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  • The Up and Downs of a Life in the Sky: Negotiating the January Four-Footer

The Up and Downs of a Life in the Sky: Negotiating the January Four-Footer

23 March, 2023
Alex Frolish

Alex Frolish has been a pilot for approaching 20 years and now travels to all corners of the globe in his role as a commercial airline pilot. His passion for flight is only equalled by his passion for golf and golf travel. Having picked up a golf club over 35 years ago when aged just 3 years old, Alex has played over 550 courses across every continent on planet earth furnished with a fairway. Over the next few months you’ll be able to follow Alex’s golfing travels as he brings you anecdotes of his life both in the air and on the course.

Negotiating the January Four-Footer

January is like a testing four-footer for par to a Northern hemisphere golfer; it is one of those golfing experiences that has to be endured rather than relished. Those of you residing in Buenos Aires, Cape Town or Melbourne may not be able to relate to the scale of the dreariness of a boggy English parkland golf course in January, but to most northern hemisphere golfers, to some degree, we know it all too well.

One of the greatest plus points of my life as a commercial pilot is that I get to travel to where the weather is good. Most months I’ll see the summer sun and a temperature upwards of 20 Celsius, and that is undeniably one of the greatest perks of my job. As January 2023 has shown however, that doesn’t always translate into any more golf than I would have played at home in the UK. Very similar to my December 2022, my start to 2023 has been littered with golf rounds nearly played.

Photo credit: Cleeve Hill Golf Club

A pre-planned round in Tel Aviv didn’t come to fruition as it transpired the course I was heading to play was closed on Mondays (a small detail that had been missed from my extensive email exchange with the club). My trip to California was timed with one of the many winter storms that have battered the west coast of the USA in recent weeks, meaning a trip to the hills of Lake Tahoe to enjoy the snow was more appropriate than trying to negotiate the sodden fairways of the Bay Area. Finally, a locked in trip to visit Bandon Dunes in Oregon was disrupted by a change to my flight schedule and subsequent inability to renegotiate my tee times. Sometimes the best made plans are just that.

I only played two rounds in the whole of January (and both were in the UK), my quietest golfing month in a number of years. My travelling luck been particularly scarce, whereas my UK based plans have been remarkably resilient. I played my home course, Cleeve Hill, on a particularly balmy morning in good company and finished the month with my first visit to the best golf course in England, Royal St George’s on the perfect winters day; cold and crisp with a light breeze and plentiful sunshine.

Royal St George's, photo credit: Jason Livy

What my visit to Royal St George’s reaffirmed for me was my love for links golf and everything it represents. Links golf courses share many similar qualities, but the more I play, the more I feel that a crucial element of an elite links layout is that the ground boasts tumbling undulations on pretty much every part of the course bar the teeing grounds. So many links courses boast firm turf and routings intelligently stitched across varied coastal ground. However my favourite links (and the ones that tend to feature highest in the rankings) generally offer the least amount of time with your feet on level ground, adding intrigue and challenge to every single shot. Royal St George’s is special and joins the likes of Royal Dornoch, Royal Porthcawl and the North Berwick West Links in the highest echelons of my links golfing experiences to date.

Looking ahead, February on the face of it should be a healthier golfing month. Another trip to the San Francisco Bay area should lead to a game at a resort golf course who’s star is rising rapidly, Yocha Dehe. A trip to Dubai is planned to coincide with my first outing on the Earth Course at the Jumeriah Estates, and a long awaited trip to Los Angeles is planned to include a trip to the intriguing Rustic Canyon, and possibly, to one of the most revered country clubs in North America. In the UK, unless the weather defeats me, I’ll be enjoying the links of the Church course at St Enodoc and possibly, visiting a couple of other courses in England for the first time. Whether you are reading this on the beach in Rio de Janeiro or wrapped in blankets on your sofa in Montreal, at the soonest opportunity, I wish you the straightest of drives, well negotiated four- footers and happy rounds.


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