This morning we rose at the crack of dawn - sadly the time had come to leave Taupo. A fantastic 4 days, but time to move on. By 730 we were on the road to Rotorua, to meet with a fine gentleman by the name of Alistair Tod (a Scot, as it turns out). Alistair runs a very reputable high end golf tourism company - Greenfernz - and is also a keen supporter of The First Tee. He too has been taken by the work they do in NZ - and indeed he has seen the results first hand, through his Godson, who has been through the programme.
After spending an enjoyable hour or so with Alistair and his son Alex, we hit the road to Gisborne. Like the Coromandel 10 days ago, we found the road to be windy - albeit incredibly scenic. What stood out for me were the string of spectacular trees that we came across along the way - although Mike didn't share my enthusiasm (in fact he thought I was going a bit crazy). It's pretty wild country that way. By the time we emerged from the ranges Poverty Bay revealed itself, and we were looking forward to reaching the golf club.
Upon arrival we got chatting with a lovely fella by the name of Alasdair (another one, different spelling (I think)) in the car park. He was something of a golfer himself, and had done a fair bit of golf tourism of late (Pebble Beach, etc). Anyway we rushed to the first tee - in the heat of twighlight tee times - and got away on schedule. Played with a couple of nice lads too: Richard was a quietly spoken market gardener, off a 17 handicap (though he shot low 80s and could have been lower); Alan was a retired panel beater that had spent 16 years in California restoring Kingston Zephyrs, who now spends most of his time at the golf course (it showed, with his short game).
The course itself was fairly dry - Bruce in the pro shop told me they had not had much rain of late, and that the fairway irrigation system was due for replacement. But the greens...wonderful. Before our visit we had heard stories about Poverty Bay's immaculate greens - some even said they were the best in NZ. Even though I understand we didn't catch them on their best day, they were beautiful. Although they didn't do much for my putting! A pleasure to play on nonetheless.
After finishing up we had a quick pint in the clubhouse with some very friendly locals (including a fine chap from Inverness, no less, by the name of Logie). Great hospitality. On the back of a long drive the evening could easily have petered out into anti-climax, but we couldn't have enjoyed it more.
Thanks to Pov Bay for having us, and to the locals (I won't name you all, but you know who you are) for looking after us. Looking forward to our return.
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