Top 5 at Nahetal

The title of this post sounds better than it actually was. Yes I was 5th in my last tournament, but with 14 gross points only. There you have it. All the others must have been rubbish, too.

Truth been told, I played some lousy round of golf. Really embarrassing.

The course was great, Golf Club Nahetal, an hour south-west of Frankfurt, Germany. The weather was superb, conditions have been excellent, all set for a fantastic round of golf. The warm-up on range was fine, then we were told there was a 30 minutes delay, so I chatted along with some people before I headed off.

I realized right from the start, the positive image of my current golf game, which I had from the last training session and the warm-up wasn’t really transitioning onto the course. I had some great iron shots, short game and putting was OK, but the long game, oh my gosh, just wasn’t there.

After many embarrassing tee shots, one of my playing partners said on the 17th hole something along the lines of “I can’t believe you still use that club to tee off!” He was right, I wasn’t quitting, I knew I can play metal woods and I proved it often, it’s just that it seems gone now. But I wasn’t giving up, I always took out the hybrid, the 5-wood or sometimes even the 3-wood to tee off. The driver I left at home in the garage, that thing isn’t working at all nowadays.

Anyway, the course is a beauty and I would recommend to play it if you are in the area. It’s tree-lined throughout, there’s water on quite some holes but fair to most golfers. As said, the conditions have been excellent and I actually have no idea what caused my fallout. Those balls in the water, those thinned shots, that lady, all those lost balls… a disgrace.

There is no excuse, it’s just me to blame—or my clubs, which I did.

Just kidding of course, but I will try out some new stuff with my old (long) irons, in order to keep the ball in play more often. Not saying this will bring down my handicap or will make me happier in the long run, but it will hopefully calm the waves a bit, and my nerves. That’s useful and frankly necessary since yesterday.

You can imagine I was quite astonished when I saw I ended up 5th place in the gross Stableford list. Nothing to be proud of unfortunately.

U.S. Army golf in Wiesbaden

rheinblick-wiesbaden-logoFirst tournament of the year 2019 and I sensed this was going to be a bit special when I checked the website in order to collect some further information about the course.

The Golfclub Rhein-Main in Wiesbaden is a German golf club which shares the course with the Rheinblick Golf Course, a U.S. military facility.

Wiesbaden is a fairly big U.S. Army command base and in that capacity they own the golf course (one of three 18-hole courses in Germany) to provide additional service to the soldiers, military staff and families.

The U.S. Army MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) Division of the U.S. Army Installation Management Command signs responsible for the property and the management of the course. It is therefore no surprise that you have to pay your cash greenfee in dollars, that all staff is American and that the parking space in front of the club house offers enough room to park your Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Suburban or Lincoln Navigator. First thumbs up.

Insta Post Rhein Main

You step into the club house, into a different world. There are Army generals framed in the hall, and adverts of the local car dealers offering their military sales programs.

In my personal tradition I tried to buy a logo ball in the pro shop which was impossible as they only sell goods (balls, clubs, clothes, etc.) to people holding a U.S. military ID card. The only thing I was allowed to buy was a token for the ball machine. That was all—much appreciated though. I was looking for some coins in my wallet and the American pal in the Golf Channel cap said I had to pay in dollars or by card, no Euro cash allowed. He also joked that has something to do with taxes and if it would be allowed, Donald Trump could be the next German Chancellor and how he’d like the idea but most likely Germans wouldn’t… I had no smart comment in that moment (not even a stupid one) and left the pro shop with one ball token, paid by credit card. That was a premiere, too.

It was raining cats and dogs when I warmed up, spent a good amount on the putting green getting soaked and finally met my playing partners at the first tee to kick off my 2019 tournament season.

Another premiere: There is a guy acting as a starter, announcing the next group to tee off. What he’s actually doing; When it’s time, he’s getting out his microphone, toc toc toc, and says something along the lines of “Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is the 10:30 starting time of the Deutsche Bank tournament. On the tee: [followed by the names of the people in the group]. Fire away and have fun!”

It was a slightly awkward feeling being announced over loudspeakers but quite cool nonetheless. Definitely something that other clubs should consider, really getting you in the tournament mood!

The course is a proper parkland course with rich tree lines on all holes. Back in the 1950s, after WWII, when this area was converted to a golf course from a military training area, there were no trees whatsoever. This has changed dramatically and it actually looks beautiful nowadays.

The property is quite hilly too, and due to these ups and downs you tend to have great vistas and magnificent views over Wiesbaden and the Rhein-area. It’s called “Rheinblick” (Rhein view) for a reason.

The course condition has been excellent and the architecture is indeed interesting and challenging. There are some tricky doglegs which cost you if you don’t have local knowledge, which I had not.

The pin positions were really tricky today, I mean US Open-Sunday tricky. We joked that this was done on purpose because Deutsche Bank recently released some Donald Trump tax papers to the authorities in relation to the Mueller-investigation and that this was their answer to the Deutsche Bank people to see them suffer. We laughed about it but maybe not a good idea to tell that joke to the U.S. boys in the pro shop…

Three hours in, the sun came out and we could concentrate on pure golf and and look forward to the famous hamburgers in the restaurant after the round. Then shock, the restaurant was closed… WHAT?!

All in all a great course, beautiful setting (one of the nicest in the area), fantastic course quality and a very special touch with all the military atmosphere there. I will definitely be back soon, when it’s sunnier and warmer, and I will carry some dollars with me—I desperately need that Rheinblick logo ball. PM me if you know somebody who could help.

A nostalgic day at Golfclub Worpswede

Over Easter I traveled up north with my little family to visit the parents. It’s a 5 hour ride by car on the German Autobahn and definitely not stress-free with a two-year old toddler in the back seat.

gcworpswedeAs we planned to stay almost a week, I packed my golf clubs and thought it would be a good idea to hit a course in the Bremen area. Usually when I see my parents I play Club zur Vahr, Garlstedt course, one of the best courses in the country, or Bremer Schweiz, where I have been a member for a while, too.

This time I thought it would be worthwhile to go back in time and visit Worpswede, the course where I joined as an 18-year old and learned the game from scratch. Back then I became member, together with three friends who all have given up the game since.

Here is where I had my lessons, my first tournaments, my first trophies and so many golf-related memories. It’s a super laid-back club and the course used to be quite interesting. It’s not famous nor outstanding but having seen it again with all my golf experiences so far, it’s pretty underrated I have to say.

So I went shortly after Easter this year to play a round and to walk in my own old footsteps again. And boy, was that an overwhelming round of golf. It all came back to me, once I sat a foot on the property. Holes were coming back to memory, shots were rewound in my head and even the smell of the turf I seemed to recognize.

The course is situated quite remotely in the north-east of Bremen, North Germany. You find absolute silence and very little obstructions to the eye or anything else. Meaning, if you play badly here, there’s only one person to blame…

The day turned out to be optimal for my return. Blue skies and 20°C, no wind and just bird sounds to hear. I used to be a member here for a decade, then dropped out when I started to work after university and for some reason neglected the place for 12 years.

It was about time to come back!

I have to say I played quite poorly that day. It was my first round of golf in 2019 and my range practice sessions that I had earlier in the year appeared to be quite useless unfortunately. It still was an amazing experience and I enjoyed every single hole, most notably:

  • 3: A par-3 which I rarely reached back in the time.
  • 4: Dogleg left with a tree in the middle of the fairway.
  • 5: Drivable par-4 from an elevated tee box, the signature hole.
  • 7: Where I had my first ever birdie. Yay!
  • 10: One of the few water hazards (sorry, “penalty areas carrying water”)
  • 15: I hated this hole as a youngster: Forced carry, out of bounds to the left, water to the right and straight down, the green tucked to the far left behind trees and water. Impossible to score. This week I walked off with a par. Astonished.
  • 16: Beautiful short par-3 over water. Birdie chance.
  • 17: Great approach shot over another water pond. Picture perfect.

This concluded my remembrance round in my first golf club. I had a drink on the terrace, posted the first Instagram picture of my day and then drove off, just like I did for over 10 years—12 years ago.

See you soon, Worpswede. Good to have you.

Frankfurter Golfclub, once a year tradition.

 

Once a year I play Frankfurter Golfclub, the poshest club around my place, that’s my rule. It’s a great course, manicured, designed by the famous Bernhard von Limburger and always well maintained. Even when the sun is burning everything else to death.

I played a tournament here and I really enjoyed it again here. Well, first I hated it, then I loved it.

For the first three holes I had to pick up the ball. No score possible. Total crap what I played but I remained calm. My playing partners began to whisper about me and they looked concerned but hey, it was a Friday, it was sunny, I was on a great golf course, I just wanted to have some little fun.

And the fun came later. After the 3 holes on which I had to pick up the ball I played really decent golf. On the remaining 15 holes I guess I a couple of bogeys, a couple of pars and just maybe two doubles.

I went home with a smile.

A gem near Frankfurt: Golf Club Main-Taunus

This course is just a stone’s throw from my place, it’s a mere 15min ride on the Autobahn but still I have to say I rarely play this course. And after another tournament recently, I have to say, I have no idea why I don’t play here much more often. It’s such a nice course, offers challenges to all levels of players and still isn’t overly tricky.

During the tournament I had great company, we chatted along very nicely, had some drinks afterwards and my playing partner even won the trophy. So we were in a good mood, the atmosphere was great, weather held up and it turned out to be a great golfing day. I played 32 net points so my handicap went up 0.1 again. Didn’t care much.

Again, no idea why I don’t play here more often. Highly recommend it if you are in the area.

Flat but bloomy: Bad Vilbeler Golfclub Lindenhof

To kick off my tournament season earlier this year I decided to play a round at Bad Vilbeler Golfclub Lindenhof, north of Frankfurt, Germany. I played this course once before, but only for 12 holes or so.

So I was excited that day, the weather was holding up quite nicely and I was really interested to see the rest of the course. In early summer, when everything is in full bloom, this course is supposed to be extremely beautiful. That day was a little different, no blossom to be seen.

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Great stage for today's Deutsche Bank tournament.

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The course is rather flat but interesting nontheless. On many holes you find water as the prominent hazard, on most holes you do find however multiple areas you wouln’t want to place your ball.

The 9 and 18 really stand out in my opinion. The 9th is a par-5 dogleg right with a huge pond right in front of the mens tees. Either you are overly brave (and good enough) and drive over the water, or you lay up to the left and start to play to the right side starting with the secon shot. Great hole. What’s cool as well is the fact that you have a telephone at the tee box with which you can order something to drink or eat at the halfway house. So when you reach the 10th 15 minutes later, everything is waiting for you. Cool.

The 18th is a par-3 towards the clubhouse. What makes it special is the sheer amount of water you find on that hole.

So playing Bad Vilbel was a treat, a nice course, definitely not perfect but when you are in the area anyway, Bad Vilbel is a nice addition to your list – and stay for dinner if you can and enjoy the evening.

Sweden golf, Ekerum Resort Öland

During the preparation for our holidays in Sweden I researched so much on golf courses and was literally stunned by the sheer amount of top notch courses they have.

I wanted to play them all. As that’s not really possible when you travel with your family I narrowed it down to a bit more than a handful. Still a lot of golf. And then our itinerary required some severe adjustments so that we cut most of our journey through south Sweden and ended up in Stockholm and Öland.

No hard feelings, but I managed to play one round and one round only on Öland.

I played the Långe Jan course at the Ekerum Resort just outside of Borgholm, Öland. The resort features two courses, one named by the lighthouse in the very south of the island, the other named by the lighthouse in the very north. Both of them are supposed to be very nice, the Långe Erik being more kind of a “normal” course, and Långe Jan featuring a modern re-fit with wasteland areas and some tweaks you don’t find at every other course.

I thoroughly enjoyed the course, even with my round taking donkeys with some slow people all over the place. I got in traffic, joined a couple’s group which happened to be members and they told me they never experienced such traffic on the course yet. Well, bad luck for me.

Sweden has great courses to offer, and a big shoutout to the Exilgolfer and Sweden Golf, I got some great recommendations which courses to play. I will take my notes out again next time Sweden is back on my list. I can’t wait to play Bro Hof, Barsebäck, PGA of Sweden, Hills, Sand, Falsterbo, and so many more.

For this time it was just Ekerum. Very good course though. Would definitely recommend you play if you are on the island.

More information: Ekerum Resort Golf

An autumn round which felt like summer

My in-laws live in south Germany and we visit them from time to time over the weekend, as you do. This time, they weren’t even there but we went there anyway (for other reasons) and I brought my golf clubs to play a round.

The area near Ulm is beautiful but not at all blessed with many golf courses. So it was easy to pick a course. After I played GC Ulm last time, I went for GC Donau-Riss, a 15min ride from where we stayed.

The course is equipped with an 18-hole course, a large range, decent training facilities and a short course. The overall appearance of the track is rather open. What I mean by that, it’s not your typical parkland course, on the contrary, without many obstacles you can overlook big parts of the course. Not all of it, but it is rather open, you get what I mean.

It was early Oktober and during the round I hated me that I didn’t wear shorts. It was really hot, the sun was burning and it felt like a little reward for the bad summer we had so far.

I started my round on the 10th. No intentionally, but because I followed two youngsters which intentionally started on the 10. I just realised when my GPS watch made no sense whatsoever for my approach shot.

The course wasn’t overly packed but after some holes I got in traffic and joined another couple’s group, played along for 6 or so holes, played alone again, got in traffic again and joined another golf buddys’ group for the last 2.

All in all a fun round in just over 4 hours. The course was nice, while not extravagant. Holes which are worth noting:

  • 1. Split fairway.
  • 4. Double fairway, meaning you can decide to play left or right around an area of rough and trees.
  • 9. Uphill par-4 with a huge biotope area which you have to lay up for.
  • 15. Huge biotope again.
  • 17. Short par-3 with liver-shaped green. I couldn’t putt straight to the hole and had to putt “around the corner”.

So when you are in the area, give the course a chance. It’s not worth a huge travel but definitely is much fun to play. I had a great day on the course.

Matt Ginella’s Top 50 US (public) courses

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In case you don’t know Matt Ginella, which would surprise me, but anyway, let me briefly explain what his job is – and let me warn you, you might want to quit yours immediately.

The story is easy, Matt works for the Golf Channel and is paid quite a salary to travel the world and play golf. That’s it. He plays the best courses around the globe, then comes back to Florida and talks a bit about his endeavours. Sounds stressful? I don’t think so. In my opinion this guy has the best job on earth. And I guess there are thousands waiting in line waiting for the moment he decides to resign – for whatever reason.

So Matt travels the world, he plays astounding courses and he regularly creates best-of lists, which I really like in general.

Not long ago he (re)created the Top 50 US public golf courses list, and you should definitely have a look:

Beachfront golf in Marbella: Real Club de Golf Guadalmina

Planning a golf trip to Marbella is rather difficult. Not because there is a lack of appropriate opportunities to swing a club, it’s rather the opposite! The Costa del Sol in the south of Spain offers not less than 70 golf courses along a coast line of roughly 300 kilometers. And especially the region in and around Marbella offers so many courses that it’s tricky to pick THE right one.

After our tour through Andalusia it was Marbella being the last stop on our itinerary. Sure thing we wanted to end the journey with a nice and memorizable round of golf in the sunshine.

There are so many great golf courses to be found in this region that it’s really difficult to find the one that’s just right for you. I investigated so much in preparation for the tour that I was seriously confused about where to play eventually. Long story short, I decided to play the Real Club de Golf Guadalmina. This club offers two courses whereas the south course stands out and offers nicer scenery and architecture, at least in theory. Also it was very close to our hotel and I got a good rate.

A word and a blow, instead of checking in the hotel I immeadiately drove to the club house which sits in the middle of a… well, dated residential area with a supermarket-like car park. Entering the club house, it was nobody there to greet or guide you, all lockers and bathrooms were locked and apparently reserved for members who know the numeric code to enter. The waiters in the downstairs bar weren’t really helpful either so I had to ask my way through the facilities. I’m not saying I was shocked, but I had hoped for another kind of start to this round.

Finally I found the person at the counter to pay my green fee, bought the obligatory club logo ball souvenir and left the building. It took me a while to understand that in order to get to the first tee of the south course you need to leave the premises, cross the car park, pass the weird shops and bars to the side of it and then walk for a couple of minutes on a public street through a residential area to then get to what was the first tee. Seriously, I haven’t expected this – in any shape or form. Again, not that I was shocked but this course received so many so positive reviews from all over the place… I was dissapointed, I guess that’s the word.

Next dissapointment was just around the corner: on the first tee there were like 20 people waiting to tee off! I had a tee time in ten minutes and all these folks were about to start their round just now. Apparently there was a double booking for some slots and so I had to wait until all 38 French golf tourists in their fourballs were ready to go and I had my turn finally. That was roughly one hour later.

I had a nice chat with the starter and it wasn’t really his fault but the whole situation was kind of stupid. Especially because I played on my own and was obviously stuck in huge traffic right from the start. As the North Course was closed that week for maintenance I had no chance but wait, play slow and be patient. I told everybody “I’m in no rush” which was true but I had no idea how horrible the next hours turned out to be.

When I finally teed off I decided to play two balls, an advice the starter gave me. It didn’t really help. When I finished hole 1, I realized that there were three groups on the next hole – a par 3!

So I couldn’t help it and had to wait. I practiced putting a good 10 minutes on the first hole until I finally teed off myself. It was quite a busy spot of the course with a busy street to the left and the highway behind the hole. I tried to forget all that once I putted for a par and tried to move on.

Next hole 3rd was a dogleg left with villas to both sides. I had to wait for some minutes before I absolutely bombed my drive to split the fairway. So I was standing there in the middle of the hole, waiting for the French to move on while the group behind me closed up and waited for me to clear the fairway. I wanted to scream that it’s not my fault but I had more chances to let them know later.

When I finished hole 3 I realized that the group in front of me not even had teed off the 4th yet. Oh boy, it got slower and slower, that was for sure. I went over and had a little chit-chat with the French folks and finally couldn’t do anything else than let them go play and wait.

That was the time when the Spanish couple arrived in their cart and realized that I was still waiting there. They were members of the club and seemed very nice, although pretty annoyed about the slow play too. We decided to play together and talked a lot. It turned out that they just months ago moved from Madrid to Marbella because the quality of life supposedly is so much better in Marbella. They said they literally live on the golf course and play here at least 4 times a week. They just take their golf cart from the underground parking and head to the course. Wow, what a lifestyle: Living in a nice house or apartment with sea views right next to a golf course which you get to play a couple of times per week. I was jealous. Pretty jealous.

The path between the 4th green and 5th tee box went under the big motor highway, the autovia. So to set the scene, imagine a nice golf course with a 6-way highway cutting right through it – that’s what you have there. Really a pity. Apart from that the course was rather nice.

We played the 5th, again with a lot of waiting, when we decided that all this absolutely doesn’t make sense at all and totally ruined our mood already. To avoid that we headed for the 15th as it seemed there wasn’t somebody playing the back nine at that time. With the 15, 16, 17 and 18 I finished nine holes in total (the not so pretty ones) in almost 4 hours!

What a pathetic round of golf!

I was disappointed with the area where the course was located, a little bit with the course facilities, with the noise, the slow play and that I just was able to see half of the course. Needless to say that it wasn’t possible to get a refund at the reception.

A golf day to forget.