WHAT BECAME OF YOU, MÁRIO BARRUNCHO?
Clubhouse Algarve reflects on the career of a man intrinsically linked to Quinta do Lago
TEXT: JOÃO DOS REIS FOTOS: JOÃO DOS REIS AND MÁRIO BARRUNCHO’S OWN
Mário Barruncho is a well-known figure on both the Portuguese and international golf scene. As golf director at Quinta do Lago for many years he fostered and promoted golf during the time of André Jordan who in 1972 founded the highly prestigious tourist and golf resort. An innate professional of elegant demeanour, Mário was born in Alcoitão, Estoril in December 1941. In May 1953 he commenced work at Estoril Golf Club before moving to the Algarve in 1974 and a position within the André Jordan Group.
When still very young he had his first golf lesson with Spanish pro Bernardino who was then training the legendary Seve Ballesteros. Along with some colleagues, Mário played golf regularly at Estoril Golf Club and this also encouraged other employees to play the sport. Since those early days he has scored a hole-in-one no fewer than 14 times and and has even recorded one albatross. Mário describes one particular day when as a youngster he arrived at the driving range with a left-handed club. “After my first shots, the teaching pro Bernadino told me that there were very few left-handed players who did well.” Barruncho took a right-handed club to the next lesson and, he recalls, “the result was immediately very different. I got a little more excited…” When Barruncho relates some of the figures with whom he has played golf the list is impressive and includes Infante Juan of Spain, Count of Barcelona, father of Juan Carlos I, king of Spain, and grandfather of the current king of Spain, Filipe VI. Mário has often played in the Algarve with the famous comedian and entertainer Jimmy Tarbuck and who incidentally also attended the same Liverpool primary school as John Lennon. “Jimmy Tarbuck is a great fan of the Algarve and organises an annual tournament with English friends at San Lorenzo, in Quinta do Lago,” Mário is pleased to confirm.
When asked to consider which individuals have in his view done most to establish golf in the Algarve, Barruncho regards André Jordan the main driving force and also believes that Jordan is the most influential figure in the growth of the Algarve as a tourist destination. Having enjoyed working with André Jordan from 1974 to 1986, Barruncho describes him as, quite simply, “a great man”. Mário continued with the new owners after André Jordan sold Quinta do Lago before purchasing the Lusotur Golfes golf courses and eventually selling on to Gerry Fagan and Simon Burgess the original owners of the Oceânico Group. During his time at Quinta do Lago, eight-time venue for the Portuguese Open, Mário worked with some great colleagues many of whom are now well-respected golf directors at various Algarve courses including, such as, António Santos (San Lorenzo), Pedro Silvestre (Salgados), Jorge Papa (Morgado do Reguengo), António Cavaco (Castro Marim) and António José (Quinta da Ria). In May, 2004, the year of his retirement, Mário was honoured by the organisation of a “Friends of Good Mário Barruncho” golf tournament in which 100 players took part. “I love golf a sport in which I have forged great friendships with national and foreign players. My favourite course is Oceânico Old Course, in Vilamoura. It is unforgettable”. The memories of a great career live on and so too does the well-deserved, excellent reputation of Mário Barruncho.