Spring break had arrived with 19 Golf for funners, including an international appearance from our Roland all the way from Holland (or should that be the Netherlands?), making their way down to La Pinetina golf resort, about 30 minutes from Como, for four days of intensive golf and gastronomy.
Friday morning greeted us with sunshine, and by 10.15 am Dawn and I were burning rubber on the road to Bella Italia. On the route to San Bernardino we passed under the gaze of snow covered peaks, and through valleys that had only just lost the last of the Spring snow as was evident as the grass still had hints of brown hue, and the rivers were heavy with melt water.
By the Martins standards it was a good run, but of course it would not be Spring break without one navigational slip up, as one managed to miss the Lomazzo Nord turn off, resulting in few added kilometres on the Autostrada, before arriving safely at our destination.
After unloading cases, clubs, tea making equipment, chocolate hobnobs etc. from the car, and getting into our room and changed, it was soon time for us to be on the Tee on this now familiar course, and so going out cold was not a daunting prospect. We were starting off the 10th, so with the practice green nearby one could at least try to get a feel for the pace of the putting surface. Considering the amount of rain the area had been having over the last few days the Stimpmeter was high – and compared to Steisslingen more Warp factor 1.
Off we set in glorious sunshine, and we progressed well with some good golf being played in our trio. There were some clouds beginning to gather and by the time we were heading down the back nine the odd drop of rain began to fall, with full rain gear and umbrellas required by the penultimate hole.
18 holes completed and a happy three ball sat down for a post round drink to see the clouds disperse. After a shower and a change, we went down to be greeted by Marco and Roberto behind the bar and our favourite white wine Gavi was delivered to us outside for Apero.
Tonight in the restaurant it was Bistecca alla Fioretina that proved to be the group favourite, and an accompanying Italian red was in order, followed by the almost obligatory Limoncello. Being the first night and after a long day and a day’s golf on the morrow this golfer slipped off to his room before the midnight hour.
Saturday, and a slight change to the original schedule. Due to a cancellation we were to be joining the end of a Bona Fide Italian bank sponsored tournament. As a result, we were to be teeing off from the first in the early afternoon. So plenty of time to warm up with the hotel pitch and putt short course proving popular. The driving range was particularly moist in places after further overnight rain.
Today the sun was shining and shorts were being worn, this time remembering to apply some of that Ultrasun factor 30.
As it was a tournament the pace of play was a little more pedestrian than normal, and my golf game today was not that of yesterdays, mainly due to me struggling on the greens. The fact that I had earlier made the strange decision to use a right handed putter rather than my normal left handed one, and it was just not working out. Still a very pleasant afternoon with the weather gods shining on us. Round completed and scorecards checked, they were handed in to the tournament organisers who promptly rewarded us with a sleeve of Sbrixon balls emblazoned with the sponsor’s logo. Once the field was in it was quickly into prize giving with two of our group entering the prize zone, Daniel T and Nicole.
Time was getting on, and my stomach was beginning to wonder if my throat had been cut. Luckily we did not have to wait long before the buffet was announced and blood sugar levels were restored to normality – that crème brulee was yummy!!
Following dinner a few of us retired outside to enjoy a digestive, whilst some others were to be found in the TV room watching the fortunes of the contestants in the Players championship in the US .
Roberto and Marco were being particularly attentive this evening leading to a slight increase in the Limoncello consumption, but with the patio heaters on and convivial company it did not seem to matter.
Sunday morning, and a very humid one, with today’s golf test to be taken on the Bonora course at Golf club Bogogno, a one hour drive away with the first grouping due out at 13.00 cet. Traffic was good and so there was plenty of time to warm up on the excellent practice facilities. There were thunder storms circling in the area, but the Golf 4Fun meteorological force field was keeping them at bay.
Not the greatest start to this golfers round, losing a ball on the first hole, a feat I would go on to perform another 3 or 4 times over the round, and so by the end not the best of scores.
After a quick drink on the wonderfully appointed terrace, it was time to head back. Normally this run is impeded by Sunday hordes of Milanese making their way back from the countryside and clogging the Autostrada. Tonight though we had a clear run back to base.
As it was to be our last night at La Pinetina, after a very enjoyable meal from the kitchen it was time first of all for the secret partners competition. Names and their corresponding Stableford points from today’s round had been written down on individual small pieces of paper , folded and placed in a bowl. Then with our Dick officiating and my Dawn picking out the names, the combined scores of a pairing were added to give a number, 54 – 56 – 57 — 58 —and then the last two names —Dick 32 points and yours truly 27 points — 59 !!! FIFA could not of organised it better if they tried. A very gratefully received 2 sleeves of Wilson staff balls each courtesy of SWISS airlines (#flyswiss).
Next, and the highlight of the evening the La Pinetina Banana Golf invitational for 2017. This year, as a certain person forgot the inflatables, we were going organic with a real banana. Defending champion Peter F was in attendance and looking in good form. Sure enough after a closely fought play off and for a second year in a row PF was victorious – a very popular winner. Could it possibly be a hat trick in 2018?
Celebratory drinks all round, with the hotel very carelessly leaving a bottle of Limoncello as a thank you on the table.
A mildly fuzzy Monday morning at the breakfast table, and most of the group was off to enjoy the delights of the course at Villa D Est, whilst Dawn and I because of work commitments were going to play the back nine at La Pinetina for one more time.
So under blue skies we bid said our farewells for another year to the wonderful staff, and wished our fellow golfers bon voyage before we all meet up again in Gams for round 2 of the golf 4 fun tournament series on June 11th.
Once again a great weekend, and thanks to Nora for all her organisation. Thanks also to Nicole for allowing Dawn to borrow your electro cart, and an advance thank you to my bank manager.
Looking forward to a return in 2018 already, Ciao
Peter Martin, hopeful tiger once more for 2017