Paraparaumu Beach is a rare pleasure, a pure golfing experience. ¬†Located around 40 minutes north of Wellington, Paraparam‚?? ‚?? as it‚??s known to the locals ‚?? sits on a fine isthmus of golfing heaven, and looks across to the picturesque Kapiti Island. ¬†The course‚??s reputation proceeds itself, and having played there once or twice before Mike & I knew roughly what we were in for. ¬†A treat. ¬†
Paraparam‚?? is a pure links. ¬†There are no lakes or 50 metre wide bunkers ‚?? just subtle undulations and menacingly long grass. ¬†And sublime greens that run faster than Ussein Bolt. ¬†The wonderful thing about courses like Paraparam‚?? is that no two days are the same; each day you are at the mercy of the elements. ¬†Today was no different. ¬†A fresh-ish southerly made stopping the ball difficult down-wind, and getting the ball on in regulation difficult into the wind. ¬†¬†There are no easy shots, but the course is fair, and good shots are more often than not rewarded.
We were meant to be playing with a chap by the name of Ricky Bartlett, who several years ago played every course in New Zealand in a year. ¬†Good effort (there‚??s 393 or so). ¬†He did it hard too, playing by himself and having rest days at home every now and then. ¬†Unfortunately Ricky had to pull out with a cricket injury, so we‚??ll have to hear his stories another day. ¬†But thankfully we had good company in two Borrens ‚?? Tim and Guy ‚?? and the General Manager / Course Superintendent (that‚??s right, a dual role), Leo Barber. ¬†A 5 ball. ¬†Mike and I played with Tim and Guy last year, in a howling southerly in the middle of winter. ¬†They‚??re both good golfers (T off 2; G off 6), and good sportsmen generally (it goes with the territory, being a Borren ‚?? see Day 17‚??s blog at Riversdale, which we played with Tone Borren, another golf snake). ¬†It was also great that Leo joined us ‚?? apart from just being a good punter, he told us about the club, his golfing experiences and how to get around the course in one piece. ¬†Great course, great company and great weather ‚?? hard to beat really.
The first notable occurrence of the round was Guy‚??s eagle on the par 4 6th. ¬†He sank an impossible chip; impossible because the pin was cut at the foot of a severe slope (and the greens being lightning fast...). ¬†High fives all round. ¬†Michael had an eagle putt on the next, but the girl‚??s blouse left it short. ¬†Weak. ¬†That said, at risk of giving him a big head, reaching the par 5 7th with a couple of 2 irons into a stiff southerly (when the rest of us couldn‚??t get up with driver, 3 wood) is pretty impressive. ¬†He did the same thing on the par 5 18th too.
The haggle weighed heavily in Michael and Guy‚??s favour for the bulk of the round, but Tim (and I) managed to pull it back to all square with a few holes to go. ¬†Then Michael made 2 birdies in the last three, putting the honours beyond our reach. ¬†Good on ‚??im. ¬†Tim played some very steady golf himself, and if the putter had run hotter he might have shot sub-par. ¬†As it happened, he had a solid 76. ¬†
I could never get sick of playing Paraparam‚??. ¬†Having grown up playing links golf in Scotland & Ireland, this mode of golf gets my wheels spinning. ¬†It feels like getting back to my roots. ¬†All the more so given we just went out for a few holes of night golf ‚?? it‚??d be rude not to, I guess, given our hosts (the Borrens) live on the 11th hole. ¬†Good clean fun.
All in all it has been an epic day. ¬†One of the best courses in the land ‚?? as Leo put it, ‚??the spiritual home of New Zealand golf‚?Ě. ¬†I‚??m not suitably qualified to corroborate his quip, but I can‚??t imagine he‚??d be far wrong. ¬†A special place indeed; I can‚??t wait to return. ¬†The hospitality was second to none too.
Thanks to Leo & the team at Paraparam‚?? for hosting us, and to the Borrens for having us to stay (and for feeding us). ¬†What a day.
Up the coast to Waikanae tomorrow, which is also a links layout (for the most part). ¬†We‚??re meeting Greg Howard there, the kind gentleman that footing us a few of his TrueGRIP possum skin golf gloves to get us through the year. ¬†Should be another good day.
Check out the video below!!
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