A great fan of golf: Barack Obama

I usually smile when I read something about the golfing US-president. That’s because most of the reports are created either by republican haters or at least by golf magazines which point out how often the president goes golfing during office. And I have to admit that I’m quite jealous as well to see how often Barack Obama can manage to get out on a course in his job. But I guess when you are one of the most powerful people in the world, who would stop you..?

Obviously he’s not playing in regular country clubs down the road, the majority of his golfing time he spends on Air Force or Navy bases which usually offer extensive leisure facilities such as golf courses and are at the same time well secured.

For a list of president Barack Obama’s golf rounds since he took office, please check out this website (www.obamagolfcounter.com) but be reminded that the guy who takes down every round for that page is far from being a democratic golf enthusiast and Obama fan—apparently he’s exactly the opposite.

OK, Barack Obama golfs a lot and even when he’s not on the course, his thoughts seem to involve golf from time to time (as you can see in the picture above). Reportedly the president has around 200 rounds of golf under his belt since taking office. That sounds a lot and you have to assess on your own whether you believe this is too much for a person in his position or not.

Broken down to the 73 months since he took over the presidency from fellow golfer George W. Bush, that makes up to an average of 2.73 rounds per month. And to be honest, I personally try to golf more than that, but I have to pause during winter whereas the Unites States offer sunshine all-year round, just a quick flight from Washington with Air Force One or Marine One I reckon.

Leaving all political arguments aside why this behaviour could be sub-optimal in times of crises, I believe every person on the planet deserves a little bit of enjoyment, be it party, hobbies, etc. As the US-president barely leaves the house without reason or public speech to give, I think he absolutely deserves his rounds of golf (what he does not deserve though is the discussion around it). And just for the records: I would make myself available if he’d ask me to play with him. Especially because I heard he’s not very good at it (that’s at least what Michael Jordan believes) and I could win a dollar or two if we’d throw in some bucks. So Barack, call me, or leave me a message :)

To do some number crunching: 82% or 14 out of 17 presidents played golf during their time in the White House. Some of them were very keen golfers and even as addicted to the game as others who don’t have to run a complete country. Eisenhower played 800 rounds, Wilson even 1,200 rounds of golf during their presidency. And these guys were even allowed to play courses like Augusta National, Cypress Point and others. Eisenhower had even built a putting green in the garden of the White House which still exists and which gives Obama and vice-president Biden a chance to practice some putting and short-game skills.

When I look back and think about all US-presidents which ruled over the last 30 years, I don’t think there was one who didn’t golf at all.

And when US-republican politicians were honest to themselves or their peers, they would love to play golf as much as possible, too. In the end it’s their game… or as Mike Rothschild says: “Whether you agree or disagree with these criticisms is entirely up to you. But the math is clear: many presidents before Obama played golf, with some playing much more and some playing much less. As a hobby goes, this one is about as typical as you can get.”

I’m starting to think about Angela Merkel on a golf course… nah, doesn’t work!

Continue reading A great fan of golf: Barack Obama

The relaxed rules of golf – playing the easy way!

How seriously are you taking golf in terms of scoring? Always playing by the rules? Really? Always getting out a club to measure a two-club-length from a water hazard or an obstacle, even in practise rounds with your mates? Then you probably should stop reading here, because the below wouldn’t be something for you! If you do read further you could be frightened by the fact how easy and enjoyable golf can be – without drifting away too much though. At your own risk of course!

Couple of days ago, the Golf Channel published a set of so-called “Relaxed Rules of Golf”. They were promoted intensively via the network and other social media channels – and to be honest; they didn’t surprise me at all. For years now people around the world are mourning about golf being too hard to play. My understanding was always, of course it’s hard when you try to play pars all the time, but that’s a great mental push and it has to be that hard! Playing a par round would be a dream coming true for me, but when everybody is true to oneself, pars are for professionals and not for weekend golf daddys, breaking in a round every 2 months or so.

All the former proposals out there like bigger holes, slower balls, etc. – absolutely nonsense! Truly rubbish ideas if you ask me. When you are taking golf seriously, which is absolutely fine, then please stick to the given rules. That’s especially true for tournaments which have effect on your personal handicap. Please, learn the good old rules and stick to them when it matters. That’s not too tough, folks! And when you are penelised by the rules and you have to card down a two-stroke penalty because you did something wrong… then so be it and be honest to yourself! Simply accept it!

However, what about the quick after-work 9 holes or the relaxed weekend round with some buddies? Would you totally stick to the rules as well? Frankly, I’m not! When I go out and play, I want to have fun! Sure, I want to get better, increase my skill set, lower my handicap, absolutely, but in the end of the day I definitely want to enjoy myself. Life and work is tough enough, why making our lives even more miserable with over-ruling leisure rounds of golf?! See, I don’t believe there is a black and white view in this matter.

When I go out and play and I have to take a penalty for dropping out of water, do I use my driver to measure the exact distance? No. Do I throw the ball somewhere onto the fairway for an easy shot ? No… I drop the ball somewhere near the spot where I believe it went into the water and where I can hit a decent, ok-ish next shot. Is that fine with the official rules, no but it almost is and it saves so much time around the course! So there is something like a grey-area between rules and playing just for fun. Everybody obviously can interpret these ways differently but I’m sure the guy who takes golf the relaxed way has more fun in the end – and the score maybe differ by two strokes on 18 holes to the other guy who did stick to the proper rules.

Now the Golf Channel proposed a set of easy rules which could help the golfer to increase the fun around the course. Not being overly penalised by a huge rule book and at the same time not as anarchic as one could believe: Here are the proposed relaxed rules of golf:

  1. MAXIMUM SCORE: Double par (i.e. 6 on par 3s, 8 on par 4s…)
  2. PENALTIES: All are one stroke, including out of bounds, water and lateral hazards, lost ball and unplayable lie. Drop a ball near where the original was lost and play on.
  3. SEARCH TIME: Two minutes to look for your ball. If lost, proceed under Rule 2.
  4. UNFORTUNATE LIES: With your playing partners’ consent, balls may be dropped out of divots or footprints, away from tree roots and any other dangerous lies.
  5. CONCEDED PUTTS: Putts may be conceded with your playing partners’ consent.
  6. EQUIPMENT: No restrictions, including number of clubs.
  7. COMMON SENSE: When in doubt, use common sense and fairness.

Golf Channel personalities Matt Ginella and Charlie Rymer were on the Golf Channel’s “Morning Drive” to introduce those relaxed rules of golf, which you can check out here:

The idea behind these relaxed rules, Ginella and Rymer explained, is to make the game more fun for those already playing (and not at an elite level) and to also make the game less intimidating for those learning to play.

“We’re not suggesting that golfers ignore the official rules,” Ginella said. “They should continue to be used for any type of competitive play. But when it’s a match among friends, relaxed rules can make the game easier, faster and more fun. These simply are common sense practices for avid amateurs, and it’s how the majority of the game is being played anyway.”

And to be very frank here, personally I’m sort of sticking to these rules already for years now in private rounds!

  1. Double par is nothing I really aim for but it’s a nice thing to just pick up the ball when you reach that score. Will clearly speed up the game!
  2. When I in some instance decided not to play a provisional ball and would not be able to find the first, then obviously I play a second one from the spot I believe I lost the first one. Who on earth walks back 250 yards to the tee box in a private round?!
  3. I never looked for a ball for 5 minutes as stated in the official rules in my whole life.
  4. As this is in the interest of everybody’s game, I believe nobody would have reasons not to accept a playing partner’s wish to drop away from a cart path, tree roots or any other unfortunate or dangerous lie.
  5. Obviously not valid for tournaments, but when you are out there with your buddies and they leave themselves with a 5-inch tap-in, what do you do? Exactly, that’s simply a gimmie!
  6. I’m actually carrying more than 14 clubs currently – because I’m testing out some things with long irons and hybrids. Why shouldn’t I?
  7. I believe using brain and good manners is always a good idea… in all parts of life. And the golf course simply reflects a big part of my life.

Summing up, I do believe if everybody could commit to a quick and fair play, we all would have more fun on the course and would think more positive about all the bogeys we score. Who needs over-sized holes or weirdly slow balls?! Stick to the fundamentals, play at reasonable fast pace with common sense in regards to rules and etiquette and treat your playing partners with the exact manners as you wished to be treated.

Happy (golf) life… Period

Always find the right balance between golf and fitness

Some say golf is not even a sport, it’s just a game. Whether that’s true or not, I guess is for everybody out there to decide. Obviously it’s not a sport like tennis or football but there are definitely arguments for the fact that it’s more than just a simple game.

In every case golf is a great time to spend the day with, and yes, a 5-hour round of golf in 35°C can be quite exhausting and sweaty.

What you see here is the gym room in my golf club, the perfect way to combine the beauty and technique of golf with fitness exercises to cater for a comprehensive all-inclusive training session.

So next time you play a round, consider to get in your trainers later, do another 5K or so on the treadmill, lift some weights, do some crunches and sit-ups – your body will be very thankful one day, and your golf swing as well! The stronger you get, the less power you have to put in every shot, the less exhausted you get during the round, the more accurate you can play 18 holes.

If you compare that to the pro tours, yes obviously there are some older and fatter blokes who are able to win some tournaments but when you are serious about the game, you spend some time in the gym – just like Tiger, Rory and all the other young guns!

And why not end such beautiful day in the sauna followed by some fresh fruit drinks in the restaurant. Great training!

First round after becoming a member at Bachgrund Golf Club

You might have read it, since 1st May I’m member of Bachgrund Golf Club, outside of Frankfurt. On Friday I played my first 18 holes as a member – I played there before but that’s three years ago.

Bachgrund features 27-holes, a 18-hole links-style championship course and a 9-hole more parkland-style course. “Nessi”, the 18-hole course is a very interesting course with narrow fairways, lots of water, many bunkers in play and requires both intelligent course strategy and straight drives. It’s a tough one I’d say. Almost impossible to end the round with the very same ball you started with.

On Friday I was grouped together with three Korean gentlemen, all members of the club, apparently very knowledgeable in terms of course details – a shame they didn’t speak any German or English. So it was a rather quiet round…

I really like the course setting although I’m not a big links fan, but the course is tricky and challenging. I will report as regular as possible. Tomorrow I have a 9:20 tee time.

Playing one of the Leading Golf Courses of Germany at the 2011 Hanau Masters

The Frankfurt area is blessed with a lot of golf courses and there are two or three that stand even apart because they are not just fine courses, they are brilliant ones. Frankfurt Golf Club is one of them and Golf Club Hanau-Wilhelmsbad, just outside Frankfurt, is another.

Hanau is a small town located in Frankfurt’s east and the course is a beautiful parkland styled course. But in contrast to Frankfurt, there’s plenty of water coming into play. So there’s lots of woods and trees, water hazards and, if that’s not enough, for the Hanau Masters today we all had to play from the white tee boxes! My first time by the way!

The course is in perfect condition, the fairways are a bit lush after the recent rain period but the whole site with all its facilities makes a very nice impression. I really could imagine becoming a member and playing this course regularly. The layout isn’t easy at all, playing white tee boxes was tough and, another premiere, the tournament was played in stroke play. So there is this easiness lacking that you have with stableford! But the course was fair enough…

My game wasn’t that good today. I shot some nice drives with my new driver, shot some awful ones as well. Playing from the champions tees on a course that you see the first time, having a 3.1 and 4.1 handicapper in your group who really get pissed for every bogey they play, I can tell you, that’s not easy! I got frustrated too, got caught by the bad mood and my game was suffering from it as well. Needless to say that I wasn’t able to reach the buffer zone and that I worsened my handicap to 17.1… too bad! At least the 3-course dinner we had afterwards was an appropriate compensation.

Wwe had some drizzle during the play but it was mostly dry. Arrived at the 18th, I pulled my approach shot to the green into the woods and lost my first ball. Otherwise I’d finished with the same ball I started with – normally a good sign.

The Golf Club Hanau-Wilhelmsbad is member of the Leading Golf Courses of Germany; a certification label of the finest golf courses we have in Germany and a true  mark of quality. This is including the course, the arrangements next to the course, club house facilities, restaurants but as well things like etiquette, dress code, rules and so forth. So playing in a club that was honored with such label, is a pleasure for the most part. Only 34 German golf clubs can praise themselves with this emblem.

To sum up: This round today was definitely not the last! It’s an expensive course but worth every cent.

MLP golf journal trophy at G&CC leipzig [updated]

regular readers of this blog are aware of the fact that i’ve already tried to win a MLP golf journal trophy tournament this year. the lucky guy wins a ticket to belek, turkey’s golf eldorado and is in the middle of a world final and has quite some fun with all the golf buddies, so far as i heard. 40 tournaments are played this year and everybody is free to try it at several occasions… what makes it a bit easier, but far from simple. but one thing at a time:

last weekend i travelled with three golf buddies to the golf & country club leipzig. we all are quite crazy about the game and about the MLP trophy and therefore we thought it would be fun to dress-up with uniformed polo-shirts: “MLP golf journal trophy, team frankfurt, [name]”. we were the only guys with such well-chosen gear and got some laughs but as well some acknowledgement for our efforts. but it’s not about looking good for winning a tournament, it’s about playing well with the least possible number of strokes.

we arrived on thursday, had a nice evening in leipzig’s city center (tip: check out the barfußgässchen if you’d make it there one time), had the tournament on friday, partied till early morning and left on saturday.

all in all it was a really nice trip! the course was in good shape, the people were very friendly and the club management made everything happen to let everybody feel really comfy! have a look at some photos:

some additional words about the course: the golf & country club leipzig is situated in machern, a small village eastwards from leipzig. the club got through some time of unrest but seems to settle down quite nicely. the holes are beautifully shaped and offer some new water hazards, creeks, high rough and a beautiful 18th island green. the halfway house (yet a tent) is superbly placed at a spot where every golfer is coming along 4 times… as a result there was a lot of champagne and ramazotti in play!!

the tournament ended with a huge party at the sun terrace, with a tasty buffet, a live band, free beer and a stunning sunset over the 18th green… *sigh* where can i sign in for next year?!

BMW golf cup international… what a day!

today was a wonderful day! not only because i had a day off and we had the most beautiful weather ever, but because i had the rare chance to play the BMW golf cup international in the most famous and elite golf club in frankfurt.

i was looking forward to this day like months. and yes, the waiting was totally worth it. everything today was kinda perfect: the sun was shining all the time, the course is a real must-play, a gorgeous venue for this tournament, catering at the half-way-house or in the club house was delicious, the club with all its facilities is just amazing and the BMW organization was absolutely brilliant!!

the course and the club made such a good impression, that i really consider a membership. it’s very expensive, yes, but where in the region can you get such combination of perfect course, perfect organization, perfect member’s attitude and real nice club house facilities. just to give you an example, the free towels in the shower room have an embroidered FGC on them, same as all the dinner plates and cutlery that had the club logo printed or engraved. just marvelous! i like that. i don’t know why.

at 1pm we had a shotgun start and there were two gentlemen joining my group. we had real fun! not because of the good strokes but we just enjoyed the day and ourselves. we were getting along with each such good, that we exchanged email-addresses and planned to play some more rounds together in the near future.

after the game, some cool fresh-up in the shower room and some severe up-dressing, we enjoyed a perfect three-course dinner with the best roast beef i’ve ever tasted so far. the wine flowed freely and i had no reason to go back home really :)

to sum up: frankfurter golf club is a really nice course to play golf! it’s very upperclass, yes, but when you can cope with that, you’re in love with this place, i can assure you! you definitely should consider a round here. required minimum handicap is 28 and weekend play is only possible as a member’s registered guest; that’ the downside.

i made some photos for you, maybe you can grasp the beauty of the course, which is a huge parkland area in the woods of frankfurt-niederrad. have a look:

and not to forget: i wanna thank markus and his sister for… nah, they know what for! cheers mates!