Quinta do Lago’s reputation as one of the world’s leaders in grassroots golf is enjoying further success after their Junior Club celebrated one of its home-grown stars of the future being picked for the prestigious Orange Bowl International Golf Championship.
Sara Gouveia, 17, the Under-18 National champion, was chosen by the Portuguese Federation to play in the 72-hole invitation-only event, which is being held at Biltmore Golf Course, in Miami, USA between December 27 and 30.
Her achievement is this year’s highlight from Quinta do Lago’s newly-formed junior team and is recognition to the luxury golf and lifestyle resort’s head coach and academy manager Jose Ferreira and his team, who have helped developed the Quinta resident’s talents over the last three years.
Quinta do Lago, celebrating its 45th anniversary, has long been credited for its support of junior golf thanks to its five-year involvement with the Telegraph Vitality Junior Golf Championship, as well as playing host to the McGinley Junior Cup and this month’s inaugural Junior Open.
Sara, who is no relation to namesake Ricardo Gouveia – Portugal’s highest-ever ranked golfer – is the first Portuguese girl to play in the tournament. She will attend the tournament in Miami later this month with Ferreira.
Ferreira, who has coached golf since 2006, said: “This is the first year the Quinta do Lago Junior Club has been running, but we have worked so hard building up the junior coaching over the last five years.
“To finish the season on this high is fantastic and credit to Sara and the coaches here as the Orange Bowl is one of the most respected amateur events in the world. We have had the privilege to work with some great talent. When I first started at Quinta do Lago we had very few juniors, but a lot of hard work has gone into attracting juniors to golf.
“I started creating holiday camps with several levels of development, enabling players of different ages and abilities to have fun and enjoy golf. The programme has become a huge success, and over the last four years, we have had around 1,500 kids in our camps. The future is looking very bright.”
Quinta do Lago’s golf academy boasts five resident senior professionals and five assistant pros, as well as enjoying a partnership with the PGA and Birmingham University to bolster the coaching staff even further in peak season.
The programme has also seen notable achievements from other stars of the future over the last few years as it helped Calvin Holmes, now 15, become Under-10, 12 and 14 national champion between 2012 and 2015 and last year’s vice national champion, Rodrigo Marques Santos, aged nine, was the Under-10s national champ in 2016, Martim Ribeiro, 11, was the Under-10s No 1 in the Order of Merit in 2016, Tiago Abrantes, 11, was ranked second on the South Region rankings and fourth in the national rankings, and Filipa Capelo, 15, is the Under-16s vice national champion, first in the Under-16s national rankings and semi-finalist of the FPG Cup.
The Junior Orange Bowl is a volunteer-led, non-for-profit organisation that hosts athletic, academic, and cultural competitions that draw more than 7,500 youngsters from Miami, the State of Florida, across the United States, and over 76 countries worldwide.
The golf tournament’s past players include top names such as 1977 winner Mark Calcavecchia, Tiger Woods, who triumphed in 1991, 2000 champion Kevin Na, Bubba Watson and Lexi Thompson.
For more information on Quinta do Lago, its golf courses and stay-and-play packages, phone 351 289 390 700 or go to www.quintadolago.com
Matt Cooper looks back at the Qatar Masters of 1999, then a new desert event that provides a clue about the oldest tournament of them all.