EGD Trip to Casa Serena

On Friday of last week, Dave, Alex and I were lucky enough to take advantage of Robin’s very kind offer of visiting the recently opened Casa Serena course that he designed near Prague. The course is currently being prepared for it’s first tournament, a European Senior Tour event – The Casa Serena Open on 5th to 7th September.

We arrived at Casa Serena at 8pm on Thursday evening with just enough light for Robin to give us a quick guide to the course that we’d be playing the next day. Our initial concern was the brutal rough that encompasses each hole. We were all struck by the joy of the landscape and beautiful scenery that the course is set within.

After an evening with Stuart Burridge (the Head Greenkeeper) in the local town, Kutna Hora we awoke to be spoilt in having the course completely to ourselves. We threw the balls up and began our round (incidentally, I’d torn my calf muscle a week ago playing football and after a late Paula Radcliffe fitness test it was obvious with a lot of office pride running on the match, Dave wasn’t completely overawed at his luck of having me as his playing partner).

As the game went on, the rough was as brutal as we’d imagined with quite a few provisional balls being struck but the course was a joy to play and I particularly loved the shaping of the fairways. During the round, I noted a designer who is fully aware of the hazards he’s set out, isn’t immune from them. I also came to the conclusion Dave’s become the barometer or acid test for each designer at EGD as he’s always encouraged with his immense length to attempt to drive a short par 4 or to take on a long carry. Being his playing partner this can be rather stressful when he misfires but when he’s successful it’s thoroughly enjoyable.

On the 18th Hole, Alex retained his 100% losing streak on EGD courses as Dave and I were the winners of a tightly contested match, winning two up. It was apparent Robin was slightly frustrated at losing on the course he’d designed but with ever reason extremely proud to show it off to his fellow work colleagues (possibly the biggest critics).

On a final note, I have to mention my delight with Terminal 5 at Heathrow, especially after experiencing the speed and diligence of BA staff in retrieving the office camera (that has become the most popular toy here since the putting machine) I’d left on the plane. It would have been a long Monday explaining that one.

EGD Host Media Day

This week saw European Golf Design hosting a Media Day at the Twenty Ten Course at Celtic Manor. Golf and Travel writers from the UK and Europe were invited by EGD and Celtic Manor to experience the new Ryder Cup Course, designed by European Golf Design.

An early start, 6.30am on a Monday (Sarah had no idea such a time existed) saw Ross, Matt, Sarah, Jeremy and Queenie (MIchael King – EGD Director, ex-Ryder Cup and Walker Cup golfer “as he describes himself”) drive down to Celtic Manor in torrential rain and gale force winds. Why didn’t we chose to hold the event in the summer?

As we drove over the Severn Bridge, the rain stopped, the clouds parted and brilliant sunshine shone down on us. Who says it always rains in Wales?

Joining us on the day was the Twenty Ten Honorary Captain, Gareth Edwards CBE ex Wales and British Lions rugby footballer, and school friend of Queenie. Poor John Hopkins from The Times who played with them was subjected to five hours of school boy tales and humour.

Golf writers from Finland, Denmark, Ireland and Scotland joined us for breakfast before venturing out onto the Twenty Ten Course. Despite the heavy rain that has fallen for weeks, the course was in superb condition. As usual with golfers, everyone complained about their game and the putts that didn’t drop but everyone was in agreement the course was in fantastic shape, and a true test of golf. Reliving their rounds over lunch, another golfers trait, they all talked about how they hoped to play the course again and what a fantastic day it had been.

Several stayed on for the night at the hotel, apart from poor Mark Alexander who missed his train and was contemplating the sleeper train back to Scotland, arriving home at 7am Tuesday.

Mike Harris from Golf Monthly took the prize with a score of 28 points but the real winner was the course.

P.S. If you’d like to watch our day out at the Twenty Ten Course, the Audi Channel (Channel 884 – Sky Digital) and Audi’s website (Check the Audi Channel link) will be showing highlights towards the end of August.

International Travel – Part 1

Anapa, Russia April 28-30 2008

The Pain
– Heathrow Terminal 5 at 10pm.

– Security control

– Trying to get some sleep in 14C

– Arriving in Moscow at 5am (2am UK time)

– Russian immigration control

– 7 hour lay-over

– Soviet Tupalev aircraft

– 14 hours to get from A to B

– Meetings until midnight

– Security control

– 11 hours to get from B to A

– UK Immigration control

– Heathrow Terminal 5 at 11pm

The Joys
– Heathrow Terminal 5 (the building is stunning, just don’t check any bags in) Russian Military hats that are bigger than TV satellite dishes Finding a site that actually might exceed the client’s hopes.

Life at EGD Towers

After last week, when many of us were out of the office on site visits, the reverse is true this week, with all but Dave and Jeremy in the office, everyone else will be concentrating on reports and design work.

So, what is the office like at EGD Towers?

We’re based in Sunningdale, a small town to the south west of London, close to the famous heathland courses of Sunningdale, Swinley Forest and The Berkshire, as well as a few minutes from Wentworth where one of our parent companies, The European Tour, is headquartered. From the office to Heathrow is a journey of about twenty minutes, Gatwick is forty minutes in the other direction. To the centre of London takes about forty-five minutes on the train, the station being a few minutes walk from the office.

The office itself is on the top floor of an old stable building, dating back to the 1830’s. The main area of the office is open plan, with several of the designers having their own offices off of this room. The open plan area is the nerve-centre – it is from here that the financial, administration and IT functions operate. It’s where people congregate to tell stories of amazing sights, or amazing sites. It’s where we have lunch together every Friday. It’s also home to the EGD indoor putting course. While a very popular game for us, it is less popular with the restaurant downstairs who claim that there is a direct link between the celebrations of a holed putt and their lights swinging from their ceiling (our floor).

One of the other main features in the office is the drinks shelf. We have rule that whenever one of us goes to a new location, they need to bring back the cheapest bottle of local alcohol they can find. In very nearly all cases, ‘cheap’ and ‘tasty’ don’t go hand-in-hand, so while there’s a lot of alcohol on the shelf, very little of it ever gets, or ever will get, drunk.

EGD Boys Visit Ireland

It was an early start on the Friday, our flight left at 6.15. Will resisted (just) the temptation to have a beer at the airport! We arrived in Dublin, picked up the hire car and headed to Carton House, stopping in Maynooth for a suspect Irish/English breakfast along the way.

We teed off at 11:30 on the Montgomerie Course, fortunately the rough was trimmed and from tee to green we all put in a good show. After many bunker shots, good, bad and ugly, Will and Gary were victorious against Dave and I, winning on the 18th green after I had left a putt short that we needed for a half! A couple of weeks later I think Dave is still angry with me!

After a short drive to the Portmatnock Hotel, a shower and a change, we headed to Dublin for a few pints of Guinness. Gary took us to a rather dodgy ‘locals’ bar but fortunately we survived the evening!

We teed off the next morning (a little blurry eyed) at 9:00. After a mix of good and bad golf again, Dave and Gary won beating Will and I rather easily! That left myself as the only person to lose both matches! The ‘shot of the holiday’ came at the 18th at Portmarnock Links, Gary hitting a 3-wood to about 6 feet from 240 yards out, the surprised look on his face was unforgettable! All in all we had a really good trip and it was great to play two excellent courses designed by EGD!

A big thanks to Dave a Stan for organising the golf!