Thank God for a decent sleep. Last night 3 of us slept on a single bed, in a coffin of a room. Well, a single bed that we turned into a double bed, by taking the mattress off the base. It was cosy without being comfortable. Just as well Goldy, Jirv and me are good mates. Anyway.
This morning I awoke much fresher, and enjoyed breakfast at Colin's that much more because today's golf course - Sandhurst - was a 3 minute drive away. No stress. In fact, with the sun out in spades, and Colin's cantankerous dog Sam still asleep, I was more relaxed than a Buddhist monk in hibernation. Ahhhh.
Mike and I met the charming Mike Hauser - from Tourism Victoria, who joined us last week down the road at Moonah - in an alleyway of the labyrinth clubhouse at Sandhurst. Either I was still half asleep, or the signposting could have been better, because we had no idea where the entrance was. Eventually we found Michael, and the pro shop (after circumnavigating the entire building, which is very plush by the way). It's the Home of the Australian PGA, so hardly surprising that the facilities were sharp. It looks like they've sold a fair few plots 'round here too (it's a residential development, American styles), no doubt to people mesmerised by the magnetic pull of this great big new building.
There are 2 tracks out here - the North Course (I think the more established of the two), and the Champions Course (designed by Peter Thompson; apparently the tougher of the two). PT likes his bunkers. The Champions Course - like other Thompson courses we've played of late - is full of the bloody things. A lot of them aren't even in play; maybe he just likes the look of 'em.
Michael "I never miss a fairway" Hauser drove the ball - as he did last week - like someone who's hitting fairways to save his life/house/marriage/kids' lives. Even his mishits somehow snuck over bumps and hollows onto the edges of the carpet. Uncanny. His irons were just as deadly on the whole, so Michael (who claims to play off a 15, but next time we play with him I'm asking for proof) knocked it 'round in 84 (a total that could've been a lot lower were it not for a couple of loose ones down the stretch, and a double on 18). Good golf and good banter - who knew Aussies had a sense of humour? He pointed out on one of the par 5s a hallmark of Thompson courses of which I was unaware...purple bouncy castles used as line guides off the tee (there was one in the distance, perched in the back yard of a house plucked right off the set of The Truman Show, marking the perfect line for a thumping drive). Who knew?
The haggle, like the week before, was split 6s. Hauser wanted another crack at us, after I took out the honours at Moonah (Legends). Despite his arrow like driving, I pipped him to the post again, and Michael brought up the rear once more. A record toppled today too, I'm pleased to report: 5 birdies for me (the rest was pretty indifferent but who cares). Goldy had 3. Just as well because the birdie counter was beginning to stagnate (despite Goldy's sterling effort at National (Old) yesterday, with 4).
Sandhurst wasn't the most taxing track, especially when you play it the day after The Leviathon Course at The National (the Old Course, I mean). The development is still in its infancy; Mike and I couldn't help wondering how much the developer would've made here, pawning off section after section peering across Thompson's handywork. What was probably once a humble farm outside Melbourne is now a village in itself - much like Pegasus Town which has sprung up near Christchurch, back in NZ. Amazing the number of people that want to live right on a golf course...
If you play at Sandhurst, take a cart. A few of the holes are separated by 300 metres of pathway (the course presumably having been stretched out so you can plonk more houses "just off the fairway"?). If you play there, stop and check out the big river gums too. They're awesome. Admittedly I like my trees more than your average rooster, but these fings are grand. Must be 2000 years old. Or more. Don't get too close though as I did, because they take big chunks out of your golf ball.
Thanks to Sandhurst and to the PGA for hosting us; and to MH for joining us. A quality morning and a fine way to wrap up our time on the Mornington Peninsula. Tomorrow we head at the crack of dawn to Yarra Yarra, to begin our sandbelt assault. Might be a few more trees to contend with. And city traffic.
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