Henry here, Mike's brother and Queensland resident. As Mike continues on the PureGolf 2010 odyssey, I've been given the honour of writing a guest blog;
After an emotionally intense twenty-four hours for PureGolf, Mike, Bryan (fellow Medical Student & good friend) and I rolled up to Bribie Island's Pacific Harbour Golf Club.
We were greeted by the immensely friendly staff, treated like VIPs and were very well looked after. In particular, the Pro running the show, Chris, did a stellar job of keeping us informed and catered for. It was a particularly nice touch that the staff badges had not only their full names, but also home town.
Pacific Harbour is managed by Troon Golf, a company that runs more than 200 courses in 26 countries. PureGolf's first Troon course for the year; certainly not the last.
Mike, having played a good 113 more rounds this year than either Bryan or myself, was charged with determining the haggle. He wisely waited for our drives on The First Tee before appointing handicaps and explaining split sixes. We all pared the opener, a 501m par 5 with a broad fairway, and a splash of water to the right.
The course, Mike tells me, has matured nicely from his previous outing here - with our parents and Grandfather Ernie - four years earlier. The scrub and native regeneration feels decidedly natural, given it was likely flattened by earth-moving equipment upon the course's creation. The bunker also had a distinctly desert-island sand-dune feel, without being overstated or facetious.
By the sixth hole, the match was rolling along nicely, with Mike holding a narrow lead over Bryan and myself. As we played our approach shots, the grey skies made good on their threats and opened wholeheartedly. This has been par for the course all week, unfortunately, and in this case would have done little to ease the flooding on several holes.
Water, the big lake (dam) type - as opposed to the casual-water-free-drop type - is certainly a feature of Pacific Harbour, and as a high handicapper, it's supposed to scare the heck out of me. That there's water on almost every hole, however, certainly makes it easier to mentally block it out. I'd say ignore, but I'm now thirteen unlucky balls poorer for my troubles, so I shan't get too confident.
At the twelfth, Mike had surged to a fourteen point lead in the split sixes, and he suggested that for holes 13 through 17, the part-timers points count for double. At eighteen, all points were doubled. Bryan's pendulous driving and iron-play netted him wins on thirteen and another of the next three holes, with another halved. In fact, Bryan lipped out for what would have been PureGolf's first associated Ace on the 140m par-3 thirteenth, before clinching a solid par for the win.
I claimed sixteen and seventeen after finally deciding my driver was more foe than friend. Seventeen, indeed, a 200ish-metre par 3 (across a beach & lake) and well defended by bunkers, saw me take full advantage of my many extra (but needed) shots.
As we stepped onto the eighteenth tee, Mike mentioned that Bribie's finishing holes were particulary memorable, from his previous outing, and that the course is easily in the top couple he's played in the Maroon State. The Pacific Harbour website says that it's just been rated as the Number 1 Public Access course in Queensland.
The picturesque 408m par-4 eighteenth runs along the opposite side of the 17th's lake, gently breaking around to the right. Now, a brief tangent; Some summers previously, I met with Mike and some friends for a day at the beach and an afternoon of solubrious banter. As one thing led to another, arm-wrestles began. That day, Mike beat me in an arm-wrestle for the first time. Today, I claimed the eighteenth hole and my maiden golfing victory over my younger brother. To be fair, he had given me more shots than those consumed at a 21st birthday party. For twins.
Bryan, almost-Ace and all, gave it a red-hot go, what he missed in putting, he recouped in goodwill with a sterling meal of shark and taties on the Bribie esplanade.
It was a pleasure to be a part of the PureGolf experience. Playing every day certainly has some unique stressors, but by gum, it looks like fun; meeting interesting folk, unique opportunities, blogging and international travel. As we drove home, Mike and Bryan slipped into the land of nod as Sgt Pepper's clicked over to A Day in the Life.
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