Spanish Golf Tour, July 2017
‘Scrumptious and sumptuous are adjectives non superfluous for such a splendid trip’ – Tim Jukes
‘Tim’s a weird bloke isn’t he’ – Monty Cooper
‘Thoroughly enjoyable’ – Robin Sullivan ‘hated it’ - Neil
‘My G Una’ – Ed Jenks
‘Oxford University is an odd place’ – Andreas Frey
‘Frat’ – Haven Barlow III
*When asked by the Tab for his thoughts on the trip, outgoing captain Henry Howard-Jenkins punched the reporter and told him that asking for thoughts and comments from one person was repetitive and unnecessary. When one time blue Tito Bastianello was asked how many stars he would give this trip on tripadvisor he responded ‘I have 5’; we don’t think he understood the question.
Wednesday, 10th week of Trinity term, 11 days after the conclusion of the Oxford academic year, 1920 hours proceeding from Sergio Garcia slipping into the green jacket and approximately 3,824,640 minutes since Cambridge last won the Varsity Match, 9 dark blue warriors congregated from across the globe for what promised to be a monumental week in one of Europe’s finest Spanish countries (namely Spain, the Spanish capital of the world).
Arriving from five different airports and from three different time zones, the nine chosen men of OUGC met with our honorary host for the next week, in his hometown of Barcelona, Karlos Frey. The resident Italian and American of the cohort, Tito Bastianello and Haven Barlow III respectively, arrived early and were designated chauffeurs as it was mutually agreed that the right-hand drivers had the best shot of navigating the hectic Barcelona traffic in the two gigantic cars provided by the Frey family. The remaining troops trickled in; Henry Howard-Jenkins, Harry Fitzpatrick, Ed Jenks and Robin Sullivan decided to check in to the hotel and meet the group for the first time in Karlos’ favourite local restaurant (La Tagliatelle). Alas it transpired to be not so straightforward. After booking a table for nine, waiting twenty minutes and devouring the complimentary olives, our aforementioned fantastic four quickly realised that this was not the exact same restaurant that Karlos was pestering them to “hurry up and get to before our food gets cold”. Escaping with profuse apologies and a few hundred calories profit the fourball met the remaining five and OUGC finally enjoyed a hearty Italian meal in Barcelona’s centre.
Thursday brought sunny skies and excited golfers. OUGC roughly halved Hotel Condado’s breakfast supplies before 8am in anticipation of a long day of golf ahead, destination: El Prat Golf Club. Arriving in surprisingly good time, Oxford decided to test out unfamiliar waters, the pre-round practice range.
(spotted from left to right: Howard-Jenkins, Bastianello, Jenks, Fitzpatrick, Sullivan, Frey, Barlow III)
The warm-up started strongly and quickly descended into far more potent insults than golf shots. Oxford was back. Heading to the first tee it became clear to the group that El Prat’s championship course was not only in fantastic condition but was also going to provide the golfers with quite a challenge. Huddling in fear of the uphill 580 yard par 5 first hole, OUGC enjoyed a rare photogenic moment.
(From left-to-right: Cooper, Sullivan, Howard-Jenkins, Jenks, Barlow III, Frey, Bastianello, Fitzpatrick. Notables missing: Tim Jukes, widely accepted to be the best photographer in Oxford)
On a sweltering day and playing for the first time around a championship course, the standard scratch for the day was estimated (generously) to be approximately 78. Winning the morning round was the society’s very own Haven Barlow III on plus two with a well-crafted 80. Fitzpatrick followed closely behind with a breathtaking 13 shots in the final two holes to finish with a modest 81. Five players with Blues finished inside the top seven places. Notable performances included outgoing captain Howard-Jenkins who comfortably broke 91, and Tito Bastianello who easily broke 94, breezing into the top 10 for the day. Lunch in the delightful clubhouse and a breakdown of the day’s best shots, yips and quips was followed by another 18 holes, this time on the yellow course at El Prat. The afternoon brought more delectable weather and fine viewing for the galleries, no official scores were taken but an agreement of better ball on the first tee meant that the Fitzpatrick, Howard-Jenkins, Jenks three ball was the winner with a sublime score of 2 under par, despite several shanks. After 36 holes and a few too many shots, Oxford decided to call this a successful golfing day and head back to base in central Barcelona. Not yet content enough with the day’s work, rumours of finding a local bar spread like wildlife through the camp. Succumbing to the temptations of the city, a bar was found willing to sell 13L of cocktail in one glass. The rest is history. Oxford boasts the latest entry into the hotel that night with elite partier Bastianello rumoured to not return until 5am.
Friday and day three of the trip meant a match against our host for the previous day, El Prat. Taking full advantage of the 4pm tee off time and sleeping in until gone midday, a swift headcount was undergone and the team headed to the club feeling refreshed. Mother nature tried to intervene with the team’s promptness by setting alight to several trees and closing down two crucial junctions. Undeterred, varsity pairing Frey and Barlow III showed beautiful navigator-driver chemistry and got OUGC to the club with time to spare. Swooping in on transfer deadline day, El Prat made a colossal signing of Karl Frey rumoured to be in the region of three Pro V1s and one haircut. With this loss, the sides were evened up at eight apiece. Scratch foursomes was agreed. Oxford sent the gladiatorial pairing off top of one time Blue and Honorary Secretary Harry Fitzpatrick and Dog Licence varsity specialist Divot Ed Jenks. The first tee shot of the match was struck by Fitzpatrick, an honour also bestowed upon the young man at the 128th varsity match earlier that year. The unlucky Titleist Pro V1 sailed 427 yards into the greenside bunker and an undoubting fear sailed into the hearts of the opponents. Oxford secured a resounding 6&5 win. It was then reported that citizens in Madrid could hear team captain Ed Jenks giving partner Harry Fitzpatrick an earful for missing a putt on the 12th hole and the accompanying 7&6 Dog Licence victory. Off next was the evergreen pairing of Monty Cooper and Tito Bastianello, again securing a victory for the dark blue side and the top two matches had set the tone for the afternoon. The next two pairings of Robin Sullivan & Tim Jukes, renowned for contrasting personalities which produced just enough friction to be productive, and Haven Barlow III & Henry Howard-Jenkins, renowned for looking far more like two dads on a golfing weekend away to Celtic Manor than a varsity pairing, closed out efficiently to give Oxford a 4-0 whitewash victory on the day, the clubs second most convincing win of the season. After chatting with the very welcoming members and convincing themselves that Cambridge would have only won the match 3-1, Oxford was content with moving on. Driving two hours up the coast to Figueres and setting up camp in a hotel, OUGC settled in for an early night knowing what lay ahead the next day.
Pictured: the gorgeous 14th at El Prat. Golf.
El Prat member Pablo is papped looking wondrously at the thin machine Sullivan. Caption: “Robinho you really should have stuck to football”.
Saturday. Competition day. Day one of the Plat AECC Cancer charity tournament at Torremirona. The scene was set for a fierce competition as 104 contestants and athletes gathered on the glorious mountain course with only one thing in mind. Victory. The day proved a true test and a straight stableford shootout quickly became a fight to break 80. After stellar front nines from two fresher front runners, Jukes&Jenks, the complimentary vino cart at the halfway hut bested the promising pairing, and the two leisurely strolled to a respectful 30 points on a day where the wind blew hard. Honourable mentions are extensive for the competition. Fitzpatrick once again earns himself a mention for a worrying 5 over front nine, only to be followed by a trailblazing level par back nine. Juan Jr, a Spanish accompany to the Jukes-Jenks group, crops up in this shout-out section for laying up on the water guarded 530 yard par 5 18th from just 220 yards, only to dunk it into the water on his third. And his fifth. A watery grave indeed. Matt Kuchar-esc Bastianello is once again in the top 10, this time for long drivers in the tour group. He proved this by winning the long drive competition for the day on the uphill par 5 13th hole. Well played. The headline for the day was undoubtedly former (outgoing? Current?) captain Howard-Jenkins, the saving grace for OUGC that day. Howard-Jenkins stormed to a breath-taking 39 points for 18 holes after a 21 points front side. A respectable 5 over par round is said to be only 10 off the course record. He expects an invite to become a member of the club any day now. Torremirona showed a sense of humour when originally signing his prize leg of ham to similar sounding, and coincidentally vegetarian, Ed Jenks. The ironic mix-up was quickly sorted. Proceeding this delightful, hard fought tournament, the nine men pressed valiantly onwards towards the Frey’s mountain house, hid wonderfully in the Pyrenees. Whilst arriving at the house, OUGC were treated by host Karlos to a Wembley doubles style kickabout. The only winner was a nearby river that gained two footballs.
Pictured: the 130 yard 10th hole at Torremirona.
Pictured: the 18th at Torremirona. The grave of many good rounds. Least of all OUGC’s honorary member, Juan Jr.
Pictured: monstrous traps and calves complimenting perfectly the monstrous task ahead.
Sunday was accompanied with the chance to play the mountain course a short buggy ride from the Frey’s wonderful abode. Texas Scramble was the format for the first nine holes before lunch and the three three-balls set out sharing the family buggy for three holes each. A total score of -5 was achieved by all groups around the gorgeous mountain course. It appeared the only winner in the morning was golf. Nine more holes followed in the afternoon after a stunning lunch display from the Frey family and a stunning siesta display from OUGC. More scramble and more -5 ties. More wins for the beautiful game. What followed was slightly dangerous territory for the tour group and visions of Mcilroy’s ankle injury from 2015 hung in the air. 5-a-side football. With the addition of Andreas Frey, the older brother of Karlos and the only frat member of the now 10-strong-cohort, the teams were levelled. A closely contested game finishing 14-13 in favour of Karlos’ team, again the only winner was the slightly less beautiful game. The best summary one can give is a brief statistical run down.
Stag do’s – 0
Freshers taken out – 3
Frat initiations undergone – 0
Passes – 2
Jib spells cast – 33
Hats worn forwards – 0
Goal lines protected – 0
Passes – 0
Pembroke season references when Karlos was on the ball – 29
Limbs controlled – 0
Saliva – 41
Lethal strikes – 5
Tonbridge stashes – 4
Yob behaviour – 8/10
Passes – 6
Blues – 0
Blues nutmegged - 2
Gs on the pitch – 44/61
Balls connected – 1
Robinho resemblance – 0
Syllables per hour – 8
Goals saved – 28
Goals created – 2
Positions found – 1
Collections passed – 1
Hairs – 6
San Pellegrino – lemon and lime
Animal presence – hog/10
Passes to anyone – 0
Minutes sat out – 35
Swear words in spanish - ???
Dribbles – 99
Fresher count - ∞
Oxford university perception – 0/10
Brothers schooled – 1
Beard hairs – 44
Chins – 6, scientists searching for a 7th
Jawline – 66
Chemistry – 72
Aerial challenges lost – 0
This section would not be complete without paying proper homage to the beauty of the course (and some of our players).
Pictured: our host Frey and his behind combine to give a spectacular view from the third tee.
Pictured: a view that strikes fear into the hearts of tabs all over the world. Another fairway chalked up for the money man, MC.
Pictured: Jenks eyes up his target (8th week trinity, park end, colourised). Barlow III looks on in awe.
Monday. Karlos’ Birthday. The big 20. Deciding what to do when he woke up on his special day was not hard for young Karlos. Golf. Setting off early doors (circa 11am) to catch the best of the morning, OUGC set their sights on the second nine holes around the mountain course. More scramble and more victories for the temperamental game, ties at the top again on -5 through nine holes, seemingly a barrier too thick to break. What came next was of much dispute as K.Frey’s group played another 3 holes and picked up 2 more shots. Since it was his birthday and the other three balls were more than overgolfed, this was allowed to stand. A quick trip home for lunch was rewarded with champagne and birthday cake, needless to say this prompted Oxford put on just as dazzling a performance on the lunch table as the golf course. Which meant only one thing, siesta time. Fast forward a few hours and the plan was cemented, nine more holes of golf and then another 5-a-side ‘footy’ game. The threeball leading the charge was Fitzpatrick-Frey-Jenks, and after much scrambling and an unbelievable 100+ footage of putts holed from the birthday boy, the group finished on -6. Mistakenly they believed this would break the scramble stalemate. Dripping in, the next two groups equalled the fantastic score and it seemed that one truly cannot improve upon perfection. Satisfied with the result OUGC moved onto the football pitch. The game progressed very similarly to the last apart from the addition of Jamie Gui, an El Prat member who participated in the golf match earlier that week and was a neighbour of Karlos. As the other players performed very similarly to before one shall endeavour to save time and only provide Jamie’s Statistics:
Music taste – 4/10
Football shirt – Brazil/Spain
Points against OUGC on the golf course – 0
Goals against OUGC on the football pitch – 6
Trainers – fresh/10
The night’s activities were given serious merit by Andreas Frey (Berkley University) when he announced that he was going to treat OUGC like frat house members for the remainder of the trip. Needless to say, this was going to be a brand-new for all as the UK is not large on Greek-nightlife culture. All except one, that is of course elite boozer Neil, who was waiting for such an announcement. Bringing out games that were new to ALL the Oxford company, it was clear there was only going to be one winner of the night. Cerveza. Beer pong throws were made far more consistently than putts and cans were devoured at an all too alarming rate. Merriment ensued and the party celebrations continued late into the evening and early into the morning.
Now a segment of the tour entitled ‘Haven mid backswing in various locations’:
"Yes I know it’s my birthday but my triceps need to look just right.”
Tuesday was OUGC’s final day in Spain. A two-hour drive down from the mountains to El Prat airport, away from our wonderful hosts, was completed with no major hiccups. Alas the tour had come to an end but the memories of such an enjoyable week away will never fade in the minds of the lucky nine.
A paragraph here must be put aside and devoted to a very sincere and special thank you from all OUGC, not just those who toured, to the Frey family. Up to now they had financially, emotionally, and physically supported the group. The welcome the group received upon arrival at the mountain house was second to none and all of those who visited were made to feel at home. Oxford, and certainly this writer, are unable to finds words worthy to express their gratitude. A truly unforgettable experience.
The trip would not have been complete without a disastrous airport experience.
Photographer: Tim Jukes.