More often than not, when we leave things to chance they work out just dandy. ¬†On this occasion we got stung, giving a gentle reminder that life‚??s no breeze. ¬†Won‚??t do us any harm at all.
There might‚??ve been two or three days this year when we‚??ve left it literally to the last minute in organising our golf. ¬†When we woke up this morning we didn‚??t know where we‚??d be playing, but felt comfortable(ish) that something would materialise. ¬†A dozen or so phone calls and a bunch of emails later, there was still nothing on the radar. ¬†Hatching plans the Monday after 4th of July weekend on Long Island is harder than hard. ¬†It‚??s very hard ‚?? but we should‚??ve known that. ¬†Amateurs...
We slept in Dodgy last night out at Montauk Point, in a carpark near the famous lighthouse (commissioned by President George Washington himself). ¬†A sweet spot. ¬†We even had the luxury of a public bathroom for our convenience, and a beach a 4 iron away. ¬†I blew away the cobwebs with an early morning dip in the Atlantic, and sat on a comfortable rock to ponder life for a while. ¬†
Mike and I parked up at a caf√© in Montauk; had ourselves a fulsome breakfast (first time I‚??ve ever ordered an omelette - Result); and made the most of their free Wi-Fi for an hour or three. ¬†Montauk‚??s right out at the tip of Long Island, past the super affluent part of the Hamptons, and has a relaxed vibe. ¬†Quite a different scene to the likes of Bridgehampton and East Hampton (pictured below).
I had designs to take in some of the local sights before we golfed. ¬†So we shot down the road to Bridgehampton, then took a drive around East Hampton and the surrounding area. ¬†I‚??ve never seen houses like that. ¬†And they‚??re holiday houses, likely used for a couple of weeks a year. ¬†Decadent doesn‚??t quite cover it. ¬†If you‚??re not a local you certainly know it: car parking at the beaches is reserved for holders of East Hampton Village parking permits only. ¬†Egypt Beach (pictured below) looked like a great spot for a dip; but having Dodgy towed was a risk too great, so we moved swiftly on. ¬†To another beach, which was also resident parking only. ¬†Then another, and another...
We passed the Old Money club of Maidstone, which looked pretty special. ¬†They have a pretty classy looking links track, and a beach club a stone‚??s throw from the clubhouse. ¬†We thought about approaching one of the greenkeepers to ask whether we could sneak on for a quick 18, but thought better of it. ¬†Didn‚??t particularly rate our chances...
As the hour hand crept further around the dial we still had nowhere to play our golf. ¬†So around 4 o‚??clock we trucked back out to Montauk, to Montauk Downs state park. ¬†It‚??s a public track, much like Bethpage where we played yesterday, run by New York State. ¬†Quite a different kettle of fish to the clubs we‚??ve been privileged for frequent of late.
We tried our luck at getting a comp green fee, but it was the Manager‚??s day off and the ladies manning the fort didn‚??t have the authority to make it happen. ¬†So we reluctantly paid our first green fee of the year ‚?? a necessary evil in the circumstances. ¬†Boys gotta play.
A particularly officious looking mountain of a woman held guard at the starter‚??s box. ¬†Players would not proceed to the first tee until they got the nod; in the meantime, as in the Olympics, they would wait patiently by the start line. ¬†That famous old despot at Muirfield would‚??ve had nothing on this woman. ¬†A piece of work.
We were called to the tee about 5.37pm, with slim prospects of making it around by dark. ¬†Being the 5th of July and a scorcher, the locals were out in their droves. ¬†A packed field playing at a public course pace of play ‚?? 5 and a half hour rounds. ¬†Not my idea of fun, but...well...you know.
The course itself is a Robert Trent Jones Senior design, and is being reworked by the omnipresent Rees Jones (the so-called ‚??US Open doctor‚?Ě). ¬†Much hype had been made of the course by the ladies in the shed (‚??much better than Bethpage Black‚?Ě; ‚??one of the best courses you‚??ll play all year‚?Ě). ¬†I have to say I was disappointed, although it did have a few good holes. ¬†On one of the par 5s we hit driver 9 iron (I saw ‚??we‚?Ě because Michael and I played a scramble); on most of the par 4s we had less than an 8 iron in hand for our approach; and we were playing from the tips. ¬†So it‚??s short.
And (unsurprisingly) not in great nick. ¬†Mike and I decided however that we‚??d leave Montauk Downs better than we found it. ¬†On each green we repaired 20 pitch marks each that those before us hadn‚??t bothered to attend to. ¬†Given the pace of play was so slow we had ample time to perform these surgeries and line up on putts with a leisurely lack of urgency. ¬†
By the 14th hole it was so dark that the 3 ball ahead gave up the game. ¬†Needless to say that wasn‚??t an option for us, so we ploughed on and lamented not eating carrots for dinner the night prior. ¬†Down the final 3 holes we were really struggling to see the ball ‚?? both at our feet and once it was launched. ¬†Ironically enough this was when we played our best golf!
On 17 I hit a hot one 320 yards down the middle and on 18 Mike did the same. ¬†Never mind the fact that we didn‚??t know we‚??d dun good until we marched optimistically down the fairway. ¬†On neither occasion could we make out the outline of the short grass below. ¬†Then on 18 I managed to knock a wedge from 130 to a foot! ¬†At that time (circa 9.15pm) it was Pitch Black, and I hardly had an idea of where the green was, let alone the flag. ¬†A stroke of good fortune indeed. ¬†And a debacle.
Shattered and sweaty we took Dodgy back to the carpark at Montauk Point, to sleep as we did the night before. ¬†No shower; no dinner; a long day. ¬†But a good one to look forward to in the morning: National Golf Links followed by Shinnecock ‚?? surely the Double Header Of The Year. ¬†Masochists...
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