Day 123 was a day on the itinerary left blank in the hope of playing a special course in the Hunter Valley that goes by the name of Ellerston.¬† Unfortunately this didn‚??t happen. But I‚??ve got to leave some golf courses to look forward to! Maybe James Packer is actually an avid reader of this blog (Yeah Right) and after reading this post will insist that I bump my plans for the weekend, fly up to Ellerston in a helicopter and check it out.¬† That‚??s how most rounds up there normally go, or so I‚??m told. But then again there are only 200 rounds a year at Ellerston, despite having 20+ full-time greens staff working there and 150 people working on the property‚?¶ Remarkable stuff that just doesn‚??t compare to the ordinary golf course and all of this happens just outside the small town of Scone in the Hunter Valley.
Anyway.. I woke in the Port after a top sleep and headed down town for a gander. Port Macquarie is a 10 minute detour off the main road so it‚??s not built around the Pacific Highway like many other towns in this part of NSW. ¬†It‚??s got spectacular beaches and the township adjoins the mouth of a river I am too lazy to look up the name of on google. But it is pretty.
The golf was at Port Macquarie golf club. The private members course in town. I started by myself and was quickly let through by a couple of groups before I joined up with a local chap by the name of Justin Hall who owns the local Good Guys electronics shop.
I think I was a couple over when I joined up with Justin, but he guided me around the rest of the course and I finished with a respectable 74 (+3).¬† The Port GC is a traditional track, tree-lined with a spot of water here and there. But when all is quiet you actually hear the roar of the ocean and the back nine takes on an interesting complexion.¬† The ti-tree is more pronounced and off the fairways there is an increasing amount of sand.¬† I‚??d probably describe it as an ‚??Aussie links‚?? course similar to some of the sandbelt courses in Melbourne.¬† However, Port GC does not have the bunkers to match the sandbelt courses and it largely relies on subtle kinks in the short par fours, exaggerated by well placed trees, to make life difficult.¬† The back nine in particular reminded me very strongly of a course back in New Zealand by the name of Ngamotu, in New Plymouth.¬† It had a similar feel, with similar holes and similarly massive potential.¬† Justin told me they were thinking about building an extra 9 holes here, which I‚??d encourage them to do an to try and replicate the stretch down the back nine of Ngamotu (or Port Fairy for that matter).
All that said, the outstanding feature of the course was undoubtedly the greens. The best I have putted on for weeks (I didn‚??t sink a putt all day but that was 100% my fault!).¬† They rolled true and with some speed which put a premium on placing the ball below the hole.
My new clubs, Mizuno blades had their first appearance down here in Port Macquarie. Seemingly they have not taken much time to get used to and I am hitting my irons close again. They go with a lower ball flight and I'm pretty happy with them so far - it seems very unlikely that the old Mizuno true's will make the trip to the US with me on Monday!
Justin and I encouraged each other on and we both ended up beating our handicaps by 3. He is off to Tallwoods tomorrow for a golfing day with mates. I am off to Newcastle GC for what will be the 7th to last course in Australia‚?¶ For now.
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