As a keen but not very good golfer, I jumped at the opportunity when one of my work colleagues invited a friend and I for a game of golf here in Hamburg.
I always enjoy playing on new courses and with different peole, as I believe I can watch and learn so much this way. My German colleague, Matthias, is a 20 handicap golfer and built like a rather large outbuilding, so I am looking forward to seeing how he plays.
Tomorrow I will write about the game itself, but here I am talking about the build up to the big day, and the not so easy task of actually getting my clubs over here to Germany.
I usually fly to Germany each Monday morning for work, and return each Friday evening.
When I started looking at prices for flights, and particularly the add ons for carrying a set of clubs (don’t you just hate these additional charges?) it turned out the most economical way to bring my clubs over, so Easyjet it was.
We left for the airport an hour earlier than I would usually, because the motorway junction at the airport exit was closed for the weekend for roadworks.
We expected heavier traffic because of this, but nothing like we experienced. What was usually a 40 minute journey took us three hours!
My flight was at 4 o’clock and they said the gate would close at 3.30.
I was dropped off at 3.25 and feared that not only would I miss my flight but I would have to pay over £400 for another one.
As I sped to the check in desks my heart sank when I saw the long queues at the Easyjet desks.
I overheard one of the check in girls mention Hamburg to somebody checking in, so I thought hopefully the gate will still be open.
I was in luck..well sort of. The flight was delayed 2 and 1/2 hours!
Whilst this would normally be a source of irritation on any other day, today it was a blessing because it meant that I would catch my flight.
Once I had checked in and dropped my golf clubs off, I did what is the only thing to do in times of great stress…I headed for the bar.
The day of the golf game.
My excitement of waking up and looking forward with eager anticipation to playing golf in Germany was somewhat squashed when the reality of getting my golf clubs to the office from my apartment dawned on me.
I had a 30 minute walking dragging my clubs behind me, thinking all the time ‘I hope this is worth it!’
Eventually I arrived at the office, soaked in sweat but relieved to have made it without undue incident.
All I had to do now was get on with my work and count the hours down.
At last the time came for us to head off, and after a short car journey we arrived at a very posh looking German golf club, my very first visit.
We registered, paid our fees, and headed to the practice area.
The three of us spent around twenty minutes practicing our chipping and putting before moving to the driving range to ‘get the big guns out’ and hit a few balls.
If you have never visited a driving range before imagine an open area with ten or twelve people all attempting to hit a number of golf balls one after another in a consistently straight line, with an effortless swing, and ideally to a respectable distance.
Now, imagine if you will, the Virgin Englishman scuffing most of his shots, missing the ball altogether, and managing a pitiful 10 yards as the furthest attempt. If that wasn’t embarrassing enough, there was a golf pro (who, as you will learn, was English!) giving a lesson to a 17 year old a German boy who hit the ball like he had been born with a golf club in his hand.
Never being one to let a lack of talent Damien my enthusiasm, I headed off to the first tee with a spring in my step.
The course was immaculate, and the first hole was a daunting par 5 stroke index 1 (meaning the hardest hole on the course) which I comfortably made a 6 on.
Things went really well for the first five holes and I was playing the best golf I had ever played.
The 6th was a par 3, hit over a small pond which should have presented no problems, especially with me playing so well. (Note the ‘should’)
I topped my first shot which landed about 20 yards from the tee. This is after watching my friend and playing partner Steve hot his tee shot to within two foot of the hole.
Matthias, our German host, also landed his tee shot on the green so I just had to chip over the pond and join them. (Note the ‘just’).
I took my ‘simple’ hip shot….and dispatched smack in the middle of the pond!
So now I am playing my 4th shot (after incurring a one shot penalty) from a drop to zone. The shot was a simple chip onto the green, which was about 15 yards away. (Note the ‘simple’).
I managed to hit my shot over the pond, but hit i too hard and it landed in some very deep rough beyond the green.
One attempt was all I needed to get the ball out of the rough. Unfortunately I only managed to hit it to the semi rough, around 6 foot nearer to the hole.
Eventually, and just before my playing partners died of boredom, I joined them on the green, after what seemed an eternity since they had first walked on it.
The result for me was a 9 on a simple par 3, spoiling a great start.
Being nothing if not resilient, I managed to overcome this setback and completed the front 9 in a respectable (for me) score of 50
Unfortunately the back 9 wasn’t as impressive and I had a couple of 9’s on my card to give me a not so respectable 118 for the round.
Given that it was a strange course, and that I am very much a novice golfer, overall I was delighted with my round, particularly the front 9.
We finished a lovely day in the twilight at the restaurant at the clubhouse, and after a couple of beers and a schnitzel the day was a resounding success in my book.
Massive thanks to Matthias and Steve for making my first ever game of golf in Germany a very enjoyable one