Tournoi du Printemps 2011, Chateau de La Bégude, Opio-Valbonne Photo albums
Following a 2010 season where the participants in the Spring Tournament only managed to return from Portugal by means of a grueling 24 hour bus journey, and yet others were prevented from attending the Channel Cup by indolent air traffic controllers, we faced 2011 with not a little trepidation. Fears unfounded – air, rail, and road transportation functioned seamlessly, until that is the last mile, when the sinuous winding road across steep valleys confounded many a GPS. In fact our only no show actually lives two kilometers away – strange things happen in Provence!
Glorious sunshine greeted our arrival at the La Bastide course Friday noon for the Pairs Competition. The frogs croaked noisily from the nearby pond when the occasional wayward drive arrived in their midst, and the flowering fruit trees provided a colourful backdrop. Even if the condition of the course was disappointing and the bunkers resembled building site sandpits, the hillsides softening in the evening sunlight with the picturesque Chateauneuf-Grasse town surveying us from on high made for a delightful round.
Following a tasty dinner washed down with a delightful Provençal rosé and a comfortable if short night in the Chateau de La Bégude, we were back of the first tee at St. Donat – some distance away - at 9am on Saturday for the Tournoi du Printemps. The scores testify to the fact the course cannot be classified as easy. No hole bears the slightest similarity to the previous one; up, down, round and about, it was a stern but immensely enjoyable challenge, epitomized by the undulating flight of the numerous woodpeckers. The last hole with two shots over water the most formidable of all, paradoxically leading to even drier mouths with anxiety as whether to ball will make ti across, but the beers on the clubhouse patio afterwards were all the more quenching for it.
The Sunday start for the Scrambles on the Opio course was even earlier – shrouded in the matinal mists, (almost) everyone was outside the clubhouse at the appointed hour of 7.45! The sun soon burnt its way through however, revealing the spring flowers peeking happily from the rough. The course meanders alongside a chattering brook which surges from the earth close by the 11th green and loops erratically though wooded countryside, reminiscent of my drives.
All teams managed honourable scores on or close to par, with the ’73 promotion returning a brilliant card of two under. A flock of coquelet had been sacrificed for a well deserved lunch on the clubhouse terrace, much as we had enjoyed many moons ago after playing in Italy on the Saturday and Sunday. So with the sun still shining, it was reluctantly time to head off – apart from the wise few who had elected to prolong their stay in what must be close to what the Koran defines as Paradise!
And last but not least, a unanimous vote of thanks to our camarade sponsors for their generosity in donating the prizes :- Françoise Montenay, Reinold Geiger, Philippe Sevin, & Olivier de La Giraudière. Also to our host Stéphane Coste of Open Golf who in donating a free golfing weekend at La Bégude for the winning pair on Friday (Norma Demol & Diego Massidda), may have to supplement it with some marriage guidance counseling sessions. And not to forget Karl-Georg Mothes, who to mark his return to the Salamander after an absence of at least one decade, brought along a treasure trove of samples regarding the effects of which we are eagerly awaiting the accounts of personal experiences.