Wednesday, June 29, 2016

51. Great Britain, Ireland, France, and Sweden May 16-28, 2016 (Part V)

Great Britain, Ireland, France, and Sweden May 16-28, 2016 (Part V)

Drive to London took longer than expected as last 10 miles were in town.  Time will tell how many “low emission tickets” I get in the mail over the next 90 days!  My schedule for Thursday and Friday May 26 and 27 was very very busy.  On 5/27, I played Addington GC which is within London and south of town; then I played Liphook GC which is southwest of London about 20 miles past the great Surrey collection of courses.  I had to drive to Heathrow Thursday afternoon to catch a flight to Copenhagen. 

Addington and Liphook are both on the MacWood spoof list, and after playing these two I had only Manoir Richelieu (95 miles east of Quebec City) left to play to complete the MacWood list.  I stayed at the hotel at the Copenhagen airport Thursday night, then headed east into Sweden and then north to play two former Solheim Cup courses.  Playing these two Swedish tracks completed all of the overseas “Cup Ever” courses.  I then stay again at the Copenhagen airport Friday night and on Saturday morning flew to Dublin and met Pat there (she had been traveling with Sharon Lawson…Sharon and her husband Carnie are close friends from Pinehurst), and then we flew back to Boston Saturday afternoon.  And no, I did not play golf  Sunday May 29!

Addington GC, May 26, 2016:  It seemed very strange to be at a course inside London.  Until I studied the MacWood list and planned out how to complete it, I had never heard of Addington.  Addington was designed by J. F. Abercromby and opened around 1914.  About 10 years later Abercromby built a second 18 (“New”) that many considered even better than the Old.  However, during WWII New was for military purposes and toward the end of that war, it was purchased (under the English version of eminent domain) for housing and no longer exists.  Frankly, who knows if the Addington listed on MacWood’s spoof list was the Old or the New?  In either case, I have completed what still remains of the list since I have now played the Old and the New no longer exists!

The course is only 6300 yards (par 69) from the tips and I played from those tees.  The first hole here is an uphill par 3 of 155 yards.  The pin was way up front so I hit a five iron to the front edge and sunk the putt for a birdie…and then proceeded to par the par 5 second and par 3 third…one under through 3!!  Thought I might get something going but then my semi-ugly twin showed up on a few of the other holes.  Finished the front with a 3 over 37, and then played well from 10-13 (four pars).  Reality then reappeared mixed in with a couple of more pars and I played finished the back nine with a four over 39 for a 76. 

The course has “great bones” but its “skin” has suffered mightily of late.  While the land is reputed to be among the best of England’s heathland, years of neglect are quite evident.  The most striking and memorable aspects of the course are the numerous ravines the dictate play on so may holes, and the rickety old wooden bridges (most of which probably date from 1914) used to cross the ravines.

I think the best and most interesting holes are:

#6—375 par 4, downhill off tee and then the approach shot must skirt a ravine (with a rickety old bridge over it) short and right;
#7—150 yard par three (over another ravine and with another rickety old bridge) to a very narrow but deep green (shaped a little like Myopia Hunt’s #9, but not as extreme);
#12—485 par 5 acclaimed in some literature, but very strange…fairway stops at about 250 yards then drops down to a shallow shelf about 8-10 yards deep…then falls off again into a deep ravine before rising up to the green (this ravine is akin to the moon);
#13---230 yard par 3with a long carry to the green front; often compared to #5 at Pine Valley but me thinks this comparison is overdone (but will note that I got my par here);
#17—195 yard par 3 over another deep ravine and crossed by another rickety old bridge.

In summary a very unusual course.  Needs to remove thousands of trees, but I somehow suspect a major tree removal program (which would be required to promote healthy turf) would not be warmly received in this part of England. 

Liphook Golf Club, May 26, 2016: After a quick thank you and goodbye, it was back in my car and off to the southwest and Liphook Golf Club.  Liphook plays to just about exactly Addington’s yardage but to a par 70 rather than Addington’s 69.  The club was founded in 1922 and had 18 holes completed by the following year.  Originally designed by Arthur Croome, it was to be Croome’s only course.  Later, Tom Simpson, a business partner of Croome’s made significant modifications to the course…and it should be noted that their firm was named Fowler, Abercromby, Simpson, and Croome.  Is the same Abercromby who designed Addington?  Who knows?…I have seen it spelled Abercrombie and Abercromby.

It is a stunningly beautiful course and has been working over the past decade to bring out its beauty and improve the features of the course.  I played with John D., a member of the Board who had worked for P&G in Cincinnati and Europe and is now retired.  Like Addington, Liphook also starts with a par 3 but this one is a stout 202 yards and is a beautiful hole with a tough green to hold (slopes left to right).  Both John and I managed to par it but my game went downhill from there (observant followers of this blog will note the lack or quantification of my game that afternoon).

I thought the best stretches of holes were 7-10, and 12-16.  #7 is a short 149 yards slightly downhill par 3 to a green that is difficult to hold…two tiered and narrow in front.  When you stand on the 7th tee, the view goes past 7 to the 8th which follows the same direction…reminding me of two par 4’s at Swinley Forest that offer a similar view.  Additionally, the 13th tee is just to the left of #7 and the view highlights #13 as well.  #8 is an excellent mostly uphill par 4.   #12 is a brute of a par 4, 440 yards and uphill to the green.  #15 is a short (357 yards) but very tough par 4 that goes uphill from the tee and has a very very deep bunker (I can testify to that fact) at the corner of the dogleg right…this is a spot to be avoided!  Finally #16 is a very downhill dogleg left par 4 of 371 yards whose fairway narrows considerably about 230 yards off the tee, and whose green is very tough to hold.

Sum and substance…a course one could play every day and always enjoy it.  Tough greens, firm fast conditions, and great character.  A good choice for MacWood’s list even if not well known.

After finishing the round, had a quick chat with both John and the Club’s Secretary John Douglass), I headed to Heathrow for my flight to Copenhagen (8:30pm departure).  When I hit the M25 (the Ring Road around London), I hit some big time delays.  As I watched the clock tick down and the ETA get extended on GPS, I sorted out another route.  But then, when I arrived at Heathrow, I saw there are separate car rental locations for each company…and there were no signs for Europcar!!  Finally found someone who directed me the correct way but pulled into their car return station at 7:37, all of 53 minutes before my departure time!!  Seemed like no way.  I rushed into the office and shouted, “you guys are well hidden and I have a flight in 53 minutes”…and out came a guy from behind the counter who said “give me your keys”.  The following 7-minute drive to my terminal was like driving with Jack Bauer!!  Pat would have gone nuts.  We got to the terminal at 7:45…and tipped the Europcar driver,  rushed to SAS and jumping into their “priority” area.   The woman there asked if I was business class or priority and I said “no but my flight leaves in 45 minutes”.  She checked me in within about 90 seconds.  Fortunately, because it was late in the evening security was quick, and I arrived at the gate by 8:08, boarding with time to spare.  If I wasn’t tired yet, I certainly was now.

All I can say about my choice of a hotel right at the Copenhagen airport is that I was most pleased with that choice.  Quick walk to the hotel (rental car scheduled for pickup in morning) and I needed my sleep!!  Last day of golf for the trip coming tomorrow…36 holes in Sweden.

Barseback G &CC-Masters Course, May 27, 2016:  After picking up my car, I headed east over the beautiful bridge/tunnel connecting Denmark to Sweden.  I had made a similar trip in June 2015 to play Falsterbo (and then flew north to Stockholm to play Bro Hof Slott).  This time, instead of turning south to go to Falsterbo, I turned north heading toward Barseback G&CC, which had hosted the 2003 Solheim Cup, a choice pointing to the importance of Annika Sorenstam to the Ladies tours.

At Barseback I was met by Johan Lindeberg, a Swedish golf journalist who is a friend of a friend of a friend.  Johan is about my age and has been playing golf for 58 years.  He played both rounds with hickories, which was my first time playing a full round with someone using them.  I was astounded how far he could it the ball (and how well) with them.

The Masters Course was designed for the 2003 Solheim Cup and totals almost 7300 yards.  It is part of a large resort and conference center with 45 holes of golf and the Masters Course has three main sections.  Holes 1-7 are in fairly open areas; holes 8-11 are near the water and very exposed to the wind, and holes 12-18 are in a heavily wooded area.  The best holes are #8 and #11.  At the 8th tee, we were joined by Henrik Stenson’s father, Ingemar, who played 8-18 with us.  Very nice guy and fun to be with. 

Thoughts on the course?  To be fair, I was very tired that morning, and anxious to see Pat and get home.  But even accounting for that, the course is not one that I would want to play on a regular basis…it rarely offers the golfer options and rarely presents captivating risk/reward situations.  Good course?, maybe.  Anything better?, no!

After the round we headed north to Halmstad, stopping at Johan’s house to switch cars (I wanted to minimize the amount of driving I needed to do…and also wanted to maximize available time for napping on the way to and from Halmstad. 

Halmstad Golf Club-North Course, May 27, 2016:  Halmstad was hosting a BMW corporate event that day so our tee off time was to be around 4pm and we were assured that we would be able to play the course with no one in front of us.  We played with Michael Brostrom, a young journalist friend of Johan’s who is a member of Halmstad and a very good player (and very long hitter).  Halmstad hosted the 2007 Solheim Cup (Annika’s importance again).  From the back it is about 7050 yards and is located in a very heavily wooded area with almost all of the holes separated from other holes by the dense trees.  We zipped around quickly for the first six holes but then hit a wall and it was excruciatingly slow from then on (members had started at various holes after the shotgun event concluded).  But at this point, being so close to finishing all courses outside of North America that I had on any conceivable bucket list, I wanted to finish.  Actually playing much better than in the morning.

While this is not my type of course, I liked it more than Barseback, and Michael is a nice guy (Johan is as well).  We finished about 25 minutes before sunset, and Johan and I headed south, first to his house (to retrieve my car) and them me solo to the Copenhagen airport, where I arrived at about 10:45pm…a very tired puppy.

The next morning, I flew to Dublin and waited for Pat and Sharon’s flight to arrive from London.  Was wonderful to see her and then get home, even with the cold that I had caught the week before!


So that ended the trip.  Of course, I owe you the story of my suitcase shipment using DHL.  That will be in another post.

I am writing this on June 29, 2016 (only 4 weeks in arrears).  My two previous days have been spent at Brae Burn CC in West Newton, MA and Skokie CC in Glencoe, IL, hosts of the 1919 and 1922 US Open’s respectively…completing my US open Venue Bucket List covering all venues through history, as well as all announced venues for future US Opens.  So now, only Cabot Cliffs remains for me to complete my three primary Bucket Lists!!

I am scheduled to play Cabot Cliffs on July 8 and will bring you up to date with my golfing activities over the past 30 days before that time.

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