As the weather turns colder and more miserable outside here in Central Europe, it fills me with great memories of late 2019, when I played golf during winter, which in Mallorca feels nothing but great with its blue skies and very pleasant and moderate temperatures.
At the same time it gives me a heavy heart as so much happened during the past months which did not turn well for golf in the Balearics or for the lovely islands in general. Of course I’m relating to the COVID-19 lockdown and all the unfortunate consequences that come with it.
This is a travel and course report of the better times when playing golf was an obvious thing to do in good weather and when every chance to play such a course is an absolute must.
Mallorca is a golf mekka, I don’t break this to you I’m sure. On this rather small island there are not less than 24 golf courses and the vast majority of them are publicly available to play.
The oldest, since 1964, and maybe hence the most original course of the island is Golf Son Vida, meandering around the famous Castillo Son Vida Hotel and through the posh and sophisticated Son Vida urbanizacion, just 10 minutes outside of Palma.
Nowadays Mallorca is famous as a golf destination all across Europe, if not the world — and it all started with Son Vida, the grand dame of Mallorcan golf courses.
It was only much slower, but that wasn’t my fault in all fairness.
St. Leon-Rot is one of these famous golf complexes that scream golf quality. It features two courses and they used to be on everyone’s list for the best golf courses in Germany.
Last year was the first time I set foot on this holy land and managed to play the St. Leon course, presumably the more exciting and more difficult course. At least it’s the track that is played when international golf tournaments are staged here at St. Leon-Rot. As I only experienced one of the two golf courses so far, the plan was to go for the other one this time, the Rot course, named after the other part of town.
I know what you are thinking right now. And you may have a point, but hear me out. It won’t disappoint you.
When I lived in England, I unfortunately haven’t had much time to play golf. But when I did with locals, in 100% of the occasions, there was at least one player in the group using a chipper without hesitation.
Back home in Germany I never encountered anybody using this sort of club and honestly never had one in my hand myself. This changed a couple of weeks ago when I decided to give this thing a try. All the English people can’t be so wrong about it — when it’s helpful and useful, then it’s a reason to put in the bag.
So what I did, I purchased the top level chipper online as no local golf shop had one to show, nor to buy. Hence online I went and screened the very narrow offer of chippers out there. And this is how it went.
Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, NY is said to be one of the hardest golf courses to shoot low scores on. And quite fittingly it was the venue of this year’s US Open.
As a matter of fact, there was only one single player in the field prevailing in a sense that he managed to stay under par after 4 rounds in great weather conditions: Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion.
If you want to understand what all players went through these days, suffering from bad scores, across the leaderboard, you should watch this video to get a sense for the course characteristics of Winged Food West and potential traps along the way:
I seriously love these “Every Hole” videos of Golf Digest! If you like these too, then go check out their playlist! You’re welcome.
Bryson DeChambeau is the 2020 US Open champion and seriously left the golf world stunned about his performance at Winged Foot Golf Club, NY.
DeChambeau is a phenomenon. He’s special in many aspects and with that I’m not only referring to the positive ones. But you could like him or not, that what he’s shown the world last weekend was truly amazing and outstanding — a great show of golf that will have its place in golf’s history books, no question about it!
DeChambeau, presumably the man with the most unbelievable intentional body transformation ever, won the US Open in style: With smashing drives but only 23 fairways for the whole week he managed to get out of these unfortunate and penalizing rough positions and still got to the red numbers eventually.
And that’s worth mentioning: Of the complete field at this year’s US Open at Winged Food Golf Club, truly a tough track apparently, he was the only one (!!) who shot under par. The only one. Let that sink in for a moment. Yes, US Opens tend to be tough and the rough is always set to make people rather cry, but only one person under par is quite astonishing.
And if this wasn’t enough, he won by a 6-shot margin over Matthew Wolff (E) and Louis Oosthuizen (+2). All in all an incredible performance.
Pure dominance. Here are some very interesting statistics:
If you’re like me, you really love all aspects of the game: The difficulty, the outdoors, the technical aspect, the social aspect, the ability to discuss it, the fact that every course in the world is different and, last but not least, the pro tours which usually tend to be really exciting.
There are other facts, too, but as I have a family I have to settle with the most important ones and leave side aspects to others. One of which is Fantasy Golf.
In case you’re not aware, this is, very similar to other sports, a way to win an online competition by creating week-in and week-out a list of (golf) players that you maintain regularly. The better those play in the next tournament, the more points you earn, i.e. the better you predicted the outcome of the tournament as a whole. Of course players do not play every single tournament, certain course characteristics do more favor a number of certain players and you could also count the current form factor in, in case you are able to assess or anticipate it.
It is really fun and a way to seriously stay connected to the game as you won’t miss a week(end) and get zero points. And there is a social aspect to that game also.
Yesterday I went to the range with my clubs in the hunt for some answers to what’s wrong with my long game currently. As it turns out, there’s isn’t so much wrong after all.
I put my 9-year old driver, fairway wood and hybrid back in the bag, and truth be told, the balls were pretty much flying as desired. Yes, it was range only from artificial turf but the overall performance was very, very positive. Which is why I believe I neither have a club or swing problem, but more a shaft problem in my new metalwood clubs. A problem that needs some fixing in the off-season clearly.
So in the meantime my old woods are performing nicely and I also had one completely new club in the bag which I teased here very recently. No, it’s not a putter and yes, there will be more information about it very soon. But so far, I’m really happy with the purchase and the outcome in the first practice session.
So happy indeed that I enrolled for two competitions in October to get these two areas to real tournament-pressure numbers. We’ll see. #Project9 and #Break80 are back on the agenda. Not for 2020, but definitely for 2021.
Looking through the ball showcase category of this blog, I realized that indeed I only discussed and presented a small fraction of balls I actually collected over the years.
As the idea of an online showcase was to publicly present them rather than let them collect dust over time, I might increase the number of balls shown here over the winter.
One quite important ball for me, I wanted to show you directly and that’s the second edition of the Golficiency logo ball. While series no. one featured the old logo, the second edition shows the current Golficiency logo as it is used in this blog and social media.
While the old one was a Nike PD Soft, the new one is a Vice Pro.
Open and frank, my game with driver, woods and hybrids is very, very poor. Up to a point where I whiffed, shanked or topped balls. Pathetic, I know. I was better once, had lessons when it got worse, but it all was pretty obvious: irons yay, woods nay.
In the past years I made peace with my woods and as a consequence ignored them in my basement, literally leaving the long sticks at home when I left for a competition. I felt confident with my long irons, put a 2- and 3-iron in the bag and found the fairway very, very consistently.
While this was great for confidence, and shot shaping, and pace of play, it left me at a stage where with handicap 12 I figured it would be really difficult to drastically improve if I would’t be in a position to jack up my GIR rate and just be a little longer. Putting the ball in the fairway is nice, but it’s not ideal to attack the flag with another 200 meters to go.
Usually my 2-iron gets me to 180 meters effortlessly. Sometimes less, sometimes up to 200, depending on weather and turf condition. And I do appreciate that consistency, it’s just that in order to get to a single handicap, I’m urgently in need to improve with my woods and hybrids. I just need to be able to take out the driver to aim for an area of the hole that is more than 230 meters away. That was out of the question so far…