Today‚??s blog is a bit unusual, in that Michael and I have been asked to refrain from mentioning where we played. ¬†The club we played at is media shy to the nth degree. ¬†So what is about to follow is less than the complete picture, but you dear reader will just have to use your imagination.
The course was an absolute stunner. ¬†3 hours since we walked off the course and I‚??ve still got a grin on my face. ¬†There were more bunkers than I‚??ve had hot dinners; the greens were immaculate and difficult to read; each hole had its own charms, no two being the same; and the atmosphere at this place was surreal. ¬†Looking up the 18th fairway at the clubhouse, it felt like you were standing on one of golf‚??s great stages. ¬†I‚??m struggling for superlatives. ¬†The fairways were like carpet. ¬†Nice, Egyptian carpet. ¬†
Going back to all those bunkers I mentioned...I got in a lot of them. ¬†This caused some damage to my score, but every time it happened I chuckled to myself, because I remembered something our friend Roy (from Day 50) said to me, which went something like this: ‚??when most people get into bunkers, they curse; but when I go into a bunker, I think ‚??GREAT‚?Ě, another chance to practice my bunker shots!‚?Ě. ¬†His enthusiasm was infectious, and his cheerful words stayed with me. ¬†Which was just as well ‚?? because had I let today‚??s sandpit activities get to me I could have ended up in a bit of a state. ¬†In the event I had the time of my life. ¬†
For the first time since we arrived in Australia, a couple we asked to join us kindly agreed. ¬†Finally! ¬†On each of the past few days we have asked people if they‚??d like to join us, and without exception the answer has been ‚??NO‚?Ě ‚?? either straight up, or followed quickly with an explanation (‚??e.g. we‚??re talking business‚?Ě). ¬†Maybe we look dodgy? ¬†Or maybe it's just not done in these parts? ¬†Anyway it was worth the wait. ¬†We met John Taylor and his wife, Hana (originally from the Czech Republic) who were up from Melbourne, en route to our very own Aotearoa (for a golf tour). ¬†John plays at Royal Melbourne, and was the Captain of a Merchant Ship. ¬†The bloke was in his 80s, but you never would have known (had Hana not tactfully told me). ¬†Both of them looked, and came across generally, as much younger than their years ‚?? and Michael and I thoroughly enjoyed their company on the way around. ¬†We‚??re planning to meet up with them in Melbourne in a few weeks‚?? time, hopefully for another game of golf!
Oh I almost forgot. ¬†Michael, my good friend, putted from the fairway, just off the green, into...a bunker! ¬†Thankfully he saw the funny side of it (I certainly did). ¬†If only I‚??d had the video camera out. ¬†What might have been a par turned into a double bogey, a debacle that aggravated Mike‚??s already irritated demeanour ‚?? as he hit the ball well and scored poorly. ¬†His 3 birdies could have easily been 5 or 6. ¬†We both left a couple of putts out on the course too, the ball having danced around the edge on several occasions. ¬†But no matter. ¬†In the end it was 83 each (yielding 34 and 32 points (J & M) respectively). ¬†We both flushed it, but on occasions got into the wrong spot, from where par is nothing but a dream. ¬†
The most vivid example I can recall was a par 3, on which I knocked a 5 iron into the greenside bunker. ¬†The thing sloped steeply both ways, and I ended up on the (down)slope facing towards the green. ¬†The lip was 8 feet high, and the slope from the lip to the pin sharply downhill. ¬†I just smiled and wished myself good luck, then took a double bogey 5 (the first of 3 in a row, along the back 9). ¬†False fronts on several greens also wrought havoc with the scorecard; twice I thought a pure iron shot had been struck within one putt distance of the hole, and twice my ball rolled 15 metres back towards me. ¬†Drat. ¬†
Another feature of this course that sticks in my mind was the variety. ¬†There were a good few short par 4s, none of which were a giveaway. ¬†The stronger par 4s (in length terms) were a treat too. ¬†And most of them ran in different directions, preventing wind direction from being an overriding influence. ¬†All holes were well bunkered, and - as far as I can remember - had Himalaya-like greens. ¬†Thrilling stuff. ¬†The last feature I will mention (I promise) was this: on the par 5s, the front of the greens slope away from the tee, towards the back of the green, making approach shots that much more difficult. ¬†Sounds simple, but an effective way to mitigate unbridled power.
Anyway...I could wax lyrical for hours about Private Course X, but I‚??m sure you‚??re getting as bored as I am tired. ¬†Following golf we‚??ve had a lovely Chinese meal with Michael‚??s relatives, and in the morning we‚??re up at the crack of dawn to play St. Michaels (our game will be filmed for Fox Sports, so hopefully we don't get the shanks). ¬†Day 55 was a jaffa of the highest order ‚?? in terms of both the golf course itself and the company we enjoyed on the way around. ¬†Thanks to Private Course X and to John and Hana for joining us ‚?? one for the scrapbook.
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