For the privileged few members that belong to Elanora Country Club, heading out there for a hit must really be one of life‚??s true pleasures. ¬†It was our privilege today to experience a day in the life of an Elanora member, and I can tell you it‚??s something I could get used to. ¬†
The Country Club sits atop Elanora Heights, some 45 minutes north-east of Sydney Harbour Bridge. ¬†It was established in 1928 as an offshoot of Royal Sydney GC, by a cluster of well heeled members who wanted to set up a course closer to their Northern Beaches weekenders (or baches, as they call ‚??em in NZ). ¬†The grand old clubhouse that confronts you as you trudge wearily up the 18th fairway opened a decade later, many moons ago in 1938. ¬†
The membership is a mature one; you won‚??t find many young guns out ‚??ere. ¬†If you were caught having a pee in public when you were 18, or have a few too many speeding fines, don‚??t count on your membership application being accepted ‚?? I reckon getting yourself into Elanora is just about as hard as getting yourself a game on Ellerston. ¬†And so you won‚??t be surprised to hear that our companions on Day 98 were Outstanding Humans of The Highest Order. ¬†
Chris Smith was our kind host for the day. ¬†Some years ago Chris was Tony Caughey‚??s best man; Tony is a relative of Michael‚??s, whom we met for dinner in Auckland back in...February. ¬†Goodness time flies. ¬†Through this nexus a game of golf at Elanora came to fruition, and I‚??m profoundly grateful that it did. ¬†We both are. ¬†
Mick and I drove over the bridge at sparrow‚??s fart to Chris‚?? pad in Kirribilli, which must be one of the better places to live in this town (it‚??s a stone‚??s throw from the PM‚??s residence, quite literally). ¬†Chris then took us on a tiki tour out to The Club in his truck, and gave us a spot or two of history on the way. ¬†He‚??s originally a Nu Zilliner, from Wellington no less. ¬†But the lures of Far Better Money must‚??ve brought him to these shores years ago, and now it seems like he has quite a nice existence for himself. ¬†Well, he‚??s a member at Elanora - ‚??nuff said.
Chris also arranged for Tim Woodhouse ‚?? son of former President of the New Zealand Court of Appeal, Woodhouse Snr (I forget his name because his judgments put me to sleep for 5 years through law school) ‚?? to join us as the 4th. ¬†Well heeled company indeed. ¬†Well heeled however doesn‚??t in any way mean elitist or anything of the like; on the contrary, these two gentlemen were just that ‚?? Gentlemen. ¬†They couldn‚??t have made us feel any more welcome throughout the day, and we certainly owe them a good day next time they visit Wellington. ¬†The same goes for the staff at the club, who seemed to go out of their way to make our visit a pleasing one. ¬†
The course. ¬†Ah, the course. ¬†I should first say that their greenkeeper (head greenkeeper, I think) is also a greenkeeper at Augusta. ¬†In fact he‚??s over there now, looking after one of the holes. ¬†For The Masters. ¬†Needless to say then Elanora is Immaculate...like the lawns at Oxford University immaculate. ¬†It snakes up and down through the bush, most holes veering in different directions ‚?? the wind therefore demanding a raft of different shots. ¬†The wind figured prominently on this fine afternoon, then as fate would have it died as soon as we finished. ¬†A stern test of golf is probably a good way to describe the experience. ¬†Really quite stern. ¬†(In case anyone's interested, it was substantially redesigned by James Wilcher of Golf by Design; work began in May 2002, and the new course opened in 2004).
My vocabulary in inadequate to describe the beauty of this place, so I‚??m going to leave you with a pictorial guide to Elanora Country Club. ¬†I suppose not many are lucky enough to get a look at the place. ¬†Check it, appreciate it, and try to get yourself a game here one day. ¬†Really, it‚??s a rare pleasure.
Thanks to Elanora Country Club, Chris and Tim for being such fantastic hosts ‚?? it really was one of those days we‚??ll look back fondly on in 20 years, misty eyed, and think ‚??that‚??s how a Thursday afternoon should be spent‚?Ě.
JP ¬† ¬†
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