First round of 2020 – in June

June is usually supposed to be pretty much the middle of the season. In COVID-times however, all this is turned upside down and June is the new April.

Well, what a year this has been. Working in home-office for over 3 months now, May has been the time, at least in Germany, when golf courses have been re-opened after the closure due to the Corona pandemic.

I made it to the range in May twice I guess and it was OK, but playing a round, the first round of the year, clearly is something much different.

Checking the courses nearby, I was astonished how crowded the tee times have been. On the weekend, when I have time to play, there wasn’t a single slot available from 6am to 6pm. Fully booked golf courses with 4 players in the group, what a nice thing to see.

Well, not so much if you’d be interested to get your name on the list on short notice yourself but overall great that golf is back in the game. Would be shame if not really: An outdoors, no-contact sport in beautiful weather. What could go wrong, huh?

Instead of the usual suspect courses around the corner, I chose a course a tad outside of the Rhein-Main region that normally doesn’t linger so many people just by the fact that it’s a bit remote. Not far off, but still a journey from downtown Frankfurt for instance.

I booked a tee time at Golfclub Taunus Weilrod, a 18-hole course in the hilly Taunus region with quite drastic elevation changes, tough to walk, but fair to play. It’s a bit quirky in terms of layout and routing but beautiful in a sense that you have nice vistas around the area when standing on an elevated tee box, for instance.

A vertical drop of 50 meters, just to give one example. But I was fired up, paid my 65 EUR and couldn’t wait for my solo round. Literally I couldn’t wait, as there was nobody there I just teed off 10 minutes before my tee time. There were just a few people out there.

The first tee shot requires a shot that should not go left towards the water. You bet my first tee shot of the year went left towards the water… luckily it cleared the pond, got a good bounce and ended on the fairway. The approach landed on the green and just hopped into the fringe. Not bad for a start.

Some great shots and some pretty mediocre shots happened in the following holes, and yes, some lousy ones too, but in general I played some very decent golf. A couple of pars, some bogeys and few doubles. So nothing to worry about if you’d ask me.

I played: No hat, no glove, no laser. Just a very enjoyable round of golf, no stress, no rush. On many holes I played two balls for the sake of training but still managed to finish my first nine in 70 minutes!

On 11 I got into traffic. Then, due to the quirkiness, the course routing allowed the elderly couple in front of me to take the 17 instead of the 12 and therefore short-cut the round which gave me some extra room before I ran into the next group on 14 only.

That was the time when I managed to get a glimpse of other players and saw them play, saw them struggle in maybe one of their first rounds of the year, too. Golf is definitely not a game of perfect.

The course is going up and down pretty hard. The fairways were pretty brown already and rock solid. It was a very enjoyable round of golf however, in beautiful sunshine, in a tranquil environment and I loved every moment of it, even the bad shots!

Apparently the old saying “a bad day of golf is always better than a good day in office” stands true for home-office, too. Who would have thought!

So in case you are after a quiet round without hassle, stress and jam packed tee time scheduled, Weilrod is your choice—around here that is.

Adjustments to the 2020 golf plan necessary

With the year 2020 becoming more and more strange, this all is going differently than planned. Early May will be the first possibility to hit some balls and if all things go alright and there is no second COVID-wave coming our way the season will be shortened quite drastically anyway and requires some adjustments to the travel and game plan of 2020.

Courses I most definitely want to play this year in my area:

  • Frankfurt
  • Main-Taunus
  • Lich
  • Hanau
  • Hof Hausen
  • Mainz

In addition some others a bit farther away:

  • St. Leon-Rot
  • Mannheim-Viernheim
  • Stuttgart Solitude
  • Ulm

Originally I had some others on the list, some in Munich, a trip to Hamburg, another one to Berlin, one to Weimar or to the south-west of Germany.

Also, the original plan had open slots for travel to Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark and Abu Dhabi at the end of the year to play some golf. I’m pretty sure this is not happening this year though.

Stay positive, play as much golf as you can and appreciate that you can play at all.

Operating some of the finest courses on the island: Arabella Golf Mallorca

imageFor those who don’t know Arabella Golf Mallorca so far, here is a quick reference.

The Arabella brand was founded by the German billionaire family Schörghuber. The empire was built on construction and beer—two things which not only go well together but apparently are very lucrative, if you do it right. The Bavarian Paulaner beer might be something you are aware of in that sense (and taste).

But they also ventured into hotels and golf, two things that also fit quite nicely. Under the Arabella brand there are hotel resorts and golf courses across Europe; predominantly in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain.

For Mallorca in particular, there is a subsidiary bearing the name of the famous island in the brand itself: Arabella Golf Mallorca. They operate several courses in the Palma region and are respected as some of the best on Mallorca, if not Spain altogether.

Continue reading Operating some of the finest courses on the island: Arabella Golf Mallorca

Out of bounds… and the country

Imagine you are teeing off at Golf de Preisch, a neat little course in the north of France. You’re standing on the 4th tee, feeling confident that you can place the ball in the middle of the fairway—boom, and there it is again, the pull hook!

Problem with that, especially on hole number 4, the ball most likely will not only have left the club’s premises but also the country! Golf de Preisch lies exactly at the French border to Luxembourg. So any errant ball over the fence will automatically be subject to the Schengen treaty, having left the country within the European Union. No customs clearance necessary though fortunately.

GolfDePreisch
© google.com

Due to the close proximity to the borders, the three 9-hole loops of this 27-hole facility are suitably named “France”, “Luxembourg” and “Allemagne”.

Are you aware of other courses, where this or something similar could happen, too?

Mallorca Press Cup 2019

The year 2019 ended well for me. After I basically stowed away all my clubs for the winter break – yes, you heard right, I don’t play in snow – just then I received the invitation to take part in the 2019 Mallorca Press Cup.

The cup itself is an annual gathering of European golf and golf travel writers of all sorts of media, to group them together in beautiful Mallorca and have them experience the great golf and great amenities available.

Playing hole 13 at Son Vida Golf, Palma de Mallorca

No question, I was all in for it, packed my stuff and off I went on a cold dark December morning to be greeted two hours later by Mediterranean sunshine, cosy temperatures, and last but not least by the chauffeur and his black S-Class Mercedes who was about to take me to my hotel.

Continue reading Mallorca Press Cup 2019

When Mauritius is on your mind

It’s been some years ago that I went to Mauritius for our honeymoon. The island, the hotels, the golf, the whole trip turned out to be quite exceptional—and not just because it was such a special occasion.

Mauritius is Africa’s second largest economy and indeed rich in beautiful beaches and golf courses. Being on the island, I was fortunate enough to play the “The Links” and “The Legend” courses at Belle Mare Plage, and also the Le Touessrok as it was known back then, today referred as the Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club. And I enjoyed them all.

Yes it was my honeymoon and I may have been in an emotional high anyway, but by all means, the setting, the quality and the general attractiveness of the courses is superb.

I left the country/island after two weeks, knowing I will be back some day. First because one of the hotels we stayed in was absolutely the best you could ask for, and second because there are still some golf treasures to be lifted.

For my second trip I have two courses definitely on my list:

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Tee boxes for all abilities | © heritagegolfclub.mu

Both courses look just fantastic on pictures. Both are situated on the south coast of Mauritius and Anahita is actually placed adjacent to the Ile aux Cerfs Golf Club; not on an island but on a beautiful peninsula, formerly belonging to the Four Seasons hotel group.

The Anahita is a fully fledged Ernie Els design 18-hole course, while the Heritage is a Peter Matkovich design 18-hole plus 9-hole pitch and putt. They are not far from each other, so just perfect to fit in one trip—as getting from A to B in Mauritius is not as easy (and quick) as it sounds.

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Playing with the elements | © heritagegolfclub.mu

I just can’t wait to plan my next trip to Mauritius to check out the courses, maybe the related hotels and to tell you guys everything about it afterwards.

For now, it’s all just in my mind—unfortunately.

Longing for Adare Manor

Truth be told, I never had the chance to play golf in Ireland. I’ve been there couple of times, mostly for business, but never was able to squeeze in some golf. I know… shame on me.

When I think about golf in Ireland I’m dreaming about lush green fairways, typical British hospitality and a great experience eventually. What I do however picture (for some reason) are links courses such as the typical suspects Old Head, Tralee, Lahinch, Waterville, Doonbeg, Ballybunion, just to name a few.

Obviously with that I don’t do justice to all the great courses which are indeed inland courses. The famous K Club comes to mind, and not to forget, Adare Manor.

While Adare might have been a tad more under the radar than others, this is absolutely about to change very soon, if not already happened recently. Adare Manor was officially chosen to stage the 2026 Ryder Cup! And what an event to start with.

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The majestic 18th at Adare Manor | © adaremanor.com

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Strategic No. 7 at Adare Manor | © adaremanor.com

The venue, golf course and hotel complex, was opulently renovated in 2017. It’s an original Robert Trent Jones Snr. design and was reconstructed and renovated by Tom Fazio and is since then equipped with all the modern aspects and technology golf has to offer. While the setting by the 18th century manor house and the park-style routing suggests something else, the course boasts state-of-the-art technology, for example SubAir systems, the first ever course in Irland to use that.

Fazio commented: “Most golfers will never have seen anything like this course. It looks and plays like no other course in Ireland. This will be a stand out course in Europe and, with the Adare Manor house and estate as its setting, will be one of the finest stay and play venues ever created.”

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Stunning views over the 11th | © adaremanor.com

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Picturesque approach over water at the 18th towards the manor house | © adaremanor.com

Looking at the pictures taken from the Adare website, don’t tell me you’re not falling in love with this place. I am most definitely. I seriously can’t wait to play there and review everything one day, hopefully before the Ryder Cup is foreshadowed in a couple of years.

So I’m waiting for that invitation—just saying! :)

For more information, go check out Adare Manor’s website.

Golf plans for 2020 in full swing

The 2019 is coming to an end slowly but surely. The days are getting shorter, it’s getting much nastier outside than it used to be weeks ago. As I’m writing this, it’s raining cats and dogs outside and nobody would get me on a golf course right now.

Unless fall is showing up again with a lovely October or we spontaneously decide to leave for a break to the southern hemisphere, the proper rounds I’m going to play are coming to phase out for this year (unfortunately).

Perfect timing to plan for next year!

As some of you might know, throughout the year I’m playing a Deutsche Bank tournament series which brings me to lovely courses here in the region, including:

  • Frankfurt
  • Main-Taunus
  • Lich
  • Hanau-Wilhelmsbad
  • Hofheim

…and many others.

For recreational golf, without any tournament pressure, I created a list of German golf courses which I plan to play in 2020:

  • München Eichenried
  • München Aschheim
  • Gut Kaden
  • Weimarer Land
  • St. Leon-Rot
  • Winnerod
  • Mannheim-Viernheim
  • Stuttgart Solitude
  • Köln
  • Ulm
  • Hardenberg

As you see, these are spread all over Germany. Some in the north, some in the south-east, some in the south-west, in the west, in the east—so pretty much all over the country. And even though this means a lot of driving, I can’t wait for some to play (some for the first time).

Excellent round of golf at one of Germany’s top destinations – Golf Club St. Leon-Rot

When it comes to famous German golf courses, admittedly, there might only be a handful. Munich-Eichenried comes to mind, so does Lärchenhof due to the BMW tourneys. More recently the European Tour teed off at Green Eagle near Hamburg and both Frankfurt and Gut Kaden have already staged pro events in the past.

So did St. Leon-Rot, one of Germany’s top courses and host to numerous Deutsche Bank SAP Open tournaments as well as the Solheim Cup.

The course is located 90 minutes from where I live so I decided to give it a go, a couple of weeks ago. On a Monday morning, in beautiful sunshine, I went down there and had a pure blast. But first things first:

Continue reading Excellent round of golf at one of Germany’s top destinations – Golf Club St. Leon-Rot

The 50 most beautiful golf courses in the world you can play

According to Golf Advisor, this is the list of the world’s most beautiful courses which are open to play for the mortals. So you’ll find Pebble Beach, which sets you back 500 dollars, but you wouldn’t find Cypress Point which clearly, as the direct neighbor, is equally beautiful but is a private member’s club, one of the stricter ones even.

You can believe what you want in terms of rankings, this has its US-focus as well and only lists 5 Continental European courses after all. Not fair, you might argue. Well I have very little comparison I’m afraid to judge if the US-courses indeed are of such perfect beauty that courses of other regions are under-represented to a certain extent.

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Unbeatable coastal golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links | (c) pebblebeach.com

From those 50 courses, I’m fortunate enough to have played 2 at least. The rest is a working target. Will keep you posted on the outcome, as always.

So this is the list with more details:

Continue reading The 50 most beautiful golf courses in the world you can play