Until recently my brain refused to process the fact that two separate golf clubs existed on the Melbourne sandbelt, Metropolitan and Commonwealth. ¬†My grey matter greyed the lines and came up with Cosmopolitan which, the astute among Us will know, is both a cocktail and an adjective ‚?? but certainly not a Victorian golf club. ¬†‚??When are we playing Cosmpolitan?‚?Ě I‚??d ask Michael, much to his bemusement (or was that bewilderment and amusement?). ¬†
‚??Metro‚?Ě is revered as one of ‚??Straya‚??s best. ¬†I‚??m not fully up to play with the club‚??s history, but heard from our good hosts (I‚??ll get to them shortly) that it formed in the 20s as a breakaway from Royal Melbourne after the club ‚?? then in another area of the city ‚?? had outgrown its capacity. ¬†The Metro crowd moved to Oakleigh and the boys who kept the name to Black Rock. ¬†Despite Metro‚??s undeniable calibre I‚??d have to say the latter got the best deal out of it: but then again that‚??s not saying a huge amount given MacKenzie‚??s masterpiece (I‚??m referring to the West Course) is in my estimation one of the finest on Earth. ¬†Anyway.
Having had the privilege of playing all of the sandbelt heavyweights during our initial foray to Melbourne back in March ‚?? save for Metro and RM (East) ‚?? it was a happy coincidence that just a few weeks prior to our return to the Victorian capital, an email from one Andrew Foote appeared in our inboxes. ¬†‚??I‚??m a member at Metro, and if you‚??re looking for a game, would love to host you.‚?Ě ¬†I remember penning recently (in the Lake Karrinyup post from memory) that such emails conjure as much glee as they did back in January. ¬†If not more. ¬†
It was a familiar face that dropped us off at the club. ¬†Captain John Taylor is one of the longer in the tooth poster boys of puregolf2010, a paradigm example of how friendship knows no age and of how golf breaks down barriers that exist in other realms of society. ¬†The man is well into his 80s. ¬†I‚??ve introduced him before on the blog, many months ago, as the chap we met on the 1st tee at Royal Sydney. ¬†(To cut a long story short for those who missed it the first time: Captain and his charming Czech partner Hana were sneaking in a game en route to Nu Zillin for a golf holiday. ¬†He‚??s an RM member and was at RS making the most of his reciprocal privileges. ¬†We‚??d been snuck on (sort of) by a family contact of Michael‚??s, and were ‚??Royal Auckland members on reciprocal rights‚?Ě too. ¬†Except we weren‚??t. ¬†So it was a little awkward when we joined up with Captain and Hana and the usual questions started flowing (as it turns out they could sense the insincerity in our story). ¬†Thankfully we came clean after a couple of holes and the rest is history. ¬†We met them in Melbourne several weeks later for dinner at their favourite Wednesday night joint ‚?? Fazio‚??s ‚?? two weeks in a row, and have kept in touch since). ¬†
Hana has very kindly put us up for the last couple of nights at her pad near RM (which is handy to Metro, of course, too). ¬†Czech hosts are the best (pancakes au freshly ground flour were a highlight). ¬†Last evening The Captain joined us for a ceremonial demolition of a paprika‚??d chicken and several bottles of South Australian red. ¬†Just like those Wednesday evenings back in March at Fazio‚??s we told stories and laughed like childhood friends. ¬†There‚??s something quite enthralling about hearing the stories of a man‚??s (and indeed a woman‚??s) lifetime. ¬†Michael and Yours Truly have much living still to do (unless QF 337 crashes that is...).
Anyway The Captain dropped us off with the offer of a pick up and lunch at RM if our hosts had to dash apr√®s golf. ¬†Right away we met the acquaintance of a Californian gentleman ‚?? looking suitably ‚??fornian in khaki shorts and slippers ‚?? and struck up a chin wag. ¬†He and John went At It about whether RM or Metro ruled the roost as we looked on with amusement. ¬†‚??I‚??m keeping out of this‚?Ě I thought, rather unusually, to myself. ¬†Y‚??er man bent our ear as we navigated the corridors en route to the pro shop much as a Greenpeace volunteer does on the High Street. ¬†With a newfound fondness though for Americans, after enjoying 63 days of their unparalleled hospitality this year, I was not irritated in the slightest and indulged his every question with the most thoughtful answers I could muster. ¬†(Admittedly I might not have been so patient pre-2010).
My this is turning into something of a long winded tale. ¬†Better get to the point Jamie. ¬†Two expectant young fathers appeared to recognise us and gestured in our direction. ¬†(You can just tell when a man‚??s got young kids). ¬†Andrew and his cobber Warwick. ¬†‚??Twas a little awkward that our new ‚??fornian pal kept talking in my left ear as I was being introduced, trying to hold two conversations at once. ¬†Diplomacy‚??s never been a strength of mine either...
Straight to the putting green we went. ¬†Metro‚??s greens are renowned for their purity and the practice green was no disappointment. ¬†Except. ¬†The practice green was 50% slicker than it‚??s on course counterparts. ¬†Echoes of the ‚??Beached As‚?Ě Kiwi whale on YouTube and his ‚??dissuptive‚?Ě murmurings rang aloud. ¬†No matter. ¬†While stroking it across the veritable carpet it quickly became apparent that our new friends were well travelled golfers indeed. ¬†Andrew‚??s also a member at one of our favourites, Royal Adelaide. ¬†The Gowf Tawk was in full swing.
I fatted a 2 iron off the 1st tee. ¬†All of a sudden my 3 handicap looked less plausible than a Goldstein 2 putt from 15 feet. ¬†I caught Warwick catching Andrew shooting Michael a sideways WTF glance. ¬†Normally I don‚??t get embarrassed by my golf but this was exceptional. ¬†An exceptionally poor shot. ¬†
On the next hole the tone was set for the morning, in the sense that I found myself in a famous sandbelt bunker. ¬†Metro has millions of ‚??em and I found ‚??em all. ¬†Heavy rain over the past couple of days hadn‚??t helped proceedings either: most of the pits were logged with water ‚?? waterlogged, in fact ‚?? making Up And Downs an unlikely prospect indeed for mere mortals such as myself. ¬†And so it was that many bogeys were made.
Andrew and Warwick displayed admirable patience at my incompetence. ¬†And even greater patience at Michael‚??s lack of grace as he made birdie after birdie and skyted about the whole bloody charade. ¬†Andrew being a partner in a successful advertising agency (that he co-founded) is no mug; nor is Warwick for that matter, an economics consultant. ¬†Humbled by such cerebral company we did our best not to let the hacking get the better of our sensibilities. ¬†These were two good punters to walk ‚??round a golf course with. ¬†
And they have a pair of understanding wives too. ¬†Their itinerary of golf tours for the next couple of years reads almost like that of Slambino‚??s in the mid-Noughties. ¬†The rascals are leaving no stone unturned. ¬†Scotland, Ireland, Tassie... ¬†Why not too. ¬†
The course itself? ¬†5 is just a marvellous par 4. ¬†19 a sharp little par 3 (Clayton, no less). ¬†And 9 a smashing index 2 hole. ¬†Really there‚??s hardly a weak hole and the bunkering provides ample defence. ¬†Under normal circumstances I expect the greens would be lightning too, making not only putting but those little pitches Hair On The Chest stuff. ¬†Those proclaiming Metro‚??s creed as one of the sandbelt‚??s gems certainly won‚??t get any arguments from me. ¬†A ‚??must visit‚?Ě for serious golfers heading through Melbourne, no doubt. ¬†
It would‚??ve been a regret of ours had we missed Metro altogether. ¬†Thankfully Andrew Foote carped diem and saw to that. ¬†For his initiative and tremendous hospitality we are very grateful. ¬†And for my incompetence I will...refrain from apologising to Warwick my partner. ¬†Because apologies ‚?? like knee bending, bridge pinching and various other prohibited behaviours ‚?? attract ‚??jug fines‚?Ě among Andrew & Warwick‚??s Saturday group. ¬†And rightly so. ¬†These lads seem to have fun with their golf and well they should. ¬†
Entr√©e Captain John Taylor and a smashing afternoon of Ashes cricket viewing. ¬†
Thank you Andrew and Warwick, and The Metropolitan Golf Club for hosting us. ¬†You gentlemen are a credit to the club and despite your Australianness, to the golf community writ large. ¬†May you avoid broken wrists unlike your ill-fated friend Don and may you make it over to KiwiLand soon to enjoy our hospitality at Paraparaumu Beach GC, the Spiritual Home of Nu Zillin Gowf.
P.S. And a sincere thank you to Hana & Captain John for looking after us so famously. ¬†You are sublime examples of homosapiens. ¬†‚??nuff said.
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