I know it has been a while and I haven't been active on the board lately because I just took a new position teaching choir in english at an international school in Tianjin China. I quickly found a spot in my neighborhood that has golf on simulators. I made friends with the owner, a Korean expat who speaks excellent english and he took me to his country club for real golf yesterday. I thought I'd give a little review of my experience.
Everything is first class. The golf course is in Tianjin's new international business district and the course is like a resort to entertain local and traveling business men. The nice western hotel and clubhouse on the property look like castles and you are given the finest treatment the entire time you are there.
First you are greeted by a valet who hands your clubs off and parks your car. Then you enter the club and check in. I was given a guest locker and ushered to the ornate men's locker room where I changed into my golf attire. On your way out there are stations with different sunscreens, moisturizers, and other essentials to help with the sun.
Then you are met by your caddies who have put your clubs on the cart and my friend and I drove our cart with caddies riding on a platform attached to the rear of the cart to the driving range. We warmed up with unlimited range balls and then went to the first tee.
The course was immaculate, modern, and well maintained. It was a modern manufactured course built on flat land and it was difficult. Lots of huge bunkers and hazards and it was long. If I spoke mandarin the caddies would have been even more helpful but they did give me yardages and recommend clubs. At first there club recommendations were off but after a few holes my caddie had my yardages dialed in pretty well. They also ran ahead and marked your ball on the green, raked bunkers for you, filled divots, fixed pitch marks and if you wanted would use the lettering on the ball to line up your putts when they put your ball back for you. I liked to read my own so my caddie just handed me my ball after cleaning it.
We stopped part way through the back 9 at a small house between holes that served Ramen, boiled eggs, and kimchi. It was definitely not your common american hot dog and beer halfway house. There was beer though. The kimchi actually was a very soothing and cooling snack for golf. Kind of like a nice pickle on a hot day for us southerners. When we finished we had a drink in the clubhouse while looking over our score card. Then we went back to the locker room. My new Korean friends took a 15 minute hot tub. Everyone was completely naked which is a little weird t us westerners but is common practice here. Then we showered, (separately, thank God) dressed (If I had been wearing my business attire I would have returned to pressed clothes and shined shoes.) and had dinner together. It was a top notch experience all the way around. It seems to be very similar to the way private clubs in the US used to operate or the way that super exclusive clubs in the states still do. My round at Austin Country Club a couple of years ago was a similar experience. The whole round was about $115 which seems like a great price considering all the perks, treatment, and food and drink we received.
The biggest problem is the time it took. I cannot afford a membership and I was planning on using simulator and driving range to practice and then play every two or three weeks. The problem is the only way to do this is with Korean fiends and business associates. That means I need to follow etiquette and the social mores and customs of their culture. Including the half hour drive each way this was a 7 hour experience and while it was very satisfying personally I cannot justify it when my job already keeps me away from my family for extended amounts of time and with only 2 days off a week I cannot justify that amount of time away from family. It just seems very selfish. It is especially true when I can walk 5 minutes from my house and play on an excellent simulator for about $16 a round and it only takes about an hour, or two hours if I am playing with other people. I can also do it at night after my boys go to bed. It allows me to play golf the way most people take a quick trip to the gym. It has really made me rethink and be thankful for the accessibility we have to golf in the U.S..
What do y'all think?
Am I being a cry baby? Do you think it would be an excessive indulgence to play golf this way regularly? Would you do this if it were the only way for you to play real golf?