Academy Crowned Champions of the V Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships


Eighty-six (86) full time students accompanied by sixteen (16) coaches and staff representing; Millfield, Bradfield, Loretto, CT Sports, Reeds, Lancing & Whitgift School, competed in the ‘V Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships’ at the Desert Springs Resort between Sunday 11th to Wednesday 14th February 2018.


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). For tournament day one & two the format was 4 Ball-Better-Ball Pairs Stabelford Points. The format for tournament day three was team individual Stableford Points Scores being combined to achieve the Teams accumulative Stableford score.

Rick Valentine, Director of Golf at Loretto 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, commented:


Another fantastic visit to Desert Springs. All the staff were again first class throughout. The weather this year was just glorious. We are so well looked after, the pupils really do get a feel for playing in a ‘real’ event, they love it! Thank you to everyone at the resort, look forward to seeing you again next year.


Kevin Cademy-Taylor, Programme Manager at The CT Sports Academy remarked:


“Overall we had an excellent week. The golf course was in great shape with the greens being particularly very good. The Caddy Masters looked after all our needs with a smile and a professional outlook everyday. The Golf Reception were extremely helpful as were all the F&B staff.


We will most definitely be returning as this is one of the best organised tournaments of the year for us.


The V Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships got under way at Desert Springs Resort on Sunday 11th 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 & Dinner at the Resorts Crocodile Club restaurant.

Monday 12th February saw tournament day one take place on the Indiana course where the teams played 4 Ball-Better-Ball Pairs Stableford Points for team rankings. Teams ‘Loretto 1’ and ‘Whitgift 1’ led the way with 83 points, 11 under par followed by ‘Loretto 1’ and ‘Bradfield 1’ with 81 points.

The tournament format was repeated on day two Tuesday 13th 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 ‘Loretto 3’ led the way with the main charge on the field with an improvement on their first-round total by 5 points, achieving an impressive 86 stableford points, 14 under par, securing the best score of the day. Team ‘Loretto 2’ and ‘Millfield 2’ followed with a great effort to score 80 points, while overnight co-leaders ‘Loretto 1’ and ‘Whitgift 1’ could only manage to score 78 and 77 points respectively.

After day two the team rankings took on a different look. Leading the way was Team ‘Loretto 3’ with 167 stabelford points, closely followed by second place Team ‘Loretto 1’, six stableford point behind, with 161 stableford points and in third position lay Team ‘Whitgift 1’ with 160 stableford points.

Enjoying their evening BBQ & ‘Quiz-Night’ at the Resorts Crocodile Club restaurant, the competitors were informed of the team rankings going into tournament day three, which was to see the team individual Stableford Points Scores being combined to achieve the Teams accumulative Stabelford score.

When all the shots were played and all the putts sunk, the Team event was to prove to become a close event, which came down to the last team members!

Team ‘Loretto 1’ showed a great display of golf during the last tournament round, returning cards with 39 and 38 points for a total of 77 points, leading the charge and climbing spots on the leaderboard.

Overnight leaders Team ‘Loretto 3’ was up for the challenge and held up to the pressure extremely well to match ‘Loretto 1’ score of 77 points with individual cards of 39 and 38 points to claim the ‘V Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championship’!

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

Further, there were individual trophies on offer to be awarded to the male and female player with the Best Individual Scratch Score and Best overall individual Stableford points score for tournament round three.

Best Male Scratch score was awarded to Weigo Weisner from Team ‘Loretto 1’ with a playing handicap of 5,1 and an impressive score of 2 over par 73.

Best Female Scratch score was awarded to Ellie Lace from Team ‘Millfield 2’ with a playing handicap of 4,6 and a score of 12 over par 83.

Best overall individual Stableford points score was awarded on countback to Matt Ruffell from Team ‘Bradfield 2’ with a playing handicap of 13, who tied the lead with Max Apthorpe, from ‘Millfield 1’, both amassing a score of 5 under par resulting in 41 Stableford Points.

Karen Nicholls, Millfield School Director of Golf, commented:


A fantastic visit once again. We are all made to feel so very special during the week. The feedback received from the pupils has been excellent. Very much looking forward to 2019 and trying to grow the event even more! Thank you to everyone at Desert Springs.


17-year-old Sophie Caldon with a handicap of 3, from Millfield School remarked:

It’ll be sad to say goodbye to everyone here for the last time after four years, but every visit has certainly been something to remember. Thank you for all of your efforts. The course was in good condition as always and everyone made us feel so welcome. What a great experience!


15-year-old James Gray with a handicap of 6, from CT Sports Academy remarked:

“I enjoyed my time at Desert Springs so much! The course was in top condition all week and the off course facilities are outstanding. The staff were very helpful when practicing. Hope to be back next year”

16-year-old Evdokios Demetrios with a handicap of 7, from Loretto School remarked:

“I so look forward to coming to Desert Springs every year, I feel very lucky to have this experience.”


 Neil Kendrick, Whitgift School Head of Cricket and Golf, commented:

“Another brilliant week at Desert Springs. Everything is so well organised, nothing is left to chance. Look forward to seeing you all in April for our cricket camp, and most definitely we will be back for the Golf Championships again in 2019!”


18-year-old Alfie Fox with a handicap of +2, from Whitgift School remarked:

“One of the best School trips I ever had, Kirk and his team couldn’t have set it up any better, thank you.”

12-year-old Joe Gould with a handicap of 16, from Reed’s School remarked:

“It was the best from start to finish! Can’t wait to come back next year!”

The students, coaches and school staff were accommodated in some of the privately owned Apartments, Townhouses and Villas normally reserved for holidays and short breaks at Desert Springs and the resort’s executive chef was on hand to cater for the special dietary requirements of individual players dining in the Crocodile Club and El Torrente Restaurant.


For further information:

Kirk Lovell
+34 647 414 899


A student plays their approach shot on Hole 15 ‘Abyss’ on the Indiana course


Loretto 3 Winning Team Members Jan Voltas Moreno, Philip Lyons, Rick Valentine (Director of Golf at Loretto Academy), Timothy Chan and Jolie


Weigo Weisner from Team ‘Loretto 1’ Winner of the Best Male Individual Scratch competition


Ellie Lace from Team ‘Millfield 2’ Winner of the Best Female Individual Scratch competition


Matt Ruffell from Team ‘Bradfield 2’ Winner of the Best overall individual Stableford points score



From: Rob Langley, Loretto School
To: Carmen 

Dear Carmen,

Loretto School, Edinburgh, Scotland

I would just like to say thank you so much to you and the rest of the staff for the way last weekend went. I had a fantastic time and I know the school did too. They have already said they would like to come back next year.

Your course is superb and I can not speak highly enough of your staff.

Please can you thank them all for me. I look forward to meeting you all again in the future and I will be in touch very soon.

Thank you again Carmen

Best regards, Rob Langley

Tour Coordinator, Gullivers Sports Travel

News Items

Dateline:  18th May 2009
Source:  The Almanzora Group
Subject:  Schools' warm weather golf traing pays  off
Location:  Desert Springs Resort


Growing numbers of the schools with their own golf academies and teams – currently estimated at around 90 in the UK – are developing pupils’ playing skills by opting for warm weather winter training in south-east Spain.

One of the most popular destinations for golf training camps for schools is Desert Springs, Europe’s only international award-winning luxury family resort and championship desert golf course in the Almeria region of south-east Spain.

Visiting groups have included golfing pupils from Reading Blue Coat School at Sonning-on-Thames, King Edward’s School in Bath and Loretto School at Musselburgh near Edinburgh.

This year players from Loretto School visited for the third year running and competed with pupils from Reading Blue Coat School in the third Schools European Golf Championship. The annual tournament is organised by Tewkesbury-based sports travel specialist Gullivers which booked flights and co-ordinated arrangements for the four-day visit.

Says Simon Coaker, director of golf at Desert Springs: “From the start of their 36 hole Medal Play over two days, the 28 players – 22 from Loretto and six from Reading Blue Coat – realised that this was to be a stern test of their skills and ability, but they thoroughly enjoyed playing on the Desert Springs golf course.

“Both schools fielded some big hitters but it was 13-year-old Alexander Wilson from Loretto who set the pace early, proving that as long as you are accurate, distance is not a key factor if you want to shoot a good score.”

Despite a good come back from the lower handicapped players in the final round, Alexander held his nerve to become the 2009 champion winning by four shots with a total score of 153. George Maxted (15) from Reading Blue Coat School was the runner up scoring 157.

In the team event it was Loretto's Finbar Dalton (13), Florian Keller (17) and Edward White (13) who came through to win with an impressive 206 Stableford points accumulated over two rounds.

In addition to playing on the resort’s 18-hole Indiana golf course designed by former Great Britain and Ireland Golf Captain Peter McEvoy, pupils were able to benefit from one-to-one tuition in the resort’s Golf Academy.

Accommodation for the Loretto and Reading Blue Coat pupils and staff was in the apartments available for holidays and short breaks at Desert Springs. Meals were served in the resort’s Croc Restaurant, part of the family-friendly Crocodile Club geared up for a wide variety of leisure activities.

Loretto School’s golf academy assistant, mathematics master Kevin Reid, says that pupils who are golfers – including the 32 boys and eight girls aged between 12 and 18 who are in the golf academy – tend to mature earlier.

“Their willingness to play hard often is reflected in a similar approach to their studies,” he said.

Golf was added to Loretto’s curriculum when the golf academy was set up with a handful of students in 2003.

“We are now full at 40 with projected numbers of 50 from September, 2009,” reports Mr Reid. “We are very much the market leader in the UK and this is reflected in our recent results. The school does not just play matches, we compete in the ISGA tournaments (Independent Schools Golf Association) with numerous team and individual successes during the three years since it was set up). We also compete in the HMC Foursomes tournament and during tours throughout the world to compete in school events.”

Since opting for warm weather training at Desert Springs three years ago, the school has chalked up a marked increase in the number of games it has played against others across the UK.

Training at Desert Springs for pupils was the brainchild of Loretto’s director of golf, Rick Valentine, the golf professional grandson of one of Scotland’s most dominant figures in women’s golf for two decades, Jessie Valentine, who was dubbed Queen of Golf in 1958.

The Reading Blue Coat School has 40 golf-playing pupils aged between 11 and 18. Their events calendar includes the International Golf Tournament at Sun City in South Africa as well as regular HMC Foursomes. The dedication of Reading Blue Coat’s golfing pupils means that many of them have gone on to pursue the sport at university, notably in Birmingham, St Andrews and the USA.

Says Reading Blue Coat School’s director of Lower School studies, Jon Bruce, who selects and coaches the pupils who represent it at golf: “Playing in the warm weather at Desert Springs offered me an alternative venue to help maintain the enthusiasm of the school’s golfers while providing a valuable opportunity to compete prior to the Regional HMC foursomes semi-final against Seaford College.

Mr Bruce, who describes the facilities at Desert Springs as “excellent,” reports that plans are in hand for a biennial fixture in the resort.

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 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 on the new toll motorway direct to the Almanzora Valley (the toll is €11.5), and Alicante Airport which is less than two hours by road. 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.

The dates of the next Schools Golf Tournament at Desert Springs are February 25 to 28, 2010.


For details of training camps, sporting breaks – including three-day tuition packages with a professional, some including health and beauty treatments in the Day Spa – and family holidays, call the Cheltenham-based Almanzora Group

Email: tag@almanzora.com

Pictured is the winner of the third Schools European Golf Championship at desert Springs, 13-year-old Alexander Wilson from Loretto School.




Pictured at Desert Springs are (left to right) golfers Will Sadler of Reading Blue Coat School with Peter Templeton and Lewis Gregory, both from Loretto School.




Pictured at Desert Springs are (left to right) golfers Ian McDowall (Loretto), David Gaynor (Reading Blue Coat) and Tim Binder (Loretto).



Dateline: 14th March 2007
Source: Desert Springs Golf Club
Subject: Desert Springs Golf Fiesta
Location: Desert Springs Resort
Title: Loretto School at Desert Springs for Inaugural Golf Fiesta by Gullivers



The first 'Desert Springs Schools Golf Fiesta by Gullivers' was held at The Desert Springs Resort and Golf Club in Almeria South East Spain from the 9th to 11thh March with the involvement of Loretto School of Edinburgh in Scotland. In 2002, the Loretto School established 'The Loretto Golf Academy' the UK's first school golf academy. It attracts many talented golf scholars from around the world.

Gullivers Sports Travel is the UK's longest established and leading sports tour operator with over 30 years experience and well known for its involvement in major sporting events such as Rugby World Cups and the Ashes Tours. Equally important are the playing tours they organise for schools, clubs and universities. This event was the pre-cursor for what is set to be the most important annual event on the UK school's golf calendar; next year it will be attended by 12 school groups from across the UK. In the medium term it is intended to turn it into an international event.

Desert Springs Resort hosted the Spanish International Amateur Open just a week earlier and the course was in pristine condition when 16 pupils from the Loretto School Golf Academy each with single figure handicaps arrived at the Resort accompanied by Rick Valentine, Master in Charge of Golf and David Burton, Director of Sport, to take on the challenge of the Indiana in a 36-hole stroke play competition.

Accommodation was provided on resort in The Lodge @ Desert Springs and practice on the day of arrival was followed by dinner in the African ambience of the Crocodile Club, also on the resort. First Tournament day honours went to the Indiana Course itself with no players breaking 80! Second day scores were much improved; George Munsey finished on a total of 163, leading by 1 stroke, but Team Captain and +0.3 handicap golfer Tom Hayes recorded a best of the tournament 73 (2 over Par) to lift the shield as the first champion of the 'Gullivers Golf Fiesta'. Following the presentation a gala lunch was laid-on at the Resort's award winning El Torrente restaurant.

In his acceptance speech Tom Hayes remarked: - “The Indiana Course is awesome, an exceptional challenge and in immaculate condition. The Indiana is a very different course to the ones that we are used to playing on and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Thank you to Desert Springs and Gullivers Sports Travel for the organisation and support and we look forward to returning next year.'

Desert Springs' Director of Golf, Simon Coaker, commented: “This event has highlighted the events potential of the Desert Springs Resort and its facilities and is another example of how working closely with some of the travel industries' largest and most established organisations we can attract quality client's such as Loretto School. Successful events of this type of success reinforce the image of the Resort as a holiday destination which will of course be of great benefit to all members and property owners.”

The Loretto Golf Academy @ Desert Springs