Golf Platja de Pals – February 2016
It was cold and wet when I left Girona heading north to Pals in Costa Brava. As long as there is no lightening, I don’t mind golfing in the rain.
I arrived via what could be footpaths between rice fields. They had streams of water running down them which made me think they were gutters and I was just hoping that the water didn’t get any deeper. Apparently that is not the normal way in but I was following my GPS and it said it was a road.
I met with Maite (Directora Comercial y Relaciones Públicas) on arrival and had a wonderful chat with her about the course and she told me some of the 50 year history. 2016 is the 50 year anniversary of the course, which is the oldest in Costa Brava. The family that built the course made their money in Cuba and returned to Spain and bought hundreds of acres. The land was very sandy and they planted around one million pine trees to stabilize the land.
Around 100 years later (if my memory is correct) a son that had also been to Cuba decided he was going to build a golf course in Spain when he returned.
And build one he did.
There was a competition going on today and no members or smaller groups were going out, so I went out solo. I love playing alone but usually when I can continue golfing with no stops. When I got to the marshal on the first tee, the group who were about to tee off (four locals) told me to play through, so I followed the last group in the competition.
It was slow going but I loved it. I played two balls and practiced so many things. I was very consistent today, one ball on the fairway, one ball in the woods. My putting was so much better than Friday and I was happy to have one putted or two putted most greens and even had a zero putt.
The four guys in front of me smiled and apologized for the slow round but I didn’t mind at all. I was videoing and fooling around taking photos and always right behind the guys in front. As soon as they were clear I’d shoot, move up and loiter, film, snack and photograph while I waited for my next shot.
I must admit today is the first time I have ever felt moments of boredom on a golf course as usually with a round like today you are standing and chatting to your partners while you wait.
There was only so much loitering, filming, snacking and photographing I could do between shots.
The fairways are really tight, hugged by copse of trees on both sides and it is not until the back nine that some fairways open up. While the fairways open up, there are trees in the middle of them for an extra challenge.
The greens are in great condition, perhaps a little slow from the wet and the fairways were soggy due to the rain. I left massive divots and was constantly locating the grass carpet I seemed to remove and filling my holes. I certainly had plenty of time to do this.
The sand in the bunkers is really corse although I was only in the sand three times today so didn’t get much bunker practice and when I was in the sand I hit them cleanly out even getting a nod and a thumbs up from one of the men in front of me when he stopped to watch me in the bunker.
I donated a ball to the water on the 8th and when I headed in the direction of where my ball went I found another just sitting there waiting to be collected. I pocketed it but only owned it briefly as I did an amazing air ball with a lot of hang time on the 9th and gave it right back to the course into the middle of the water hazard.
After finishing on the 9th, I got to the 10th tee and realized it wasn’t my group of guys but a couple of groups in front of me teeing off. My guys were having a snack as part of the competition. I took some photos and then sat in the sun as it was chilly and I was wishing I had tights under my pants but I was thankful for my three top layers.
The guys told me to go and get food but I was happy as I had fruit and nut and dark chocolate mix and a bottle of water so I was set.
As we waited for the group in front we had a little chat and I watched the group behind me finish on the 9th and head in. The boys teed off, I waited until they were clear and nailed my ball down the fairway. My second ball that is, my first ball had shot into the woods.
It seemed I was going to continue my consistency – fairway/forest.
I strolled down the fairway and waited for the boys to clear the green. While I was waiting, the next group arrived at the tee and started yelling at me. I turned around and gestured to the green, indicating I was waiting for it to clear. While I would have to do a perfect 3wood to hit the green it would go close and I didn’t want to play up like that when the guys were playing a competition.
The yelling behind me continued. They wouldn’t have been able to see the green as it is a dogleg so once clear I took my shot and as I was putting my 3 wood back, the folk on the tee were still screaming at me and gesturing for me to get off the fairway. Bit rude I thought but I moved to the side of the fairway and walked to my ball.
I hit a pretty good ball on to the green, about 15 feet from the pin and as I got my putter out the yelling started behind me again. The guys in from of me were waiting at the par 3 11th for the group in front to clear and they looked at me and shrugged their shoulders.
I couldn’t work out what the problem was.
As I stepped up to putt, the yelling started again and a man and woman shot up in a cart and told me to get off the course. I told them I was about to putt and I would be off the green shortly, thinking they wanted me to step aside so they could hit their approach shots.
No they actually wanted me off the course.
The woman was yelling at me telling me I couldn’t just start playing from the 10th tee. I informed her I had been playing all morning following the same group in front of me and that another foursome who were between us had stopped after nine.
They didn’t believe me and the guy was incensed. He was raging at me and both kept yelling as I refused to leave. Instead I turned to line up my putt and they screamed at me and said they were going to get the marshal.
Good, Gareth would set them straight surely. He had sent me on my way on the 1st and had swung by once already while I was playing.
I hit my putt to within a couple of inches, dropped it in the cup, picked it up and headed to the 11th.
The guys in front were on the green and I waited until they were clear and teed off. My first ball was fair but my second one was crap so I picked up the second and thought I should just push through so I could get away from the cloud of anger following me but there was nowhere to go. I holed out on the 11th and caught up with the guys on the 12th tee.
They asked me what the yelling had been about. I told them in my wonderful Spanglish (that I seem to have mastered) and they were all quite shocked noting I had been behind them all day. They told me not to worry and to keep enjoying my round and that the marshal would sort it out.
I waited for the boys to clear the area before nailing my drive straight down the middle of the fairway. I didn’t have the nerve to hit a second ball even though I had plenty of time. My enjoyment had waned a little after the altercation with the angry French foursome behind me.
I was pleased to see Gareth shoot up and ask me what was going on. I told him I had just been abused and been told to leave the course by the group behind me, as they didn’t believe I had been playing all morning. He told me he would sort them out and scooted off to talk to them.
I continued down the 12th but only playing one ball when I was clear to do so.
I kept an eye out behind me but they were not playing up and I think pointedly staying back on the tee until I was on the green. I was quite happy with that distance.
As I headed to the 13th tee I smiled at a couple heading to the 9th tee as we both tried to navigate the muddy track without getting too dirty. I was very glad for my waterproof Footjoys.
The wind dropped about two degrees as I waited for the boys to clear the tee and when I got to the reds I put on my rain pants and was instantly warmer with the extra layer. Perfect timing as the rain started as I stood there. I pulled out the little raincoat for my clubs and practiced my swing.
That was one great thing about today, I practiced my swing and different drills my golf coach in Canada has given me (ones to do without balls) and was hitting the ball better for it.
I nailed an awesome drive down the 13th and wished I had a neckwarmer like the smart guys in front of me. I think that would be very handy for Ireland and Scotland too so I will pick one up this week. As I finished on the 13th and headed to the 14th tee I went past the angry mob behind me and I thought to myself they will apologize for abusing me as they were right there. Instead they pointedly looked in the other direction and I smirked to myself as I watched the irate woman miss hit the ball a couple of times and then hit a tree.
Clearly anger is not good for your golf.
My driving on the last six holes was excellent and I was really pleased with how I was hitting the ball. My 3wood was fantastic (it hasn’t been of late) and my hybrids so much better than I usually hit them they ended up being too much club.
I delighted myself and I had a little shriek when I chipped it in on the 16th from about 30 feet away. I definitely have a golf game in me.
I bogeyed the last five holes, and was only playing one ball by this stage as I didn’t want to incur the wrath of the French again. This was such an improvement from the average of 8’s I had on Friday at Llavaneras.
After my round I was treated to the delicious delicacies from the kitchen of the clubhouse. The clubhouse is warm and welcoming with lots of timber and leather couches and I had a perfect position watching golf on television while I sampled the wonderful fare. More about the food tomorrow.
I then met with Gareth for a golf chat and Twenty Questions with Tiff.
It is the first time I have been abused on a golf course (and hopefully the last) but I didn’t let their anger ruin my experience and I seemed to hit the ball better on the back nine regardless.
Pals is a great test of alignment and finesse and maybe the back nine was better for me as it is a little more open and not as tightly hugged by the pine trees. I did get one mouthful of dirt and when I went in after my round saw that I was wearing part of the course as an accessory as I had mud and grass stuck to my face. Another first for me.