Ah, the first golf swings of the season
I look to the first golf swings of the season in much the same way that, for years, I used to anticipate the first ski run of winter.
With skiing, there was always that moment, riding up the first lift, when I would wonder whether my legs would remember how to turn the skis - after all, I had months, the dreaded off season, to forget how. I’d leave the chair lift, point my skis downhill and take those first tenative turns. Yes, it always felt weird, like my body knew something but didn’t quite trust it yet. And yes, in the end, I always remembered how to, and it would never be long till I was skiing at full speed.
If you’re a golfer like me - that is, not lucky enough to live in a warm climate - you have to endure a lengthly off season as well, generally from late November to, well, just about now. And when I tee it up for the first time after that hiatus, I always wonder whether I’ll remember how to make a proper swing and hit the golf ball. Everything about that first swing of the season feels foreign.
At least it did with me here the other day. Having only recently moved to Berlin, my golf clubs are still in transit. But we’ve been having unseasonably mild weather of late, and I was intent to get out and enjoy it and hit a few balls at a driving range. A few friends and I turned up at the Global Golf, a short walk from Potsdamer Platz, which for those history buffs out there was the heart of 1920s Berlin until WWII razed it. For much of the Cold War, Potsdamer Platz was derelict, divided in half by the wall. Now, it’s something of a small miracle of urban development, and a symbol of the new Berlin; since the city was reunited in 1990, the square has morphed into into a gleaming, bustling intersection of city life, with modern glass buildings at almost every turn.
Global Golf is not so sleek. It stands in the shadows of a derelict train yard and some adjacent factories. And in a city where you’d think the whole idea of seperation might recall to much of the painful past, Global Golf nevertheless segregates golfers into two camps: Members and Visitors. Members, for some 300 euro-plus a year, get tidy tee boxes, a chipping green, practice bunkers and a pitching range. Visitors plunk down 4 euro for a small bucket, 1.50 euro for one rental club, and have to hoof it to the far side of the range, where they hit back at the members. Visitors are forbidden from using drivers on the range, for reasons that were a little unclear when I inquired - something about the fact that they might damage the demo club.
So, while the didn’t have the atmosphere of other great urban driving ranges - think Chelsea Piers in Manhatten - it sufficed. This outing was nothing serious, merely an exercise to shake the winter sluggishness off.
My first shot of the season? A bladed wedge that barely left the ground. But I wasn’t too worried. Those early swings are like your legs getting used to skis again. It wasn’t long until I found my groove, and by the end of the bucket the old swing was dusted off and in good working order. All told, an encouraging start to the season.
Since this is the start of this blog as well, let me invite you to get in touch with your comments and tips regarding golf in Europe: places to check out, courses to play, unsung regions, people to keep an eye on, stories to follow. Got something a bit beyond Europe’s borders? That’s fine too - This blog might make the occassional foray off the continent. Leave your comments or write me here, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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