I see Mike foreshadowed in his last entry that today promised to be one to remember. The little Nostradamus was right. What an absolute pearler. Or bonza, as the Aussies might say (in between swear words, which tend to be uttered more often than derogatory words about the Kiwi accent over here).
Some masochist booked us to play at 7.10am this morning, which wasn't a very nice thing to do at all. That said it's easier to get up when everyone else is doing the same, and with DJ, DC and Mick all under the same roof (DJ's), rolling out of bed at 5.45 wasn't as much of a struggle as it might have been. Hell, we were playing golf at Bonville after all - Australia's answer to Augusta, or so they say.
This place had been talked up from all corners, so being the cynical Scot that I am, I was expecting to be disappointed. Not a bit of it. Bonville is quite simply one of the most beautiful golf courses you'll ever come across, cut through huge arrow like gum trees. Only on a few holes will you see other people; for the most part you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, with only the chirpy locals (kookaburras) and your mates for company. Ah, the tranquility.
Today was Tiger Tees Day. You'll probably have guessed by now that this means you play from the back (back) markers. The sadistic greenkeepers also have licence to cut the pins in particularly inhospitable places - say, like, on the side of hills. Apparently they're even worse on Mad Masters Monday (when the locals get together to watch the final round then play a few holes). Anyway the Tiger Tees Day is held monthly, and attracts a field of 150 - 200 both members and non-members from around the region (or so I'm told). If you beat your handicap, you win a dozen balls. If you win the comp, you get invited back in November for the annual winners' tournament. We didn't win so we won't have to worry about that. Nor did we beat our handicaps, so Bonville's Balls are safe for now.
DJ & I paired up against DC & Mick. DC's a bit of an alpha male, and Goldy's a bit of a girl at times, so they made a cute couple. They had no answer however when my partner - who's recently gone out a shot or two to an 18 handicap - made 5 consecutive pars to open his account. What a champion. The Pretenders to their credit did their best to claw back a few holes, but never really looked like taking our money. We ended up 2 UP, although there was a minor scare on 17.
When Goldy made 9 on the par 4, signature hole 14th (it's a stroke event), I thought the final nail had been driven into The Cute Couple's Coffin. But lo and behold, DC came out of nowhere with some magic, ironically at a moment when the intense sledging from DJ had really amplified to its brutal best. 17's a bit like 12 at Augusta - a short-ish par 3 over water; all carry; with a tricky shallow green. The Cute Couple were dormy 2 down. DC not for the first time today duck hooked one off the tee, ricocheting off a tree to finish in the rough on a downslope short of the lake, about 85 metres out. Oh, how we laughed.
BUT. And you wouldn't read about this. The man played a shot Jack Nicklaus himself would've been proud of, sticking it to 25 feet right of the pin. Game on. DJ was already on the dance floor by this stage for 1, and I was sitting relatively pretty in the greenside pot, expecting to get up and down. What followed was miraculous. DJ who putts like Ben Crenshaw left his approach putt 12 feet short. No worries, he'd knock it in or DC would miss - the percentages weighed firmly in our favour. Will someone please explain to me how DC then, who is less renowned for his putting than he is for being veterinarian to the Queen of England's animals, drained his 25 footer??? What a beautiful moment. It would've been even more beautiful had DJ replied by knocking his putt in, but he lipped out. Alas.
Bonville certainly got the better of all of us, but we each had a moment or two of something resembling brilliance, to bring us back. In any event you couldn't possibly do anything but admire this magnificent golf course. We were lucky enough to visit not long after the bunkers had been re-done, with a view to enhacing the Augusta aesthetic (snow white sand, steep faces, perfectly cut edges). And the greens rolled like no one's ever played on 'em. Full credit, greenkeepers.
The clubhouse is a grand old Australian number that too has been renovated in recent times. Must be one of the better spots in Australian golf to sit and sip a short black after you've trudged off the 18th. A local journo, Claire, joined us for 20 minutes or so to chew the fat about puregolf2010. So too did Damien, the marketing manager at Bonville, who'd contacted us some months ago inviting us to visit. What a good idea.
So Day 106 wasn't one of those golf course visits that came and went without occasion. Between the laughs we had on course, the course itself and the welcome we were lucky to receive, it was a First Class Cracker Of A Day.
DJ had to be in court by 2, so we had to make haste from the golf course back into town. He's up for armed robbery, but promised us he didn't do it. They got the wrong guy, apparently, as cops tend to do. Of course DJ's not up for armed robbery. Rather he was called as an expert witness (he's a vet), to offer his opinion on whether a poor dog that died in it's owner's car died of heatstroke when it was left there for some time on a very hot day - or, as the owner / defendant claims, the dog was poisoned. Mmmmmm, tricky one.
While DJ tried his best not to laugh at the dog owner in court, the rest of us took the dog down to the beach for a walk. And body surfed. How warm is the water up here? Warmer than The North Sea, that's how warm. I near broke my back when I got the timing wrong on a rogue wave, but managed to escape with only a gallon of water up my nose. Isn't swimming in the sea just the best apres golf ritual? Brulliant.
What followed was one of the best evenings of 2010. DJ with a little help from his friends rustled up a meal fit for royalty and brought out a few bottles of wine that most people would have to sell their house to buy. Apparently one of the wines is reason enough for DJ's father to keep his membership at Royal Adelaide, even though he lives in Brisbane and hardly ever makes it down there (RA members have a long standing arrangement whereby they can buy half a dozen bottles for pittance, when the general public has to put their Sunday best on and go to Sothebys in the hope of picking up a well cellared case for under a million). Our 4 ball was joined by John and Michael (also vets) and John's wife Helen - all of whom were delightful. That's the most vets I've seen in one place.
The highpoint for the Aussies seemed to be ritual Kiwi ridiculing. Yes, we sat around the laptop and watched "Beaches as Bro" on YouTube. Then the creative juices got flowing and witty take-offs were conjured. All in good heart, of course. DC God Bless Him had been the butt of all last night's jokes; rightfully it was our turn today. Given the hospitality we'd been lucky to enjoy, I'd say we were happy to call it even.
Great day. Mick's put together one of his videos about the golf, check it out below. The beautiful background music was composed by Ed, DJ's late son who was tragically lost several months ago.
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