Real Club de Golf El Prat – March 2016 Today I had the pleasure of golfing at this little gem designed by fellow Aussie, Greg Norman.
I arrived early (as I always do) and met with Arantxa Parejo and toured the clubhouse with her and Alex, looking at old photos and the various displays. The course has relocated three times as it moved from Barcelona when the city grew, then the airport expanded and it had to move again to where it sits today.
What a track! This championship course has hosted the Spanish Open nine times and has held hundreds of national and international competitions.
I might not have played amazing golf today but I did have some moments of greatness which for me, make every round pleasurable. It might have also been the great company.
I met with my playing partner, Jordi Sansó and while I was off changing my shoes I come out to discover we had two ladies joining us. Paz Marfa and Agueda Cortilla are both seventeen years old and boy do they play a lovely game of golf.
Not only did I get to play a fantastic track, I got to play with some amazing golfers, which I believe is great for my game.
Watching these three on their home track was wonderful.
Paz was throwing darts to within feet of the pin and Agueda just makes golf look so simple. Watching her effortless swing then the ball glide through the air – my only question was how long have you been playing? i.e. When will I hit the ball like that?
I think the answer is never in my case as both girls have represented Spain in various tournaments and I somehow do not think I will get anywhere near their skill level.
Jordi too can whack a ball well and while he was playing from the tips and with me playing from the reds (the girls played from the yellows) I struggled to outdrive him.
He is off to Italy this summer as he won a competition yesterday which won him an all expense paid golf trip to Italy.
Now that is an awesome prize.
He also happens to have won the club championship two years running and only just missed out getting his name on the board again last year.
The greens were very fast and I seem to have lost the ability to read a green. As I have three days of golf I think by Wednesday I will have mastered the green. I also realized on the back nine that one side of the weight on my putter was full of dirt. Maybe not too much of a difference but the design of my putter is all about balance and it certainly wasn’t balanced.
That is the only club that was really off today and if you can’t get it in the hole you are in a little trouble. I bogeyed a few holes and seemed to average a three putt but had some good little runs with my 8 iron on to the green and a couple of risky shots that didn’t land me in the bunker. More reward than risk, not always but enough.
I did a great drive on the 10th, didn’t quite get on to my three wood then proceeded to get about 45 as I went from bunker to bunker and couldn’t get out of the last one. It probably didn’t help that I had a 9 iron in my hands and not my sand wedge.
We seemed to be following the ground staff and as they raked and beautified the bunkers, I landed in them and tore their beautiful tiny rake strokes into shreds. I did get a bit of bunker practice today which wasn’t great, but I had a couple of good shots amongst them.
I really miss not being able to practice more as this is the least amount of golf I have played since I became addicted/started golfing. Six rounds in two and a half months leaves me wanting more golf and a lot more time to practice. I miss spending hours chipping and putting, sitting in a bunker or just hitting balls on the range.
Paz and Agueda left us after nine and it would have been nice to interview the girls about their golf story but we didn’t catch up with them again.
While we were pushed on the front nine with a lot of people behind us, Jordi and I had a leisurely run on the back nine. My only regret is that we took a cart and I didn’t dump my bag back in the car and put all my food in my bag.
On a side note Jordi loves my banana oatmeal slice that I decided to add sesame and walnut to yesterday. Best golf snack ever – just saying.
The course has quite a few changes in elevation, more so on the back nine with a few of the greens sitting on their own little hill. Hills well protected by bunkers, thank you Mr Norman. Some of the greens are very tricky to navigate and you could watch your ball just vanish off down a hill if your touch is too heavy. I was really happy with my chip on the 11th when the ball did exactly what I envisioned hitting the longer grass and stopping in line with the pin.
A couple holes later I hit a great wedge, watched it hit the green, replaced my divot and when I looked up I watched my ball roll back toward me and off the side of the green. I checked with Jordi and yes my ball had been on the green, for a mere moment until landing back in some rubbish on the side of an embankment. I was very pleased with the little chip I did back on to the green and even managed to get the ball in the hole.
Sometimes the ball just doesn’t want to go in.
Jordi and I had great golf chat on the back nine, he telling me about his handicap run from 26 (when he was 12 and started playing) to scratch two years later and winning tournaments all over. I just bored/entertained him with chat about my golfing adventures in six countries as I continue to golf and eat my way around the world.
I picked up a stray wedge and knew the golfer who left it behind would be as delighted as he was when we advised him it was with the caddy master.
Once again I was a little saddened when we passed the 15th and said so to Jordi who then told me about the club championship (match play over thirty six holes) that stretched out to forty as he and his opponent went head to head.
I would love to play 36 a day it is just a small matter of having to pay for my travels that gets in my way.
Following our round, I interviewed Jordi and we then had a three hour chat about all things golf. Besides studying and golfing as much as he can, Jordi also teaches and mentors the juniors of the club. Jordi is not just a great ambassador for El Prat but for this amazing game we both love, passing on his passion and skill to the next generation of golfers.
I told Jordi all about the wonderful golf and food I am looking forward to this summer on PEI and think he might come and tee it up with me and eat some delicious seafood.
As The Grateful Golfer commented to me recently, golf is the best contact sport. I am so lucky to meet so many wonderful people who would never have crossed my path if it hadn’t been for our mutual love of golf.