Hey again 🙂
I know what you’re thinking: back so soon? Yep, I surprised myself, too. I had a lot of time on some long-haul flights this week, and wouldn’t you know I had an itch to write again (which funnily has never happened on previous long-hauls, so I guess I can thank business class for that – yay business trips).
I mentioned it in my last post, but I recently picked up golf as a part of my mission to find new hobbies. I played some when I was growing up, but never enjoyed it. I always played team sports, and since none of my other friends played golf, it lacked the social aspect. On top of that, I think as a child it is hard to find the patience for the game and the technique (which can still be a challenge to find the patience, but a challenge I appreciate more now).
My trips home always contain some boring days, particularly on weekdays while everyone is at work. Enter: Top Golf and the driving range. Fortunately, I still remembered the technique, but I was still terrible (terrible = swinging and the ball still sitting right where you left it). This time though, I found the job in improving that I missed awhile playing at age 10.
Even though I did not know too many people who played golf here, I decided it might be fun to give it a go in Germany too. A friend that does golf asked me if I had my Platzreife, which produced a blank stare from my side. He explained there is a course you need to do to get certified to play on courses in Germany (FILE UNDER: SUPER GERMAN THINGS) and ensured that it was an easy Google. It was a definitely an easy Google (search: Platzreife + city), but also an information overload. There are lots of results, but deciding where and when to do my Platzreife course was another issue. There are block vacation courses, single day courses across several weeks, premium courses, private courses, group courses… it’s all out there.
No matter what course you choose, it will have practical and theoretical components. The practical component includes technique and strategy (e.g., which club to select), while the theoretical component consists of the rules (e.g., what happens when you hit the ball out of bounds) and etiquette (e.g., not to talk while others are teeing off). The course also concludes with a test.
My Experience Getting Certified to Play Golf in Germany
I had some personal restrictions for the course: accessible by public transit and on weekends only, as I do not have a car and did not want to take off time from work to complete the course.
I found about 3 courses near Munich that were doable with public transit, but the course in Riem was a clear best option. It was accessible, affordable and offered a variety of courses. I chose a Sunday morning basic course that went over 4 weeks and cost €150. There were 8 of us in the class and we had a professional instructor leading us at every session. Each week we tackled a new skill and could get in loads of practice during the four hours. Our coach, Christian, was insanely good and helped me make minor corrections that vastly improved my play.
The course concluded with two tests: one written exam about rules and etiquette and one practical exam over a 9-hole round. I will admit that I was a bit intimidated by the test aspect, even though Golfclub Riem was very supportive. First, if you fail the first time around, you can just come and do the 9-hole round again at no cost! Second, since they knew I was not a native German speaker, they offered to review the test with me if I failed in English and see if it was a language problem.
In the end there was no need to be intimidated at all. The practical test was actually fun once I got over the tee off jitters. I got to play on a beautiful, sunny day with some friendly people, who were also beginners.
To practice for the theoretical test, the course provided a printout with the basics. In addition, you can purchase this book and/or download the app.
How strict is this Platzreife thing?
A friend from Mexico told me that she simply told the course she’s from Mexico but knows how to play, and they simply let her play. I imagine this would be the case at a selection of the non-exclusive courses, so of course if you already are confident in your golf skills you could give this a try.
What if I am not fluent in German?
Good news, I’m not either. The golf vocabulary is fortunately easy to understand due to many direct translations and straight English word adoptions (e.g., iron = Eisen, wood = Holz, putter = Putter, driver = Driver) and for what you don’t understand, there’s always mimicking the instructor’s motions. Plus I find these opportunities to thrust you into a German-speaking environment the best way to learn.
If you are still concerned about it, I would reach out to the club you are interested in and see if there are possibilities for English speakers. I would gamble that most personnel at the courses speak English, so they may be able to offer a handicap (to use a golf term) if you do not speak German.
Any golfers out there?