Monday, 20 April 2009

Spain - Golf 3, La Finca (r)

For our third and final round of golf we were due to return to La Finca where Richard and I had had such an enjoyable round the year before. We were determined to return because it was a lovely golf course, quite new and designed to be the venue of the Spanish Open in 2009 so we were playing on a very high quality course indeed.

Today we had a slightly later tee time at half past nine but the course was a good thirty minutes drive away and there was no time for slacking so Richard pulled the burger trick again on Scott and I have to say that it worked a treat, just like applying a dose of smelling salts. After breakfast we drove through San Miguel towards the town of Algolfa and this year we found the place without any of the traumas that we had experienced in 2007.

The approach to the course is absolutely spectacular as the road rises to the top of a hill and then descends to a plain and laid out to the right of the road is the magnificent spectacle of the golf course, all lush green fairways, close clipped greens and lots of blue water. It is marvellous how they construct these courses because to the left of the road, in complete and total contrast, is a vast expanse of dry scrubby brown land and La Finca must surely have been the same before someone had the bright idea to build the golf course there.

We checked in and to my disappointment no one asked to see the handicap certificates that I had gone to the trouble to forge a week or two before and after booking in we made our way to the first tee and worried about anybody watching us tee off. We needn’t have however because at €70 for a round of golf the course wasn’t busy at all and after we played our first shots the four ball in front was almost out of sight and with no-one in front to slow us down and no-one behind to give us hurry-up tee shot nerves we enjoyed ourselves playing golf at our own pace and finding time to take pleasure in the stunning views of the mountains in the distance and the fantastic features of the golf course including all of the water.

We all started steadily enough, although Richard recreated his second shot from last year and after negotiating the first two shots without incident managed at last to stick a shot in the middle of the brook that ran through the middle of the fairway. Jon and I picked up pars on the par three third and then we reached the fifth with its intimidating moat and we both lost balls in a watery grave while Richard and Scott played immaculate shots over the water and onto the island green. We carried on and finished the front nine and at the half way stage Jon had a three shot advantage over me and Richard and Scott were neck and neck.

La Finca is an excellent course but there is no need to be frightened of it. I don’t know why we worry so much about our golfing skills, it’s as though we are convinced that everyone else out there is a Tiger Woods or an Ernie Els and the reality is of course that they are just not. One of the things that I am very good at on a golf course is finding other peoples lost balls, I have got thousands of them, more than enough to see me through my golfing days without ever having to buy another one, and here is the point I am making, if everyone else is so good why is it that I have got so many of their balls? And you find them in the strangest places as well and it feels so good to find one in a position that you just know that you couldn’t possibly have played such an awful shot. This is how I know that I am no worse than anyone else out there on the course.

The sun was out and it was getting very hot by now as we progressed on to the tenth tee to begin the back nine. I got a par but just to outdo me Jon went one better and recorded a birdie and after that we went on to the eleventh where Scott had a disaster and had another of those ‘Lets pack up and go to the bar’ moments but he got over it soon enough when he posted decent scores on the twelfth and the thirteenth. It was getting hotter and being a new course there is a real lack of shade but we persevered through the eleventh and twelfth, through the short thirteenth and on to the fourteenth with a curious saucer shaped green and then down the fifteenth with some impressive new houses all along the left hand side and looking dangerously adjacent to the course and vulnerable to a wayward Richard tee shot. Jon scored a par after hitting a green keepers buggy with his approach shot and I matched him seconds later with a neat little chip in. Next was the short par three over water and I got a second par in two holes. Richard wasn’t doing so well at this point and after two successive nines blamed this on a knotting muscle problem in his back. Scott was improving rapidly and by the middle of the back nine was posting a string of respectable scores.

Next was the fiercesome seventeenth with over three hundred yards of water from the tee to the green but lots of adjacent fairway for the faint hearted. Richard, Scott and me went the long way round but to my surprise Jon squared up to take on the challenge. I didn’t think that he could do it and I offered him two steaks for dinner if he could. He looked at me as if to say ‘of course I can’, went through his tedious five minute tee shot set up routine and then launched a shot that sailed over the water and landed safely on the fringe. It was an immaculate shot and then Scott tried it and only came up short by about twenty yards or so. Richard and I didn’t try it by the way. Jon got his par and then we finished the round up the long energy sapping eighteenth and we were glad to finish and get to the bar. As for the scores, well, the boys got their revenge and Jon beat me by five shots and Scott thrashed Richard by eleven. For some reason the winners paid for the beer at Campoamor and the losers paid for the beer at La Finca. That’s life!

La Finca is a course that gets my full recommendation. Although it is clearly designed for better players it is only as tough as you want to make it and it is brilliantly designed not to penalise the high handicappers, and golfers like us are well accommodated so that with a little thought and careful route planning it is possible to negotiate the course and a high scoring round but without getting into too much difficulty.

After a beer and a cool down under the golf club umbrellas we drove back to the apartment for another balcony lunch and then spent the afternoon at the beach, well, not at the beach exactly but at a beach bar, which I find is so much nicer. Later we returned to San Miguel de Salinas and at the same restaurant met our sister and her husband who are owners and have a property nearby but didn’t mind dining with us on account of the fact that we were owners guests but I’m not sure that they would have been quite so keen if we had been renters.

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