My first Golf and Coaching week of the new year at my original Costa del Sol base of La Quinta, Marbella, was a real pleasure. 8 keen students and two non golfers, among them two single figure handicappers, all looking to get their season off to a good start. While the learning was taken seriously, as usual there was plenty of good humoured banter on and off the course and the week flew by.
As is often the case at this time of the year, the mornings and evenings were cool but afternoon golf was played in lovely sunshine and shirt sleeve temperatures. I have to admit to the two days when the temperature dropped and it was quite unexpected Thursday morning to see snow on the upper regions of the iconic El Concho mountain that overlooks Marbella!! Yes, a cool day, but all returned to normal for our final day. Following a resume of the week on Friday morning, three teams played a best two from three stableford.
The main talking point of the week was the excellent, but very speedy greens. Faster than those encountered by most at home any time of the year and a double shock in January coming from the winter conditions. We can get away with poor putting tempo on slow greens, but my gosh that really shows up on these championship speed greens. Reading greens in hilly terrain is also quite an art as it produces all sorts of optical illusions. While it is not fool proof, mountain one side and sea the other is usually a good guide! I think learning to trust the feel of the slope under your feet is one of the very best ways. Exactly how much borrow to give it is a lot of experience and imagination, however, if you can get the pace right and have the ball tracking towards the hole from the correct side there will be far fewer three putts. Pace should be your first priority, as the speed dictates the amount of borrow, while a ball coming to rest hole high should never be that far from the hole.
Maybe I should conclude with a comment on the Gran Melia Marbella Puerto Banus Hotel. Unlike most Spanish and Portuguese 4 star hotels, this one is more equivalent to what we would expect of our British 4 stars and, as always was very well received. While we have half board accommodation, it is set on the edge of Puerto Banus a few minutes walk along the promenade to the centre for a day off lunch and a little luxury shopping – thank goodness it is sale time in January!!
Enjoy your golf