Munich – Part 1

In my quest to find all that is wonderful in our wide world of sports I often write off to event organisers seeking press accreditation. My application to the PGA at Wentworth, for example, was given short shrift, even after downgrading my request from a full, backstage, access-all-areas pass to a couple of tickets for me and my mate to the Pro-Am. Similarly, my kind offer to attend the Lions tour as a special guest of the squad must have got lost somewhere in the electronic ether.

But as a backer of longshots, and with my long-term statistical hat on, I soldier on in the face of remarkable apathy to my journey towards journalistic greatness. Imagine my surprise when Marius responded positively to my enquiry about the BMW International Open from Munich. I suspected it was press accreditation in the sense of free tickets to shut me up, but I reasoned that it would be wrong to look a Gift Marius in the mouth, especially as peering into a stranger’s mouth is frowned upon in Germany, as it is in most places really.

Of course I tried to explain that Simon also required accreditation as my loyal Passepar-two from my ATRIED odyssey, and that I really needed exclusive access to the players’ lounge as part of my ongoing search for ultimate truths, but Marius had clearly read between the lines correctly and knew exactly what was going on. Perhaps I shouldn’t have supplied him with the links to some of my previous blogs in support of my application?

Lufthansa flies a regular service direct to Munich from Heathrow and the service was (as you would expect) efficient with a turkey sandwich (remember, the bread is not stale but just German) and drink served in the 1 hour and 45 minute window. This allowed us time for Scrabble Deathmatch 7 in our ongoing series from international flights, which I won despite Simon disallowing the perfectly acceptable “overlain”. He explained that he wasn’t on top form because he had forgotten to take his ‘plane meds’.

After landing there was quite a trek and we walked through two enormous shopping malls and an open-air piazza before finally finding something resembling a security check. We bought a 3 day pass for the S-Bahn for only 21 euros and proceeded to Ismaning, just a few stops along the S8 line that runs smoothly into central Munich.

For those of a nervous travelling disposition you must understand this: Germany seems to embrace its openness as much as its beer (which is a lot). This meant that not once in our stay did we see a ticket barrier or train conductor, and when we got off the free shuttle bus to the free-entry-on Thursday-and-Friday-anyway-Marius golf tournament we simply walked straight across the footbridge with our carry-on luggage completely unchecked.

Once inside the Eichenried complex the fun and games began as to what to do with our bags and a variety of kindly souls scratched their heads at our request for a left luggage office. Simon considered just leaving his case somewhere after changing the lock code from its current “0-0-0”, but didn’t know how to do that and started panicking when guessing at the method and somehow jamming the mechanism. Then he asked several BMW salesmen if he could leave it in the boot of their shiny new cars, unsuccessfully.

Eventually we came upon the Media centre. I’m all for giving it a go (an approach that has seen me stood next to AP McCoy in the Sandown winners’ enclosure after his retirement) and so asked the girl for our access-all-areas press passes, proudly showing her the Marius email that stated I had one free ticket on Saturday. She stated politely that I had one free ticket on Saturday, but took pity on our luggage situation and let us stow two bags in a locker.

There is a strange phenomenon spreading through our golf events that people often prefer to spend their day in the tented village watching the big screen than walk a few hundred yards out onto the course. It is true that you will probably see more action and appreciate the leaderboard changes more this way, but begs the question why you wouldn’t just watch it on TV from the comfort of your sofa.

We intrepidly explored and found a marvellous grassy knoll (not related) between the 11th and 18th greens that also had views to the 10th and 12th tees. This gave us a prime position to see a grumpy looking Thomas Bjorn fluff a chip, miss the par putt, and look even more grumpy, if that were humanly possible. It looked painful for him to be a professional golfer, and I wondered why he still did it, other than not having to work for a very nice living of course.

I’ve developed a slightly twisted strategy to watching live golf – start against the flow down the 18th and if after a few holes you haven’t come across any group you particularly like then proceed randomly. So it was that Simon and I soon found ourselves at a Biergarten overlooking the 11th tee, and as it was literally minutes since we’d topped up our fluids, Simon went to get some sausages and I sought out Hell, the Bavarian frothy lager served in litre steins. Both of these were to prove recurring themes through the rest of the trip.

A curious scene then played out as we sat, ate and drank. A man named Igor, who had earlier served Simon, came over to introduce and generally make a nuisance of himself. It transpired that he was happily divorced and looked after his 14 year old daughter, even though she was back home in Serbia, a place where he’d enjoyed football hooliganism for his local team (that we’d never heard of) before embarking on a world tour of serving at catering outlets. He’d spent some time with his sister on Tyneside but couldn’t understand the Geordie accent (we concurred) and then went to Peckham but thought it was a shithole (we concurred).

At this point, for reasons I can’t now recall, he started stroking Simon’s armpit and Simon quickly asserted that he too was also happily divorced but still really liked women. Igor insisted that we all have another drink and went off to get beers on the house, but when Simon started falling asleep I was worried it may contain Rohypnol and decided the best course of action was to down a stein of frothy lager and get the Hell out of there.

This was not before Igor had started elucidating about going to Pakistan because they have nice seeds there. We hugged our new best friend goodbye and promised we’d see him tomorrow, but as we escaped down the 10th fairway we concluded that we had just stumbled across some mistaken-identity drugs trade and it was best to leave as soon as possible and head for the relative safety of the city.

To be continued…..