At 6.30am, no less. ¬†After a broken sleep on the sofa ‚?? wondering whether Santa, Rudolph & Co would make it down as far as Aotearoa ‚?? I found myself in a mother‚??s Happy Christmas embrace, wondering why on earth I was awake at such an anti-social hour. ¬†Was it because I‚??d written to The Man In Red asking for a Scalextric set, or for a Nintendo 64, and I‚??d been snatched from sleep by excitement? ¬†Not a bit of it. ¬†That was soooooooo 1994. ¬†Ah yes, the penny dropped: golf.
I grabbed a few plums, inhaled a black coffee and poured into the car with dad, who‚??d been brave enough to sign up for Day 359. ¬†Mick opted to stay in town, and so had a 45 minute hike through to Waimakariri Gorge GC to look forward to. ¬†Strangely enough it wasn‚??t that unsettling a sensation to be en route to the golf course on Christmas Morning. ¬†Just part of our routine, really. ¬†It‚??s a subject that‚??s come up in conversation eight hundred times this year ‚?? playing on the anniversary of Christ‚??s birthday. ¬†I never took it as that startling that, as with every other day, we‚??d be pulling our sticks out of the car. ¬†And so the novelty value wasn‚??t terribly apparent.
Two keen figures stood chatting in the car park when we arrived. ¬†Godfrey was a member who‚??d contacted us with the kind offer of a cart, that we may whip around super quick and be back in time for almond croissants. ¬†In endearing country course fashion, said cart was perched atop a trailer and tied down with glorified dental floss. ¬†Y‚??er man also looks after assorted promotional activities for the club, so took an obligatory snap or two in front of the clubhouse. ¬†T‚??other fella was one of my Scottish brethren, from up Tain way. ¬†A member of Royal Dornoch, Colin had been following our exploits throughout the year but our paths hadn‚??t had the chance to cross ‚?? until now. ¬†So he came out, on Christmas Morning, to walk around Waimak‚?? with us and put down a $100 donation for the first birdie carded. ¬†Quite amazing really.
Godfrey walked the first few, and Colin the full round. ¬†With not another soul in sight, we had the place to ourselves; indeed it felt like the whole of North Canterbury ‚?? in its wide open expansive glory ‚?? was still asleep. ¬†Mount Oxford watched over us dutifully and the sun provided ample lighting. ¬†A beautiful morning for golf. ¬†
Despite relatively consistent play, it wasn‚??t until the 11th that a birdie finally dropped! ¬†I was beginning to apprehend that we were keeping Colin from his beloved, but he assured us that ‚?? at the clip we were playing ‚?? he‚??d be back in plenty time anyway. ¬†Two and a half hours it took us, give or take. ¬†An ideal pace of play, I would say. ¬†
Views of the Waimak‚?? Gorge proved distracting for a few moments as we stood on the 8th and 17th tees ‚?? which play from opposite ends of a gully to greens whose borders flirt with each other shamelessly. ¬†Plainly they should be adjoined. ¬†Then there‚??s the walk up the brae to 12 green, which gets the blood gushing through one‚??s calf muscles (or what‚??s left of them anyway...). ¬†At the end of which comes just reward: the best view on the course, across the gorge to Mount Hutt. ¬†I wonder whether the green has been deliberately pitched at a severe angle, so as to encourage play back and forth from one end to t‚??other, permitting several opportunities to take in the vista. ¬†Even acute rage at a third thinned chip shot could be soothed by a picture so lovely. ¬†A fourth? ¬†I‚??m not so sure... ¬†(And yes, Goldy is wearing a Santa hat below).
Playing up the 18th my memory was taken back to The Portnoo Trophy of 2009, which concluded with a 20 foot breaking birdie putt to force a half. ¬†Dad was spitting tacks; mum on the other hand, being the neutral on looker, was thrilled to see honours shared. ¬†I suspect Waimak‚?? might hold great excitement over the coming years as a venue for The Trophy. ¬†After a heated battle, it‚??s only a 10 minute drive back home to Crossnacreevy ‚?? so if we‚??re not talking to each other there‚??s not too far to go!
Thanks to Godfrey for coming along and the kind offer of a cart; to Colin for his fine company and generous donation; and to my father for enduring my company for a full 16 hours on Christmas Day. ¬†A wonderful morning of golf under blue skies, among good souls.
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