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GUEST POST: The Portugal Masters Pro-Am - Carol Alford, Competition Winner

As I sit here writing this blog it still feels like a dream rather than reality, having won the trip of a lifetime to play golf in a Masters Pro-Am.

I don't normally enter competitions on Facebook but something appealed to me when I saw the video posted by Visit Portugal and Hole19. I quickly posted my strapline and thought nothing more of it...until I received the congratulations email! Of course, I didn't think it was real, but then I received another email from the Hole19 team saying 'yes! you are a winner'.

Imagine my delight to be flying out to Portugal a few weeks later. The envy of all my friends, the excitement began as I registered on the day of the competition and picked up my goodie bag. I still couldn't believe I would be playing with a pro from the European Tour at the picturesque Victoria course in Vilamoura.

The day was a perfect 32 degrees, hardly any breeze and small crowds began gathering as I walked to the tee to meet my fellow winners Eric from Nice and Stefan from Düsseldorf, and tour pro Sam Brazel from Australia - What a lovely guy he turned out to be, we chatted about life on tour and the importance of being mentally tough.

I was so relieved to hit a good drive off the first tee and even more excited when the team picked to play from my drive! The format being everyone drives off, the team select the best shot and then play their own balls to the hole.

Watching Sam hit the ball and plan his way around the course was great to watch, as I'm always telling my son about the importance of course management. Seeing him assess which pins to attack and where to bail out for safety was good to view.

The course is a good challenge for every golfer, plotting your way around is key but it does offer several opportunities to score a few birdies.

My favourite hole was the 12th which hugged a large lake to the left. I hit my best drive of the day giving me 200yds to the pin which I'd have to play over the lake.

Feeling confident I said to Sam I'd have a go but it's a long way. I'm not sure whether it was the adrenaline or the excitement of the tournament but I couldn't believe how well I struck the ball, clearing the water and landing in the bunker in front of the green.
Coming off with a par was the highlight of my day...or so I thought!

Playing the 18th certainly came very close; I hit the green with my second shot, we all thought it was going for an eagle in as it flirted with the hole. The memories of my day will stay with me forever, thank you Visit Portugal and Hole19!

To top off a perfect day we, got a surprise visit by Danny Willet and an interview by Sarah Stirk from Sky Sports, at an after-party at our hotel. My photo with Danny is the envy in our household. Having drinks and a celebratory meal whilst sat around the pool of our hotel overlooking the 18th was the perfect end to a perfect day.

Carol & Danny Willet

Watching the pros playing over the weekend, I found that I could really appreciate the difficulty of the holes and contours of the greens which don't always come across on the TV.

It was great to sit with my family and talk about the holes thinking about my amazing trip.


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