Sunday, January 29, 2023

Sunny Side up in Spain

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DIPLOMAT MAGAZINE “For diplomats, by diplomats” Reaching out the world from the European Union First diplomatic publication based in The Netherlands Founded by members of the diplomatic corps on June 19th, 2013. Diplomat Magazine is inspiring diplomats, civil servants and academics to contribute to a free flow of ideas through an extremely rich diplomatic life, full of exclusive events and cultural exchanges, as well as by exposing profound ideas and political debates in our printed and online editions.

By Nané Lagerwey, top-10 golf player in the Netherlands, former expat and MA in English literature.

Sotogrande and Valderrama. Does it sound familiar to you? Both golf clubs, which are located only one- hour drive from Malaga airport, belong to the most prestigious courses in Spain. Immediately I feel more than welcome amongst the easygoing Spanish people. The hyper real authentic Andalusian looking clubhouses radiate warmth, elegance and style. Meanwhile the fireplace crackles and comforts.

Last Christmas break I had to escape the Dutch ominous clouds and flew straight to the Mediterranean sun. Spain in winter is always a good excuse to practice my golf skills.

As soon as I arrive, a great tapas lunch – with a magnificent seaside view – awaited me, in order to hit the ball even further.

My dear friend, Mr. Cees van Leeuwen, who has been the previous Secretary of State, invited me for a round on his home course Sotogrande. Lovely pine trees alternate the exotic palm trees, yet our balls do not refrain from clashing against nature. In the midst of winter, it feels like a dream to feel the sun and a delicate breeze caressing my bare arms.

After the 9th hole we have a drink halfway in a small cottage, before heading to the tenth. Drinking soda and eating pata negra with manchego is apparently much easier than hitting the ball straight onto the fairways.

For golf fanatics, Valderrama is Elysium. Although the average golf player might come across as cack-handed, no one would notice your flaws, because each hole bedazzles you even more than the other. Club de Golf Valderrama, the venue for the 1997 Ryder Cup, two World Golf Championships and 16 editions of the Volvo Masters, is even more stunning than ever. Although my driver is prone to hara-kiri, it was –due to the length of this highly appraised golf course — obligatory to get it out of my bag.

We could argue about whether ‘happy slapping’ is an oxymoron, in the sense of hitting golf balls from right to left and from left to right, at Valderrama this term may be considered absolute bliss. Seeing every little spot of this number 1 European golf course is a joy instead of a punishment. In the end, I must admit that after 18 mesmerizing holes, the bogeys on my scorecard still hurt me. All the more reason to return as soon as it starts raining in Holland. Hasta luego, my Sunshine.





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