Tuesday, July 14, 2009

European Tour

It's been a couple of weeks since my return from Europe, and I finally have turned the corner on getting over this cold. Looking back, I can see what happened. During one 24-hour stretch in Europe, I played three rounds of golf, flew from France to England, took two one-hour train rides and got about three hours of sleep. No wonder I got sick.

But I'm good now, and with the British Open at Turnberry just a couple of days away, I thought I'd give you guys my impression of golf courses in England and France.

Granted, I played only five courses, but I think I got a general overview of what Europe has to offer. I mean, I didn't play St. Andrews, Muirfield or Royal Birkdale, but Hindhead and Old Thorns are some pretty good courses - particularly the impressive Hindhead Golf Club in Surrey. It's more of a heathland style course, but there are plenty of trees and elevation changes.

When I first started playing, I hated par 3 holes. For some reason, I had a mental block. But now, I relish stepping up to a par 3 hole, staring down the fairway to an open green anywhere from 100-200 yards away. I bring this up because Hindhead has at least two of the best par 3s I've played. Both are pretty straightforward, but the scenery and the layout make for some nice changes to the rest of the course.

I'd be a little remiss if I didn't mention the Northwick Park course just outside of London. It's a tribute course, with cool little features like a bunker in the middle of the green (ala Riviera No. 6) and deep and steep-sided bunkers that surround a postage stamp green (ala Royal Troon No. 8).

As far as the two courses I played in France, one - Carcassonne Country Club - was a wide open parkland course with few trees. I liked it better than the Seihl Golf Course in Toulouse, which is more a resort course. Carcassonne had a little more character, with more elevation changes, including a couple of par 3s that drop significantly from tee box to green. I birdied the closing hole, a 144-meter par 3 that starts with a tee box surrounded by trees and ends with a wide open green at the bottom of a hill. If you look closely at the picture, you can see my ball about 18 inches from the hole. I do like par 3s.

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