Seventy eight (78) full time students accompanied by fifteen (15) coaches and staff representing; Millfield, Bradfield, Loretto, CT Sports, Uppingham & Whitgift School, competed in the ‘IV Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships’ at the Desert Springs Resort between Sunday 12th to Wednesday 15th February 2017.
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:
“Our squad have been working on their game throughout the winter in the UK and this is a great time for us to attend the event in advance of the school tournament schedule.
To be here at Desert Springs with the great climate, course and practice facilities, is obviously very beneficial for our players’ golf development. On top of that, to have three competitive rounds on a championship desert course provides for a very enjoyable week.
The event organisation is great. It’s got the feel of a true tournament, the players are announced on the tee, have their photos taken, attend an opening ceremony and prize giving, all of which provides great experience for them that they can take on with them for when they are either representing their schools in the National Finals or in their own individual events.”
Neil Kendrick, Head of Cricket and Golf at Whitgift School remarked:
“Coming this time of the year, playing on excellent greens and on fairways in such great condition is fantastic for the players golf development.
The players are always very positive about the course and the tournament format is designed to ensure that it’s not just about the best golfers, anybody can do well and contribute for the benefit of the team.”
The IV Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championships got under way at Desert Springs Resort on Sunday 12th 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 13th 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 3’ and ‘Loretto 5’ led the way with 75 points, 3 under par followed by ‘Loretto 1’ with 74 points and ‘Bradfield 1’ and ‘Uppingham 1’ on 72 points, level par.
A student plays their approach shot on Hole 15 “Abyss” on the Indiana course
The tournament format was repeated on day two Tuesday 14th 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 ‘Millfield 1’ led the way with the main charge on the field with an improvement on their first round total by 20 points!, achieving an impressive 90 stableford points, 18 under par, securing the best score of the day. Team ‘Loretto 3’ and ‘Loretto 1’, maintained the pressure on the field by securing the second and third best team stableford points score of the day, 86 and 83 respectively.
After day two the team rankings took on a different look. Leading the way was Team ‘Loretto 3’ with 161 stabelford points, closely followed by second place Team ‘Millfield 1’, only one stableford point behind, with 160 stableford points and in third position lay Team ‘Loretto 1’ with 157 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.
A student plays their approach shot into Hole 14 “Tiburon” on the Indiana course
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 ‘Millfield 3’ showed a great display of golf during the last tournament round, returning cards with 41 and 40 points, leading the charge and climbing spots on the leaderboard.
However, It was clear to see that the Championship was going to come down to a battle between Team ‘Millfield 1’, ‘Loretto 3’ and Team ‘Loretto 1’ who, going into the final round were only separated by four stabelford points.
Team ‘Loretto 1’ were first to complete their round recording a score of 67 stableford points, insufficient to battle for the title, followed by Team ‘Loretto 3’ with 71 points, meaning that Team ‘Millfield 1’ would need 73 points to claim the trophy. Team ‘Millfield 1’ accepted the challenge and posted a score of 74 points, with rounds of 36 and 38 points to claim the ‘IV Desert Springs & Millfield European Schools Team Championship’!
A fitting and climatic end to a tournament played in the best sporting spirit!
Millfiled School Winning Team Members; Ellie Lace, Louis Tydeman and Remus Gorgevik-Trinder
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 Charlie Goss from Team ‘Millfield 3’ with a playing handicap of 8,7 and an impressive score of 3 over par 74.
Charlie Goss from Team ‘Millfield 3’ Winner of the Best Male Individual Scratch competition
Best Female Scratch score was awarded to Louise Caldon from Team ‘Millfield 3’ with a playing handicap of 4,8 and a score of 2 over par 73.
Louise Caldon from Team ‘Millfield 3’ Winner of the Best Female Individual Scratch competition
Best overall individual Stableford points score was awarded to Felix Horsnall from Team ‘Millfield 5’ with a playing handicap of 15,1 amassing a score of 6 under par resulting in 42 Stableford Points.
Felix Horsnall from Team ‘Millfield 5’ Winner of the Best overall individual Stableford points score
Killian McGinley, with an exact handicap of 4,7, from Bradfield College commented:
“I have had a fantastic time over the last few days at Desert Springs. The quality and condition of the golf course and practice facilities was sublime. The villas were perfect and very accommodating, and the team performed well, finishing 3rd. Thank you to Kirk for organizing such a well organized and structured event. We are all looking forward to winning it next year!
“Thank you Kirk for organizing a great few days, the course was in great condition, the practice facilities were amazing and the food was really good, especially the lunches we were given on the course. I would also like to say thank you to the Desert Springs team who looked after us really well. We are all looking forward to coming back next year.”
“What a way to spend a half term! 20º in the middle of February, and I got to play Desert Springs for a week. Honestly, when trying to think of a negative I really struggled – the food was superb, the service and hospitality was excellent, and above all, the golf course was in brilliant condition. Free unlimited use of the practice facilities on top of that.”
”It’s been an awesome week. Organisation was flawless since we arrived at Murcia airport. The course (especially the greens) was perfect. The class short game area can’t be beaten. It was also a really good competitive format. Hopefully we’ll be back next year.”
Those were the respective views of Tom Watson (6 handicap), from Bradfield College, Ollie Worrall and Charles Petrie, 18 and 17 year old who play off 12 and 1 handicap respectively, both from Uppingham College.
Karen Nicholls, Millfield School Director of Golf, commented:
“Another wonderful trip. We are made feel so welcome and truly valued during our stay. All the staff go above and beyond to ensure that the event is a complete success. The tournament gets better and better, very excited to see how much we can grow in 2018. Thank you to all at Desert Springs. See you next year!”
Kevin Cademy-Taylor, Program Manager CT Sports Academy, commented:
“Overall an excellent week for myself and the players. The golf course was in great shape, particularly on the greens. The event itself was a real success. As first timers, we were made so welcome by the Millfield staff.
The Desert Springs Staff have been excellent all week, so helpful and always checking we were OK.”
17-year-old John Paterson with a handicap of 0, from CT Sports Academy remarked:
“Overall, a great week. Course was in great condition and facilities were world class.”
18-year-old James Robertson with a handicap of 10,5, from Uppingham College remarked:
“What a week playing a great course in 20ºC and able to use my shorts! The course was in great condition, with a good variation of holes. The food was amazing. Overall, a fantastic week and I would definitely come back again.”
The students coaches and school staff were accommodated in some of the privately owned Apartments, Townhouses and Pueblo 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.