We‚??ve been looking forward to this. ¬†The Melbourne sandbelt is a world renowned golf hotspot, home to 8 or 10 exquisite layouts sitting atop these famous sandy soils. ¬†Here you‚??ll find the likes of Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath, Metropolitan, Victoria, Commonwealth, Huntingdale, Woodlands, Southern and Yarra Yarra. ¬†We‚??ll play a lot of great tracks this year ‚?? and have just come off 2 glorious weeks on the Mornington Peninsula, an hour south ‚?? but the sandbelt is the one everyone talks about.
So how did it start? ¬†All I can say is it‚??s living up to expectations, then some. ¬†Yarra Yarra (which sounds to me like a very Aussie name, especially when spoken in that ‚??Strayan twang - ‚??Yerra Yerra‚?Ě) is a gem. ¬†Goldy‚??s old man, Jeff, told us some weeks ago that the par 3 set here is second to none, so we kept looking at the scorecard to see when the next one was rolling round. ¬†They were pretty special, to be fair.
It was dark when we left Colin & Anne Douglas‚?? house (down at Frankston, 45 minutes south) at 6.20am. ¬†They‚??ve been tremendously good to us over the past 14 days, so Mike and I were sorry to leave. ¬†Especially at such an anti-social hour. ¬†But Yarra Yarra were putting on a corporate day from 1pm (with a shotgun start, of course), so we had to tee off early. ¬†7.30 felt like 4.30 too, but once we were out there we loved every second of it.
Playing early morning golf you find a serenity that‚??s hard to find anywhere else. ¬†Even if you‚??re chopping it! ¬†I started promisingly on the 203 metre par 3 1st ‚?? which is a daunting beast to be confronted by before all the creaks in your lower back have been ironed out ‚?? with a flushed 2 iron to 15 feet, but sadly this wasn‚??t a sign of things to come. ¬†YY is home to a veritable feast for tree lovers (like myself), with more mature giant gums than you‚??d see, well, anywhere. ¬†So it‚??s important to hit your tee shot to the correct side of the fairway, otherwise you can be blocked out (as I was on the 2nd). ¬†This isn‚??t a place for bashers and thrashers.
One thing I particularly liked ‚?? and this is going to sound ridiculous ‚?? was the small tee blocks. ¬†They‚??re barely 15 feet wide! ¬†Just a thought. ¬†Another delight was putting, on greens that felt like they‚??d been there for centuries. ¬†Settled. ¬†The greenkeepers must roll ‚??em every morning, I reckon. ¬†Anyway a few putts rolled in, and MG even drained a 40 footer for birdie on the par 3 4th (a jaffa of a short hole). ¬†
The fairways are wider than they look (which is not very wide at all ‚?? especially if you hit a draw like I do, because there seemed to be about 10 dogleg rights). ¬†But we didn‚??t hit many of ‚??em. ¬†When all was said and done, we‚??d hit a pathetic 3 each! ¬†Playing the stats month format I have my own frustrations, because in recent days I‚??ve missed a good few fairways by less than a foot. ¬†Doesn‚??t count, obviously. ¬†
A striking feature of the YY layout was that several holes run like arteries back to the clubhouse, which sits smack bang in the middle of the property, atop a wee hill. ¬†So you get that 18th hole effect 5 or 6 times over, as you climb up the fairway to a green sitting in full view of the terraces. ¬†A nice design feature, I thought.
The clubhouse itself is one of those grand old huts, with wood panelling and leather bound books and a beige colour scheme. ¬†Certainly an Old World feel about it, although obviously it has all the mod cons of a wealthy private club. ¬†I could spend days there.
Having finished early we had a quick shower, thanked Andrew and Travis in the pro shop (good blokes, by the way) then made our way down the road to Chadstone Mall, to get Goldy‚??s Macbook seen to. ¬†It died, you see. ¬†I‚??m pleased that it did, because the chain of events took us to the Apple Store in said mall, which is a magnificent retail store if ever I saw one. ¬†Rows of Macbook Pros sit atop several Ikea looking wooden benches, free for all to use at their leisure (also used for training sessions, which Apple offer complementary to their customers). ¬†While Goldy waited ‚??round for an appointment with a Genius (that‚??s what their tech staff are called, go figure), I sent out a few emails and caught up on what‚??s happening in the world. ¬†With our unusual routine (or lack thereof) it‚??s easy to drift for a week or so without knowledge of who‚??s invading who and who‚??s been kidnapped...
I can‚??t sign off without mentioning our host for tonight and tomorrow, who we‚??ve just met up with, a 23-year-old fella by the name of Luke. ¬†Luke was a friend of my sister‚??s and used to come ‚??round to the house about 8 or 9 years ago, but I haven‚??t seen him since. ¬†He‚??s been a busy boy clearly, because he and his business partner have built a real estate finance business that‚??s going rather well. ¬†At the tender age of 23 Luke owns a couple of houses, drives an Aston Martin (yes, he owns it), flies to Sydney weekly and New York every so often for business ‚?? and despite all of this, remains a down to earth genuine lad. ¬†A very smart one at that. ¬†Having not seen him for 8 or 9 years as I said, it was a great surprise to see that he‚??s done so well, and is taking on the world. ¬†One to watch out for, I‚??d say. ¬†Looking forward to picking his brains over the next day or two.
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