The first Ballesteros Design I played: Real Novo Sancti Petri Golf Club

The prefix “Real” stands for “Royal” in Spanish. That’s the case for Real Madrid and also Real Golf de Valderrama. And also for Real Novo Sancti Petri Golf Club.

The latter surprises a little bit because there is very little royal flair in the Urbanization Novo Sancti Petri, south of Cadiz. It’s a rather nice holiday residential area with dozens of hotels and uncounted weekend and holiday apartments. The big asset of Sancti Petri is the beautiful stretch of beach, long, wide and white along the Costa de la Luz.

The coast in general is famous for travelers and sun seekers, but indeed this part of the region is beautiful and offers a lot to recreational or regular guests.

We stayed at one of the best hotels the coast has to offer and enjoyed some days by the pool, strolling the beach, enjoying the sun, the wine, the tapas and the southern Spanish lifestyle.

Of course golf was on the agenda too. As little as Novo Sancti Petri is, it offers quite a variety of golf courses. I decided to go for the most prestigious club, which alone offers two championship courses plus a short a pitch & putt course, and also went to play the apparent better course, the “Mar y Pinos” (Sea and Pines), or “A” as they call it themselves.

I paid a very reasonable green fee, ordered a cart (because I walked at least 12km every day during the week before) and off I went. The signage turned out to be somewhat improvable but eventually I managed to find everything I needed to.

The driving range features a lot of possibilities to warm up and is home to the Jack Nicklaus Golf Academy, just in case your swing needs some urgent adjusting.

On tee 1 I was grouped together with a German couple, both in their 50s, he played golf, she only took pictures and used the first nine as a nice walk. She didn’t really talk much but he was very nice and we chatted along quite nicely. Turned out that he’s coming for 20 years and just started to find back to his game.

The course was built in 1990, designed by nobody less that Severiano Ballesteros. I’m not a big expert on course design and definitely wouldn’t recognise Seve’s handwriting but I have to say that the overall layout and architectural course design was not more than ‘good’. Saying it was ‘mediocre’ wouldn’t do justice, but it’s clearly not the biggest asset this club has to offer – or reason to get awarded with the prefix “Real” to the club name.

Hole 1 is a very straight hole, an easy one for the start. With a good tee shot you can reach the green next to a small lake which forms a water hazard for a number of the following holes. For the second you have to drive the ball over water towards a normal-width fairway, surrounded by holiday villas to the left.

After 3 and 4, two rather unspectacular dogleg-left par-4s you get to the next par-4 dogleg-left. This time your second shot has to travel over water to a smaller green. Which didn’t work out in my first attempt I have to say.

Hole 6 is without a doubt one of the more spectacular ones. It’s an uphill tee shot with a second into the green which sits right on top of the beach with beautiful views along the coast. Very pretty indeed.

Hole 7 is a rather long over-water par-3 and is followed by an intersting par-5 and a dull par-3 to finish the first nine.

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Today's highlight: golf at Novo Sancti Petri

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I totally screwed up the 10th (God knows why) and really enjoyed playing the following holes; long par-5s, interesting par-4s and short par-3s. All in all I preferred the back nine, both in quality of the design, the absence of holiday homes right next to the fairway and water hazards and frankly because I played really good golf there. I think it’s just a mood issue. The more birdie chances you have (and eventually make) the better you like the holes.

So after all, I enjoyed playing this course. There are of course some things that didn’t go well: The staff was friendly but not very helpful with orientation, the caddie master wasn’t helpful at all, the carts were neither equipped with water, towels, tees nor with a GPS system and as I forgot my GPS watch at home, there was a lot of guess work involved.

Would I recommend the course to others? Yes if you are in the neighbourhood, no if you would need to travel just for this.

Golficiency Rating: 5/10

An hommage to Severiano Ballesteros


Last week I managed to watch the film “Seve — The Movie” which I had bought on DVD quite a while ago. It’s a combination of an acted video biography staged in northern Spain, where Seve was from, and real golf tournament footage from many Masters and The Open events. In essence it’s a movie showing how Seve was brought up, how he spent childhood on his farm, how he got into golf and made his way to become as good as he did.

The story outlines his life with his parents, his brothers, battles in school and on the course. The second part describes how Seve went on tour, impressed people around the world and managed to win so many titles.

If you are into golf and you don’t mind spending an hour or two watching a golf movie, then you should give it a try. It’s dramatic, funny, sad all at the same time.

Still not convinced? Then you probably should watch the official trailer:

Can you spare one hour for a legend? A documentary about Seve

Severiano Ballesteros died in 2011, aged 54, after a lost battle with brain cancer. He left the professional golf scene but in every player’s mind Seve is still pretty present around the traveling golf circus.

Remarkable are those situations in which the European Ryder Cup players dedicate their points to the Spaniard, look up into the sky, quietly say some words to their former mate or idol and then refocus to the here and now. It’s a moment of remembrance. European players in the common Seve attire, those who have Seve’s silhouette on their bags, all this shows their continuous thoughts for this outstanding player.

Months ago I bought a new film about Seve, “Seve – The Movie“, but I have to admit that I couldn’t find the time to watch it yet. For those who already did and in case you are further interested in his life, his game and perception amongst other players, then you should spare another 60 minutes to watch this documentary. I’m sure it’s a well spent hour.

RIP Seve, you died way too early!

Seve – The Movie

In cinemas late June, we’ll have the chance to get a deeper look into the life of one of golf’s greats – Severiano Ballesteros.

I don’t know more than the trailer above but just watching it makes me counting minutes until it gets aired in theatres around here. We all get the chance to connect the dots of a lifetime dedicated to golf, striving for greatness, and then losing it far to early to cancer.

A newspaper once said of him: “He spoke many other languages too: the dialects of honour, of dignity, of sportsmanship, of decency, of fair play, of loyalty, of integrity, and in the end, of dauntless, unforgettable, astonishing courage. In doing so, he rewrote entirely the international image of the Spanish people. Quite simply, there has never been a finer ambassador for either his sport or his country.”

So actually I can’t wait for the movie to come out.

Continue reading Seve – The Movie