The stunning Monte Rei Golf & Country Club, in the eastern Algarve, was named ‘best member’ when the World of Leading Golf (WLG) announced its 2015 award winners in a ceremony at the Forest of Arden Marriott Hotel & Country Club.
And, the host venue of the 2018 Ryder Cup, Le Golf National, Paris, was also among the prizewinners.
WLG is an association representing many of the best-known and most highly regarded golf venues in almost 20 countries, and, for the first time, it handed out six awards, recognising the very best of the best among its membership.
Monte Rei features a championship Jack Nicklaus signature course in more than 1,000 acres of countryside, and was voted Portugal’s number one in the recent Golf Digest ‘best courses’ ranking.
The spectacular Costa Navarino, in Greece, followed up last year’s ‘best newcomer’ award with the title of ‘best service 2015’. The ‘environmentally responsible’ resort, in Messinia, in the south-west Peloponnese, comprises a number of distinct and complementary sites featuring five-star hotels, residences, spas and leisure facilities, including two stunning championship golf courses: the Dunes and the Bay.
This year’s ‘best newcomer’ award went to Stoke Park Country Club, Spa & Hotel, in Buckinghamshire, the UK’s only success of the evening. Stoke Park is one of just two five-AA Red Star golf clubs in England, and the historic land on which it stands is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The 27-hole golf course was designed by the legendary Harry Colt and opened in 1908.
The historic Hardenburg GolfResort, in Northiem, Germany took the title of ‘best welcome 2015’. The unique par-three 11th island green complex, on the Niedersachsen course, reflects the local legend which believes that in the 16th century a wild boar saved inhabitants of the local castle. The green is shaped like a boar’s head, as depicted on the Hardenberg family crest.
Royal Park I Roveri, in Fiano, Italy, was hailed for ‘best overall impression’. The Robert Trent Jones-designed Royal Park I Roveri, which dates from 1971, sits within one of Turin’s most important conservation areas, the Parco Regionale della Mandria – a 16th century hunting estate – and offers some stunning views of the Alps. It hosted the Italian Open for four years between 2009 and 2012.
And Le Golf National – fittingly, two years out from hosting the world’s most prestigious golf team tournament – was recognised for ‘best course conditions’. Its championship Albatros course – upon which the 2018 competition will be fought – was opened in 1990 and has hosted the French Open since 1991. It is currently undergoing renovation which will be completed in April.
Monte Rei’s director of golf, David Shepherd, said: “Naturally, we’re delighted to win best member club. It’s nice to be number one; it’s nice to win awards; but we have to look at ourselves to ensure (we) keep getting better – in food and beverage, in retailing, and in golf operations. We’ve got a really strong team and it’s a big award.”
And Yiannis Tsioukanis, Costa Navarino’s golf operations manager, added: “When you win an award it means someone has spent the time to look at you and rate you against all these other competitors. So to win is always an honour, especially when it’s done by your peers. And everybody who knows golf and has travelled knows the resorts we were up against for the best service award.
WLG’s chief executive Claus Feldt, who was present to hand out the ‘gongs’ to the award winners, said: “Merely to gain membership to the association, clubs have to meet stringent quality criteria, so to win an award in such illustrious company is quite an achievement.
“It’s been a great pleasure to be able to celebrate our members in this way and I’ve enjoyed being part of the judging panel. Congratulations to every single winner.”
The awards are decided partially by mystery shopper tests undertaken by WLG partner 59club – the industry leader in measuring and analysing customer-service levels for golf venues – and, in part, by representatives of WLG.
Feldt added: “59club is the market leader in establishing and analysing all objective data, but our awards also recognise the subjective, which is important to our members. So, wherever applicable, we also take into account things like ambience, enjoyment and aspiration.”
WLG and its member clubs are passionately committed to preserve golf culture, but not only by heeding to such things as rules, dress code and etiquette; they commit to the very highest of quality standards concerning the design and caretaking of golf courses and services, as well as the levels of ambiance and gastronomy.
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