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.
On a little quest to play as many Leading Golf Courses of Germany as possible, this little journey brought me to Mannheim-Viernheim, the 2018 team champion of Germany and regular suspect to win the Final Four each year.
The badge “Leading Golf Courses” is one that provides some clarity for a question such as: Is it worth it to travel to that course?
This question can always be answered with a plain and simple “yes”. The venue will be great, the maintenance will stand out, and other factors as well will show its exquisite level of detail and craftsmanship. And as Mannheim is just a 45 minutes ride from where I live, I had this course on my to-do-list for a while already.
Then came Corona and with it a completely failed season preparation. I cancelled all tournaments scheduled in 2020 and instead decided to play some gems in the area I always wanted to play but didn’t manage to so far.
So on a beautiful sunny Wednesday morning, I took my daughter to the kindergarten and then hit the autobahn Mannheim-bound. As said, it’s not even an hour ride and super easy to get there.
Two rounds of golf at a fantastic Mediterranean venue, in such a beautiful spot in the world. What else could you ask for. Is it worth it though?
The island of Mallorca has always been close to my heart. Not that I spent most of my holidays here, but when I first set foot on this island many years ago, I fell in love with the interesting complexity of it which seems to get forgotten sometimes when you read about Mallorca and its annual struggle to cope with the sheer amount of tourists coming here.
It’s an obvious beautiful island but also looking a bit deeper, it reveals so many great things, so beautiful spots, so tranquil places, so utterly fantastic stuff which stay more or less uncovered if you’d just spend a beach summer break or something alike there.
Cyclists know why Mallorca is special and golfers do, too.
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.
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:
In addition some others a bit farther away:
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.
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:
…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:
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).
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:
Not easy to pad yourself on the shoulder without showing off or sounding too pretentious. But my game is finally starting to go the right direction and you can imagine I like that!
On the weekend I played a tournament at Golf Club Main-Taunus in Wiesbaden and had a great day with good company, good weather and good scores.
As reminder: I’m currently avoiding my woods and hybrid and instead only use my 2- and 3-iron off the tee. Still scored an 83 and even had three or four lip-outs on the green. In the end I carded 25 gross points and 41 net points which brought me down to a 13.1 handicap. Not far off my season goal of 12.X. And I had no double-bogeys at all, just bogeys, pars and one birdie. Good news that.
I had to leave early and missed the winning ceremony, so I’m not even sure how I ranked in the comp; dont’t think too shabby though.
Still there’s a lot of work to be done, much practice necessary in order to finally make some progress with my woods also. I just feel that I need professional help here unfortunately.
[UPDATE. I actually won the tournament. Who would have thought!! Came up 1st in the gross and 2nd in the net stableford calculation. What great news!]
Just in case you are not familiar with St. Leon-Rot, this course is situated pretty much in the heart of Germany. It was ranked “Best Golf Course in Germany” for some years in a row but you will likely know it from professional golf tournaments such as the Deutsche Bank SAP Open or the Solheim Cup.
Speaking of SAP, the company’s headquarters are just a stone’s throw from the course and one of the SAP founders, Dietmar Hopp, opened the club in the mid-90s and since then takes good care that the club improves, maintains quality, and retains its good reputation as top notch European Tour destination and golf elite training center. He also acts as president of the club.
Living in the Frankfurt area, a one hour drive from St. Leon-Rot, I have to admit I’ve never been there. And this is exactly what I will change.
I just booked a tee time in roughly three weeks and can’t wait to tee off here. The club offers two championship courses, the St. Leon and the Rot. From what I’ve seen two courses with fairly different characteristics. The St. Leon being a bit more open, with more water, compared to Rot, a bit more classic tree-lined, more parkland style. But as said, that’s currently just assumption only and I will check if that’s a fair assessment after I visited the club.
Have I mentioned that I’m looking forward to it…? Can’t wait really!
On the weekend I played a tournament at Licher Golf Club. This was my second round I played with my new Titleist CBs and I’m still in the process to familiarize myself with the club, the shaft, the distance and the feel in general.
So far, so good. I know Lich being a track in excellent condition throughout the year. It’s not an easy course and can be tricky here and there so a little experience is helpful.
The start is brutal: First hole, over water, dogleg right par-5! Never played par here as far as I remember. Stroke index 1. I wouldn’t say I was starting cold but my score was kind of freezy on Saturday. At least on the first nine.
After the turn I had scored 51 shots which for me equals 12 net points (5 gross). Oh my! On the second half I needed only 40 shots that translate to 22 net points (14 gross). You can imagine I liked the second half better.
So in hindsight I’m quite OK with 34 total net points, having in mind my weak start and that I’m only playing with my irons. I carried my 5-wood but refrained from using it as I feared the dispersion. What’s needed now is to create a bit more consistency with my new irons and then maybe get some training sessions in with my woods in order to get them in play more often.
My 2-iron usually has a distance of up to 200 meters. So I’m not much shorter than my fellow bogey golfers with their drivers. Often I’m farther even (and silently enjoy the moment having somebody out-driven with an iron).
I’m still a bit disappointed with my handicap direction this year though. Instead of going down to single digits I’m up by 0.4. Not a drama but still not the desired outcome so far. But I’m on it, promise to practice more and will card another great round this year to get me down a little (hopefully).
Wish me luck.
[UPDATE. I finally received the full results of the tournament. Actually came out 2nd place… Who would have thought!]