Reading Steve Robinson’s Forum thread about golf in the Dominican Republican where caddies tried to con him that their tip should really be $25 dollars, rather than the $5 recommended by the caddie master, reminds me that we must all have suffered a golf holiday from hell at some time in our careers.
I am fortunate in my line of work to have enjoyed some amazing visits to exotic destinations but at least one stands out as probably the worst-kept golf course in Europe.
Invited by the Hellenic Tourist Board to take part in a conference on opportunities for developing golf as a tourist attraction in Greece, we were taken to the remote resort of Porto Carras on the southern tip of Chalkidiki's Sithonia Peninsula.
An 18-hole course had been created nearly 40 years ago to serve two large hotels, one of which had been abandoned, while the course had lain almost derelict since the early 1970s. However, they were still charging the drachma-equivalent of about £7 a round to play on fairways that were being watered by sprinklers punctured by seawater from the adjacent Aegean Sea. The brackish mixture turned the grass to almost pure soil while the greens were being freshened by water from a different source making them an oasis of green in a desert of dirt.
I'm delighted to learn that work is currently under way to repair the underground pipes and transform the course.
Over-zealous course marshals can sometimes spoil a golf holiday round, as one of my former colleagues discovered on at least a couple of occasions.
"At La Quinta in Portugal our two fourballs were being tracked by a marshal, despite the fact that we had no other groups either in front or behind," David Ayres recalled. "He became so annoying, urging us to keep moving, even though we were all experienced golfers, that one of our group, a tall, well-built Geordie, finally lifted him by his lapels and threatened to toss him into the nearest hazard."
David also tells of the customary greenkeeper who will accompany each group, if you’re privileged to play at Valderrama in Spain. He is there to repair divots and pitchmarks and rake bunkers (as if you weren’t diligent enough to do it yourself) and act as a forecaddie to help in the search for balls. However, they are apt to hustle groups into abandoning balls not immediately visible and to insist on reading putts to speed up play on greens. He got a rude awakening from a British fourball who disliked his attitude having paid nearly £500 for their golf.
Another former colleague has a reputation for mislaying his possessions in developing his own, self-imposed golf holidays from hell.
He has arrived at airports without his passport, tickets and even luggage and on one on occasion, grabbed his clubs from the Kings Cross to Heathrow Victoria line tube, leaving his suitcase to make the return journey.
One of his more recent episodes includes leaving his luggage in Michigan while assessing the Oakland Hills course venue for next year’s Ryder Cup and flooding a room at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town South Africa with bath water: He claims he had been distracted by a TV programme.
Here are a few tips to remember in avoiding the golf holiday from hell:
*If taking more than one suitcase, split your belongs equally – and if one goes missing you can at least survive.
*Keep your passport and car parking counterfoil with you at all times.
*Ensure the name on the ticket is the name on your passport (no misspellings) or you may be required to purchase a replacement ticket.
*Always fit a strong wooden or metal rod into your golf bag that is at least an inch longer than your longest club shaft. Baggage handlers are not known for the delicate way they load your luggage.
*When travelling with from hotel to golf course, ensure you oversee your clubs being loaded on the bus or taxi.
*Take out adequate insurance for loss of equipment in transit and possible delays in making your pre-arranged tee times.
Tell us on the forum about your Golf holidays from Hell.
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