After navigating the security at Sanctuary Cove and finding my way through the Masters enclave I arrived at the destination of my hosts Duncan and Judy Forrest.¬† I had been introduced to Duncan and Judy through Amelia Simonsen, a work mate of mine from the law firm in Wellington who is Judy‚??s niece.
Duncan and I were playing in the weekly Friday comp, run by both the Breakfast Club and the golf club.¬† The Breakfast club is a group of 60 or 70 chaps who golf at Sanctuary Cove and play a set format each week, all put in $10 for a side prize or two, and generally seem to really enjoy their golf. ¬†We were playing at the renowned Pines course, the other 18 hole course here by the name of the Palms, is currently getting a makeover by Ross Watson.
We hopped in Duncan‚??s golf cart ‚?? that is the mode of transport in the precinct of Sanctuary Cove ‚?? and scooted down the 400m or so to the course. Upon arrival Duncan seemed to be saying g‚??day to absolutely everyone! So it didn‚??t surprise me to find out he was recently the Captain here.¬† After a few holes with Duncan it didn‚??t surprise me that he had the privilege of being captain as he was good fun and a top guy.¬† His story goes that he was originally from Scotland (and a cricket player) until he moved to New Zealand.¬† He and Judy had a business in the IT world which was sold off ‚?? to a chap named Eric Watson - a few years back and the warmer weather of the Gold Coast beckoned.¬†
Our first hole today was the 10th (below) which Duncan warned me was probably the toughest hole on the course.¬† It was definitely the hardest opening hole I‚??ve played this year.¬† 420m long with water all down the right, a strong wind off the left and a really tight fairway. Quite the contrast from the generous fairways of the last few days!¬† Both of us hit it in the water, but I scrapped a 6 which proved enough for a half in the four-ball.¬† First impressions of the course were it‚??s tranquility, and I later found out it is some kind of certified wildlife sanctuary.
Our playing partners, and fierce 4-ball opponents were Mike Scallan and Keith Walker. ¬†Mike had a jewellery gig going on down in Sydney (and incidentally is mates with a kiwi jeweller by the same name) but also sold that and shifted up here. ¬†And Keith is none other than the tennis and squash guru Keith Walker who coached 16 time straight world squash champion Heather Mackay and ran a huge tennis centre in Warringah, Sydey.¬† Keith is now well into his 80‚??s and still hit it dead straight and managed to play very solid bogey golf. I‚??d say on an easier course he‚??d beat his age.¬† The story goes with Keith that he used to challenge anyone to a four sport challenge: tennis, golf, squash and snooker ‚?? and he never ever lost.¬† This guy is a sportsman.¬† He showed me a slide of him golfing in his prime when he played off a 1 handicap and judging by his game now, I‚??d say he was a pretty good 1 handicapper..
The Pines course was a step up in difficulty from the other courses played of late. And I was not hitting it well so the stars were not aligned! Four doubles straight to begin and I was well off the pace being set by 80something Keith.¬†¬† I struggled with the greens, not because they weren‚??t true, but they looked a lot quicker than they were and I did not adjust from the speed of the greens at The Glades. It is probably the most difficult part of playing a new course each day!¬† The back nine is a bit of a monster at the Pines, with water everywhere and very much in play. Like the 180m par three 13th played entirely over water (which I thinned it into). Or the 17th (see BELOW)¬†which is a dog-leg right par five where with your second you can take on a carry right across the water which could be anywhere up to 230-250m. Only for the brave or stupid. I took my medicine and made easy five ‚?? why don‚??t we do that more often!¬† And the 18th is a cracker along water with the green sloping front to back and with the pin on the front today and downwind, this was tough.
The wind was up and the scoring remained difficult. But Duncan hit his straps and carried me around the back nine as we helped fend off Mike and his English chirp, and Keith‚??s wily ‚??5 for 2s‚?Ě.
The highlight on the front nine is the duo of holes 6 and 7.¬† 6 is a risk reward par four that kinks to the left and to take on the water you really need the water behind. It is about a 280m carry and water everywhere. Supposedly a few people have cracked it over including John Daly in a tournament here. Adam Scott is the local pro here (and lived at Sanctuary Cove at times during the year) and I‚??d guess he would have at some stage as well. ¬†¬†I bailed out right from where it is still a strong par four which played all of it‚??s 320m and had bunkers and water to catch anything stray.¬† 7 (below) is a par three entirely over water ‚?? a theme is emerging here ‚?? but the lake is very well placed and in a strong wind like today a few balls would have found there way in there.
I learnt a lesson on the last hole. Today was a stroke round. And afterwards in the clubhouse all of us visitors were welcomed on the microphone which was a nice touch.¬† Alan ‚?? a kiwi bloke on the committee here ‚?? had heard of puregolf2010 and made specific mention of me and asked if I‚??d say a few words. But afterwards someone asked me what I shot. The answer was ugly. 94, net 88.¬† Now I didn‚??t play well today at all, but at that stage when I saw a few cringes on people‚??s faces as if to say how the hell do you have net 88 when you play golf everyday, I thought back to the 18th.¬† Duncan who had guided me around the course very well advised me against driver. I didn‚??t follow his advice and knocked it straight in the drink. ¬†And then I hacked it down the hole, plugged in the bunker and nonchalantly knocked it around the green, finally putting left handed with Mike‚??s putter for a 10. Oops.¬† I wont do that again in a stroke round!
I‚??m struggling to keep these blogs a reasonable length, but that is a measure of the quality of the days I‚??ve been having.¬† This one didn‚??t stop here as I went back to Judy and Duncan‚??s and had a sublime BBQ and we talked well into the evening.¬† Then Duncan started playing the video‚??s he had recently made of a boys golfing trip to the UK and to the US for the McKenzie society annual competition ‚?? I saw snaps from a few of the courses coming up in California and I‚??m pretty excited now!
Huge thanks to Duncan and Judy for being amazing hosts and the guys at the course for welcoming me. Another stellar day.¬†
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