On a perfect autumnal Sydney Saturday we arrived at the Lakes for an afternoon round of golf. We being Michael, his parents Anne and Jeff and John a Wellington legal colleague. The practice areas were bristling with members intent on glory in the day's medal/stroke round. There was a two tee start with players being welcomed and called to the tee by the very dapper starter.
I was briefly an associate member at The Lakes 1985-1989ish, back in the round house days and even played bronze pennants for the club for a season. I have always loved the unfolding of the course from the gentle boomerang of the first, the leafiness of the holes bounded by the freeway, building to the daunting and watery back nine. My more youthful self would vainly strategize for ways to navigate the array of hazards. So armed with twenty years more experience, better than before technology, not to mention the company of three very agreeable gentleman I was looking forward to being part of this particular Pure Golf round.
The course and clubhouse have had a transformation since the 80s. The layout remains largely the same but there is a completely different look to the fairways and surrounds, particularly on holes 2-9, 11 and 18. Gone are the lovely flame trees that lined the lake at 11, opening now to an expansive 270 degree panorama of the course and city sky line. The Norfolk pine and ti tree leafiness on the western side has been replaced by gigantic sand splatters fringed with a grabby dark green grass that twists and weaves into
itself and swallows up golf balls in one gulp. These same wastelands, liberally sprinkled with ice plant and tussock, seem to have been thrown down at random between very large islands of green making for holes quite visually different than the more defined up and down fairways. Definitely a whole new set of hazards to contend with. We played the back nine first. Pretty tough for first timers Michael and John. The match was John and Jeff v Michael and Mum. For me tee shots initially seemed so much easier than days gone but by golly the new coffin green on 13 ate up a few putts. Then came the water holes....
When The Lakes was a regular fixture on the Australian professional circuit of the 70s and 80s we would go down each season to watch the young Gregs, Bobs, Jacks (and Billy Dunk) tussle it out down the back straight. Michael had his own tin cup moment on the 14th, finally getting a birdy with his 3rd shot in. John made short work of the 16th, Mike still shaking his head over the unnoticed obstacle of the lake on the right. This was on the back of a totally unplayable bunker shot the previous par 3 hole that he managed to
backhand out to a respectable distance from the pin. Coming up for young Mike was the double water carry on 17 which needs a certain amount of respect.Do I recall a muddy birdy?
Every club has its own accepted rhythm and pace of play. On this day at The Lakes despite a course marshall the field moved steadily but very slowly - 3 hours for the nine holes. John had a plane to catch back to NZ and had to leave us after the 13th hole more than 4 hours after we hit off. Still his team was 3 up and Jeff wasted no time wrapping up the victory. Coming down the 8th in the lovely warm dusk, the hum of the traffic, the caw of the crows. Bill was there to lead us over the very lumpy 9th fairway and to share a drink. That was the Lakes - Day 128 still daunting, perhaps a touch artificial but very enjoyable.
Posting comments has been disabled.