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January 2021 members newsletter

THEY WERE RIGHT

Those who forecast an end to our lovely weather had it spot on. The first competition of the year escaped but only just, their conditions being in stark contrast to those of late. Most of the scores underlined that fact. The Three Kings will not have been so fortunate although, lucky them in a way, visiting virtually may have proved a blessing, which is appropriate.

Of the players in action on Asia, in the Stableford dated 5/1, Vic Hilliard will have been best pleased, his very creditable 38 earning him pride of place and a cut of 0.9, no more than he deserved. Hugo Verheyen, who has been lurking around the rostrum for a while now, was runner up with 34, whilst Cees Lagerwerf came third on 33.

L/r Hugo, Vic, Cees.

Markedly there were no handicap reductions amongst the ladies, even the elite heading in quite the opposite direction. Laura Thompson, recovering from recent, and Jing Kruppa, suffering from current, injury problems managed 31 each and in that order. Liisa Lindstrom might claim second, but wasn’t, with her 30. She never gives up?

L/r Jing, Laura, Liisa.

TRUISM

Seeing ourselves as others see us wouldn’t do any good. We wouldn’t believe it.

GOOD TO READ

“Whereas once it was the preserve of the “blazer brigade”, golf is quickly expanding its tent and, according to several matrix, including data by the National Golf Foundation in the U.S., is seeing the largest increase in play since 1997, the year Tiger Woods emerged onto the scene.”

RAIN CHANGED OUR WORLD

Storm Filomena, uninvited and very unwelcome, stayed long enough to cause a lot of damage and upset, both on the courses and in any number of homes, ours being one. Flotsam, jetsom and pure rubbish was easily to be seen on the beaches, as Loraine’s pictures show below.

Below us in Los Altos the 16th on America looked a sorry sight but eight ducks were happy to take up temporary residence.

Four competitions had to be cancelled and one course closed, Asia, because of serious road subsidence preventing any access to a necessary buggy crossing. This is likely to be a long term problem.

Of more immediate concern was the inability of greenstaff to actually get out there and start repair work during the dark hours, but we have a great team here, so there is confidence that all will be back in good shape soon.

Whilst on a weather theme it is worth recording that this southern stretch of Spain did not escape snow this year. From the mountain tops, of which everyone with a mobile or camera took pictures and sent to each other, to the beaches, would you believe.

NO MORE THAN THEY DESERVED

Captains’ Day, an eagerly anticipated annual gathering, was special this year in that it involved the same people as last time, but in entirely different weather conditions. 2020 was drizzly, grey, miserable and very cold. 2021 could have been a bit warmer but the sun shone, the azure sky made a lovely ceiling, and the players were raring to go after the enforced lay off. It has been said here before that the 18th on Asia is not the best place for this traditional “ceremony” but that’s where the clubhouse sits and the members gather, so be it. Having enjoyed hot tea/coffee from 0845, and nursing their inner warmth, players edged forward to better see the Captains and Vice Captains in action. Four of them this year, with Scribbler on camera duty.

Ladies in waiting.

Each of the four participants hit two balls individually but then, a spur of the moment idea of Captain Damien’s, all four hit at (approximately!)the same time, thus providing the newsletter with a rare picture.

All together now. L/R Damien, Kate, Peter, Loraine.

As is often the case pictures of the actual drives are likely to make Murdo wince and the perpetrators wish they could have another attempt. Perhaps with the exception of Vice Captain Peter who was at least consistent, and very focused.

L/r Kate, Peter, Loraine, Damien.

With the aid of one of his magic gadgets Damien was able to record the various distances driven and, later, calculate the winning guesses, members having been invited to bet two euros (all to Cudeca) on individuals but, more interesting and challenging, on the sum of the four. Sharing financial success proved to be

L/r Thomas Widegren and Seppo Jaaskelainen.

Requiring rather more skill to earn their prizes on the day were:

4th 105 points l/r Gerda de Brouwere, Jan Slaets, and the yet to be photographically seen Barbara & Adrian Reading.
3rd 109 points l/r Simon Buddery, Rob Rosselli, Caz Rossella, Barry Curran.
Joint 1st 111 points l/r Thomas Widegren, Monique Peters, Helena Widegren, Ed de Kloe (guest).
Joint 1st 111 points l/r Peter Marler, Isabella & Gerry Rippinger (three ball).

After wriggling with equations and handicaps the organisers eventually, and sensibly, gave up trying to separate the teams with equal scores and decided that a share of first place was best. Rightly so.

As if all this wasn’t enough the day was further enhanced by it being Club Treasurer Caz Rosselli’s 60th birthday, kindly and generously celebrated by husband Rob providing “lunch” and a free bar for all and sundry. Thank you, Rob.

Caz made a nice little speech of appreciation for all the cards and calls and pointing out that had she been at home in Bournemouth there would just have been the two of them in their bubble whereas here she was sharing the day with lots of members. Every cloud has a silver lining?

No report on the day would be complete without recognising the effort that went on both behind the scenes and on the day. Lilian was able to join me for an hour or so at the 10th tee refreshment area where we were able to watch the Murphy’s hard at work feeding the hungry as they came in from their partial labours, at the same time being entertained by the never ending banter. One thing is for sure. Players left to complete their round more cheerful than when they arrived, and most of them armed with a second glass of “medicine”. One suspects that alcohol content was rather more than back in the Murphy’s bar owning days!

Damien in his other role.

Not that their day ended there. Oh no. Cards had to be checked, and then, of course, came the prize giving followed by the draw for this year’s knock-out competitions, details of which will by now have been published on line. Unlike those who settle for a silver spoon in their mouth when born, Loraine obviously preferred a microphone, a device at which she is a dab hand now. With perfect control of the volume, so as to subdue those daring enough to interrupt, she prowls the floor, a constant mixture of fact and fiction, able to make Vera Van der Veken v Lilly Lagerwerf Dobbelstein sound as exciting a combat as Real Madrid v Barcelona.

Well done Damien, Loraine, Peter and Kate for making the day as enjoyable as you deserved after all the frustrations of last year.

PERFECT PLANET

Switching briefly from newsletter to blog mode it is pleasing to thank Stephen Mason for drawing this TV series to our attention. With Lilian unable to see television unless sitting right by the screen the “telly” occupies less and less of our time. Moving a chair close has enabled us to watch the first three chapters of this totally absorbing series, our only disappointment being the music which, we find anyway, too loud and often drowning out David Attenborough’s commentary.

Some of the animal scenes are breathtaking, and the story of how figs become edible due to creepy, crawly insects which then die on the job, will have put Peter Robinson off scrumping forever. Or should do. Not a problem for Scribbler though who has never liked these pippy fruits.

Apart from admiration for the quality of photography, the size of the portable cameras, the patience and hardiness of the cameramen, the thing most intriguing was knowing how the photographers got to wherever they were located, and where was it?

A wonderful programme and a strong advert for climate change.

JANUARY 18TH

A date of no significance to members but not an anniversary for Scribbler to forget as he taps away on the keyboard a year to the day since his fall on America’s 11th, the last competitive round of golf he played. The good memories of the accident are two fold. The kindness and caring of those around me, and being part of the winning team! We were only two holes from home at the time, it having been a shot gun start, so just sitting in the buggy got me over the line. Mind you, any team with Pat Madigan in it doesn’t have to bother about buying their own bottle of wine! What a player, and a nice man too.

MAKE YOUR MIND UP PLEASE

Our resident Rain Goddess, AKA Pauline Hilliard, has been in a funny mood recently. Rain, fog, sunshine even, but none on a consistent basis. Here today and gone tomorrow. Fortunately Tuesday 19th was fine enough on America to encourage a healthy turnout, and Mike Fisher especially will be buying Pauline a box of chocolates, at least. A day after getting some good health news our former captain registered 39 points and a cut of 0.8. Whatever he had for breakfast will be high on Pearl’s Mercadona list henceforth no doubt.

Close neighbour Brendan Walsh, not long back from self imposed “holiday” in Tenerife, came second with 37 whilst fellow Irishmen Pat Reid 36 and Damien Murphy 35 followed them home.

L/r Damien, Mike, Pat.

On the other side of the gender fence it was Lilly Lagerwerf Dobbelstein’s turn to top the list with her 37. She pops up at irregular intervals but clearly the game is still there. Verena Haas, a seasoned campaigner, is also no stranger to the leaderboard but her 35 only won her the runner up’s spot by virtue of her better handicap from both Mary Evans and Pauline Hilliard.

L & r (!) Verena on her ownsome.

The following day it rained, and some! Today, looking out, the sun is bright but America is wet. Very. Too wet for buggies so some of those planning to play in the RollUp may have to change their mind. What’s going on Pauline?

ROBBIE BURNS – SCOTCH FOURSOMES

There is no escaping the famous Scot so close to his birthday but apart from dedicating the day’s competition to him on America, 23/12, and a few small tartan appendages, this was a far cry from the usual annual dinner, dance, and entertainment. No Murdo, Iain, Campbell, haggis or bagpipes. The mood of the prize giving was however elevated by the liberal distribution of neat whisky, an essential ingredient of Burns’ Night(as it would have been normally)although there is no evidence of the poet enjoying a dram himself?

Because buggies were allowed, and the format an adulterated match play, the golf was faster than normal with a probable average of about 3 ½ hours. Also the field was smaller than most weekends so the prize giving was earlier, and quicker because there were no individual winners. Nine groups were split into pairs and fought each other. The result of the “match”, between Team Alloway and Team Dumfries, as in many such events of late, was a draw! 4.5 v 4.5. Not to be thwarted by the absence of many other prize winners Loraine, with her pet mike, which needed a slight volume adjustment, announced the results of each pair-to-pair whilst husband Damien handed out bottles of wine to the successful couples. Everyone went home happy, but earlier than usual. The proceedings did not lend themselves to picture taking.

Winter Golf at La Cala Resort

We are indebted to Robert Mitchell, our Director of Golf, for the following interesting article.

"Since we have received a few questions regarding the Bermuda greens as well as comments about the way the courses play in these winter months, I thought it would be interesting to explain a little bit about the difference between winter and summer golf as well as our choice of grasses on our golf courses.

Being on the Costa del Sol, we are very fortunate that we enjoy mild winters compared to golf courses further north in Europe. In fact, that is probably one of the main reasons for many of us to be here. As we all know, a golf course is a living breathing organism, and as such it is affected by weather and seasons, and therefore playing conditions can differ a lot between winter and summer months.

Why did La Cala opt for Bermuda grass greens?

To combat high temperatures of the summer in Southern Spain, golf courses opt for bermuda grass (warm season grass) on tees, fairways and rough areas. The alternative would be to use cool season grasses, such as ryegrass, fescues or bentgrass, which typically produce very good playing surfaces. This is why we mainly see cool season grasses on greens only, in southern Europe, and not on tees, fairways and roughs. On the other hand these cool season grasses have several disadvantages. They have a high cost to maintain, require high levels of water all year round, and most importantly have a high risk of disease and damage due to hot temperatures. You will find very stressed greenkeepers during summer months all over Spain!

With the above in mind, we took the decision to change our greens to Bermuda on Asia and Europa courses, being one of the first in Spain to do so. Finca Cortesin was the first on the Costa del Sol, and they are delighted with the decision. We believe that reducing water consumption, reducing chemicals and fertilizers and at the same time offering great putting surfaces for the majority of the year is a strategy we all agree with. During the colder months however, bermuda grass becomes dormant as the ground temperature falls and therefore the greens surface become slightly harder and quicker. This will occur during the months of December, January and February which are typically low season months for golfers. We want the greens to be at their best from March to November which is when the majority of golfers wish to be playing.

During the colder months of December through to March, bermuda grass will change in appearance and take on a yellow tone, this is because it has gone dormant, and we can clearly see this on our fairways. This is perfectly normal and no amount of water would change the appearance. As a result of less growth, the ground will also become firmer as there will be no cushion of grass for our golf balls to sit on. This makes the courses play much faster and you will undoubtedly see much longer drives.

Why do we mow the fairways and rough so short?

We don’t. In fact we raise the height of the blades on the machines during the winter months. When you see the machines out mowing fairways, the truth is that they are simply “cleaning up” by mowing growing weeds, removing dew, worm casts and any left behind divots. The actual grass itself is not being cut as the blades are too high to have any impact on the actual Bermuda.

The topography of La Cala, with so many slopes, also means that it is more challenging to maintain the rough at a sufficient height to stop golf balls rolling into trouble, during the winter. During the growing season, less water is able to penetrate the surfaces on sloped areas, reducing the density of the grass in these areas. On the other hand, flatter areas where water can sit longer after rainfall or irrigation, naturally have more grass growth and therefore will remain higher in the winter. This is something very noticeable on flatter golf courses.

What does the future look like for golf courses on the Costa del Sol?

We believe that more and more courses will make the transition to Bermuda grasses, or may in fact be obligated to make this change by the governing authorities. Bermuda grass requires significantly less water and is therefore far more sustainable in our warm climate with months of zero rainfall. It does mean however that Bermuda greens will be faster and firmer during the colder winter months. But what golfer doesn’t enjoy fast greens?

As of a few years back, all golf courses were obligated to use recycled water. Again, La Cala has been a pioneer in this area, since 1992 we were one of the first golf Resorts in Spain to transport recycled water to irrigate our golf courses. Bermuda grasses are far more adept at handling irrigation with recycled water, giving us a better chance of having good quality greens throughout the year. It is not uncommon to hear stories of courses losing their bentgrass greens during the summer months as a result of temperature and water quality.

I hope this has been helpful in understanding a little more about winter golf at La Cala and in the Costa del Sol.”

TRUISM

A man can usually tell what kind of time he is having at a party by the look on his wife’s face.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Some while ago the names of Adrian and Barbara Reading crossed my desk. At the time known as fellow owners in Los Altos but not as golfers. Then they started playing and became of more interest to these pages, it having been an editorial target since the beginning to “introduce” newcomers to the membership at large. For a variety of reasons, now less than understandable, this never happened but now they have been pinned down. Very helpfully their “cv” tells its own story, needs no editing, and hopefully will interest those reading about the Readings!

“We are Adrian and Barbara Reading. We have owned in Los Altos for five years and been members of the club since then although have never been here long enough to join the members comps previously. We live in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire and play at Lakeside Lodge Golf and Country club, Barbara is 16.9 handicap and I am 9.5 and rising!! We both still work, Barbara is an office / finance manager for a construction company based in London, however since Covid-19 she has been working mainly from home, hence us being here for longer this year as she can work from here exactly the same as at home in the UK. I have a company that imports and sells paving cleaning products as well as a commercial paving cleaning arm that mainly works for the US military in the UK, cleaning the paving on their bases. Barbara has a son and a daughter and we have 8 grandchildren ranging from 17 to 3 months! We have both managed a hole in one, Barbara on the 14th hole on America and mine was in Turkey. During my time here this year I have joined all of the competitions and Roll Ups and had a whale of a time, everyone has been so welcoming, apart from Geoff who is getting fed up with giving me the money on a Thursday!!! Barbara has only managed one roll up but most of the weekend comps. She has just been working too hard!! Bless!! Looking forward to seeing you all again soon!“

PLAYING UNDER A SHADOW

The Members’ Area will already have revealed the top three home in the re-arranged Medal played on America, Tuesday 26/1 but, by way of a lead in to the main report, they were:

Ladies. 72 Jing Kruppa, 74 Connie Maphar-Massar, 75 Ursula Wetzel.

Just Jing.

Men 76 Brendan Walsh, 76, Roy Davies on handicap, 77 Pat Reid.

Just Roy, Brendan, Pat l/r.

The literary baton is now handed over to Lady Captain Loraine Murphy who has been most supportive this month.

“Tuesday was an interesting day as, unfortunately, due to a members contact with a person outside of La Cala Golf - later confirmed as Covid positive - we had numerous cancellations from the competition as members took the decision to immediately self isolate. We are lucky in that all the members who had been in close contact (in the company of) the member ( who is doing well), there were no further positive test results. It really has brought home to the membership that Covid is a reality, it is here around us and we have to be extra cautious in where we go and who we mix with! - Keep to your social bubble! It is imperative that members follow the Covid regulations in place - mask must be worn at all times around the club except if actually eating or drinking, use the hand sanitizers available as often as possible and a maximum of 4 persons only may be seated at each table.. each table must be a minimum of 1.5 mts apart. We are a very social bunch at La Cala but we all have to pay attention and keep each other safe.. Protect Me, Protect You.

With regards the scores - there were a number of DQR - this is “disqualified with result” so still counts towards handicap as it means the person did not complete each hole .. but did complete the majority.. this week most members completed over 14 holes.

I think that’s it Jack .. apart from a word to all members who are not here ..

You are missing out on some great golf and fabulous weather as we are back to playing in shorts and tee shirts. We hope all governments get a grip on Covid and that we can all get back to travelling very soon.”

David & Marie Wilson aren’t missing the sun at all in their Swiss home.

WORLD HANDICAP SYSTEM

Pause for readers’ groans and/or allowing time to scroll on but, hang on a moment, this is an important change in our golfing life, albeit one which is mostly seen as complicated and controversial. With good reason, let it be added. A view you might share by the time you reach the end of Loraine’s brave attempt to unravel the inner workings.

The birth of this article was born out of conversations held at different times with senior members of the club, including past captains. None liked the new system. All grumbled about not being able to check your own handicap as was so easy in the “old days”. Some even admitted to having given up and now just did as they were told in handicap terms. Safe and easy enough on a Tuesday when cards showing handicaps are issued, and not too many complaints on a RollUpThursday. Well, who would argue with rule boffins like David Wilson or current organiser Geoff Thompson? Come the weekend though and doubts arose. Write your own card time. Including your handicap. Even if starting from your Tuesday level, since changed perhaps, the various factors to be considered raised queries as to whether everyone was calculating from the same song sheet. Was there any check? Were the subsequent results correct? Did some go home with wine they didn’t deserve? Probably not, and the assumption is that the organisers of the day will have run a fine tooth comb over the better cards. However, it seemed worth involving someone who knows a lot more about the subject than the Scribbler so, without more ado, over to the ubiquitous Loraine – again:

“There is a formula to work it all out, Jack, but...Anyway, you asked so here you go!

The whole concept behind WHS is to allow handicaps to be portable from country to country, golf course to golf course and to make it a fairer and more equitable system of accurately calculating a golfer’s “current” playing ability. The basics are that the WHS software provides each player with a “Handicap Index” by calculating the average of their best eight scores from their last 20 qualifying rounds. When a new score is submitted, ( in our case usually on a Tuesday), the Handicap Index is automatically recalculated and updated at the end of the day (overnight) so any adjustments are then shown on system ready for use the following day. To try and ensure handicaps do not fluctuate too much there are “caps” in place – soft and hard - based on a player’s lowest Handicap Index in a one-year period. If a player’s handicap goes three shots above the low index, further rises are reduced by 50%. (Soft cap.).

If a player’s handicap moves 5.0 strokes above the low index in a 12-month period, it cannot rise any further. (Hard cap.) The “caps” are also in place to ensure that a player’s temporary loss of form does not cause their Handicap Index to move too far from their actual playing ability. As well as that there is the course “Playing Conditions Calculation” that looks at how all the players who have entered a score on a course have performed on that day, compared to their expected performance. Each player at La Cala, that is federated via the RFEG, should download the RFEG App as they can then download their “Scoring Record” which shows exactly how their Handicap Index has been calculated.”

At this point it is recommended that readers take a rest, pour a glass of wine or make a cup of coffee, and then resume if of “International Membership Status” because here comes that Loraine once more:

“Under the terms of the new world handicap system (WHS), if you are an “international” player with a handicap that is managed by a club outside of Spain, it is important, and a requirement of WHS that you notify your designated “home” club of your score from any qualifying competition that you play in.

You may obtain a copy of the official RFEG result list from the competition organiser and this, together with a copy of your card ( which you should take a photo of before handing into the buggy desk) must be sent to your “home” club for processing via your country”s handicap system. ( unless your “home” club has an app or system that allows you to manually enter your International score into their member system) for handicap purposes - such as My Golf in Sweden.

Once your home club has processed your scores they must send you back a confirmation which shows a list of your last 20 competitions results and your updated / current WHS handicap. For the time being, if this results in a change to your handicap, you must send a copy of the details - or a screenshot of your app showing the registration of the competition and your adjusted handicap - to the organizer of that months competitions (name and email address are on the top of the Sign Up sheets) so that your handicap can be updated on our member system in time for the next competition. Unfortunately there is currently no reciprocal agreement in place between countries whereby we can automatically report your scores and adjust your handicaps.. it can only be carried out by the player. You will also need your home club to confirm if you must advise them of your intent to play in an official qualifying competition ( pre-register) or just send them your results etc., as each club may implement a different process!“

With tongue clearly in teeth Loraine ends with a cryptic “All good fun!” but we hasten to thank her for contributing to the discussion. Sounds like there might be mumbles from club secretaries world wide, plus an opportunity for someone in our ranks to set up a little part time job handling the paperwork for members?

RAINBOW SCRAMBLE ENDS THE MONTH

At the end of a week which boasted some acceptably high temperatures and plenty of sunshine those playing on America 30/1 will have assembled for the 10.00 Shotgun start only to find a lively and chilly wind necessitating some club and strategy changes. Friendly it was not. Noisy too, with the aid of the treetops. Even so shorts were mostly the dress of the day and there were twelve “teams” in action.

The well known double act of Loraine & mike completed their month of duty and deserve a round of applause for a very lively, entertaining and informative month. Clap clap. Pictures of last Tuesday’s prize winners will have appeared earlier in these pages but those gathering gold at the end of the Rainbow were:

4th with 60.6 points l/r Pat Reid, Marjan Harman, Peter Marler, the invisible James Reid.
3rd with 60.3 points l/r Martin Dawkins, Corinna Dawkins, Sten Valentin, Suzanne Valentin.
2nd with 59.3 points l/r Laura & Geoff Thompson, Simon Buddery, Peter Penney.
1st with 56.2 points l/r Brendan Walsh, Monica Peters, Mike Bernado, Louis Lentelink.

Sipping a coffee in the company of the runners up afterwards they appeared to be quietly confident of success having not dropped a shot all round. Which only goes to prove how well Brendan and his team must have played? A good week for our Irish neighbour after Tuesday’s Medal triumph.

GROUND UNDER REPAIR

Members are recommended to swot up on the rules as laid out in the Sign Up sheets because they are somewhat different just at the moment.

LETTER FROM AMERICA

To end on a lighter note it is a pleasure to be able to include this short story from former Captain Alan Jewett. Written with his usual clarity and humour it is nevertheless understandable why he and Wendy should be feeling so frustrated. Plus half the world it seems.

Out of courtesy no changes have been made to American spelling!

Sean, Wendy in the back, Alan.

One in a million shot ... A smile from Heaven ...

This is not a suitable time to be promoting La Cala Resort as a place to come and live, or have a second home, or be a member of the golf club, because of all the restrictions which currently beset everyone but, when you can, come and see what we enjoy. The members are a sociable bunch too!