I have just written a blog on Otatara and the macbook died and did not recover the document. Fantastic.
Here we go at recreating it (in our CMS as my word ap is playing up)... Anyway the Southland leg of our journey was much awaited by JP and I as we'd heard great things about the golf courses down there. In all honesty most New Zealanders don't have a trip to Southland on their bucket list, it's a fair way from the main urban centres although as we found out the two and a half hour drive from Queenstown makes it very accessible.
The drive down was in convey as I drove with Geoff Burns, friend mentor First Tee Board member and all round good lad. Burnsy does quite a bit of work down in Qtown and, despite living in the inner Auckland suburbs is proudly from Invercargill. So the drive down, stopping at a quaint kiwi cafe (which didn't have any trim milk and invited Bart to purchase some soy from the dairy next door if he wanted soy coffee) for some much needed caffeine. For what it's worth my coffee was excellente and a stop in Lumsden would always be recommended. Write on the wall too.
Geoff being from Invercargill had arranged our two games down here at Otatara and Oreti Sands. We were hosted by his dear friends Russell and Francis Bell - the golf mad couple who've moved right opposite the Otatara GC after their original 12 minute drive to the course proved too long for Russell's liking. We made our introductions and sat down for a good old kiwi feast for lunch. Took me back to my cricket days and the famous "Country Feasts" out at Mainpower Oval.
So with full stomachs we made the 200m hike to the course where we met a few locals who made up our group of 8, Nev, Nev and Jeff. After a quick chat with the local rag we headed off and the course was pure. They don't have any issues growing grass down here and whilst the locals were talking about how dry it was, in fact the course was "floating" (to use a term by local Southerner John Griffin who loves the course and is indeed looking at a few changes that can be made to the layout). I can imagine the green keepers have their work cut out here it's that lush - when they finish mowing the greens and fairways they just start over again.
Otatara is built on rolling sandy dune land which explains the origins behind it's name Otatara Links. But now it exhibits very kiwi characteristics as is lined by pine trees and the aerial obstacles are much more of a factor than those on the ground. As the saying goes, they could definitely cut down a few trees to bring more of a strategic element into a couple of holes. The greens are nicely designed though and although the surrounds are basic I'm sure that when they're slick they prove a good test. Also I'm informed that ordinarily the wind really hurtles through here and so the course is far from easy. It's definitely up for hosting tournament golf and the SBS Invitational each year is a big event on the NZ Golf calendar.
Our match went down the wire with GB holing an impressive putt to give he and Bart the half on the last. Meanwhile JP was being schooled by local golf shark Russell who knocked it round in a cheeky even par. At least JP made some birdies for the day, keeping the tally rolling along with 3, including what is becoming a customary chip in on the last.
After golf we were up to the clubhouse where there is some impressive history dotted around. Photos of serious golfers line the walls, with names such as Nagle, Thompson, Player and Palmer featuring in memorabilia.
Dinner was a good old kiwi BBQ, bangers, steaks fresh salads and a glass of pinot. Great day under the pure weather of Invercargill... Until tomorrow
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