Chisholm Park Golf Club holds special memories for us. ¬†Throughout our cherished university years we‚??d tear down State Highway 1 to Dunedin for the odd weekend, to catch up with friends studying at Otago. ¬†Invariably they were heavy episodes. ¬†Dunedin‚??s a sociable place, a town that revolves around the University and its Scottish roots. ¬†Part of the template ‚??Dunners Experience‚?Ě was a knock around Chisholm on Sunday afternoon to blow away the cobwebs, before the drive home. ¬†The prevailing wind is a stiff Sou‚?? West‚?? breeze that sweeps across the links like an All Black back rower brushes aside an opposing winger. ¬†Linksy business. ¬†The vistas over Tomohawk Bay are as spectacular and soul nourishing as anything you‚??ll see in NZ too.
With two days budgeted for Dunedin golf, Chisholm then was a no brainer. ¬†Fortunately the club were amenable to our visit, and indeed went out of their way to make us feel welcome. ¬†We arrived after a surreal-but-typical-Dunners experience the night prior (will get to that) filled with great excitement. ¬†Having been lucky now to play many of the great links of the world it‚??d be a treat to revisit one of our favourites so close to home. ¬†And it was. ¬†Andrew the Secretary Manager, in very un-Kiwi fashion, was keen to hear how we got ourselves a game at Cypress Point. ¬†‚??Can‚??t tell you all our secrets,‚?Ě I replied at the first, second and third askings. ¬†Y‚??er man spent a few years working over in the US & Canada (including a stint down at Pebble), so he was aware of what a privilege it was for us to pay a visit to one of the world‚??s top clubs. ¬†To most folk down here Cypress if anything is just another of those American courses ‚?? and in a way, that‚??s quite nice for us. ¬†Hardly a day went by in the US when we weren‚??t quizzed on how that particular invitation came about.
The night before? ¬†I think the story deserves to be told. ¬†Jucy Lucy pulled into The Gates of Dunedin circa 5pm, Saturday evening, with not a hint of purpose. ¬†No accommodation had been arranged, nor did we have anyone in mind to catch up with. ¬†So. ¬†After false starts at several university libraries ‚?? in the hunt for gratis wireless internet ‚?? we abandoned any hope of productivity. ¬†A place to rest our craniums became the focus of our attention. ¬†But where, I hear you ask. ¬†Well, Michael directed us towards his favourite bar in the world in the hope of inspiration. ¬†Mou Very (French, translation: soft and squidgy) is, so They proclaim, ‚??probably the smallest bar in the universe.‚?Ě ¬†A wee gem, so it is.
At Mou Very we pondered our (lack of) options over a pint of our favourite tonic, Emerson‚??s Pilsener (brewery nearby). ¬†Bart‚??s Formiddable Chat wafted into the ears of the unsuspecting barmaid ‚?? as it has a tendency to do ‚?? and soon conversation turned to our sleeping arrangements. ¬†As fate would have it there was a chap upstairs with a gallery adjacent to his flat, in which he often let couchsurfers and other flavours of vagrants rest their heads. ¬†Before long y‚??er man appeared. ¬†Larry‚??s an ex-university academic from Washington who now directs his talents towards magic and the arts. ¬†A character, it must be said. ¬†Without hesitation he invited puregolf2010 to be his guests, both for the night and at a magic show he was soon to put on for a friend‚??s daughter that had graduated that day. ¬†Not only that either. ¬†Later into the evening ‚?? which was punctuated by chance encounters with an eclectic bunch of humans downstairs at Mou Very ‚?? we were invited to wander through Larry‚??s gallery under candlelight while he prized soft melodies from his piano next door. ¬†There were singalongs too. ¬†An evening to remember. ¬†Though when I woke up on the gallery floor in my sleeping bag I was entirely mystified, not for the first time ‚?? where the hell am I?
After a wonderful breakfast in town with friends ‚?? our favourite dairy farmers, the Le Herons ‚?? who also happened to be in town, we found ourselves at Chisholm. ¬†Heavy wind disturbed the calm. ¬†I felt more alive than I had an hour or two prior, though. ¬†A delightful pair approached and were to accompany us around the links. ¬†Alistair‚??s the club captain, and is heavily involved with Otago Golf. ¬†Lovely chap and a fairly good golfer at that. ¬†Joan's originally a farm girl but now spends her days at the School Of Dentistry; more to the point she reminded me a lot of the inspiring Bell Robertson whom we encountered back on Day 233 at Machrihanish. ¬†Fitter than most people 20 years her junior, an immaculate golfer and that same placid-but-no-nonsense disposition you find in daughters of farmers. ¬†Ideal company on a blustery Sunday.
There are several high notes on the walk ‚??round. ¬†Take the short par 4 3rd green, for example ‚?? a narrow hourglass that slopes up to the mid point and down from then onwards. ¬†For a downhill drivable hole without bunkers, the green is an ideal one ‚?? although word is it attracts protestations from the older members who can‚??t spin the ball! ¬†Then there‚??s the jaw droppingly gorgeous 9th: a par 4 that plays along the clifftop, and across the beach below if you tee off from the blacks. ¬†New Zealand‚??s answer to the 8th at Pebble. ¬†Sadly the outcrop behind the green is a favourite spot for ‚??jumpers‚?Ě, but common sense has prevailed and a proposal to erect a big fence scrapped ‚?? if They want to jump they‚??ll find a way to jump. ¬†The 9th, anyway, is an experience not to be missed. ¬†In a stern Sou‚?? Wester‚?? gargantuan waves roll hurriedly into Tomohawk Bay, sometimes carrying the odd surfer with them. ¬†Brave souls...
By the time we reached shelter, after a frustrating day of missed putts, the clubhouse was an appealing proposition. ¬†Joan's husband George, Andrew and Brian the club numbers man joined us around the table for a chinwag and a few packets of crisps. ¬†So too did Bart and his mate James, who‚??d played around behind us. ¬†From the group came a couple of donations and fine hospitality ‚?? we left yearning to return another day. ¬†Chisholm‚??s a real delight and, as is the case with many provincial clubs, it‚??s the people that help make it what it is. ¬†Thanks to the aforementioned humans for a tremendous few hours of struggle, fresh air and banter.
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