Top day at Gut Lärchenhof in Cologne, Germany. OK, the weather could have been much better but in general it was a very good decision to make my way from Frankfurt to Cologne – at 6am on that Sunday morning last week.
The BMW International Open is the only European Tour event left on German soil. It usually took place in Munich, the home turf of BMW, but was recently changed to an alternating structure in which Munich and Cologne are the two venues. GC München Nord-Eichenried for the former, GC Gut Lärchenhof for the latter.
Gut Lärchenhof is situated on the west-side of Cologne, so pretty much in the centre of the Rhine- and Ruhr area. The course is a Jack Nicklaus design, undoubtly presenting itself in greatest shape. From a vegetation perspective, I’d say it’s something in between a parkland and a links course. There are a lot of trees which however are not in play really. Instead the heavy rough is made of links-dunes-like long grass which sucks in balls without regret. From an aesthetical fauna standpoint you might want to compare this course with south-west London heather courses like Sunningdale, Wentworth, Berkshire and alike.
Due to the expected weather conditions including heavy thunderstorms, the playing mode of that final day was changed to a starting time of 7am, teeing off on the 1 and 10 simultaneously, plus they had three players in a group rather than two – all to speed up the play and make sure the tourney is over before the dark clouds arrive. I had to use my umbrella most of the time, but in the end it was not as bad as expected, there was even sunshine from time to time.
When I reached the grounds I realised that there were way less people than anticipated. Another consequence of the weather I believe. After a quick look at the range I got right into it and followed some players round the course. I stayed with Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Emiliano Grillo, Pablo Larrazabal, Alexander Levy, Francesco Molinari, Paul Casey, Robert Karlsson and others. The only one I really haven’t seen at all was the winner in the end, Fabrizio Zanotti.
In the end I unfortunately could not manage to get a seat on the grand stand, which was really a shame because due to a multi-hole playoff, the grand stand would have been the perfect place to see the last 1 hour of the tournament. As a compensation I managed to get some nice autographs on Golficiency balls: Danny Willet, Paul Casey and Marcel Siem. All in all a very nice day with impressive golf. Cologne is just not around the corner from Frankfurt, so I drove for 5 hours in total – and was pretty exhausted respectively. And I missed Martin Kaymer, as he missed the cut, which is a bit unfortunate, but I guess the crowd following him on the Sunday would have been really over the moon… so glad I came so close to all the other mortal golf professionals.
Please check out these pictures I took (totally illegally…)