‚??Twas a game of three halves today. ¬†Or three thirds, I should say. ¬†Like a cricket test. ¬†The morning session was spent on admin, catching up on bits & bobs and the like. ¬†The afternoon session was golf time. ¬†And the evening session was the best of the lot, spent having dinner with friends we met a few weeks ago in Sydney.
Last night Luke (aka host / chief champ boss captain skipper) took Goldy and I and our old mate Cam out for dinner, to his local pub. ¬†A great wee suburban labrynth-like spot, with more nooks and crannies than an antique shop. ¬†It being a balmy Melbourne evening we sat out in the beer garden, and put the world to rest for hours. ¬†The conversation must‚??ve been good because time got away on us, and before we knew it the watch had ticked over the wrong side of midnight. ¬†Ah well, not to worry ‚?? we had an afternoon tee time ahead, so would be able to lie in. ¬†Ha. ¬†Not so. ¬†With all these early starts I can‚??t now sleep past 7.30...
An admin session in the morning, as I said. ¬†Our days seem to get busier and busier, and lists that once upon a time I would‚??ve been able to get through in a morning now span several days. ¬†Perhaps it‚??s ‚??cos I keep adding to them as I go. ¬†Anyway. ¬†Among other things I saw to my most important task for the day (send a postcard to the missus). ¬†It wasn‚??t the most beautiful postcard (it came free with our room at the Portsea Hotel, which also came free) - but puregolf2010 budgets don‚??t permit extravagance in any respect, let alone postcards. ¬†Hopefully she‚??ll just be pleased to receive one. ¬†I say hopefully.
After getting about half way through my daily list, it was time to play golf. ¬†Again. ¬†Where does all the time go? ¬†Course number 76 was Spring Valley, self-described as ‚??the hidden gem of the sandbelt‚?Ě. ¬†Like others in recent days it‚??s tucked away down some suburban lane; I have no idea how people that don‚??t have Google Maps on their iPhone find these places. ¬†SV had very kindly come to the party at the last minute, on the back of a phonecall yesterday from the kind GM at Woodlands, John. ¬†(Not sure if I mentioned the other day, but the Yarra booking had been shifted at the 11th hour, leaving a gap today, which had to be filled of course). ¬†So quite apart from being kind enough to host us, SV did so at the last minute and for that we were very grateful.
The members comp was on but unfortunately we hadn‚??t been paired with anyone for the round. ¬†Instead we hit off 10 ‚?? a short par 3 with a plateau green and 63993 bunkers around it (see below) ‚?? on our lonesome. ¬†I knocked it to 6 feet and duly missed. ¬†Which was unfortunate. ¬†Although finding the putting surface was a feat in itself for me, since the wind was blowing hard right to left and I play a draw and the green (in fact everything) was Tony Greig hawrd & fawst. ¬†Indeed holding onto the greens proved tricky all day, a challenge we‚??d been expecting to encounter at Yarra & Woodlands the last couple of days, but hadn‚??t. ¬†For what reason I know not. ¬†In any case it made pitching from 50 metres a lot of fun; trying to clip one off bare lies and generate a bit of check is one of golf‚??s trying experiments, and when it comes off nothing else in the world matters. ¬†It came off less often than not today, but there was the odd one to bring us back.
Teeing off at 1.15 we had the heat of the day to contend with. ¬†That hairdryer-like wind only served to enhance my dusty demeanour, and got the sweat glands working overtime. ¬†In fact at one stage I think I even managed to fall asleep for a few brief moments while waiting on one of the tees (play was slow). ¬†Now that‚??s a power nap. ¬†Not that it did me any good. ¬†Nor did the smell coming off the dump next door, which was intoxicating.
In the sheds afterwards we got chatting to a few of the locals, who were a friendly bunch. ¬†One of ‚??em (whom we didn‚??t actually speak to) took a fancy to Goldy in the showers, but I‚??ll let him tell that story. ¬†
After what was a bit of a slog in the heat, Mike and I were both looking forward to the evening session. ¬†Captain John Taylor and his girlfriend, Hana, are the couple we met back in Sydney at PrIvate Course X a couple of weeks ago. ¬†They‚??re from Melbourne, and have just got back from a golf tour around the South Island of Aotearoa. ¬†Anyway they kindly invited us out for dinner, to an Italian joint they go to every Wednesday called Fazio‚??s. ¬†John & Hana are a lot closer to my grandparents‚?? age than they are to ours‚??, but Mike and I are used to ‚?? and very much enjoy ‚?? hanging out with older folk. ¬†It‚??s nice having friends of all vintages, and to learn from those with much more experience than we young ‚??uns. ¬†
We had a great evening. ¬†Fazio‚??s is a bustling family restaurant, on Hampston Street just down the road from Royal Melbourne. ¬†By 7.30 the place was packed with people of all ages, shapes and sizes. ¬†Young families; ladies night out; golden oldies; thirty something guys out for a bite. ¬†We even ran into the Head Pro from Yarra Yarra ‚?? Andrew Bertram ‚?? who‚??s a top bloke. ¬†Hana (who‚??s a school teacher) taught his brother. ¬†Small world. ¬†My porcini mushroom, broad bean and mascarpone risotto was memorable. ¬†Mike had some seafood linguine creation that looked pretty special, if you‚??re into eating sea creatures (I‚??m not). ¬†Growing up I was the fussiest eater known to man, but since my mid teens I‚??ve come ‚??round to eating just about everything; seafood, however, is the last bastion of my food prejudices. ¬†I may never conquer it.
We‚??re meeting John and Hana next week ‚?? same time, same place ‚?? on our last evening in Melbourne, before we head to Geelong. ¬†Already I can‚??t wait.
Tonight we‚??re staying smack bang in the middle of the big smoke. ¬†Driving from Fazio‚??s up the Nepean Highway, past the Crown Casino, over the Yarra and into the CBD, we were hypnotised by the bright lights. ¬†Feels like a while since we‚??ve been in a big city. ¬†Even in Sydney we spent most of our time in the Eastern Suburbs. ¬†I love Melbourne. ¬†So does Goldy. ¬†Tourism Victoria have very generously put us up in a Quest Apartment for a couple of nights, so we don‚??t leave without catching some of this place‚??s epic buzz. ¬†I could live here. ¬†In fact I think I will, at some stage. ¬†Anyway we checked into our plush pad around 9.30, shattered, but couldn‚??t resist heading out for a gander ‚??round the streets. ¬†People everywhere. ¬†Smells like a city. ¬†Restaurants were busy; we found little bars tucked away down little lanes; the trams were flying up and down Swanston Street; we didn‚??t stop anywhere, but just wandered around taking it all in. ¬†It‚??s St. Paddy‚??s Day, but we couldn‚??t pluck up the energy to grab ourselves a Guinness. ¬†I‚??m half Irish, so such abstinence is nigh on sacreligious, but self preservation is the imperative for the moment, particularly since we‚??re playing at Victoria ‚?? one of the best courses in Aussie ‚?? at 8am. ¬†Another early start. ¬†And another great day under our belts.
Thanks for Spring Valley for hosting us and to John & Hana for a wonderful meal. ¬†Ta‚??ra for now.
P.S. JP won fairways (with a measly 5) and the putts (with a mediocre 30); Goldbanger won the Greens (I think with 6). ¬†Needless to say we weren't firing on all cylinders! ¬†Will do better at Victoria in the morning.
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