All Square caught up with Frederico Champalimaud to find out more about his role at the helm of one of the Algarve’s most exciting new golf destinations, Espiche, and talk about his vision for the future of the game.
To start, how did you first get into golf?
I first started playing golf when I was 7 and my grandmother took me out onto the 7th fairway at Quinta da Marinha (without paying the green fee obviously). It was not love at first sight! I found golf boring. In order to stay interested I needed a sport where I could run after a ball and compete with other kids. I then went 15 years without picking up a club until I joined Oitavos Dunes in 2002. Two rounds with the owner of the course, and I was automatically hooked. The following week I sold all my windsurf gear and bought a new set of Taylormade clubs.
Could you share with us your challenges in your new role at Espiche?
Espiche Golf sits on the Western side of the Algarve near the buzzing city of Lagos. Having only opened five years ago the course remains relatively unknown to the Northern European golfers. Together with the other nice courses in the region such as Palmares, Boavista and Penina our aim is to turn the Western Algarve into an unmissable golf destination. The course is certainly a good test for the average golfer, with hard heathland fairways and thick gorse on the sides which collect array shots. We will be looking at clearing some vegetation in the landing areas while improving the playability of the course with clever mounding in order to keep the ball more in play.
What makes Espiche a venue like no other?
The course is located within the natural park of Monchique. Golfers benefit from the amazing views of the Algarve “Barlavento” landscaping. There is absolutely no construction and real estate near the course. Each hole is individual and set aside from all the other. In fact, you can get around the 18 holes without seeing other golfers except for the group ahead or behind you. Quite unique! The modern, award winning clubhouse is also pretty amazing. It provides a great feel when you are on the upper level enjoying the sunset and overlooking the 10th hole.
How do you see the golf industry evolve in the next 10 years?
Inevitably we will see an agent come in and provide an online seamless booking tool where golfers will be able to book tee times anywhere, anytime. This already happens in the US but has yet to develop in Europe. Tour Operators will continue to be key because of the nature of the golf travel business where clients depend on their local agent or concierge service to suggest which destination to travel and which courses to play. But golf courses will start yielding their most valuable tee times and times of the week. This already happens but still to a smaller extent compared to the hotel, airline or car rental industries. Tour operators will continue to be important but as the average golfers becomes more “educated” we could see an increase in direct business, specially to more exposed resorts.
Your 5 favorite golf courses in the world?
What would be the perfect 4-ball?
The perfect 4-ball would be Tiger Woods, Sergio Garcia, Natalie Gulbis and myself.
Your favorite golf destination and why?
It has to be Ireland! Dublin, Ring of Kerry, North West, etc. So many great courses and not enough time to play them all! The Irish are very similar to the Portuguese in many ways, laid back, friendly and welcoming. I feel at home every time I go there… with the advantage that the Guinness is much better over there.
What makes All Square stand out from other websites and apps in golf?
The fact that you can keep track of all the courses you have played is certainly spectacular! The app is very focused on the golf courses and not only on the golfers, I like that. Most golf courses have yet to understand the potential of the app and how they can involve their membership, etc. This will change soon as the app gets better and better.