Twelve of us headed out at the end of last week for a short weekend trip playing golf at the Stadium and Tour courses at PGA Catalunya. It’s not too from Girona in northern Catalonia, Spain. Had a ‘rest day’ Thursday and probably a good idea given the delay on take off. We landed in Barcalona in the afternoon for the 80min transfer to the hotel. The impressive thunderstorm early evening was the only rain we saw, just as well it arrived on our arrival day. We even managed some inebriated practice after the rain cleared and the sun returned before most of the tour jumped in taxi’s for tapas in Girona.
PGA Catalunya has hosted the European PGA tour qualifying school and other events. And you can see why from the undulations on the awesomely quick greens. We played the Slope Index across the three days of golf. Common in Europe (everywhere except the UK) which ‘normalises’ a club handicap to the type of course you play. Higher handicaps may gain an extra shot or three, lower handicaps may lose some. We played both courses off yellows but still a very tough test, as Johnny said there really was never a shot you could relax on. Hardest thing for me was defintely about getting your head around the slickness of the bent grass greens. Slip of concentration and you were 6 feet past or easily de-greening it. Ouchies.
The so called more forgiving Tour course was a decent 135 slope rated out of 155. However off the whites (not even the blacks) the Stadium is apparently 153 out of 155! So a serious course (See Sean for more details of the courses and slopes!). What it did mean for example, Matt stock got a couple +shots on the Stadium course on Day 1 and yet played off a Swindle tour handicap of plus5 on day two! Ouchies again.
Weather on the three golf days was fantastic. Warm sunny and a smidge humid… nice. Slopes handicaps applied, pre-tour favourite Senor Ritchie “oh is that winners fez mine?” Blake was on form on Day1 coming in the winner with 31 despite some strong play from Sean on 30. Most of the scores were not worth adding but all thoroughly enjoyed the course. Lots of harsh lessons learned on the greens!
After an alarming number of beers in the clubhouse, we had an evening of watching Chelsea unfortunately win the Premier league and a top (if expensive) hotel meal.
Day2 at the Tour course started at a reasonable midday tee time. (Later time defintely needed given the heavy night before).
Brian C put in a solid round with 34pts to take the fez for daily winner. Brian played with myself, Jaggsy and Matt Stock. Stockie was up against it with a handicap on the day of plus5 but still came in joint-third with a very impressive 30 pts helped by an eagle and 3 birdie run. I suppose you could breathe a tiny bit on the Tour course and the greens were slightly less severe in slope but still as quick. Did seem to have a lot of hills, not helped by having no buggies on the day!
Final day and groups headed out in score order. Lee Snashers, Phil, Backdoor and Matt Strong Group1. Sean, Simon, Jaggsy and Winkle Group2. Myself, Matt Stock, Brian, Ritchie Group3.
Weather was immense and with headache pills comsumed, water on board, we headed out. Phil and Simon won the fez on Day3, both with a very impressive 38points. Our fourball had an enjoyable if tough final round. Couple of loose ones from Ritchie and a couple blobs sneaked on the card, Brian wasn’t having his best day off the tee. Matt Stock had a number of bad lies and bounces but was in every hole (and that was playing off plus1 round that course!). I had a decent day off the tee and was helped with a chip in on the second and some decent approaches to nick the overall win by a nose. Matt Stock was second in final placings and Ritchie third.
After the round and a quick drink, the coach took us past the Spanish Grand Prix north of the city that had just finished and we were wandering around the airport departures during our 2hr delay as race fans from all over Europe headed home. Made for a long journey back and a very tired tour group.
Big thanks again to Phil for organising the trip. It’d been discussed for a while and it certainly didn’t disappoint, a very good, tough three days of golf.
Thanks also to Simon B for being whip meister for the trip. To Sean for again managing the countless competitions being run as well as the handicaps calcs, assisted ably by our own glamorous RainMan, Mattie Strong for the number bashing.
no images were found