I‚??m coming to you from the famous Portsea Hotel, trying to catch my breath after a marathon day. ¬†It began earlier than most, at 5.50am, when Mike Hosking from Newstalk ZB rang for an interview. ¬†Even though his lovely producer Lucy called yesterday to remind us about the slot, I managed to forget all about it until the moment when my phone blared over-enthusiastically at the anti-social hour of 5.49. ¬†Oops. ¬†The fact that I can‚??t remember one thing about the interview probably means I sleep talked my way through it ‚?? inevitably making for some less than enthrawling radio. ¬†Sorry Newstalk ZB listeners. ¬†Will do better.
Got some more shuteye then sadly handed in our keys at Moonah Links after a very comfortable 2 night stay. ¬†Batteries recharged after The Night Spent In The Car on Tuesday. ¬†The other lad and I then made our way to The Dunes, to spend a couple of hours on admin / chillaxing before golf. ¬†Jamie and Debbie and the other staff members were very (and instantly) hospitable; they joined us on the deck for a chat and kindly offered us a few goodies to auction off for The First Tee. ¬†¬†One of the warmest welcomes we‚??ve received all year. ¬†The Dunes though privately owned is a public course, so there‚??s certainly no hint of the elitism or snobbery that unfortunately can plague the odd private club or two. ¬†They cater very well to golfers of all shapes and sizes ‚?? both on the course and off. ¬†Just a very nice place to be. ¬†And good value too, something I‚??ll get back to in a bit.
Sunrise (the Aussie #1 breakfast TV show, for you Kiwis/Brits/Russians/Czechs, etc out there) sent a crew out to do a shoot. ¬†The lovely Nuala and her partners in crime arrived late morning, after we‚??d had time to ease ourselves into the day (Mike even had time for a putting lesson from a guru whose name escapes me on the practice green). ¬†(It didn‚??t help). ¬†
The inevitable circus ensued. ¬†3 tee shots each were struck off the 1st tee ‚?? which if nothing else was good for a bit of practice. ¬†2 and a half hours to play the first 3 holes. ¬†TV... ¬†We had a bit of fun, under pressure to come up with some worthwhile banter (Nuala hadn‚??t been impressed with our ‚??talent‚?? after checking out our Breakfast performance back home). ¬†Boring lawyers don‚??t make for good TV. ¬†Apparently. ¬†To be fair she‚??s dead right; we‚??re the first to admit that acting is not our forte. ¬†We‚??re rubbish. ¬†And acting is exactly what you need to do when a great big hairy camera is watching your every move (and the sound man can hear every utterance that spits out of y‚??er mouth). ¬†
Staged and slow it may have been, but Nuala and co were doing their job and doing it well, and we appreciated them coming down for the day. ¬†They were even good enough to shout us lunch back in the shed before we shot off back to work (to play the remaining 15 holes). ¬†Yes I said ‚??work‚??. ¬†Once the cameras were away and the story had been shot, it was nice getting the chance to sit down with the crew for a more informal chat ‚?? 3 good people. ¬†We also came across a bunch of super friendly locals in the clubhouse, all of whom were happy to bend our ear for a few minutes and share an interesting tale or two. ¬†At that stage I‚??d clean forgotten that we had to go and play golf again. ¬†(Before anyone starts I use the term ‚??had‚?? there tongue in cheek; as you‚??ll hear in a minute, if you‚??re patient enough, The Dunes was a rip snorter of a golf course, one of the best ‚?? I know we keep saying that, but it‚??s dam well true ‚?? of the Aussie leg to date).
So back to the course we went, under blue skies and a light zephyr or two. ¬†The Dunes as I said is a public course set in, well, sand dunes, towards the south west of the Mornington Peninsula. ¬†Can‚??t believe it only costs AU$50 or so to play here (circa NZ$1400 at the current exchange rate). ¬†Factoring in the competition in the area I guess it makes sense that prices need to be competitive ‚?? but to be able to play the 14th best course in ‚??Straya for the same price as a couple of pizzas is pretty special. ¬†Ridiculous actually. ¬†
We‚??ve heard from a few folk ‚?? including Mike‚??s old man ‚?? that The Dunes is one to watch down ‚??ere. ¬†It certainly lived up to its billing. ¬†Then some. ¬†You need to play all the shots on your way round; you need to be a good bunker player unless you‚??re dead-eye-dick off the tee; you need to putt well; and you don‚??t need to be Tiger Woods to enjoy it. ¬†In fact that for me was one of the most brilliant things about The Dunes ‚?? the back tees are long enough to keep the John Daly‚??s of this world happy, but there are a whole swag of milder tees to make the course accessible and playable for people of all abilities. ¬†You can‚??t say that about all the great courses.
The scenery was spectacular too. ¬†It was one of those days ‚?? a bit like Kauri Cliffs (Day 1) and Kinloch (Day 10) ‚?? when I couldn‚??t put the camera away. ¬†¬†After every shot I was snapping away, trying to capture the beauty of this place. ¬†Being the punter of a photographer that I am the snaps below won‚??t do justice to the views, the contours or the holes themselves ‚?? but you might at least get a sense of what I‚??m on about. ¬†Farting around for 6 hours earlier in the day turned out to be a blessing in disguise, in that coming down the back 9 the shadows grew long and it felt like we were playing in the British Open (save for the absent galleries, barmy temperatures, and poor golf).
I know we‚??ve waxed lyrical for about 2 weeks now on the subject of bunkering. ¬†Those of you that are lucky enough to have been to the Mornington will I hope forgive us, since you‚??ll know just how well the sandpits are cut down here. ¬†Anyway this morning/afternoon/evening might just have been the best example we‚??ve seen yet. ¬†To back up this bold claim I offer this explanation: diversity diversity diversity. ¬†On one hole you can have huge lunar-like waste bunkers, pimple-like pots and orthodox (but in no way characterless) greenside traps. ¬†Some of the beasts we‚??ve come across of late have been one dimensional in their approach to this key aspect of golf course design. ¬†But whoever designed The Dunes has nailed it. ¬†As I said before, all the shots.
I could go on and on about the course, but I‚??ll spare you the boredom. ¬†Check out the pictures and see for yourself. ¬†Then play the course. ¬†As soon as possible. ¬†Better value and friendlier service you will struggle to find Anywhere.
Day 71 being the eventful beast that it was, there was never a dull moment. ¬†On our way to the car ‚?? at about 8 pm or so ‚?? we ran into a chap and his wife that we‚??d come across out on the course (when I hit a God awful block off the 15th tee onto the hole they were playing). ¬†By chance I asked him if he‚??d had any more birdies coming down the stretch (we saw him sink a raker); he hadn‚??t, but he did ask whether we‚??d left clubs behind. ¬†‚??No, don‚??t think so,‚?Ě replied Mick. ¬†‚??Oh hang on, now you mention it, I do have a tendency to lose things...I‚??ll check...yes, they‚??re mine, thanks...etc etc etc.‚?Ě ¬†The privileged readers among you that know Michael personally will know that he loses more possessions than he has 3 putts. ¬†(Actually that‚??s not fair, he is a very good putter. ¬†But is a careless human that loses things lots. ¬†But a Great Man in all other respects). ¬†Anyway we got chatting to Terry and Katie ‚?? lovely salt of the earth folks from Croydon way, that holiday down here from time to time ‚?? for a good while, before we had to head off to pick up Jirv from Sorrento. ¬†Another couple of top quality humans.
I mentioned Jirv yesterday. ¬†He‚??s a friend of many years; one of the most entertaining and mercurial chaps you‚??ll ever come across; a med student at Deakin in Geelong; and our cameraman tomorrow at The National (a role he‚??s very excited about). ¬†Jirv being the champion that he is took the ferry across from the other side to join us for a few days of light hearted banter. ¬†We‚??ve been having a whale of a time down here, but having a good friend join us has lifted spirits even higher. ¬†Evening has just kicked off with a couple of well earned cold ones and pizzas on the jetty at Portsea. ¬†It‚??s beautiful down here, and the boards are humming with optimistic punters with a line or two in hand hoping to snag tomorrow‚??s dinner. ¬†¬†Pizza and a beer on the jetty here beats fillet mignon at The Four Seasons any day of the week.
We‚??ll be chopping it ‚??round one of the most revered courses in these parts ‚?? The Old Course at The National ‚?? tomorrow arvo, with a local lad we met a few minutes ago in the Hotel. ¬†Another one for the scrapbook, I‚??m picking.
Wonderful undulations on the par 3 6th hole at The Dunes
Michael dwarfed by the countours
One of a several blind tee shots, this one's the par 5 6th¬†
Gnarly greenside bunkering¬†
Gotta stay on the green stuff...
Stunning view from the 15th tee
The "six pack" bunkers off the right of the 15th fairway¬†
The beautiful par 3 17th, described by Tom Watson as "an exquisite hole"¬†
Semi-blind 18th tee shot, a nice opportunity to open the shoulders and give it one last thump¬†
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