Hey y'all. We're in Dallas, and have decided it would be a good idea to revisit our first couple of days on US soil - because the first video we put up was a bit crap, and didn't capture just how magic our initial reception was up in San Fran. So below is a jazzed up revision of that first video blog, with some tunes more befitting of the excitement we experienced. God they were a good few days.
We also want to take this opportunity to say a few thank yous. First, to Rob Kaufman, who organised a few games of golf for us, and who had the constitution strong enough to withstand several days of Us. Second, to Fred Greene, who produces the Golf Smarter podcast - the highest rated golf podcast in the the world, no less. Fred joined us at Harding Park and did an interview with us for his show. He was a gentleman and we were glad to have met him.
Third, to the wonderful Carol Kaufman - who very kindly hosted us as her guests at The Olympic Club (and for a very fine steak dinner in the evening afterwards). Carol is a tremendously generous soul; does a lot for golf, including through The First Tee in San Fran; and we're looking forward to catching her in Scotland. Finally to Bob Tatemishi, Carol's friend who had the patience to endure me as a playing partner for 4 hours 'round Olympic. What a gentleman. Really that day at Olympic was something else - the memory still glows brightly, over 2 weeks on.
A word or two about The Olympic Club, for it deserves special mention. First - and I probably mentioned this last time round - the burger. You've got to have the burger. By the practice range is a little snack hut, where said burgers are prepared by Michelin star chefs. They're rectangular (not round like your average burger) and quite simply AMAZING. But I digress. Carol's cousin, Rob, was in town for The Olympic Invitational - a pretty phenomenal shindig the Club puts on every year, drawing members and their guests from all over the world. Rob had flown in from New Jersey on the redeye flight (and was just as jaded as us); others we met had come from afar as Hong Kong. So this event is kind of a big deal... (The chap who made up a 4 with us is a Chicago-based member, and flew in for a few days of golfing heaven...and the rest!).
Carol & Rob had organised to play a practice round together - on the more renowned Lake Course - but had kindly arranged for her friend Bob to take us onto The Ocean Course for a hit shortly after she was to tee off. Truth be told we were hoping to get ourselves on The Lake - it'd be like going to St. Andrews and playing the New Course without playing The Old - and as fate would have it we got our way. When the opportunity arose we jumped at it and braced ourselves for US Open course #1 (we've heard they're pretty tough...).
What a pleasure. The big green Rolex clock by the 1st tee sets the tone - you feel like you're somewhere special (this is a feeling that has returned to us at places like Riviera and Spyglass). The 1st tee is right behind the window of the pro shop, and takes you down a pretty tight chute. I can't emphasise enough how relieved I was to get one down there without careering into the branches. Chris, an investment banker from Chicago, was by himself and so joined us - the more the merrier! I drew Bob in the ball toss - a pairing that turned out to be less than successful (we came second - out of two, that is). But Bob's wry Canadian humour kept me going, even if the birdies I'd had at Harding Park in the morning couldn't be found in the afternoon.
The course is tough, by the way. Greens are small, hard and fast; and they run invariably straight into rough. Chipping it close is a fine art here, and something that's to be commended with the highest praise. 3 putts are common also. The huge Cypress trees I found to be more visually daunting than genuinely menacing - but they add a tremendous atmosphere to the place. In fact the atmosphere at Olympic is what I'll remember most - both on the course and off.
I may never have experienced craic (of the Irish kind) in a golf club bar as I did at Olympic - and may never again. Granted the Invitational was on, and so there were more folk in town than usual - but everyone was having a blast, and openly welcoming to strangers like us. It feels like a Golf Club, more than a Country Club, if you get my drift. People are there to have a great time; enjoy golf; enjoy each other's company; etc - rather than, as is the case with some places (not necessarily ones we have visited this year), going there to be seen. A purist's place, really. The sort of place I'd love to belong to; the sort of place I'd love to visit once a year to catch up with old friends and play some golf. You could see everyone was just stoked.
I won't do a 'review' of the course, because right now I've got to drive to New Orleans. But let me say it was a memorable experience playing at Olympic - and we might even get the chance to show Carol & Bob some Kiwi hospitality of our own, as they've expressed interest about coming down for Day 365 in Aotearoa!!!
bye for now
P.S. i almost forgot to mention... the par 3 short course at Olympic... out of this world...looked like a mini Pebble Beach. Didn't get the chance to play it, but it looked incredible. What a place!
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