Sometimes you have an experience that is so bad, you just have to laugh. We were staying at the Four Seasons Resort in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt and wanted to play some golf. The Four Seasons is supposedly building a golf course, but it was not yet open. We asked the concierge for a recommendation and assistance in reserving tee times. She suggested the Jolie Ville golf course nearby. The price was. a bit steep, nearly $300 per person on a week day, but we were assured it was the best golf club in the area.
Our first clue that this was not going to be as expected was that the taxi driver had no idea where the clubhouse was. We drove to several spots in the Jolie Ville resort (much of which looked closed or under construction) only to find we were NOT at the clubhouse. Eventually, the taxi dropped us off in front of a building labeled “Clubhouse.” The fare was high, due to all the driving around, but we didn’t argue because we were about 10 minutes late for our tee time.
The door to the clubhouse was unlocked, but as we entered, it appeared closed. The lights were off, the furniture had a layer of dust on it, and the entire place smelled strongly of mildew. We wandered toward the back of the building, passing an empty, closed restaurant, empty offices, and just plain empty rooms. Finally, in the back of the building, we found the pro shop. It, at least, had the lights on, and there were two men working there. No other golfers were in sight.
We checked in and stated that the concierge had reserved us rental clubs along with the tee time. The man looked puzzled and sent his colleague in the back somewhere to search for clubs. In spite of the exorbitant greens fees, we were charged an additional high amount for wooden tees and golf balls (which were clearly used and in a plastic sandwich bag). The rental clubs were at least 15 years old. They were very heavy metal. Of course, they didn’t have women’s clubs and I had to make do with a men’s set.
Even though no other golfers were anywhere to be seen, we were told that no actual golf carts were available. We were provided an old golf cart meant to carry people around the resort, with a seat in the back instead of a place for your clubs. We went outside and a staff member fastened our clubs to the back of the cart with rusty, sharp metal wire. I asked for water and was told it was the equivalent of $3 a bottle extra. After arguing a bit, I reluctantly paid. The man said he didn’t have change and I could pick up my change (about $14) when we finished our round. Of course, when we returned that man was nowhere to be found and no one knew anything about us being owed change.
We headed off the first tee. It was very difficult to find. When we did find it, the tee box was overgrown, with grass so tall the long tee barely raised the ball above the growth. Overall, the course was pretty terrible. The grass was either too long, or non-existent. Half the palm trees were dead from lack of water. The tees and tee boxes were not well-marked. We wasted a lot of time driving around trying to find the next tee after finishing a hole. The water hazards smelled of sewage or some other funk. The sand bunkers were lumpy and there were no rakes.
As the game progressed, we just started to laugh. I have played some sad golf courses, including one in Jordan where you had to carry around a little piece of astroturf to hit your ball from as the course was all sand. But at least most of those sorry courses came with a low price tag and matching expectations. Here, we paid Dubai or U.S. P.G.A. course prices. We lost several balls (for which we had paid top dollar) in the un-mowed grass. The worst part, however, is that we both got eaten alive by insects. Mosquitos, gnats, biting flies and unidentifiable critters were attacking us all along the course. We had welts and itchiness for days afterward. Several times we thought about quitting, but didn’t want to waste the high greens fees. By the end, if we hit a bad shot, we just took a mulligan and didn’t even bother to go look for the first ball.
Upon return to the hotel, I gently advised the concierge that “Jolie Ville” as not so “jolie” at all, and maybe they might not want to refer guests there in the future. However, this is a round of golf I won’t soon forget!
If you like my blogs, check out my book, Combat for Custody: a Parker & Price Novel. Available everywhere books are sold: ISBN 978-1-63195-517-7 paperback; ISBN 978-1-63195-418-4 ebook. Audio book coming May, 2022!