February 1st,2014

”The Marbella Swing 2014”

~~First night Marbella, Spain and after 12 Tequila shots (I wasn’t actually counting), three pathetic attempts to pick up a blond in the bar and a couple of seriously off-colour jokes, I came to the conclusion that I really did like my members from Lighthouse Golf Course way more when they were completely blotto. That’s not to say that our first practice day moments of golf semi-sober together at Cabopino Golf Course were not enjoyable.They were. The golf course was “Mickey Mouse”, short holes, dog legs, hazards, trees and can be played with 5 irons and a putter in your golf bag. Two other good buddies from England never turned up as we were ready to tee off they just arrived at the hotel from the night bar at 8.00 am,missing the tee time. It’s just that, well, boys golf players (there I go again) we have a way of stripping us of all our righteousness and exposing us for who we really are as men. I mean, boys.
Such soul-stirring and sensitive discourse we share together! And there is always so much character growth, cultural edification, attention to personal grooming, abstinence….Yeah, right. And chickens have handbags.
First, let’s get the logistics out of the way: the decision to go in Marbella, Spain was an easy one. A last-minute deal by Mihai Tecu from BBTR Bucharest for the 12 members of mine from Lighthouse Golf Course, seat sale and the realization that we will play five of the best courses in Marbella (excluding here Valderrama) in  this ‘tropical’ oasis —dubbed “Costa Del Golf”. Seven days of sun and temperatures of 20C.
Courses such as Los Olivos and Los Lagos are tropical treats that golf pundits have salivated over for years both courses designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. To top it off,all of the top courses in “Costa Del Golf” have recently undergone extensive renovations or redesigns.
We started our first day of tournament at El Chaparral golf course and the boys got stuck into it. Since it reopened, El Chaparral Golf Course has become one of the most attractive golf clubs on the Costa del Sol, the result of the determination and efforts of owner Antonio Rubio. The first round leaders were Laurentiu Jiga,Cornel Danila with 26 points and 2 points behind them the “Mexican” Victor Andrade with 24 points.
Second day of tournament golf I took the boys at Calanova Golf Course with an original design by Pepe Gancedo,this is the only golf course on the Costa del Sol with 6 par 3’s,6 par 4’s and 6 par 5’s.I wonder if the boys knew that because they were so caught up in the excitement of competion“BIG TIME”. With a total length of 6000 meters it offers a wide variety of holes and is quite a challenging course requiring high levels of accuracy and skills. Second day leader was Laurentiu Jiga with a total of 47 points and never lost his lead for the remaining of the tournament, in second position were Cornel Danila and Victor Andrade both with 43 points.
The other two golf courses left in the competition  where I took the boys as I see it now is; “they came, they played, they got their asses kicked,”  both courses outstanding Robert Trent Jones Jr. designs. A wild rumba through the jungle, Los Olivos is regarded as the best—and certainly the most difficult—course on Costa del Sol. Not surprisingly,Laurentiu Jiga and Stuart Leary (who did find the golf course on the third day) both scored 23 points and Mugur Mehedintu with 22 points, the rest of the scores I will keep private and confidential not to embarrass my members.
And here comes the last day of the tournament at Los Lagos. Leader after three days is Laurentiu Jiga with a total of 70 points followed by the "Mexican" Victor Andrade with 62 points and equal third are Cornel Danila and Tudor Tatar with 61 points. Fourth position with 55 points and moving like a “very fast train”is Mugur Mehedintu which I said that he can get a placing if he plays with calm and patience.However, as good as the golf on Los Lagos was, the teasing remarks, the insincere language, the immaturity and childish attempts to get under each other’s “skin,” turned out to be just as memorable. No, by some miraculous act of God, there were no on-course fisticuffs (see Happy Gilmore), no tigers being stolen and brought into the hotel room (see The Hangover) and no unexpected dynamite explosions on someone’s backswing (see Caddyshack). However, sweet mother Mary, there was chatter. 
After the opening round at Los Lagos, it became apparent that Victor Andrade, the newcomer in the group , was not the “what happens on the golf course, stays on the golf course” type, in second position after 3 days of tournament he lost his 3 day’s individual Stabbleford advantage by a shooting 16 points on the last day), he became somewhat mute and melancholic at dinner. Awkward. Feigning a sore back or something, he hit the sack early and didn’t partake of any late-night single-malt Gaelic whisky, an obligatory event that should complete the day on every good and proper boy’s golf trip in the free world.
After the first few holes on the last day round at Los Lagos, it became obvious that Laurentiu Jiga was going to be the winner of “The Marbella Swing 2014”. And, after the ninth hole, where he expressed a somewhat  juvenile form of mockery upon watching Cornel Danila  make a shank-filled 10 and the ball that never come down from the tree that Cornel hit on the 18th hole.
As earlier mentioned, Los Lagos is one mean Son of bitch of a course. Interestingly, it had recently been closed to “soften” many of the trouble spots. However, given the collective skill that was represented from my members I can ONLY mention on the last day the efforts and great rounds from Stuart Leary 35 points,Mugur Mehedintu 28 points and Dragos Tanase 27 points. I knew  that Mugur Mehedintu will get in the top 3—a longtime friend and student of mine.
On the 14th, Martin Reagan, God bless him, ran out of balls after pumping three straight banana balls into monkey land. It was then that Stuart, sensing an opportunity for payback, got his retribution. “I guess that means the match is over, Martin. Sorry about your badluck, pal.” He then tossed him a pink Starflite and said, “Here, you can use this one for practice.” It was a beautiful moment. So good, in fact, that I spewed beer all over my ugly golf shirt.So here comes 15th hole where the boys have the longest drive and Martin pays back Stuart  with a drive of 295meters.Stuart hits his drive 293meters.Stuart hoisted his white golf towel high above his cart. It was classic as everybody knows how long Stuart hits his driver.
The rest of the week was mind-numbingly good. A more pleasant brand of over-the-top and infantile behaviour prevailed. At one point, "me" the “mother hen” of the group who made sure things didn’t go completely off the rails, I was laughing so hard my stomach was hurting.
So the final results of “The Marbella Swing 2014” are;
First Place Laurentiu Jiga; Second Place Mugur Mehedintu; Third Place Tudor Tatar; other winners were Nearest to Pin;Mihai Tecu,Aurel Netin,Cristian Andrei; Longest drive;Adi Minuta,Martin Reagan.
And, unquestionably, Mugur Mehedintu playing almost every day of competition  the wrong ball was the final sign that all was well in the world.

The date for next year’s “The Marbella Swing” is already set.