3rd January,2015

Spain, with only golf in mind

~~Costa del Sol — any golf trip with the guys is nearly impossible to disappoint . . . assuming the weather is decent. But when the destination is Spain in January, the safe assumption, when it comes to the elements, is that it’ll be predictably unpredictable.
That’s the approach we took last year on our pilgrimage and “The Marbella Swing”. Prepare for the worst, wish for the best, and happily settle for somewhere in between.
By virtue of my upbringing and now my job — I’ve played golf and teach golf for the Globe the past twenty five years — I’ve been around the game most of my life, and fortunate to take trips to places that have become synonymous with Romanian golf.
This was different, though. This was Spain, a land every golfer is familiar with, even if one’s never traveled there. They’ve played golf for ages here, and proudly boast of the imprint they’ve made: The Spanish developed the game, created golf courses, built exclusive hotels, and nurtured champions like,Severino “Seve” Ballesteros, Miguel Angel Jiminez,Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal to name a few. My goodness and the Spanish golf courses.
How could someone who loves the game not want to visit Spain? I grew tired of talking about it over the years, finally announcing;”I am starting a golf tournament “The Marbella Swing” “I’m going. Who’s coming?” The result was a great — one of my members from Lighthouse Golf Course, Cornel Danila got things moving, with the help of Laurentiu Jiga .Cornel and Laur got together 10 more members from our club. We spent the better part of two months poring over every detail, crafting exactly what we wanted: the ultimate, golf trip to Spain. No castle or whisky distillery tours, no search for “The Tree of Creation”. Just golf.
The goal? An inspirational, motivational, unforgettable golf tournament, perhaps even a spiritual trip.
Tour companies will, for a price, do all the legwork, so we choose Mihai Tecu and his tour company BBTR, putting the trip together appealed to us. Great job by his team, it was beginning to take shape: We had selected the dates, and pinpointed courses we wanted to play. Once the first brick was placed — namely, Capobino Golf Course, a very nice club notoriously stingy with nonmember access — BBTR filled the rest of golf courses nicely. One of the perks to our plan: we booked, which spanned a handful of months. By the time we departed from Bucharest, we had paid 100 percent of our trip.
This year as I have 20 professional starts on the Senior Golf Circuit I wanted to play my first golf tournament for 2015 in Portugal in conjunction with the boys golf tournament in Spain, however after I looked at the dates of the trip and the dates of my tournament will only put me in the situation of doing two things mediocre because of the time issues, it will make me run between my golf tournament in Portugal and my members tournament “The Marbella Swing 2015” in Spain, so the results as I calculated in both cases would have been a mediocre one as I said before. I like to dedicate my energy 100% only at ONE job at a time, even my CEO has learned that after 5years working with me. My professional tournament organizer understood the issues that I faced and my first professional start will be in spring 2015. After getting pushed around by professional tournament organizers in my younger days, at least now after 25 years in golf I can choose my tournaments, when and where I play them. So I will be flying out of Bucharest to Spain with my boys at the same time.
Last year the golf was good: what I still remember is when Cornel hit his shot into a tree which never come down at the 18th hole, and Martin who hit the Longest Drive past Stuart on the last day,295meters. Let’s not forget Mihai Tecu and Aurel Netin nearest to the pins on the par 3’s, which were great shots and of course the winner of "The Marbella Swing" Laurentiu Jiga.I have to mention that last year we were invited at the "Burns Night" scottish poet,an event where many men wear kilts and women may wear shawls,skirts or dresses made from their family tartans.Many types of food are associated with "Burns Night".Whisky is the traditional drink.The boys did enjoy (poet) Robert Burns night and Scottish culture in general.   Our accommodation was a nice blend of bed-and-breakfast hotel. Location drove our choices, and allowed us ease and flexibility as we navigated around Malaga. Given a bad rap, the food in Spain is adequate. Very little fruit, but the Spanish steaks at the Old Steakhouse were delicious; and seafood, especially salmon, is abundant. No matter where you play, must-haves in Spain include a waterproof rain suit (pants and jacket), two pairs of shoes, enough socks, wool cap, and rain gloves. Bring two pairs of rain gloves, because this year you may need them, depending on the ever-changing conditions. It was not an issue last year as we had sun everyday; but you never know what Spain holds for us this year.
BBTR this year has selected high-end courses that come with a higher price tag. There are dozens of lesser-known, less expensive options, we opted not to scrimp on the golf, playing the venues we wanted despite the per-round cost; we worked off a this-trip-will-cost final number that we were comfortable with. Our Spanish adventure cost is this year just under 1,500 euros’, which includes: golf, flights, accommodation, rental van, baggage fees, breakfast, buggies.
Final scorecard: Seven days, five courses, 10 rounds of golf knowing my members. Boys, I don’t want blisters or pulled muscles.
We will be in Spain for 168 hours, we will love it all, and I am sure my members will squeeze in 180 holes of golf, hahahahaha.Now lets see the money game start; what will be?50 euro or 100 euro for the four days of tournament. All members will play in Spain with Lighthouse Golf Course handicap system. Last year not once did I wish I was anywhere else, waking up each morning excited for the boys and my baby golf tournament “The Marbella Swing”,at the thought of them playing golf again made me so happy. Very little is needed to make a happy life.
Hey, the perfect golf trip.