Four months, four continents, four golf stories
The mind aching, the stomach crying and the heart bleeding is when time is ripe to pack your seven things und to put on the seven-league boots for new adventures. Not only should the purpose of travel be pure fun. Touching hearts, a widened mind and inner growth are nice side effects that every journey brings within. No matter if you lie in bed for a month with stomach ache, the reef kiss of your second surf keeps you out of water for the next and in the third month your rented car is left with broken windows and none of your belongings – everything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Kelly Slater: «Many people dream of that lifestyle and then I woke up and realized it might as well be me.»
Sure, every Golfoholic’s dream is to step onto the holy grass of «The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews». Strange since being humbled by wind, weather, barren grass and impossible, huge greens is not all that much fun. The Americans were the first to understand that and designed some of the heavy weights in golf course design on the Monterey peninsula. As Jack Nicklaus would say: «If I had only one more round to play, I would choose to play it at Pebble Beach. I’ve loved this course from the first time I saw it. It’s possibly the best in the world.»
His words sat deep in my back brain as we steered towards the holy 17 miles a few hours south of San Francisco. A few hurdles were yet to be mastered: Our unique Chevi campervan and its crew didn’t correspond to the average client on the elite peninsula.
«Are you delivering Pizza?» was the friendly greeting as we entered the gate.
The Concours d’Elégance – the most renowned gathering among oldtimers was held at this same weekend. To make clear to the staff that I had an important mission to fulfil for the most progressive golf magazine in the world, I had to tell them a pack of lies. Last but not least it would have been a shame to dent the lined up caroches along the fairway with slices from the tee. As I was granted a tee time for the next day and I discovered the aerified greens. I decided to crawfish and invest the $ 500 in more meaningful things. I booked a Tee-time on the close-by Spyglass Hill Golf Course. The last one also being a heavyweight on the US PGA Tour, where it is ranked as the hardest course.
Another quote by Jack Nicklaus turned out too true:
«Golfers have a tendency to be very masochistic. They like to punish themselves for some reason. A lot of them like tough courses.»
I was assigned to two flight mates that were similarly megalomaniac as me. They challenged me into a game from the back-tees. The two former college mates, Hunter and Kyle, had in the meantime become seasoned Americans. Hunter was Head of Sales for a truck leasing company with a fleet of «less than 150’000 truck» and Kyle was Engineer in a spaceship agency with few weeks under 60 hours of work. The only one amused was the caddy of the two friends: A former Pro who put everything on one card and never made it through qualifying school to the moneymakers. Fed up of playing, his best option was to carry the clubs of the wanna be’s and provide them with meaningless advice to strategic playing.
As if the struggle we had against the course wasn’t enough, mist settled over the fields of Monterey, a phenomena that obviously appears on 200 days a year after midday on the peninsula. Nothing with bluebird and golden green shining grass as you find in all the catalogues, that make millions of golfing hearts beat faster.
However, a masochist withstands, he loves pain. The fog permeated playground transformed into an enchanted forest, where every single grass culm is designed to perfection: Links golf at its best on the front nine, where the waves for the evening surf roll smoothly into the Spanish Bay in the background. The following nine holes lead through deep pinewoods where no even area can be found. There are days in a golfers life, when one has to dig deep into the pocket to access holy grass. Though golf nerds like me rather sleep in a camper van for two weeks with nothing but pasta and tomato sauce and camping in quarter streets in order to save up money. Others gamble away their holiday budget within an hour in Vegas.
My flight companions struggled like myself. With my score of 89 shots I was even quite happy. Bitter only the insight, that Phil Mickelsons course record of 62 shots was more than a few hours of practice away.