by Stephen White
With breathtaking scenery, pristine skies and 300 days of annual sunshine, the Algarve could have been designed for golf.
Some years ago the same thought occurred to entrepreneur John Lazarus during a tuition session with PGA pro, Craig Jones. Today they run www.executive-golf.co.uk, which specialises in five-star golfing breaks in one of Europe’s finest regions.
“We played a few holes and got on straight away. Over time we came closer and talked about business opportunities. We wanted to create a niche, high quality golfing experience overseas, and within 12 months we were taking clients over to the Algarve,” Craig explains.
A 90 minute flight from London, Faro airport on Portugal’s south coast is within easy reach of all European capitals. Upon touching down, clients can expect a made-to-measure vacation thanks to the unique service presented by Executive Golf.
“There are no other companies offering the same type of holidays. Guests can have unlimited coaching and play in Pro-Am tournaments; they tailor their own holiday with our guidance, ” says managing director, John.
“If we have new clients, often we’ll meet them and discuss what they want to get out of their trip and their golf. It’s important to get an idea of that before guests arrive in Portugal to maximise their enjoyment,” Craig adds.
All clients can look forward to five-star accommodation offering unparalleled luxury and impeccable service, and these high standards follow through onto the fairways.
“We’ve played most of the locations on the Algarve now. Based on our experience and client feedback, we have selected around 20 courses that meet our criteria. Each offers premium quality, but our locations vary to reflect individual playing preferences. It’s great to be able to offer advice according to client requirements,” Craig adds.
On courses glittering with prestige and sporting accolade, guests flourish under the expert guidance of PGA professionals.
The Victoria has been home to the Portuguese Masters since 2007. It is one of seven championship courses at the Oceanico, where you can follow in the footsteps of the game’s greats. At the Royal and the Ocean at Vale do Lobo, fairways wend through pine woods and around picture-perfect lakes; your drive augments against a backdrop of infinite Atlantic.
The customer profile varies through groups of friends, colleagues, couples or individuals. However, all guests desire to unwind and improve their game in the calming Iberian air. While there are less intimidating sports for the beginner to break into with first-time success, the company’s bespoke style and laid-back approach ensure a rewarding playing experience is had by all.
“Our pros coach to all standards and they want to make you feel at ease at the tee. Having someone to guide you through the initial stages really helps to make positive first steps into the game. To have that in Portugal makes the whole process much more relaxing, ” Craig says.
John’s intimate knowledge of the Algarve and Craig’s sporting prowess mean their roles within the business are clearly defined. Approaching the same objectives from contrasting specialisations has proved an effective dynamic for business growth. However, it has taken time and effort to secure the logistical foundations, as John explains.
“We have made very close links with service providers from fine dining and villa management to golf courses and travel arrangements. Our ethos was always about quality without compromise, and we needed partners who understood that culture. It was necessary to take time in this process, but now we have implicit trust in the business’s partners.”
Conceived on the fairway, the company stands as irrefutable proof that the best business is done on the golf course. While not a strategy, creating an escape from the stresses of Britain’s grey skied 9-to-5 has produced the perfect environment for networking.
“The informality brings opportunity. Our guests are having fun playing golf, having dinner; the atmosphere is very conducive to chatting through ideas over a glass of wine. One of our roles is to connect people who we think will have a synergy, not only with their pro but also with their group,” John adds.
“Our operation is niche, it builds strong and genuine relationships with clients. As a result we get a lot of repeat business and fantastic feedback. It only encourages us to continually deliver excellence,” he elaborates.
A key ingredient to this success lies in John and Craig’s attention to fine detail and the sustained high levels of service they provide. Both guests and the PGA pros themselves are unanimously positive about their experiences with Executive Golf.
“Similar to a concierge service, we can book whatever our clients want. Whether it’s private catering, advice on places to see or the best restaurants that tourists don’t know about, they’ll have a fantastic time and return home a better golfer,” Craig adds.
Little wonder that when life slows to the rhythm of the Portuguese fairways, and guests clear their minds amidst the spectacular environs of the Algarve, no-one is in a rush to leave.
For more information on how to build your unforgettable golfing experience, visit: http://executive-golf.co.uk/contact.php