II Desert Springs & Millfield Inaugural European Schools Team Championships

Sixty-one (61) full time students accompanied by fourteen (14) coaches and staff representing; Millfield, Bradfield, Loretto, & Bradfield School, competed in the ‘II 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 II Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships between Saturday 14th to Tuesday 17th February 2015.

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.


“A very well organised, structured and implemented tournament.

The golf was excellent and a very valuable experience for Loretto Golf Academy in preparation for the 2015 season.

Based on this years experience and excellent customer service, we will be back next year!”

That is the verdict of Ryan Scott, PGA Coach for 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.

The II Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships got under way at Desert Springs Resort on Saturday 14th 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 15th 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. Team ‘Millfield 1’ led the way with 76 points, 4 under par followed by ‘Loretto 1’ on 73 points, 1 under par and ‘Millfield 3’ with 72 points, level 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 16th 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 2’ led the way with the main charge on the field with an improvement on their first round total by 13 points, achieving an impressive 83 stableford points, 11 under par, securing the best score of the day.  Team ‘Loretto 1’ and Teams ‘Lorreto 6 & 3’, maintained the pressure on the field by securing the second and third best team stableford points score of the day, 79 and 75 respectively.

After day two the team rankings took on a different look. Leading the way was Team ‘Loretto 2’ with 153 stabelford points, closely followed by second place Team ‘Loretto 1’, only one stableford point behind, with 152 stableford points and in third position was Team ‘Loretto 6’ with 146 stableford points.

Overnight leaders ‘Millfield 1’ couldn’t repeat their play of day one and dropped down the leaderboard to fourth place after securing 69 stableford points, 3 over par.

Enjoying their evening meal 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.


A student plays their approach shot into Hole 14 “Tiburon” 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.


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

With the pressure on Team ‘Whitgift 1’ showed their intent to improve their standing position in the rankings from overnight fifth place, by posting an impressive score of 132 stableford points, the best score of the day.

It was clear to see that the Championship was going to come down to a battle between Team ‘Loretto 1’ and Team ‘Loretto 2’ who, going into the final round were only separated by one solitary stabelford point.

Team ‘Loretto 1’ were first to complete their round recording a score of 128 stableford points, meaning that all that was left for Team ‘Loretto 2’ to do was to ensure they could to the same to claim the trophy. Team ‘Loretto 2’ were up for the challenge and staved off any late challengers by posting a score of 130 points to ensure that they were crowned the champions of the ‘II Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championship’ by posting a three day total of 283 Stableford points, followed by ‘Loretto 1’ with 280 points and ‘Whitgift 1’ with 272 points.

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


Loretto School Golf Academy Winning Team Members Sam Ledbury, John Dunn Butler, J P Ralph and Nicholaj Dahl with (Far Left) Loretto Golf Academy Assistant PGA Coach Tom Pichard, (Second Left) Ryan Scott Loretto Golf Academy PGA Coach and (Far Right) Loretto School Director of Sports Dave Burton Director


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 Angus Flanagan from Team ‘Bradfield 1’ with a playing handicap of Scratch (0) and an impressive score of 2 over par 73. 


Angus Flanagan from Team ‘Bradfield 1’ Winner of the Best Male Individual Scratch competition     


Best Female Scratch score was awarded to Sophie Caldon from Team ‘Millfield 2’ with a playing handicap of 6 and a score of 11 over par 82


Sophie Caldon from Team ‘Millfield 2’ Winner of the Best Female Individual Scratch competition   


Best overall individual Stableford points score was awarded to William Gray from Team ‘Bradfield 2’ with a playing handicap of 17 amassing a score of 2 under par resulting in 38 Stableford Points.


William Gray from Team ‘Bradfield 2’ Winner of the Best overall individual Stableford points score


18-year-old Tom Meadows with a handicap of 22, from Loretto Golf Academy remarked:

“Although the course is narrow and challenging I have loved playing The Indiana at Desert Springs in the two years I have visited”.

“The Indiana course was in perfect condition and the catering was wonderful. The weather was sublime and our team won, all in all, a sensational week!”

“The Indiana course was in great condition and very challenging as always. The practice facilities are amazing, the best I have ever used, and the staff were all so friendly – a great week!”

Those were the respective views of 18-year old Chris Sinclair with a handicap of 23 and 18-year old Sam Ledbury with a handicap of 3.5, from Loretto Golf Academy.

Colin Burgess, Head of Golf at Bradfield College commented:

“This was an excellent tournament for our teams. We brought a very mixed group (H/Caps 0-26) and every one of them gained a great deal of valuable and competitive experience. The accommodation is first class, the facilities excellent and readily available, the meals much appreciated and enjoyed, and the tournament itself extremely well run.

Our less experienced players were made to feel both relaxed and welcome and all of our players thoroughly enjoyed being able to take part.

We played the course in a range of conditions from benign to challenging, so each round was totally different.

The information provided on a daily basis was very helpful, both with regard to the tournament schedule and getting prompt and detailed results.

Overall we have been made to feel very welcome and have greatly appreciated the help and hospitality that we have received.”

15-year-old William Gray with a handicap of 18, from Bradfield School remarked:

“The course was very well presented and managed in regards to a fantastic pace of play. The staff were all very polite and the food was excellent. I hope to be back next year!”

15-year-old Angus Flanagan with a handicap of 0, from Bradfield School remarked:

“I loved the 19th Hole- Service, awesome practice facilities and the staff were all so helpful and friendly.”


Karen Nichols, Millfield School Director of Golf, commented:

“A great few days of golf on a challenging course with greens in excellent condition.

It was great to see young golfers mixing from different schools, making new friendships along the way.

It is always a fantastic experience at Desert Springs and Millfield School are pleased to have our association with the resort.

Thank you to you all, it was a fantastic tournament and we look forward to returning next year!”

18-year-old Beth Scott with a handicap of 5, from Millfield Golf Academy remarked:

“Thank you for a great stay, the apartment was lovely!

The staff were always there and willing to help us.

The course was in brilliant condition and the scenery was wonderful.

Thank you for a brilliant stay and I will hopefully see you soon”

16-year-old Elliot Dawson with a handicap of 5, from Millfield Golf Academy remarked:

“The golf was an entirely unique experience and I have never played a course like it.

The course layout was perfect for the event.

The apartment was very warming and we all felt very welcomed by the staff.”

Simon Coaker, Desert Springs Director of Golf, remarked:

“Desert Springs has become renowned for successfully hosting warm weather winter golf training camps for national and county union golf teams, as well as club and school teams, from throughout the UK and Europe. We are particularly proud of our relationship with Millfield School and we are extremely proud to partner together with Millfield School and host this event, which provides 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. Now in its second year 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 II Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships players, coaches and staff was provided in the Apartments, Townhouses and Pueblo Villas available at Desert Springs.



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
  • 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

e: tag@almanzora.com