Ball Showcase: Golf Club Schloss Braunfels

Two weeks ago I played Schloss (Castle) Braunfels, a rather hilly course in the Taunus mountains.

View this post on Instagram

Last week‘s souvenir from Braunfels.

A post shared by Golficiency (@golficiency) on

Never played here before, so I got myself a ball as souvenir and played a decent round of golf — at least the first nine have been very ok, then the heat paid its tribute. Shame that they neglect the course in the heat wave currently. Most of the fairways were brown. Doesn’t look good but kicks the ball even further… I don’t have a problem with length but esthetically I prefer lush green.

View this post on Instagram

This is how a thirsty golf course looks like…

A post shared by Golficiency (@golficiency) on

On hole 3 I chipped from the rough with my lob wedge, the ball went right into the cup and sprung back out. That would have been so cool. Next time.

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.

View this post on Instagram

What a golf day! #fridaygolfday #frankfurterGC

A post shared by Golficiency (@golficiency) on

I went home with a smile.

Playing plays out, finally!

 

I have to say it’s difficult to accommodate a full job, a family, a house, multiple hobbies, friends and a sport like golf – oh, and sleep too.

As a consequence I don’t play as often as I wish but just so often that family is happy, I’m happy and I get enough sleep at night to be fit for the office. So training is pretty much out of the picture.

To put that in perspective: I’ve hit the range three times this year, short course once, private rounds three times and played nine tournaments so far of which one was a fun tournament with my company and all the others had effect on my handicap.

If I could chose I would play golf twice a week, but currently that’s not in scope so I have to life with it. What I do miss as well is coming around a bit, traveling here and there, taking my clubs with me, checking out new courses, new resorts, being on the road with my sticks. That would be cool again…

But not now. I get some rounds in, mainly through the tournaments I play in the German Rhine-Main area.

Couple of weeks ago I played Zimmerner Golf Club. Nice course, not spectacular but interesting. I played 45 stableford net points and won 1st prize. My handicap came down by 2.7 to 13.9.

I was over the moon because for the last months my game struggled – I mean I struggled with my game.

I didn’t practice much. But playing constantly, making the right adjustments here and there progressed and I do feel much more comfortable with everything now. Played more with thy hybrid, and plan to make my way up to the driver in multiple iterations.

I have time.

*dreamingofscratch*

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.

View this post on Instagram

Great stage for today's Deutsche Bank tournament.

A post shared by Golficiency (@golficiency) on

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.

Wrong direction, dear handicap!

11329931_956202944401279_2895333812364265229_n

In the beginning of the year I was pushing myself into as many tournaments as possible in order to gain some important tourney experience and to bring down my handicap to the level I was hoping for.

12 is the magic number for 2015, #project12 it was called, my pursuit for greatness. I’m practicing a lot, playing as often as I can (once a week) and try to get better in all aspects of the game.

In the early period of the year I slightly changed my swing rhythm. I’m swinging much slower now, earning much more consistency off the tee—and I was happy as it always has been the long game I was struggling with.

So from one day to the other I was dead straight and even single handicappers envied my consistency. Funnily enough this came with a complete loss of putting abilities. Don’t ask me why, but for years I had decent touch around and on the greens and now, I was just not able to execute accurate putts anymore. 3-putts and even 4-putts been the result.

Last week, first sight of a weird change. Not doing anything differently, I somehow couldn’t play long shots anymore (my driver doesn’t count, I can’t hit it anyway), no 3-wood, no hybrid, no 4- or 5-iron! But my putting became better I have to say…

Whatever that is, and whatever I have to do to get rid of it, it came at very unsuitable time; my tournament season. I was down to a handicap of 14.6, now 15.1 again, although 12 was the overall goal for this year. Seems like I have to practice bit harder.

Last week’s tournament has been no exception. OK, I had a little hangover and my hay-fever is killing me currently but after a stretch of good holes and 18 stableford points on the front 9, I broke down to, I don’t know exactly 9, 10 or 11 points for the second half. My game was completely wrecked, and I went home ready to cry.

Next steps to work on:

  1. Getting the long game back on track
  2. Do some fancy putting drills because standard putt training is so damn boring
  3. Never leave it short at putting again
  4. Not neglect chipping/pitching
  5. Try to get the holy 1-wood work again

Nothing stops me from #project12!

A tough round deserves a new handicap!

Last week I fortunately made a small step into the right direction, handicap-wise. I played the monthly club championship and somehow managed to withstand the windy and rainy conditions and carded down an 87 in the end.

IMG_4771
IMG_4772

It’s been a while that I played a +15 round, especially on such tough course like the Nessie at Golfpark Bachgrund. It wasn’t just pouring down in between, the course has loads of water hazards to offer. That was basically the reason I left all my woods in the trunk of my car and played only irons, up to my 2-iron. That turned out to be a very conservative but smart idea. And I prefer smart over pretentious.

It was a Stableford tournament and I ended up 2nd net in my class and 6th gross overall—which is pretty cool I have to admit. I’m sure I never made it that high on the overall tournament leaderboard ever before.

The stretch of holes 5 to 11 I played even par, only one bogey with one birdie. After that I somehow fell back into my bogey habits and lost 7 strokes on the last 7 holes. That was definitely not because of bad putting. The putter was hot that day and for the last 7 holes I only needed 10 putts, 28 in total—which is not bad at all.

With this round I lowered my handicap down to 14.8 and am a bit closer now to the end-of-season goal of 12. Let’s see, I’m pretty confident that there is more to squeeze out, but obviously as well a lot of work to do.

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

First tournament for quite some time

Today I played my first tournament for a very long time, probably 1.5 years or so. During my time in England I managed to fit in one or two tournaments, but that was all. So as I’m now pretty much picking up pace with playing golf and my goal for this year is to get a handicap below 12, I thought it’s time to get in tournament mood again.

I played a 9-hole tournament in my new home club, on the 9-hole course. The weather was great and my playing partners, one 60-ish year old fella and two ladies, one early 30’s the other in her 60’s, have been a fun team. Two of them had high handicaps and were far from savvy in terms of basic golf rules but that was fine, nothing to worry about.

I had some beautiful shots, some very nice approaches, nice GIR figures but did some very stupid mistakes also. Result was a total of 34 stableford points with a buffer at 35-36. That meant that my handicap increased from 16.2 to 16.3 – definitely the wrong direction than hoped. But it was my first tournament, a quick 9-hole one and I’m confident to bring down my handicap this year quite extensively. It’s all a question of training and playing practice. End gross result was position 9 out of 51, so not bad at all.

Fingers crossed the next tournament will treat me better. The next on my list is a 18-holes tournament at the champions course, followed by a BBQ and football world cup viewing in the club house (or the terrace). Pretty excited about that one. #GoGermany

Deutsche Börse golf tournament at Hof Hausen

As an employee at Deutsche Börse I was invited to take part in the 2nd Deutsche Börse Golf Day last Thursday. Last year I had to cancel because I couldn’t make it from London to Frankfurt. This year however I had big hopes for a great day. Mainly because I wanted to get to know more people within my company who play golf, but as well because the course was new to me, the game mode was also and just because currently I’m really crazy about golf.

The course we played is the Golf Club Hof Hausen vor der Sonne, even for German clubs a very long and unusual name. It’s situated in Hofheim, just outside of Frankfurt. And it’s a proper members’ club – that’s what you realise when you drive through the parking lot and your car is basically the smallest and oldest between all these brand new Porsches, BMWs and Audis. Membership costs you 30,000 EUR I was told later!! Absolutely crazy, but unfortunately very common in and around Frankfurt. But anyhow, the people I met were very friendly and the club/course was in very good condition – and that’s basically what we were after that day.

The tournament was played as a Texas Scramble. Two of my playing partners I already knew, the other one was a colleague which they obviously knew very well and hence we had great fun right from the start. Right from the tee box 1 to be precise, where we started the round with a sip of Whiskey.

The nice thing about a Texas Scramble is that you think and act as a team, you discuss course management strategy, putt lines and approaches. You feel a bit more pressure on the one side because your effort counts for the team. On the other hand, if you don’t sink that putt, there are three other guys who might. That was really the best part of the tournament.

Golf Club Hof Hausen vor der Sonne is a very nice venue and worth the play if you are around. The practice areas are huge, the course is not overly spectacular but far from boring and the restaurant serves German, Italian and Indian cuisine – a little weird but delicious combination.

After all it was a great day. In the end – the last 4 holes I’d say – the weather got worse and we had to get out umbrellas and rain gear, but we had loads of fun. Score-wise we scored a 5-under par for the team, 6 birdies, 1 bogey. That were 41 gross points and would have put us on top of the leaderboard, but as it was an amateur tournament the net points counted and there we ended up 3rd place with 57 net Stableford points. Not too shabby at all!!

I can’t wait for the next Deutsche Börse Golf Day!

Handicap statistics 12.2012

You might know, one of the main drivers of this blog is presenting you my progress in becoming a single digit handicap golfer, and to put some pressure onto myself. I know that I can do it but it might take some time, especially when I can’t get to the course as often as I wish I could.

Playing practice is key, I know, but currently it’s not really possible, living in London, traveling quite a bit, not owning a car… but none of this is an excuse really. I just have to force myself, but even more pressure on to get this thing started. This year I only played one single tournament! And guess what, I made it to 2nd in my class and didn’t even play really good golf. All that leads to my assumption that there is more in it… But for the moment I have to cope with my current situation.

On a more or less regular basis, I’d like to provide you with news on my current handicap and my progress to reduce it to 9.9 in the first place. I’d like to begin with the current status:

HCPDEC12

As you can see, the statistics start early 2009 with my handicap at that time of 22.8. It dropped quite a bit mid-2010 and mid-2011 but hardly in 2012. Which is a shame because I have the feeling that my swing never was as smooth as now. No idea why. So stay tuned, I’ll let you know some improvement, you bet!