So after the longest day on Wednesday at Harding & Olympic (and all the rest that went with it), we had another redeye start. Although to be fair we got a lie in, since we were able to catch the 5.40am BART train, rather than the 5.10am one... Robert God Bless Him picked us up at the other end, from South San Francisco station. He didn't have any trouble finding us - unsurprisingly we were the only two Kiwis in the parking lot (we don't call them carparks any more), shivering to death under the San Fran fog. Poor little souls. HA!
Anyway as it turned out the Cal Club is a stone's throw from the BART station, so we could've just toddled up there ourselves. Now we know. Meandering up the driveway you get the feeling you're approaching somewhere special; the huge white pillared clubhouse was painfully impressive even in the morning mist. The staff kindly ushered us into the Grill Room to grab a pint of restorative cawffee, to blow away the cobwebs before we embarked on round number 133 of 2010. Two pints did the trick - we were ready for action. Mark (the pro) handed us the most beautiful yardage book and leather holder I'd ever seen, which didn't do us any good as it turns out! i mean to say that it wouldn't have mattered what help we had - because both of us were chopping it all over the place. Robert wasn't much better, I'm afraid to say.
Dr. Alister MacKenzie the man himself came through these parts some time ago - during the 20s - and was asked to do the bunkering. You could see straight away, from the first hole, that his influence remains. There are hundreds of the blighters, and each of them looks more fierce than the next. They've all got hairy eyelids too.
A stupid decision was made on the 1st tee. We would play from the Venturi Tees, named after the famous Ken Venturi, who was a member here for many years. It won't surprise you to hear that we don't hit the ball like KV at the best of times, but on this occasion we were even further from the mark than normal. In the cold fog the ball wasn't flying very far, and when it did it wasn't running either. So we got beat up. But dam it was fun.
Robert was great company, as he was on Tuesday at Meadow. Over these past few days I've been tremendously endeared to the Americans and their ability to take golf for what it is - a game. He chuckled and cheered when he hit an ugly shot, and was equally amusing when one of us was on the receiving end. And so despite the fact that we really were playing some of our worst golf, I think I can safely say the three of us had a ball, just enjoying the fresh air.
Cal Club's a pretty formidable test of golf. The greens are what got me boggled; they're a dark olive green, and seemed to break uphill. I don't usually miss many 4 or 6 footers, but managed to leave a few out there today. Four 3 putts in 5 holes. And thanks to Dr. MacKenzie's dark sense of humour, you don't stand over many approach shots feeling relaxed. At times it's almost a case of deciding which would be the least severe to play out of. At least we got plenty sand practice.
One or two of the holes play back towards the White House-like clubhouse, which sits atop a knoll and has a huge star spangled banner flapping in front of it. They're awe inspiring holes, especially the 11th (which veers down the hill and to the left, to a green sunk into said knoll). Really the 12th was the start of our demise, as the doubles and triples started to flow. Things went pear shaped.
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