Our first full day in Oz took us to The Coast, a links course on the La Perouse coastline ‚?? a Monterey-like stretch of spectacular golfing turf. ¬†With St. Michaels immediately next door, and New South Wales (ranked #2 in Australia) just over the hill, the place is in good company (Randwick GC, which I haven‚??t played, lies just to the north). ¬†A buzzing beach lay just below the back nine, adding to the relaxed atmosphere. ¬†Like yesterday, the sun was out in spades, and the wind was fresh without being overly menacing. ¬†Lovely golfing conditions.
Wish I could say the same about the body. ¬†But in the event sore legs couldn‚??t detract from the stunning scenery at The Coast. ¬†The Pacific was a brilliant deep blue; and there was something captivating ‚?? even therapeutic ‚?? about watching the waves crash against the tabletop rocks of the national park coastline. ¬†If I‚??d concentrated more on the golf and less on the views I might have played properly. ¬†As it happened I didn‚??t, nor did Michael.
Our golf today was very much a game of two halves. ¬†The back nine was far more enjoyable than the front, for two reasons. ¬†First, I think the holes are simply better ‚?? both in terms of design and of surrounding scenery. ¬†Second, and more pertinently, the pace of play on the outward nine was snail-like. ¬†Had we done our research we would have learned that the Pennants competition is being held on Sunday afternoons currently, which means the chaps in front were lining up putts as if they were playing in the Ryder Cup. ¬†Fair play to them too; it was just one of those things (but no less frustrating for us). ¬†Realising at the outset that we were in for a long one, Michael and I asked several 2 balls in front whether they'd like to join up with us. ¬†They all declined. ¬†We must look like dodgy Kiwis. ¬†Anyway, 2 hours 45 minutes it took us to play 9. ¬†And slow golf is one of my pet hates. ¬†The frustration for me was all consuming, and ruined my concentration. ¬†One‚??s got to have respect for the pros, who appear able to maintain their focus in such adverse circumstances.
Faced with the prospect of another 3 hours or so of golf, we decided to take half time. ¬†This involved going for a dip in said beach, and having a ginger beer in the clubhouse (which, by the way, came complementary with the golf), and a quick shower, before tackling the back side. ¬†Thankfully a family 4 ball let us through on the 11th tee, allowing us to play at a more sensible pace. ¬†Really the last 8 holes were chalk and cheese when compared to the first 10, at least in our experience. ¬†For a moment there was a worry that we‚??d be playing the last couple in the dark, but as we moved briskly on that worry abated. ¬†There were some glorious holes down the stretch: I particularly liked 14 (see photo below) and 16, both short par 4s that don‚??t leave much margin for error (the former sitting atop the cliffs; the latter snaking through the scrub). ¬†17 was interesting too; it has a double, sloping fairway and the approach shot is hit over a creek to a narrow green perched above the beach. ¬†Hair raising stuff.
One thing that's stuck in my mind was the uncanny ability I showed today to hit the hole but still miss. ¬†8 lip outs, I counted. ¬†Some days they drop; others they don‚??t. ¬†Any golfer worth their salt knows that it doesn‚??t pay to dwell, and that the correct course is to banish any self pity from the mind. ¬†Coming back in 10 shots less than I went out in was enough to give me some encouragement anyway. ¬†An 86 (48; 38) for me, and an 87 for Mike (43; 44) - yielding 29 and 26 points respectively. ¬†Again the Weetbix honour then went to my friend. ¬†Perhaps he likes them.
The Coast, I'm moved to repeat, sits on a stunning piece of real estate. ¬†A couple of the views (particularly from the back 9) would stand up against the best anywhere. ¬†The course itself has a few strong holes and a few weak ones. ¬†
Unfortunately, there appears to be a problem with getting people to repair their pitch marks. ¬†Looking after your golf course was an imperative instilled in me at an early age, so failing to do so is something I struggle with. ¬†Perhaps a few of my lip outs might not have been lip outs had other players been that little bit more considerate in their actions. ¬†Respect for the golf course is something that the kids learn about at The First Tee (as a precursor and parody to learning about respect for oneself and others) - which gives me confidence that the next generation of golfers - at least in NZ - are in good hands. ¬†My gripe, however, is only a minor one; the overall experience today was a fantastic one, and we‚??re looking forward to playing next door St Michaels on Thursday. ¬†
Thanks to Gary, Robert and co at The Coast for hosting us. ¬†It was a treat of a day, the (understandably) slow play aside. ¬†¬†
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