I was very excited to play in this year's beach golf tournament last Saturday. It is most likely the only one of its kind in the world, made possible by the unique geography of the beach in Laredo, which has a wide tidal area, where low tide reveals at least a hundred meters of beach that high tide covers. That, combined with the finest sand I've ever seen, makes for a flat, hard surface on which a golf ball rolls as straight and true as on the best golf greens of the world. My golf clubs still had last year's beach sand on them. That's how often I have played in Spain in the last year. I have some golf shoes that I bought two years ago that remain brand new, and they peer out at me from the closet all year round begging to be used. Like puppies to have seen their master pick up the leash, they were delighted to be donned early Saturday morning.
If I had taken the time to re-read last year's post, however, I would have been reminded that I was making a grave mistake. Golf shoes are absolutely prohibited in beach golf because they chew up the sand way more than flat soled shoes do. Before teeing off, when I went down to the flat sand to practice, it was immediately obvious that I had made a mistake. I walked very softly when I went to tap in my par on the first hole (my group started on hole #4), and when I went to mark down the scores, I saw the "Any player wearing golf shoes must immediately abandon the competition!" language on the back of the score card. I didn't have any other shoes with me, so I was left with only one option.
Barefoot golf is surprisingly fun! I was the only one without shoes, but I think I might actually choose to play like this next year, weather permitting.
The holes varied from 80 meters (87.5 yards) to 160 meters (175 yards), in 10 meter increments (although not in order).
See how perfectly flat that surface is?
Unlike last year, the weather this year was absolutely perfect. There was not "a drop of wind", as the Spaniards say, which is extremely rare in Laredo.
When you're off the green (outside of the red line), you're not allowed to use your putter. This makes the game much more interesting, as choking up on a fairway wood is awkward, and blading a wedge – hitting the middle of the ball with the blade of the wedge, my preferred method – requires a lot of control.
I suppose you could do this in some "salt flat" region of the world as well?
My foursome included a tall german gentleman that works at the local Bosch factory and the estate agent that sold me my house.
It's a novelty version of golf, for sure, but it sure is a hell of a lot of fun!
I was only on one green, the last, "in regulation" (with my first shot), but I scrambled for pars left and right.
My scores are on the bottom. All the handicaps were adjusted down to par-3 beach golf levels, and I had a 4 handicap. I had two bogeys and one double bogey (chip failure), so I shot my handicap. Usually, I find that shooting your handicap exactly is not enough to win a tournament, but it's often enough to medal.
And indeed I did. I tied for third place.
By the end of the nine-hole round, the "greens" got pretty chewed up from all the foot traffic on them. That and the fact that the beach-going public arrives around 11am are the main limiting factors that keep it to just a two hour, nine hole event.
I'm already looking forward to next year!