The Winter That Was

The winter of 2019/2020 in my hometown of Gersfeld was disappointing. Hardly any snow, no cross country skiing in our neighbourhood. The Loipenpark Zentrum was only good for walks in the dirt. And I had just purchased a new set in 2019. So really disappointing, and then the Pandemic hit and I couldn’t see any possibility to go to Austria this winter.

But then it started just after Christmas. The snow came, and the cold came. The folks from Loipenpark reported more than 70 snow days (where tracks could be groomed and conditions were good or at least reasonable). It got very busy. People came from near and far, to a point that parking was restricted on the weekends to avoid even larger crowds.

For myself, I counted my visits to Loipenpark and I got to 40 in the months of January and February. And another 2 in March. Now that was the best that I had in the last couple of years.

Image: Today from

And then – yesterday evening – it started to snow again. While I don’t expect that the snow will be around long enough for the folks to use the machines to lay tracks, I’m quite tempted to see if I can just get another morning tour out of it.

Global Warming – Local Skiing

Well, I do understand that many people worldwide still don’t believe in global warming. And who knows, they may or may not be right. While most scientists think all the research is pointing towards it, there are still sceptic people who don’t believe. But I leave it to John Oliver to discuss this.

What is becoming clear even to the biggest sceptic in Germany is that having a decent winter ski vacation is becoming more and more difficult. I spent last week in beautiful Bad Tölz with the hope for powder. The idea was to take a bus or the train to a nice ski region close by. Now, turns out that I went hiking along the Isar instead, with the temperature around 10°C. For good skiing, I’d have to travel far and go high up. Way more expensive than I had budgeted for.

Ok. This could be an exception. And next year will be just fine. On the other hand, I’m tracking ski-lift operation in Rhön now since a couple of years on my website. And guess what: Last year was a wash for the operators, and this year looks even worse.

Just when I drove back from Bad Tölz a statement from the German government became public. According to them only one out of ten ski regions in central Europe will be snow-safe in the coming years, and about two thirds of all the ski regions won’t survive, even with artificial snow.

Good that I didn’t buy new skies.

Do we need another Tiger?

I love to play golf, and I love to watch golf on TV or even visiting a tournament. This year’s major tournaments were especially exciting, with Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer and now Rory McIllroy winning. So we see a nice variety of players winning the tournaments in the US and in Europe. Looks like there’s a whole bunch of players that can win.

But the golf commentators and the golf press continue to ask with every major win if the winner is the next Tiger. Personally, I think this is a really stupid and boring discussion. It is great to have this variety show, where a lot of young and old players are head-to-head and you never know what’s going to happen. It is just fun to watch new player like Victor Dubuisson show up and play in a wonderful way. Long ago seems the time where players were scared of the dominance of Tiger Woods and were just bending over and surrendering when Tiger played in a tournament.

While it might be important for the marketing dudes and the industry to have one superstar, the idea of a broad field of really good players and fearless competitors is a lot more appealing to me as a spectator. Gone are the times where a muscle-packed Tiger could just out-power everybody else, hit it somewhere into the deep rough and just hit it back onto the green. I love to watch these fearless and smart young player a lot more.

So I hope that neither of them will turn out to be as dominant as Tiger was. Sorry, dear golf industry.

Senior Club Championship

Was played last weekend in our club. As always, 2 rounds had to be played, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. And there’s a cut after Saturday’s round.

The weather was murderous. We really chose the 2 hottest days of the year. On Saturday the temperature went up to 26°C, on Sunday it got even hotter and we ended up playing at 38°C.

I closed the first day with a reasonable 83. Within my handicap buffer, this got me to the shared first place with 3 other guys after the first round. My game was ok, but not good: I made quite a few putting mistakes and lost 3-4 stroked.

Next day we started in the heat as the last flight. How wonderful had it been on Saturday, when we were out as the first flight and could go with a good pace. Now we were trolling after the slow players, and the heat got obnoxious! I got really luck on the first couple of holes, where my erratic drives were close to OB a few times. But it stabilized after a while and I was playing the first 9 in bogey, and the second nine started with a few bogey as well. Not good, not bad, but not too bad.

Meanwhile one of the guys in my flight had established a 3 stroke lead, and the other competitor in our flight and myself though we can pack and go. But then on 15 he made his first mistake, while he ket it together on 16. On the par 3 17 my tee shot landed really close to the pin, and the leader gut really nervous: He changed clubs, tried to play it save and ended up to pull his shot into the bush where we didn’t find it anymore. So he and I ended up sharing the lead after 17, the 3rd guy one behind. Had I played birdie on that hole, I might have sealed a victory already.

Last hole I had the honors and played a wonderful tee shot down the fairway. Actually, it was the best tee shot I ever had on this hole. The former leader whacked his ball way right and ended up behing some high trees, and the 3rd guy had a reasonable tee shot as well, but quite a few meters short of my ball.

Tree shot ended in a bunker close to the green, 3rd guy was short of the green, and then it was my turn: I pulled a 6-iron a little to the left and ended up pin-high in the rough, about 15 meters to the left.

And then it happend. My concentration went to hell and I played a most stupid little pitch, getting the ball forward just a few meters! The other guys finished with 5 and 6 (I ended up with a 6 as well after my putt lipped out), and off we went to a sudden-death play-off.

I had lost my focus, and ended up on 3rd place. Happy to get out of the heat, but sad that I had let this opportunity slip away. Hope it will be a lesson for my next championship event.

Forgetting is Costly

Every year the same stupidity.

Golf season starts and I have a hard time to remember what I did right and what I did wrong in the last season. I took notes last year, bit it doesn’t help: The ‘muscle memory’ just fucks up and has lost all its data.

So back to the pro-ette I go and spend a good amount on Euros. She is pleased, and she has expected me already. She says that way she is happy and I am happy. We go through the exact same routine as last spring. And things start to work again, its now only a matter of practicing the same thing over and over. And get some playing practice. And lose a couple of pounds.

So it appears that the weakness of my muscle memory serves a higher purpose.

Barbara, you are so lucky!

Watching McIlroy

The commentator just finished whining that Tiger Woods had to go home today. Golf world will come to an end, if Tiger doesn’t play anymore, nobody will watch anymore and the golf business will fall apart.

Oh well, if the golf world is so stupid, so be it. I haven’t missed Tiger much in the last couple of month, because there was so much to see! And the best is Rory McIlroy. Watching him is fun, he appears to have fun, he plays to win, but he’s also ok if he doesn’t get everything right.

He is having fun competing, he is having fun playing golf, he is even having fun chatting with the by-standers. No idea why they miss Tiger. A guy that is so tense that the gras dries out when he comes to close.

And there’s a bunch of guys out there besides McIlroy that play fantastic golf these days. I don’t miss Tiger too much. If he comes back, ok. But he is by far not as much fun as Rory.

Grip and Stance

Every year the same problem: As spring comes, the small things in my golf technique are completely off.

What to do? Easy: Go back to Ben Hogan’s ‘The Modern Fundamentals of Golf’ and start reading it again. Work yourself through all the lessons, start looking like an idiot to all your family when you watch TV while practicing your grip. But don’t worry about their remarks: They will be proud of you when you come home with all the bowls from the tournaments you won.

Next steps in your season prep:

  • practice short game in every free minute, beware of breaking to much glas in the house
  • whine in public that you didn’t have a chance to do all the strength training that you had wished to do (and blame your wife, your children and your dog that they didn’t give you the spare time)

This will help you to catch a good season start. If not, contact your local pro and give him some money for changing your swing (again!) based on the current Golf Magazine that he has just read.