In central Christchurch ‚?? where Mike grew up and I spent 7 years ‚?? you‚??ll find Hagley Park, a tremendous resource for locals and tourists alike. ¬†For me it was always an ideal place to run around, the loop from home taking me about 38 minutes from memory (39 on Sundays). ¬†On weekday evenings and weekends it‚??s buzzing with sporty types ‚?? rugby, cricket, touch, Frisbee, netball, tennis and, of course, golf. ¬†Jam packed full of active humans, so it is. ¬†Hagley‚??s 12 holes may not be Royal Melbourne-esque, but they serve a purpose, giving affordable access to golf for those on a budget (time or money). ¬†It‚??s also a great spot from which to People Watch, and handy to town afterwards for last minute Christmas shopping!
With the imperative of darting around to catch friends on Christmas Eve in mind, Hagley was the perfect fit. ¬†It‚??s also proximate to The Dux De Lux, just in case we felt like a refresher afterwards (see the planning that goes into our days...). ¬†Those visiting should do so. ¬†Christchurch‚??s most famous pub and for good reason ‚?? no better place to sit on a balmy afternoon than in that courtyard. ¬†For us however it was all Clean Living ‚?? golf and golf only. ¬†And plenty sunscreen.
A few friends joined us, as did one of the locals. ¬†Alan was one of life‚??s truly nice people, a widower who works night shifts with The Salvation Army. ¬†Under his New Zealand Warriors bucket hat was a kind, mouvery face. ¬†He kept Blair and me on the straight and narrow ‚?? or at least he tried... ‚?? and played out of his skin by his own admission. ¬†Had he opted instead of escorting us around to play in the comp Alan would‚??ve cleaned up without breaking a sweat. ¬†What a buzz you get from seeing someone playing beyond themselves, the delight painted in bright colours across their dial.
Pedestrians pass by and through the golf course at their peril. ¬†It‚??s a busy place, the park ‚?? but everyone seems to co-exist rather harmoniously. ¬†That said there must‚??ve been dozens of unsuspecting cyclists who‚??ve been knocked off their wheels by an errant tee shot or, dare I say it, shanked approach. ¬†Blair was doing his damdest to take out a few joggers, each slice more severe than the one before it.
The Brothers Rendall ‚?? Nick in particular ‚?? looked to be seeking shade where possible. ¬†Often Goldy was the lonesome figure on the fairway in the 3 ball behind. ¬†Every couple of holes we‚??d shout the current birdie tally over ‚?? a practice that became progressively more depressing as the putts dried up. ¬†Not a good day on the fundraising front, especially disappointing given the length of the course. ¬†But if the ball doesn‚??t want to go in it doesn‚??t want to go in. ¬†I find that you rarely tear up ‚??easy‚?Ě courses because the pressure to make birdies constantly grips you. ¬†Or that‚??s my excuse anyway.
A very pleasant day indeed. ¬†Alan when he left us was off to put the finishing touches to the Christmas lunch he‚??d prepared for his son, who originally came down to Christchurch on a golf scholarship. ¬†He spared no details in sharing with us the menu ‚?? touching to observe the man‚??s excitement at his first Christmas lunch with The Boy for years. ¬†Alan, if you‚??re reading this, I hope you had a fantastic day; it was a pleasure to play with you.
Thanks to Hagley GC for having us and to the lads for coming down. ¬†Good. ¬†Day.