After a rather frustrating afternoon I have finally sat down to pen a blog on the magestic National Old course. My new Mac has dropped dead, barely four months into its life, just as I was finishing off a video blog that is nothing short of stunning. Bugger. It is at moments like these you realise how dependent you are on technology.
The National Old course left puregolf2010 rather awestruck yesterday. Joined by our cameraman and supposed member of the Phoenix Foundation, Jirv, we were blessed with a day made for golf. Not a breath of wind and not a cloud in the sky ‚?? clich√©d stuff but just what we had hoped for at the National. ¬†Last time we visited this golfing haven we weren‚??t blessed with the weather and the now infamous Melbourne storms made the day memorable for all the wrong reasons. That day Jamie blogged about the opulent clubhouse and facilities so I wont repeat the dose, but second time around it was just as impressive.
So to the golf course itself. What a cracker. A stunning beast of a course that you just love to hate. The Old course has been around for at least a decade longer than the newer tracks at the Nash and is that bit more mature. It is also much more penal in that every hole is cut from ti tree and native Aussie bush. If you hit it wide on any hole you are in snake country. ¬†As an example, today I missed 4 fairways and played those four holes in 7 over par. Miracle recovery shots just don‚??t happen at the Old course.
The course was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jnr and it is a design that he would be very happy with. The set of par fives are excellent. Three of them are doglegs left and with a good drawing drive over the corner they are reachable in two despite measuring over 500m off the tips (which of course we had to play today).¬† But if the driver is not dialed in on any of these holes it is an automatic reload. So with a two-out-of-three success rate with the big stick I hit 4 iron for my second into two of them, and reloaded from the tee on the other. ¬†The other par five, the 8th, begins from a stunning tee block perched high up on the course overlooking the ocean where a blind tee shot is required down a hill to what looks like a 20m wide fairway. Of course it is wider than that but runs out at about 270m from the tee so taking driver is actually nothing short of negligent. ¬†Lesson learnt the hard way! From where the fairway runs out there is about 70m of scrub before the short grass resumes on a raised plateau (which is the lay up zone). The tale goes that John Daly managed to carry his drive 340m onto the top level from the tee and hit a mere wedge into the green! But save for John, even long hitters are forced to take it easy on this hole and play it like a real three shot hole.
The front nine is pretty awe inspiring stuff as the holes meander through the scrub. You must have no fear on the tee, trust your swing and ignore the trouble all around. Most holes have million dollar views down across the peninsula and towards the ocean in the distance. And then all of a sudden, after winding through a cart path you find yourself on the 7th tee and the dramatic view takes your breath away. In terms of WOW factor, this is 5 star. As good as it gets.¬† We have seen some sights this year, but standing on the 7th tee got my heart beating just a bit quicker.¬†¬† The hole itself is a cracker. ¬†At 130m is a beauty of a short par three (of which I am a huge fan of despite them being a dying breed in new courses) but it is horribly exposed to the wind and surrounded short left and back by a huge ravine.¬† So it is far from easy. I could imagine some fairly handy golfers walking off this hole with a double digit score ‚?? although they would still be pretty content after taking in that view. In the calm weather today it was a pleasure for both JP and I to hit a wee 9 iron into the clear blue sky and calmly two putt for a regulation par. The entire set of par threes are brilliant in terms of design and variety: the 4th requires a downhill 165m shot over water (again all whilst trying to take in stunning views across the peninsula); the 13th is a 198m monster to a green surrounded by cavernous bunkers; and the 16th measures 175m to a gnarly green that extends to a blind left segment where the pin can only be seen from the tee courtesy of its 15 foot height.¬† Fortunately my irons were on song today and I managed a couple of 2‚??s and a couple of 3‚??s.
The course also is blessed by a variety of short par fours, from the drivable 12th to the terrifyingly tight 18th. It also has some stern par fours which can't really be any longer than the 420m they are because as they face south, even in an ever so light sea breeze they would be almost unreachable in 2! ¬†
For the front nine we were joined by the father and son duo of Jim and Paul who have recently shifted to Mount Eliza from Philadelphia and have taken up membership at the National. They were great company and gave us some interesting insights into the course and the club atmosphere. For the back 9 it was just me, Jamie and our cameraman-come-learnerdriver Jirv so we zipped around in about an hour and a half.¬† Jirv started to fade after the euphoric views of the front nine and probably as a result of our late night out but he hung in there to provide us with some great camerawork right through to the 18th.¬†
The golf ended as a clean sweep and with Jamie as the crab. I had one of my best days of the year shooting 76 off the tips thanks to four birdies.¬† But to do that I was pretty quiet during the round ‚?? with very little sleep and such a gnarly course, it was a day that required quite a concerted effort to score well!¬† No wonder I slept like a log last night. ¬†¬†
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