Without our trusty manager, Bart, on December 30 the wheels started to wobble and the puregolf machine became as rickety as a beat up ‚??88 Dodge.
First we had a dilemma with our keys. Again. (That‚??s right EHPoole, Jamie & Marc and others‚?¶)¬† Arriving back at Jucy after our final blogging session of 2010 the keys, the lifeblood of Jucy and last seen in JP‚??s possession were gone.¬† We scurried around Napier, visiting cafes and following our footsteps. Long story short, there were no keys.¬† And it was T-30 minutes until tee time.¬†
So we got on the phone and faced up to the issue. As we‚??d learnt to do.¬† Fortunately there were a few family in town to bail us out.¬† Half an hour later the golf course had been informed of our lateness and Dad was escorting us to the locksmith to get a key cut.¬† The chap came out to the car and was about to get to work when a young man, clad in black clothes, stopped to talk with JP.¬† Moments later, JP was striding up to the backpackers which Jucy was parked outside and returned, proudly, key in hand.¬† He slipped a few bob to the locksmith for coming out and, like that, we were away to the Napier Golf Club.
Now the second problem was that our less-than-reliable camera had, yet again, failed us.¬† Bart, ordinarily armed with both an iPhone 4 and his back up digital camera, was in bed.¬† The constant travel, golf and shenanigens had got too much for poor Bart.¬† A more likely explanation was that he was just tired of constantly dealing with JP and I and his body had subconsciously packed it up.¬† In any case he was under his hugely supportive mother, Maggie‚??s, watch.¬† Turns out Bart had pneumonia or something ‚?? well according to the dentist that diagnosed him. ¬†
OK, so cameraless, but in Jucy we‚??d made our late, but less than grand arrival much to the bemusement of my (also very supportive) folks, grandfather, auntie Jane & trusty source of chirp ‚?? Sarge. ¬†
But JP and I were not to play with friends or family but the current and former club president of the Napier Golf Club.¬† And this was a good thing as we learnt far more about this fine club that we would‚??ve otherwise.¬† Napier Golf Club is known around the traps as ‚??Waiohiki‚?Ě or pronounced ‚??why-hik‚??. ¬†[note Sarge & Jane won the other match probably due somewhat to Sarge's formidable banter].
Waiohiki is the home of Maori golf in NZ.¬† The course has a strong lineage of the Tareha family and as I was about to publish this blog last weekend I found myself chatting with a new cricketing friend about the history of Waiohiki.¬† It turned out that my friend, Matthew Mullaney‚??s grandmother is Audrey Mullaney (nee Tareha) who was a long time champion women‚??s golfer at Napier and for the NZ women‚??s amateur team.¬† Matt kindly gave me his honours dissertation from his study at the University of Otago to read which includes a history of the Tareha family and their link with Maori golf and the Napier Golf Club. ¬†Hopefully Matt doesn't mind me sharing a couple of paragraphs which outline the beginnings of this golf club:
‚??Kurupo was the ambassador of the Tareha family in the Pakeha world. He was a prominent member of Hawkes Bay society, a member of various sports clubs, the Hawkes Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Society and the Scinde Masonic Lodge. In 1897, as a reward for the loyalty of the Tareha family, he was selected to travel to England with the New Zealand Diamond Jubilee Contingent ‚?¶. While in Great Britain in 1897 Kurupo was taken to see the St Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and, according to family tradition, first acquired his interest in the game of golf. On his return to New Zealand, he and Te Roera (sibling) developed golf-links on 100 acres of their Waiohiki whanau land, which became known as the Waiohiki Links and later as the Napier Golf Links.‚?Ě
After the round I saw the huge painting of Kurupo on the wall in the clubhouse. ¬†He was looking very dapper in his tweed and I said he must have had some strong British influences. ¬†Turns out that happened in 1897 at St Andrews!
"Kurupo developed into a formidable player. He won the New Zealand Amateur Golf Championship at the Waiohiki Links in 1903, the Manawatu championships in 1905, and competed in championship tournaments in Dunedin and Auckland. He was an active member of the Napier Golf Club for years, and when he could no longer play, was a coach. Kurupo was one of the founders of the New Zealand Maori Golf Association, and at his death was its patron. His eldest son (my grandfather), Nga-whakapinga-o-te-rangi Tareha, better known as Kapi, was also an expert golfer who won many amateur golf championships and eventually became a professional player."
Currently there are some carvings being completed alongside the 9th hole on the course. ¬†One depicts Kapi and is below. ¬†After the round we walked around the memorabilia in the clubhouse and it was amazing how often the name Tareha featured. ¬†And generally I was impressed by the memorabilia and history being displayed in the club - this is relatively unusual in NZ compared with some more traditional golf clubs around the world. I'd like to thank the club for having Jamie and I and sharing their story with us - and also Matt for sharing the story of the Tareha golfing dynasty!
The course itself is a good track. ¬†It has lush fairways, pure greens and a solid parkland routing. ¬†There is plenty of space for aspiring golfers to practice their trade. ¬†The course plays between a couple of main roads meaning out of bounds comes into play frequently. ¬† In fact, my first shot of the day rolled across the out of bounds line - not a great start! Meanwhile JP got a closer look at the carvings on the 9th when he became all too acquainted with the road passing between the 1st and 9th holes. ¬†364 rounds in and the golf hadn't got hugely better!! ¬†Fortunately for me I had grandfather Ernie on the bag giving some sage advice. ¬†So as the hole countdown progressed down from 36 to 30, to the final 20 the mind was still (somehow) focusing on enjoying the golf. ¬† And with 20 holes to go the final eagle of the year was made, albeit on a rather generous short par five...¬†
And so that was that, 18 holes of golf to go and the 'final supper' with family before the long awaited day 365 at Cape Kidnappers.
Before I finish I'd like to mention the support of my Auntie Jane and her employer, Westfield. ¬†You've probably noticed JP and I wearing those caps every day! ¬†Westfield had faith in our task and gave us some support to achieve our goal - for this both JP and I are hugely grateful. ¬†ŰŹį?
Deep breath. Head down. It‚??s blogging time.
It has been a month since I was lying in Jucy at the Picton Ferry terminal being buffeted side to side trying to sleep against the will of Mother Nature in a particularly testy mood.¬†
Looking back the homeward run of puregolf2010 seems like years ago as after a month of settling into ‚??a crazy little thing called the normal world‚?? golf seems like a distant lost friend.
Over the coming weeks puregolf2010 will come to life again as the final few posts are put up, JP and I reminisce about a couple of favourite moments and then we say our final goodbyes.¬† I‚??m not going to lie to you, it‚??ll be emotional.
So to Rarangi Golf Club.¬† A seaside course on the northeastern tip of the South Island of our fine country.¬† Seaside, but not a links as the trees line this joint primarily to provide some respite from the wind hurtling off the pacific ocean.¬† A month of being home and we‚??ve learnt that the concept of ‚??wind‚?? is not embraced downunder as it is in bonnie Scotland.
Rarangi is a course we‚??d both played before, probably on an adventure to Malborough inspired not by golf but wine.¬† Many times during 2010 upon arrival at our hosts place a bottle of Malborough Savignon Blanc would be brought out to make us feel at home.¬† It‚??s really world famous stuff.¬† Rarangi itself is more coastal than many of the vineyards, although nearby is the brilliantly named monkey bay.
The day we played Rarangi was also one of our last big days of travel as we‚??d made the trip up from home in Christchurch.¬† So it was always going to be a pretty laid back hit as country golf in New Zealand tends to be.¬† Greeted by Diane and Graham McCarthy we were made to feel at home and even ushered into a golf cart to ease our workload on this 361st straight day of golf.¬† Sorry purists. Di and Graham were former proprietors of a hotel so you might say they were well trained at the meet and greet.¬† Energy levels were restored with a choc bar, hydration levels were restored with a powerade. Legends. ¬†A mere couple of hours later, after navigating through the tree lined but sandy course amidst the wind swirling in every direction from underneath the nearby hills, we made it back to the clubhouse, 6 birdies the better.¬† A solid day at the office and thanks to Rarangi.¬† ¬†
What I remember next is doing something we had little time for during 2010 ‚?? watching television.¬† In particular watching the Aussies get demolished by England in the ashes. ¬†If my memory serves me correctly, Jan 27 was particularly a day to forget for the Aussies as England piled on the runs in front of a packed house of disappointed Victorian fans at the MCG.¬†¬† ¬†A couple of mates were there watching in fact, and one in particular, Mr W Corke, was to fly back to join us in a few days time at the finale at Cape Kidnappers.¬† ¬†Nearly there‚?¶
I‚??m not going to lie to you. ¬†I‚??d never heard of Hawke‚??s Bay Golf Club until Bart mentioned it. ¬†I mean, one might assume there would be such a club ‚?? but for whatever reason it had never come to my attention. ¬†Nor Michael‚??s, if I understand correctly. ¬†Bart however sweated and toiled for hour upon hour throughout his formative years at the practice ground, and as a result grew into the Tremendous golfer he is today. ¬†So it has a lot of fond memories for The Gaffer. ¬†And it was only natural that with two games to tee up in the area pre-Kidnappers, we‚??d pay a visit if they‚??d have us. ¬†
Mike and I rose at Dave‚??s place to a sun intent on streaming through defenseless windows. ¬†Toyed with the idea of kicking off proceedings by inhaling a morsel of Nadine‚??s infamous Christmas cake, but held strong. ¬†Dear friend Jimmy James Harper had invited us to bruncheon at his parents‚?? place over the hills, up in the Wairarapa. ¬†Always a lovely place to go. ¬†This time was no exception ‚?? parents Vicky and Grant, and sister Alice, were present and counted. ¬†For an hour or two we sat outside under shade while Jimmy did his best to burn our eggs. ¬†Hilarity was the name of the game though, when dear mother with a swing of her tongs spat bacon fat onto James‚?? pristine white t-shirt. ¬†A dummy was spat too, for good measure. ¬†Ah, frivolous familial quarrels ‚?? gotta love ‚??em. ¬†
Lamentably we had to Roll, before James murdered poor Vicky. ¬†Pleasantly replete and looking forward to a leisurely drive, we said our farewells and got moving. ¬†Next stop: Waipukurau ‚?? habitat of Bart‚??s mother Margie. ¬†Another mother, they‚??re everywhere. ¬†Poor Bart coughed and spluttered his way out of the back door to greet us; still heavily under the weather. ¬†Pneumonia or something of the like. ¬†‚??Gay Bart‚?Ě now renamed ‚??Sick Boy‚?Ě (important to always have nicknames, for team building you see...). ¬†¬†¬†¬†
The first thing I noticed on arrival was a striking poster, for an ‚??Ebony vs. Ivory‚?Ě match on Waitangi Day (for you non-Kiwi folk, that‚??s 6 February, the date The Treaty of Waitangi was signed by Maori and the Queen‚??s representative back in 1840. ¬†Long story...). ¬†As you can see, the Ebony boys are also known as ‚??Da Bro‚??s‚?Ě and the Ivory boys as ‚??The Pro‚??s‚?Ě. ¬†Not the sort of poster you‚??d see in many golf clubs, but arguably an indication that race relations in this part of the world are healthy. ¬†
Sick Boy led us to the 10th tee to get under way. ¬†Over 400 metres of par 4, into a stiff breeze ‚?? a gentle start you might say. ¬†Or you might not. ¬†I was pleased to walk off with 5. ¬†Sick Boy must‚??ve been distraught to block his opening tee shot Out Of Bounds ‚?? in the sense that you always hope to play well at your childhood haunt. ¬†No doubt SB‚??s pummelled countless drives straight down the middle from an early age; perhaps the (self-imposed) pressure got to him. ¬†
You could see in Sick Boy‚??s eyes and tone of voice a hope for approval. ¬†This was a place holding cherished memories for him. ¬†Naturally any praise we heaped on the course would appease this tension, and on the other hand any criticism would cut deep. ¬†So when Goldy chucked his toys at low hung branches just in front of the 13th tee, the milk turned sour. ¬†For once I adopted the stance of observant bystander and didn‚??t add my 10 cents to the fire. ¬†Sick Boy ‚?? who let us remember was, at this stage, really quite Sick still ‚?? looked troubled to say the least. ¬†Fortunately it didn‚??t come to blows. ¬†Fortunately for Michael that is: Sick Boy though sick was still significantly bigger and stronger!
On a lighter note, Mike‚??s parents and grandfather arrived on the scene as we came up 18. ¬†Jeff couldn‚??t resist the invitation to join us for the front nine; and couldn‚??t believe it when Sick Boy told him he was ‚??sweet‚?Ě to wear jeans! ¬†It looked very uncomfortable. ¬†And just plain wrong. ¬†But most would agree that uncomfortable golf is better than no golf at all ‚?? and anyway what else did Jeff have to occupy his time? ¬†Wine tasting? ¬†There would be plenty time for that over the next couple of days...
As we approached the 6th green a Maori chap, Charlie, pulled up on a bike. ¬†With a kind face, massive dreadlocks and a strong handshake he greeted Sick Boy, who was obviously tickled to see his old mate. ¬†All of a sudden Bart‚??s accent changed to one befitting of a TV weatherman, much as mine probably did when I was back in Scotland. ¬†In fact I began to question whether The Gaffer was indeed of Anglo Saxon descent, or whether he‚??d had a Michael Jackson-esque procedure carried out during his teenage years before we met him. ¬†I have no doubt that if a blind man was present he might‚??ve imagined two men of Charlie‚??s appearance ‚?? rather than Charlie and a pasty Dutchman! ¬†On an unrelated note, Charlie had carded 6 birdies that day ‚?? putting our meagre total to shame...
A barbeque dinner at the Goldsteins‚?? rented cottage amongst the vines followed. ¬†All of a sudden it was starting to dawn on me that The End was close... ¬†
JP ¬† ¬†
Leading a vagrant life you‚??re going to have tumultuous nights when sleep is something you chase, not something that chases you. ¬†But there are sleepless nights and then there are, Sleepless Nights. ¬†Last night as you may have guessed by now was the latter. ¬†With a 5.30am check in for our Interislander crossing we parked up Jucy Lucy in the ferry car park the night prior. ¬†The thinking being that we‚??d save a few minutes‚?? shut eye that way. ¬†Mother Nature however had other ideas. ¬†Queen Charlotte Sound funnelled 150km/h Nor West winds (carrying torrential rain) our way. ¬†Which was very kind of her.
Michael having claimed the main cabin as his own, I found myself up above in the ‚??Row Box‚?Ě ‚?? which, when erect for sleeping, acts like a giant sail. ¬†I felt like one of those poor scallywags sent up The Endeavour‚??s mast mid-storm to untie a knot. ¬†As the hurricane gusted, Jucy rocked to and forth like a bucking bronco. ¬†And under the car park floodlights, the translucent walls of my makeshift bedroom lit up like an oriental lampshade. ¬†Not ideal conditions for sleep, it must be said. ¬†But then most people lucky to have full faculties of reason and anticipation could have told us that. ¬†Anyway.
The crossing wasn‚??t cancelled and that‚??s all that mattered. ¬†I folded myself up foetal styles under a table by a window and tried like a seasoned insomniac to switch my brain off. ¬†No such luck. ¬†Instead we poured off The Interislander wired like that poor raccoon we spotted by the 5th green at Sawgrass. ¬†Our lunchtime tee spot at Royal Wellington wasn‚??t looking so enticing in the ever heavier winds and lashing rain. ¬†They don‚??t call it The Windy City for nothin‚??. ¬†In the hope of consoling ourselves ‚?? indeed, escapism ‚?? Michael and I set course for a favourite suburban caf√© of ours. ¬†A stiff doppio and full breakfast would cure our ills. ¬†Not only was Caf√© Polo not open for the day; it wasn‚??t open again until the 18th of %#$@^!# January! ¬†Foiled. ¬†Apparently Wellington goes to sleep over the summer break, as everyone scarpers for calmer, sunnier pastures. ¬†So we set up camp at the nearby airport and attended to administrative duties for an hour or two. ¬†I was tempted to jump on a plane and escape to The Galapagos Islands. ¬†On another day I might have done just that.
Things started to look up when our host for the day ‚?? friend, mentor, last year‚??s hockey coach, next year‚??s boss ‚?? Dave, asked us up to his place for a pre-golf bruncheon. ¬†David‚??s lovely wife Nadine cooked up a storm of scrambled eggs on toast, followed by The Heaviest Most Decadent Christmas Cake Ever Baked. ¬†This thing could‚??ve anchored The Titanic. ¬†When Nadine said the special ingredient was Stone‚??s Ginger Wine, she may have thrown the bottle into the mixture too... ¬†Meanwhile we got to know Dave‚??s in-laws and watched England demolish the Aussies in Melbourne. ¬†All of a sudden Life started to course once more through my veins. ¬†Despite the force 9 gales knocking over mountains and buildings with arrogance, I was starting to feel less pessimistic about It All. ¬†Dave‚??s pal Mark (our fourth) was in with a grin too ‚?? so the parachutes were on and puregolf2010-plus-two was about to jump.
Don‚??t you love microclimates? ¬†When I tiptoed out of Dave‚??s truck onto the tarmac faint sunshine kissed me on one cheek and a gentle zephyr on t‚??other. ¬†Evidently even Mother Nature bows to those that play their golf with Her Majesty‚??s blessing. ¬†Back down the road in the Capital skyscrapers were toppling; up the road in The Rimutakas, conditions had been deemed unfit for driving. ¬†But in the midst of it all ‚?? in our own wee Royal microclimate ‚?? golf was not only possible but pleasurable. ¬†For the most part anyway. ¬†
We had the place more or less to ourselves, which is always a bonus. ¬†Hardly another golfer in sight; and not a hint of life in the clubhouse or pro shop. ¬†They‚??d all run for cover. ¬†Yet. ¬†Despite the wind and rain that had clearly swept through the Hutt Valley at some point, the course was in fantastic nick. ¬†Well drained fairways and pure greens. ¬†I‚??d played at Heretaunga once before; it was Michael‚??s first visit.
Impressions of the course? ¬†A lovely bubble around which to golf one‚??s ball. ¬†Mature trees and a couple of streams make for a therapeutic atmosphere. ¬†There aren‚??t many holes that blow you away, but Turner & MacPherson will apparently soon see to that ‚?? a far reaching re-design being in the pipeline. ¬†As it currently stands, I‚??d say Heretaunga is a Baltusrol-esque parkland layout that is agreeable without being (world) classy. ¬†With the land, water features and trees that they have, it could be really quite something. ¬†So we‚??re looking forward to seeing where they get to after The New Kids On The NZ Architecture Block take their diggers to it. ¬†A wonderful canvas, no doubt. ¬†And as I said, a pleasant paddock for golf. ¬†
Mark was great company and Dave entertained us with his pan-course adventures. ¬†In the circumstances, really a quality day out. ¬†Rounded off with a fine meal at Dave‚??s with even finer claret, and an evening of suitably philosophical chatter. ¬†(Watch out for a new political movement hatching out of Wellington next year...). ¬†Thanks David and Nadine ‚?? tres bon!
Happy 2011! ¬†Yesterday Michael and I walked up the 18th fairway at Cape Kidnappers on a gorgeous Friday afternoon. ¬†Family and friends gathered in support. ¬†A fantastic day was had by all, a fitting way to conclude what has been an unspeakably special year. ¬†To all those who‚??ve been a part of it ‚?? and you know who you are ‚?? a sincere and heartfelt thank you from us both: our doors will forever be open to you and your families.
For now, it‚??s time for a wee nap. ¬†Bushmills is still coursing around my veins (slainte, Keith Matthews) and it‚??s time for a day off! ¬†Over the coming days we‚??ll continue to update the blog, hopefully capturing for your entertainment just what a wonderful finale it‚??s been. ¬†In the meantime, please do enjoy the festive season. ¬†Take care, be safe, happy new year.
Signing off for 2010
Jamie & Michael
Kia Ora from Napier and the final 'free-wifi-blogging-mission' of 2010. ¬†In 5 minutes JP and I will pack up our laptops and head to Napier GC for round number 364 straight.¬†
This time one year ago we were frantically packing our gear for one year of travel. ¬†My blue bag has held steady along with the same outfits of clothes worn repetitively. ¬†
Yes, we're a couple of days behind on the blog but yes we've kept golfing. And golfing. ¬†Tonight will be a quiet night with the respective families before tomorrow, the final round will be played at Cape Kidnappers. ¬†The place where this crazy idea of playing a round of golf every single damn day was conceived.¬†
So from Kauri Cliffs around New Zealand and right around the world we've made it to the end and The Cape. ¬†The blogging will continue for a week or two as we catch up on a couple of courses and of course say our farewells to a project that has been entirely all consuming way to spend 2010.¬†
Cape Kidnappers will be a relaxing but epic way to finish the year. I suspect we'll be knackered by the end of it such that, like last new years, we might not even stay up for the countdown. A small price to pay for what has been a truly special year.¬†
If anyone wants to get in touch with us - we'll be on cell phone for most of the next 36 hours: ¬†+64 21 653752 and +64 27 2399713.¬†
my 5 minutes is up. ¬†36 holes to go.
I have an old friend called Ed (Woody) Bayley who has joined us for a number of rounds this year (Gleneagles, The Hon. Company, and walking around Carnoustie, St Andrews and Aberdour).¬† Woody grew up playing his golf at the Rangiora Golf Club.¬† His parents are members there and many moons ago I used to go out and have a hit with them at Rangiora. ¬†Rangiora is a satellite town of Christchurch, a farming hub and a place I know well after playing cricket there (next to the golf course) for about 5 years. ¬†It is about 20 minutes drive from home and so when I was aged about 13 I was stoked when Woody joined up at Russley, our local course and we could ride our bikes down to play at the golf course.
Rangiora is a good country track and I remember Ed used to wax lyrical (yes, even as a 13 year old) about how good the greens were.¬† Over the years nothing has changed.
Another thing that hasn‚??t changed is Ed‚??s name on the NZ Golf system ‚?? Woody Bayley.¬† Woody was a nickname when Ed was young but one that very few of his mates have adopted nowadays.¬† So it always cracks me up to see his name up on the membership board at Rangiora as Woody.¬†
Unfortunately one thing has changed for Woody and that is his golf.¬† He was a golf snake aged 13 off a four handicap.¬† He‚??s now about 6 foot 2 and I‚??m not sure that his swing has fully adapted yet as his handicap has blown out to 15.¬† He should be playing better golf than this but like many guys our age he struggles to find the time amongst a hectic social and working calendar.
Some of the strongest memories about Rangiora are playing it in a howling Nor‚??wester with the course bone dry and the ball rolling forever, harbouring false hopes for gangly teens that hitting the ball 300m was normal. ¬†¬†Today it was dead calm.¬† It should have been a festival of birdies ‚?? plenty of roll, great greens and no wind.¬† Alas it was not ‚?? a solitary birdie for myself on the 2nd hole, although JP fared better with 4 including a closing back-to-back.¬† Key.¬†
Playing Rangoon with Woody is crucial as he, like me, is known to hit the ball very wide off the tee. Indeed he hit a few shots about 150m off target.¬† But the point is, he could give some invaluable advice about how to play various holes the Wrong Way - i.e., down the neighbouring fairway - and then what club to hit back over the trees to the green. Superb.¬†
Woody and James Turner and myself played a skins game.¬† The lads came 2nd and 3rd, although should have fared better had JT been able to roll a few putts in.¬† To be fair he was a bit shaky after a morning cleaning up the store after another powerful earthquake rattled the shelves.¬† I‚??ve felt earthquakes in the past, but probably nothing as severe as the two that rocked CHCH at 2am and 1030am early on Boxing Day. ¬†Some excitement to the day and at least we‚??ve got the ‚??CHCH experience‚?? of late.... Thankfully nobody was injured again..
In the group behind was Geoff Burns, another who has had major involvement in pg2010 (Remuera, walking Titirangi, Jacks Point, Otatara, Oreti Sands and Rangiora) and JPandas whanau, father Mike and uncle Nigel. I think the Irishmen took the money and more importantly the pride - when they all rolled in birdie 2's on the 17th. Off 18 handicaps..
Of course a day at Rangiora wouldn‚??t be complete without seeing John Bayley senior and Margie who were out playing a few groups ahead of us.¬† The surrogate family from uni days‚?¶ they thought they‚??d seen the end of JP and I when we shifted to Welly‚?¶¬†
Tomorrow we start our drive back up north to the Cape. ¬†90 holes to go - Bring it on.
At 6.30am, no less. ¬†After a broken sleep on the sofa ‚?? wondering whether Santa, Rudolph & Co would make it down as far as Aotearoa ‚?? I found myself in a mother‚??s Happy Christmas embrace, wondering why on earth I was awake at such an anti-social hour. ¬†Was it because I‚??d written to The Man In Red asking for a Scalextric set, or for a Nintendo 64, and I‚??d been snatched from sleep by excitement? ¬†Not a bit of it. ¬†That was soooooooo 1994. ¬†Ah yes, the penny dropped: golf.
I grabbed a few plums, inhaled a black coffee and poured into the car with dad, who‚??d been brave enough to sign up for Day 359. ¬†Mick opted to stay in town, and so had a 45 minute hike through to Waimakariri Gorge GC to look forward to. ¬†Strangely enough it wasn‚??t that unsettling a sensation to be en route to the golf course on Christmas Morning. ¬†Just part of our routine, really. ¬†It‚??s a subject that‚??s come up in conversation eight hundred times this year ‚?? playing on the anniversary of Christ‚??s birthday. ¬†I never took it as that startling that, as with every other day, we‚??d be pulling our sticks out of the car. ¬†And so the novelty value wasn‚??t terribly apparent.
Two keen figures stood chatting in the car park when we arrived. ¬†Godfrey was a member who‚??d contacted us with the kind offer of a cart, that we may whip around super quick and be back in time for almond croissants. ¬†In endearing country course fashion, said cart was perched atop a trailer and tied down with glorified dental floss. ¬†Y‚??er man also looks after assorted promotional activities for the club, so took an obligatory snap or two in front of the clubhouse. ¬†T‚??other fella was one of my Scottish brethren, from up Tain way. ¬†A member of Royal Dornoch, Colin had been following our exploits throughout the year but our paths hadn‚??t had the chance to cross ‚?? until now. ¬†So he came out, on Christmas Morning, to walk around Waimak‚?? with us and put down a $100 donation for the first birdie carded. ¬†Quite amazing really.
Godfrey walked the first few, and Colin the full round. ¬†With not another soul in sight, we had the place to ourselves; indeed it felt like the whole of North Canterbury ‚?? in its wide open expansive glory ‚?? was still asleep. ¬†Mount Oxford watched over us dutifully and the sun provided ample lighting. ¬†A beautiful morning for golf. ¬†
Despite relatively consistent play, it wasn‚??t until the 11th that a birdie finally dropped! ¬†I was beginning to apprehend that we were keeping Colin from his beloved, but he assured us that ‚?? at the clip we were playing ‚?? he‚??d be back in plenty time anyway. ¬†Two and a half hours it took us, give or take. ¬†An ideal pace of play, I would say. ¬†
Views of the Waimak‚?? Gorge proved distracting for a few moments as we stood on the 8th and 17th tees ‚?? which play from opposite ends of a gully to greens whose borders flirt with each other shamelessly. ¬†Plainly they should be adjoined. ¬†Then there‚??s the walk up the brae to 12 green, which gets the blood gushing through one‚??s calf muscles (or what‚??s left of them anyway...). ¬†At the end of which comes just reward: the best view on the course, across the gorge to Mount Hutt. ¬†I wonder whether the green has been deliberately pitched at a severe angle, so as to encourage play back and forth from one end to t‚??other, permitting several opportunities to take in the vista. ¬†Even acute rage at a third thinned chip shot could be soothed by a picture so lovely. ¬†A fourth? ¬†I‚??m not so sure... ¬†(And yes, Goldy is wearing a Santa hat below).
Playing up the 18th my memory was taken back to The Portnoo Trophy of 2009, which concluded with a 20 foot breaking birdie putt to force a half. ¬†Dad was spitting tacks; mum on the other hand, being the neutral on looker, was thrilled to see honours shared. ¬†I suspect Waimak‚?? might hold great excitement over the coming years as a venue for The Trophy. ¬†After a heated battle, it‚??s only a 10 minute drive back home to Crossnacreevy ‚?? so if we‚??re not talking to each other there‚??s not too far to go!
Thanks to Godfrey for coming along and the kind offer of a cart; to Colin for his fine company and generous donation; and to my father for enduring my company for a full 16 hours on Christmas Day. ¬†A wonderful morning of golf under blue skies, among good souls.
In central Christchurch ‚?? where Mike grew up and I spent 7 years ‚?? you‚??ll find Hagley Park, a tremendous resource for locals and tourists alike. ¬†For me it was always an ideal place to run around, the loop from home taking me about 38 minutes from memory (39 on Sundays). ¬†On weekday evenings and weekends it‚??s buzzing with sporty types ‚?? rugby, cricket, touch, Frisbee, netball, tennis and, of course, golf. ¬†Jam packed full of active humans, so it is. ¬†Hagley‚??s 12 holes may not be Royal Melbourne-esque, but they serve a purpose, giving affordable access to golf for those on a budget (time or money). ¬†It‚??s also a great spot from which to People Watch, and handy to town afterwards for last minute Christmas shopping!
With the imperative of darting around to catch friends on Christmas Eve in mind, Hagley was the perfect fit. ¬†It‚??s also proximate to The Dux De Lux, just in case we felt like a refresher afterwards (see the planning that goes into our days...). ¬†Those visiting should do so. ¬†Christchurch‚??s most famous pub and for good reason ‚?? no better place to sit on a balmy afternoon than in that courtyard. ¬†For us however it was all Clean Living ‚?? golf and golf only. ¬†And plenty sunscreen.
A few friends joined us, as did one of the locals. ¬†Alan was one of life‚??s truly nice people, a widower who works night shifts with The Salvation Army. ¬†Under his New Zealand Warriors bucket hat was a kind, mouvery face. ¬†He kept Blair and me on the straight and narrow ‚?? or at least he tried... ‚?? and played out of his skin by his own admission. ¬†Had he opted instead of escorting us around to play in the comp Alan would‚??ve cleaned up without breaking a sweat. ¬†What a buzz you get from seeing someone playing beyond themselves, the delight painted in bright colours across their dial.
Pedestrians pass by and through the golf course at their peril. ¬†It‚??s a busy place, the park ‚?? but everyone seems to co-exist rather harmoniously. ¬†That said there must‚??ve been dozens of unsuspecting cyclists who‚??ve been knocked off their wheels by an errant tee shot or, dare I say it, shanked approach. ¬†Blair was doing his damdest to take out a few joggers, each slice more severe than the one before it.
The Brothers Rendall ‚?? Nick in particular ‚?? looked to be seeking shade where possible. ¬†Often Goldy was the lonesome figure on the fairway in the 3 ball behind. ¬†Every couple of holes we‚??d shout the current birdie tally over ‚?? a practice that became progressively more depressing as the putts dried up. ¬†Not a good day on the fundraising front, especially disappointing given the length of the course. ¬†But if the ball doesn‚??t want to go in it doesn‚??t want to go in. ¬†I find that you rarely tear up ‚??easy‚?Ě courses because the pressure to make birdies constantly grips you. ¬†Or that‚??s my excuse anyway.
A very pleasant day indeed. ¬†Alan when he left us was off to put the finishing touches to the Christmas lunch he‚??d prepared for his son, who originally came down to Christchurch on a golf scholarship. ¬†He spared no details in sharing with us the menu ‚?? touching to observe the man‚??s excitement at his first Christmas lunch with The Boy for years. ¬†Alan, if you‚??re reading this, I hope you had a fantastic day; it was a pleasure to play with you.
Thanks to Hagley GC for having us and to the lads for coming down. ¬†Good. ¬†Day.
Good morning from Wellington and a happy 29th of December. JP and I are about to boost for our final drive of the year, to the Harpers in the Wairarapa and then to Bart's house in the Hawkes Bay. ¬†¬†
Our last three courses are:
Hawkes Bay GC (29th)
Napier GC (30th)
Cape Kidnappers (31st)
Only 54 holes to go for the year it's looking good...
Sister Jo hasn't featured too much on the blog this year, despite all her help! So she took matters into her own hands at Clearwater and created this..... ¬†Merry Xmas to all. 72 Holes to go!
I‚??m camped out in the ‚??Row Box‚?Ě ‚?? which is supposed to be bolted to the roof of Jucy Lucy, but I‚??m beginning to wonder ‚?? trying desperately to punch out a blog. ¬†But the wind has other ideas. ¬†The canvas walls of my makeshift cabin are flapping like the wings of a young magpie On The Run after scoring his most fruitful bounty yet. ¬†It‚??s like a bloomin‚?? Disney ride up here. ¬†Except there‚??s no smell of candy floss and Mickey Mouse is nowhere to be seen. ¬†Anyway, no complaints from me. ¬†I lie here with only 4 sleeps, 72 holes and doubtless one or two more lost balls between me and The End. ¬†An appropriate time to look back, this time to our day at Waitikiri Golf Club.
After being blown sideways by the Nor‚?? Westa‚?? at Ashburton ‚?? it‚??s been hellishly windy of late ‚?? we found ourselves in the comfort of Christchurch. ¬†Michael with his parents, and me with my grandparents. ¬†I had a lovely evening chewing the fat with Grandma and Grandpa, who are surely the wisest people on God‚??s Good Earth. ¬†Certainly they‚??re among the most interesting, and kind ‚?? I always leave looking forward to seeing them again (and to another installment of Grandma‚??s cooking). ¬†Last Wednesday it was with great apprehension that I drew open the front doors, wondering whether that ghastly Nor‚?? Westa‚?? was still rearing its ugly head. ¬†Course it was. ¬†Waitikiri would be tough going.
Ron the General Manager wouldn‚??t have told us otherwise either. ¬†After giving us a quick dressing down and instructions to smile for The Press photographer (‚??you‚??re at Waitikiri...you LOVE Waitikiri...‚?Ě) y‚??er man then set about getting stuck in as we teed off. ¬†‚??Watch out for the O.B. on the right there lads... ¬†You‚??ll do well to break 80...‚?Ě ¬†Good banter. ¬†Perhaps the first time we‚??ve been sledged by the GM off the bat this year? ¬†Mind you John Farren from Ballyliffin wasn‚??t half bad on this front. ¬†The pair would get on well. ¬†If only every golf official was so colorful.
For company we had a teacher and pupil, Campbell and Judah. ¬†Cam a young man of Central Otago origins with a thick coverage of 8 o‚??clock shadow. ¬†Judah a spritely man of 11 years, keen to sharpen up his handicap over the summer break. ¬†Both gentlemen of a gentlemanly disposition and a pleasure to walk around with. ¬†Judah in particular impressed me with his patience; not once did he lose the rag or grimace. ¬†If memory serves correctly I was nowhere near as genteel at his age ‚?? not even close! ¬†(Then again I‚??m a Scot and thus must be forgiven a measure of fire...).
The course was much as I remember it from past visits, largely on account of inter school matches. ¬†Conditioning it must be said however has improved in recent years. ¬†The club appears to have sold some real estate around the edges and ploughed the proceeds into a smart new clubhouse and greenkeeping resources. ¬†My feeling is that the whole package is all the better for it, really an impressive beast. ¬†Why they don‚??t amalgamate with next door Windsor I don‚??t understand ‚?? well, that‚??s not strictly true; I do now after the Inside Word from Ron ‚?? but that‚??s neither Here nor There.
For the most part it‚??s tree lined stuff. ¬†Indeed on the back of Nor‚?? West‚?? gales the fairways were tree lined on 3 sides: to the left, right and underneath. ¬†That is to say a carpet of branches lay underfoot after being torn from their rightful and respective homes. ¬†Had I ever had the competency to hit the dam thing down the fairway I might‚??ve had trouble locating my ball. ¬†As it happened I could have no complaints foraging around under the cover of shade like a swine hunting for truffles. ¬†Judah must‚??ve been wondering why after playing so much golf I could be so hopeless. ¬†And well he might.
In such trying times I looked to newfound junior friend for inspiration. ¬†And I found it. ¬†The young man caressed his pill beautifully around the track with enthusiasm and restraint. ¬†When a 25 foot putt rolled in for his first par of the day mid-way into the back nine we all threw high fives around like a bunch of Americans who‚??ve just hit the green on 7 at Royal County Down. ¬†A lovely moment. ¬†From what I could gather, wee Judah lives only with his father, who also plays at Waitikiri and supports his son in his endeavours. ¬†He‚??d be the paradigm student that The First Tee would love to have in the program were they to spring up in Christchurch. ¬†Which is something both Michael and I would love to see.
JP ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬† ¬†¬†
This year, it is a bizarre feeling to wake up at home and around familiar faces.¬† For 6 days now I‚??ve been around family and friends and it‚??s been like a transitional period between puregolf and the ‚??real world‚??.¬† But now the final road trip has begun, it is 630am and I‚??m sitting on the interislander after very little sleep in Jucy at the terminal and am very much in the twilight zone.
This note is looking back a week or so ago to the day at Ashburton GC which began waking up in my folks place, having a coffee and then making a swift exit one hour South to ‚??Ashvegas‚?Ě.¬†¬† A friend we‚??ve met on our travels was staying with us, Andreas, who is traveling down under from his home in Sweden.¬† Andreas made the trip to Ashburton and so JP and I jumped in his rental car ‚?? a day without Jucy‚?¶ or so we thought.¬† Bart?¬† He was crook in bed, perhaps with the man flu? Perhaps the effects of Dunedin catching up on him?¬† Or perhaps he has just hit the wall from 3 months of travel.
On the drive down the sky was grey and Andreas was worried about the weather.¬† I explained to him that outside was a Canterbury weather phenomenon called the Nor‚??wester and that it would be hot, windy, dry and would make you go crazy‚?¶..
We were welcomed at Ashburton by club president, Murray and a dozen or so locals were out to join us for the round.¬† We¬† all played a stableford match which had its moments because of the ferocity of the wind.¬† Hurtling in at around 100kph it was like the course, and the whole of the Canterbury plains were being sapped of moisture before our eyes.¬† The new greenkeeper was hurrying around trying to hand water the greens..
Ashburton GC is a great wee country track.¬† On a flat piece of land it is a tree lined course and an easy walk.¬† But where it stands out from other country courses is that its greens have a little bit going on: some are elevated, some have false fronts, others are tiny or pitched. And they roll very well.¬† There are also a smattering of bunkers which keep everyone on their toes.
I‚??m going to keep this brief, but one moment of note was on the par five 17th hole. Straight down the wind the hole matches my shot shape so I launched it high in the air off the tee.¬† The ball bounded down the fairway to a couple of metres short of the green.¬† I opted to putt and so was standing there for a first time, ever, over a putt to get into the albatross club.¬† What happened next doesn‚??t need to be shared on the blog as I like to keep things positive and my relationship with my putter has endured this long I don‚??t want to jinx it.
Ashburton GC were fantastic hosts.¬† They‚??d invited people from around the area along today and they‚??d run a hat around on Saturday drumming up some donations for The First Tee..¬† Afterwards we all sat around in the clubbies and shared a beer, a sausage and told a few stories.¬† It was a great club feeling with a committed professional and shop staff, plenty of juniors around (including a couple NZ reps from this small town) and the dozen or more women out to include us in their ladies day.¬† Andreas had playd with Murray and told me how proud Murray was of the course, and the new developments around the place such as the driving range and fairway irrigation.¬†¬† So then with Christmas shopping to do we thanked everyone for a memorable day and it was time to go‚?¶
[above - Andreas telling Helen all about Sweden]
But then as we got up the car key, formerly on the table in the clubrooms was nowhere to be seen.¬† Andreas had put it next to JP‚??s ginger beer. Now it wasn‚??t there. Nor‚??wester blowing in, three dehydrated lads and the car key missing in action.¬† Double checking we turned every thing we had inside out.¬† No key.¬† After 3 hours of putting practice, sleeping and some more putting practice later we had gone entirely crazy.¬† The wind kept blowing.¬† Bart was our savior and drove down to Ashburton with a spare key from the rental company.¬† But of course, Bart had all kinds of issues getting down.¬† Vehicles had tipped on the road in the wind, and Jucy, buffering against the wind churned through the gas in the car at such an alarming rate that Bart turned up on foot.¬† He‚??d run out of petrol.¬† Debacle.¬† So some 12 hours after our day began we were home, Andreas footing a serious bill for the lost keys.¬†
Bart was knackered and asleep within minutes but I had to salvage the afternoon so took Andreas for a tour of CHCH along with old pals Ed and James T. ¬†¬†Andreas was leaving NZ the next day so a good night out was a far better way to end his trip than the Nor‚??wester / Car debacle of hours earlier. Until tomorrow at Waitikiri.¬†
For some reason our CMS is not working with videos.... but watch our left handed golfing episode by clicking here