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Sports Patrol

Sports Patrol

Join Mark, a former Cricket player, avid golfer and all-around sports enthusiast as he explores the best places to play! A sports and travel writer based in England, Mark has had the opportunity to play some amazing courses around the world. He will share his experiences and stories as well as his handicaps. We also want to hear from you in all areas from tennis to skiing to golf. Fore!

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  1. Apes Hill Golf Club (16th hole)

    Barbados - Lesser Antilles

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    When it comes to top holiday destinations, size really doesn’t matter...and Barbados clearly proves the point. One of the smaller islands that form the archipelago chain of the Lesser Antilles, Barbados is barely 34 kilometres in length and only 23 kilometres wide. Yet its 431 square kilometres is home to over 80 billionaires....yes, you read that correctly, not common or garden millionaires, but billionaires...and they can’t all be wrong, can they?. With stunning beaches, top restaurants and happening night spots that rest hand-in-hand with excellent golf courses, a world-famous international cricket ground, quaint horse racing track at Garrison Savannah, and elite polo facilities all go to make Barbados one of the best, most sought after and yet friendliest tourist destinations in the entire Caribbean.

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  2. Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres. Picture: Mark Pennell

    Catalunya, Spain

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    An hour’s drive north of the wonderfully historic city of Barcelona you begin to climb into the foothills of the fiercely independent and stunningly beautiful region of Catalunya. Its northernmost coastal area, called the Costa Brava, boasts a rugged 40-mile stretch of sandy beaches that sweep from the Spanish capital up to the border with France. But, if you aren’t interested in the beaches, fear not, as here you will discover the world’s top-rated restaurant and the best golf course Spain has to offer.

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  3. Dominican Republic

    Get Your Winter Baseball Fix in the Dominican Republic

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    The World Series reached its thrilling climax with San Francisco Giants dramatic 4-3 triumph over the Kansas City Royals in October, but already US baseball fans will be yearning for the return of their sport.

     

    So, if you simply cannot wait until Sunday, April 15 next year, then why not make the short hop to the Dominican Republic to experience warmer climes as well as the island’s winter league baseball season.

     

    Based in Punta Cana, on the far eastern tip of the island, fans can watch major league starts past, present and future strut their stuff.

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  4. 4th Hole

    Kinsale and The Old Head Golf Links

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    Imagine combining the rugged beauty of the Irish coastline with one of the finest and most spectacular golf courses Mother Nature and bundles of money could create.

    Then throw in five-star dining and the ability to arrive by helicopter. Well, you’d be forgiven for thinking it all sounds too good to be true.

    Yet this was the vision of Irish brothers John and Patrick O’Connor when they purchased the Old Head promontory in 1989 and spent the next decade creating the incredible Old Head Golf Links.

    The fact that these links appear to have been there since time immemorial is testament to the O’Connor’s publicity statement which reads that the course is: “In keeping and in harmony with its surroundings” and simply “helping nature to fulfil its potential”.

    It may all sound like Irish blarney, but the reality is, it’s all true.

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  5. Mark in the French Alps (Photo on Mark's Camera)

    Les Deux Alpes and Alpe d’Huez

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    Everyone likes good neighbours and, in terms of skiing at least, the Rhone Alp ski centres of Les Deux Alpes and Alpes d’Huez in France are about as good as they come.


    Though these two French ski resorts are barely six miles apart as the crow flies, they are, however, a little like chalk and cheese when it comes to comparison and therefore appeal to very different tourist markets. 


    These resorts would also make for a great two centre ski break if you like a little après ski action to start your holiday followed by some R&R to end your stay before the journey home.

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  6. Mark at Nendaz

    Nendaz – the Hidden Jewel of Switzerland

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    I’m no an adrenalin junky, take me anywhere near a bungee jump and I’ll run a mile. But I do enjoy skiing and should you fancy a change from Colorado, and if maybe you’ve ticked off America’s five best resorts like Jackson Hole in Wyoming and Snowbird and Alta in Utah, then Europe has so much to offer.

    A couple of years back, I headed for Switzerland, the beautiful, landlocked country boarding France and Italy formed from 26 regions known as cantons. My base for the week was the scenic, yet little-known mountain-top town of Nendaz in the Canton of Valais.

    Nendaz lies at the heart of a popular ski region which markets itself as The Four Valleys, and from here you can access 95 lifts, over 100 pistes and two snow parks designed specifically for burgeoning snowboarders.  

    What’s even better is that skiing from Nendaz, compared to the de rigueur neighbouring resorts of Verbier and Lausanne, will come in at a fraction of the cost.

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  7. Golf at Son Vida

    Palma, Majorca and Son Muntaner Golf Club

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    The Balearic Islands that lie to the east of mainland Spain often receive a bad press but, in many respects, it’s hard to know why.

    Maybe it’s because of Ibiza’s infamy for being the late night party capital of Europe, or because areas of Menorca and Majorca (or more locally Mallorca) have sold their soul to high-rise package holiday firms catering for the ‘cheap and cheerful’ all-inclusive brigade.

    But look deeper and, on the island of Majorca in particular, you will unearth many stunningly beautiful regions with graceful Moorish towns, marvellous beaches and sporting facilities that rival many of the world’s most exclusive resorts.

    Avoiding all-night raves like the plague, I travelled to Palma, the historic capital city of Majorca which is the largest of the five Balearic Islands. A beautiful ancient fortified town, I arrived to play golf, try the tapas and taste some wonderful, locally produced red wines. I left, just longing for more.

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  8. Please Take Me Out To The Ball Game – I Promise Not To Mention The Goat!

    Please Take Me Out To The Ball Game – I Promise Not To Mention The Goat!

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    Now let’s get this out in the open – my knowledge of baseball was limited until my daughter and I were invited to fly to Chicago to attend a Cubs game. My old friend, Jerry Cohen from Ebbets Field Flannels, Seattle, did his best to advise me on the finer points of the game and warned that the Cubs had a history with a certain farm animal.  Jerry even arranged a vintage jersey for our host but with the gentle reminder, not to mention the word, “goat.”

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  9. The dramatic backdrop of the Julian Alps dominates the 13th green of the King's Course at Bled Golf and Country Club.

    Slovenia – Europe’s diamond in the rough

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    Okay, I don’t mind admitting that, before visiting the place, the only thing I knew about Slovenia was that it once formed part of the former communist block of Yugoslavia. Not a very positive note to start a visitor review maybe, but do your research and delve deeper into the history of the region and you will be pleasantly surprised by all that a country measuring up at only half the size of neighbouring Switzerland, has to offer.

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  10. Sports Patrol

    Sports Patrol

    $0.00

    Join Mark, a former Cricket player, avid golfer and all-around sports enthusiast as he explores the best places to play! A sports and travel writer based in England, Mark has had the opportunity to play some amazing courses around the world. He will share his experiences and stories as well as his handicaps. We also want to hear from you in all areas from tennis to skiing to golf. Fore!

    Learn More
  11. Cabbage Beach on Paradise Island

    Sports Patrol: Bahamas

    $0.00

    The sun tan from my fortnight’s visit to the Bahamas had barely started to fade when I took my wife to the cinema to see the 2006 re-make of Casino Royale featuring, for the first time, Daniel Craig as British secret service agent, James Bond.

    Quite early in the storyline 007 jets into Nassau, from where I had just returned, and then, much to my surprise, Bond set off in his car toward the exclusive Ocean Club resort on Paradise Island where I’d recently stayed and played golf during my familiarisation trip to the island.

    As Bond made for the bar and then the beach, the film afforded me a rare moment in my life when, with great pride, I leant over and whispered to my wife: “I stayed there!”   

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  12. Sports Travel Tips

    Sports Travel Tips

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    A list of nine sports related travel tips for Boomers.

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  13. The Clubhouse at Royal Cinque Ports

    The Garden of England and the Royal Golf Coast

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    Though Scotland and, more specifically, the Old Course at St Andrew’s lay claim to being the ‘home of links golf’ there are some who argue that the county of Kent, in the south east tip of England, boasts the widest variety of links golf to be found on the planet, let alone the British Isles.

    The Kent region is known throughout Europe as the Garden of England for its rich history for growing fruit, vegetables and hops (for beer), but is now marketed to golfers as Kent’s Regal Golf Coast – and a right royal time you’ll have playing here.

    Royal St George’s in Sandwich is, of course, world-famous for hosting The Open Championship on 14 occasions and lies immediately next to Prince’s Golf Club, another coastal gem of Kent.

    Connoisseurs of links golf might contend, however, that the finest links of them all lies just two miles away in Deal where, even on a sunny day, Royal Cinque Ports offers one of the sternest tests of golf you are ever likely to find.

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  14. The parade of sail for 2014 leaves Falmouth Harbour

    The Majesty of Tall Ships Under Sail

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    Our world would be a hugely different place today but for the discovery of sailing and the subsequent role played by the development of galleons, schooners and the tall ships of the day.

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  15. Tall ships (Courtesy Visit Cornwall)

    The Tall Ships Find Anchorage in Falmouth, Cornwall

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    Cornwall, the westernmost tip of England is famed for its natural beauty, ancient tin mines, gorgeous beaches, beautifully rugged coastline and for perfecting what was arguably the world’s first fast-food delicacy – the Cornish pasty.

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  16. A typical Whitstable sunset, as featured in the paintings of Turner (Photo by Mark Pennell)

    WHITSTABLE - England

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    When you live in a seaside holiday location it’s all too easy to take the views, facilities and ambiance of your own town for granted. I guess it's a minor case of familiarity breeding contempt.

    Take my home town of Whitstable for instance; it’s a small, pretty seaside town with a working fishing harbour and a population of 30,000 that nestles into a small, pebbly cove on the Northeast coast of Kent.

    Barely five miles north of the historic cathedral city of Canterbury, 20-odd miles from the ports of Dover and Folkestone and a 60-mile commute to London, it is the place I call home.

    Our compact former railway workers’ cottage lies just 300 yards from the beach, yet I’ll admit, I’d become a little blasé about the place until a recent readers’ poll in The Times newspaper voted our little town into the top 20 places to live in the United Kingdom.

    It stunned me that people all over Britain aspired to live here! So why is it that Londoners buy weekender homes here and holidaymakers flock here, snubbing seemingly more exotic destinations all over the world, to take in the sights of Whitstable?

    Allow me, a relative newcomer to the town, to tell you.

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