Without our trusty manager, Bart, on December 30 the wheels started to wobble and the puregolf machine became as rickety as a beat up ‚??88 Dodge.
First we had a dilemma with our keys. Again. (That‚??s right EHPoole, Jamie & Marc and others‚?¶)¬† Arriving back at Jucy after our final blogging session of 2010 the keys, the lifeblood of Jucy and last seen in JP‚??s possession were gone.¬† We scurried around Napier, visiting cafes and following our footsteps. Long story short, there were no keys.¬† And it was T-30 minutes until tee time.¬†
So we got on the phone and faced up to the issue. As we‚??d learnt to do.¬† Fortunately there were a few family in town to bail us out.¬† Half an hour later the golf course had been informed of our lateness and Dad was escorting us to the locksmith to get a key cut.¬† The chap came out to the car and was about to get to work when a young man, clad in black clothes, stopped to talk with JP.¬† Moments later, JP was striding up to the backpackers which Jucy was parked outside and returned, proudly, key in hand.¬† He slipped a few bob to the locksmith for coming out and, like that, we were away to the Napier Golf Club.
Now the second problem was that our less-than-reliable camera had, yet again, failed us.¬† Bart, ordinarily armed with both an iPhone 4 and his back up digital camera, was in bed.¬† The constant travel, golf and shenanigens had got too much for poor Bart.¬† A more likely explanation was that he was just tired of constantly dealing with JP and I and his body had subconsciously packed it up.¬† In any case he was under his hugely supportive mother, Maggie‚??s, watch.¬† Turns out Bart had pneumonia or something ‚?? well according to the dentist that diagnosed him. ¬†
OK, so cameraless, but in Jucy we‚??d made our late, but less than grand arrival much to the bemusement of my (also very supportive) folks, grandfather, auntie Jane & trusty source of chirp ‚?? Sarge. ¬†
But JP and I were not to play with friends or family but the current and former club president of the Napier Golf Club.¬† And this was a good thing as we learnt far more about this fine club that we would‚??ve otherwise.¬† Napier Golf Club is known around the traps as ‚??Waiohiki‚?Ě or pronounced ‚??why-hik‚??. ¬†[note Sarge & Jane won the other match probably due somewhat to Sarge's formidable banter].
Waiohiki is the home of Maori golf in NZ.¬† The course has a strong lineage of the Tareha family and as I was about to publish this blog last weekend I found myself chatting with a new cricketing friend about the history of Waiohiki.¬† It turned out that my friend, Matthew Mullaney‚??s grandmother is Audrey Mullaney (nee Tareha) who was a long time champion women‚??s golfer at Napier and for the NZ women‚??s amateur team.¬† Matt kindly gave me his honours dissertation from his study at the University of Otago to read which includes a history of the Tareha family and their link with Maori golf and the Napier Golf Club. ¬†Hopefully Matt doesn't mind me sharing a couple of paragraphs which outline the beginnings of this golf club:
‚??Kurupo was the ambassador of the Tareha family in the Pakeha world. He was a prominent member of Hawkes Bay society, a member of various sports clubs, the Hawkes Bay Agricultural and Pastoral Society and the Scinde Masonic Lodge. In 1897, as a reward for the loyalty of the Tareha family, he was selected to travel to England with the New Zealand Diamond Jubilee Contingent ‚?¶. While in Great Britain in 1897 Kurupo was taken to see the St Andrews Royal and Ancient Golf Club, and, according to family tradition, first acquired his interest in the game of golf. On his return to New Zealand, he and Te Roera (sibling) developed golf-links on 100 acres of their Waiohiki whanau land, which became known as the Waiohiki Links and later as the Napier Golf Links.‚?Ě
After the round I saw the huge painting of Kurupo on the wall in the clubhouse. ¬†He was looking very dapper in his tweed and I said he must have had some strong British influences. ¬†Turns out that happened in 1897 at St Andrews!
"Kurupo developed into a formidable player. He won the New Zealand Amateur Golf Championship at the Waiohiki Links in 1903, the Manawatu championships in 1905, and competed in championship tournaments in Dunedin and Auckland. He was an active member of the Napier Golf Club for years, and when he could no longer play, was a coach. Kurupo was one of the founders of the New Zealand Maori Golf Association, and at his death was its patron. His eldest son (my grandfather), Nga-whakapinga-o-te-rangi Tareha, better known as Kapi, was also an expert golfer who won many amateur golf championships and eventually became a professional player."
Currently there are some carvings being completed alongside the 9th hole on the course. ¬†One depicts Kapi and is below. ¬†After the round we walked around the memorabilia in the clubhouse and it was amazing how often the name Tareha featured. ¬†And generally I was impressed by the memorabilia and history being displayed in the club - this is relatively unusual in NZ compared with some more traditional golf clubs around the world. I'd like to thank the club for having Jamie and I and sharing their story with us - and also Matt for sharing the story of the Tareha golfing dynasty!
The course itself is a good track. ¬†It has lush fairways, pure greens and a solid parkland routing. ¬†There is plenty of space for aspiring golfers to practice their trade. ¬†The course plays between a couple of main roads meaning out of bounds comes into play frequently. ¬† In fact, my first shot of the day rolled across the out of bounds line - not a great start! Meanwhile JP got a closer look at the carvings on the 9th when he became all too acquainted with the road passing between the 1st and 9th holes. ¬†364 rounds in and the golf hadn't got hugely better!! ¬†Fortunately for me I had grandfather Ernie on the bag giving some sage advice. ¬†So as the hole countdown progressed down from 36 to 30, to the final 20 the mind was still (somehow) focusing on enjoying the golf. ¬† And with 20 holes to go the final eagle of the year was made, albeit on a rather generous short par five...¬†
And so that was that, 18 holes of golf to go and the 'final supper' with family before the long awaited day 365 at Cape Kidnappers.
Before I finish I'd like to mention the support of my Auntie Jane and her employer, Westfield. ¬†You've probably noticed JP and I wearing those caps every day! ¬†Westfield had faith in our task and gave us some support to achieve our goal - for this both JP and I are hugely grateful. ¬†ŰŹį?
Deep breath. Head down. It‚??s blogging time.
It has been a month since I was lying in Jucy at the Picton Ferry terminal being buffeted side to side trying to sleep against the will of Mother Nature in a particularly testy mood.¬†
Looking back the homeward run of puregolf2010 seems like years ago as after a month of settling into ‚??a crazy little thing called the normal world‚?? golf seems like a distant lost friend.
Over the coming weeks puregolf2010 will come to life again as the final few posts are put up, JP and I reminisce about a couple of favourite moments and then we say our final goodbyes.¬† I‚??m not going to lie to you, it‚??ll be emotional.
So to Rarangi Golf Club.¬† A seaside course on the northeastern tip of the South Island of our fine country.¬† Seaside, but not a links as the trees line this joint primarily to provide some respite from the wind hurtling off the pacific ocean.¬† A month of being home and we‚??ve learnt that the concept of ‚??wind‚?? is not embraced downunder as it is in bonnie Scotland.
Rarangi is a course we‚??d both played before, probably on an adventure to Malborough inspired not by golf but wine.¬† Many times during 2010 upon arrival at our hosts place a bottle of Malborough Savignon Blanc would be brought out to make us feel at home.¬† It‚??s really world famous stuff.¬† Rarangi itself is more coastal than many of the vineyards, although nearby is the brilliantly named monkey bay.
The day we played Rarangi was also one of our last big days of travel as we‚??d made the trip up from home in Christchurch.¬† So it was always going to be a pretty laid back hit as country golf in New Zealand tends to be.¬† Greeted by Diane and Graham McCarthy we were made to feel at home and even ushered into a golf cart to ease our workload on this 361st straight day of golf.¬† Sorry purists. Di and Graham were former proprietors of a hotel so you might say they were well trained at the meet and greet.¬† Energy levels were restored with a choc bar, hydration levels were restored with a powerade. Legends. ¬†A mere couple of hours later, after navigating through the tree lined but sandy course amidst the wind swirling in every direction from underneath the nearby hills, we made it back to the clubhouse, 6 birdies the better.¬† A solid day at the office and thanks to Rarangi.¬† ¬†
What I remember next is doing something we had little time for during 2010 ‚?? watching television.¬† In particular watching the Aussies get demolished by England in the ashes. ¬†If my memory serves me correctly, Jan 27 was particularly a day to forget for the Aussies as England piled on the runs in front of a packed house of disappointed Victorian fans at the MCG.¬†¬† ¬†A couple of mates were there watching in fact, and one in particular, Mr W Corke, was to fly back to join us in a few days time at the finale at Cape Kidnappers.¬† ¬†Nearly there‚?¶
I‚??m not going to lie to you. ¬†I‚??d never heard of Hawke‚??s Bay Golf Club until Bart mentioned it. ¬†I mean, one might assume there would be such a club ‚?? but for whatever reason it had never come to my attention. ¬†Nor Michael‚??s, if I understand correctly. ¬†Bart however sweated and toiled for hour upon hour throughout his formative years at the practice ground, and as a result grew into the Tremendous golfer he is today. ¬†So it has a lot of fond memories for The Gaffer. ¬†And it was only natural that with two games to tee up in the area pre-Kidnappers, we‚??d pay a visit if they‚??d have us. ¬†
Mike and I rose at Dave‚??s place to a sun intent on streaming through defenseless windows. ¬†Toyed with the idea of kicking off proceedings by inhaling a morsel of Nadine‚??s infamous Christmas cake, but held strong. ¬†Dear friend Jimmy James Harper had invited us to bruncheon at his parents‚?? place over the hills, up in the Wairarapa. ¬†Always a lovely place to go. ¬†This time was no exception ‚?? parents Vicky and Grant, and sister Alice, were present and counted. ¬†For an hour or two we sat outside under shade while Jimmy did his best to burn our eggs. ¬†Hilarity was the name of the game though, when dear mother with a swing of her tongs spat bacon fat onto James‚?? pristine white t-shirt. ¬†A dummy was spat too, for good measure. ¬†Ah, frivolous familial quarrels ‚?? gotta love ‚??em. ¬†
Lamentably we had to Roll, before James murdered poor Vicky. ¬†Pleasantly replete and looking forward to a leisurely drive, we said our farewells and got moving. ¬†Next stop: Waipukurau ‚?? habitat of Bart‚??s mother Margie. ¬†Another mother, they‚??re everywhere. ¬†Poor Bart coughed and spluttered his way out of the back door to greet us; still heavily under the weather. ¬†Pneumonia or something of the like. ¬†‚??Gay Bart‚?Ě now renamed ‚??Sick Boy‚?Ě (important to always have nicknames, for team building you see...). ¬†¬†¬†¬†
The first thing I noticed on arrival was a striking poster, for an ‚??Ebony vs. Ivory‚?Ě match on Waitangi Day (for you non-Kiwi folk, that‚??s 6 February, the date The Treaty of Waitangi was signed by Maori and the Queen‚??s representative back in 1840. ¬†Long story...). ¬†As you can see, the Ebony boys are also known as ‚??Da Bro‚??s‚?Ě and the Ivory boys as ‚??The Pro‚??s‚?Ě. ¬†Not the sort of poster you‚??d see in many golf clubs, but arguably an indication that race relations in this part of the world are healthy. ¬†
Sick Boy led us to the 10th tee to get under way. ¬†Over 400 metres of par 4, into a stiff breeze ‚?? a gentle start you might say. ¬†Or you might not. ¬†I was pleased to walk off with 5. ¬†Sick Boy must‚??ve been distraught to block his opening tee shot Out Of Bounds ‚?? in the sense that you always hope to play well at your childhood haunt. ¬†No doubt SB‚??s pummelled countless drives straight down the middle from an early age; perhaps the (self-imposed) pressure got to him. ¬†
You could see in Sick Boy‚??s eyes and tone of voice a hope for approval. ¬†This was a place holding cherished memories for him. ¬†Naturally any praise we heaped on the course would appease this tension, and on the other hand any criticism would cut deep. ¬†So when Goldy chucked his toys at low hung branches just in front of the 13th tee, the milk turned sour. ¬†For once I adopted the stance of observant bystander and didn‚??t add my 10 cents to the fire. ¬†Sick Boy ‚?? who let us remember was, at this stage, really quite Sick still ‚?? looked troubled to say the least. ¬†Fortunately it didn‚??t come to blows. ¬†Fortunately for Michael that is: Sick Boy though sick was still significantly bigger and stronger!
On a lighter note, Mike‚??s parents and grandfather arrived on the scene as we came up 18. ¬†Jeff couldn‚??t resist the invitation to join us for the front nine; and couldn‚??t believe it when Sick Boy told him he was ‚??sweet‚?Ě to wear jeans! ¬†It looked very uncomfortable. ¬†And just plain wrong. ¬†But most would agree that uncomfortable golf is better than no golf at all ‚?? and anyway what else did Jeff have to occupy his time? ¬†Wine tasting? ¬†There would be plenty time for that over the next couple of days...
As we approached the 6th green a Maori chap, Charlie, pulled up on a bike. ¬†With a kind face, massive dreadlocks and a strong handshake he greeted Sick Boy, who was obviously tickled to see his old mate. ¬†All of a sudden Bart‚??s accent changed to one befitting of a TV weatherman, much as mine probably did when I was back in Scotland. ¬†In fact I began to question whether The Gaffer was indeed of Anglo Saxon descent, or whether he‚??d had a Michael Jackson-esque procedure carried out during his teenage years before we met him. ¬†I have no doubt that if a blind man was present he might‚??ve imagined two men of Charlie‚??s appearance ‚?? rather than Charlie and a pasty Dutchman! ¬†On an unrelated note, Charlie had carded 6 birdies that day ‚?? putting our meagre total to shame...
A barbeque dinner at the Goldsteins‚?? rented cottage amongst the vines followed. ¬†All of a sudden it was starting to dawn on me that The End was close... ¬†
JP ¬† ¬†
Leading a vagrant life you‚??re going to have tumultuous nights when sleep is something you chase, not something that chases you. ¬†But there are sleepless nights and then there are, Sleepless Nights. ¬†Last night as you may have guessed by now was the latter. ¬†With a 5.30am check in for our Interislander crossing we parked up Jucy Lucy in the ferry car park the night prior. ¬†The thinking being that we‚??d save a few minutes‚?? shut eye that way. ¬†Mother Nature however had other ideas. ¬†Queen Charlotte Sound funnelled 150km/h Nor West winds (carrying torrential rain) our way. ¬†Which was very kind of her.
Michael having claimed the main cabin as his own, I found myself up above in the ‚??Row Box‚?Ě ‚?? which, when erect for sleeping, acts like a giant sail. ¬†I felt like one of those poor scallywags sent up The Endeavour‚??s mast mid-storm to untie a knot. ¬†As the hurricane gusted, Jucy rocked to and forth like a bucking bronco. ¬†And under the car park floodlights, the translucent walls of my makeshift bedroom lit up like an oriental lampshade. ¬†Not ideal conditions for sleep, it must be said. ¬†But then most people lucky to have full faculties of reason and anticipation could have told us that. ¬†Anyway.
The crossing wasn‚??t cancelled and that‚??s all that mattered. ¬†I folded myself up foetal styles under a table by a window and tried like a seasoned insomniac to switch my brain off. ¬†No such luck. ¬†Instead we poured off The Interislander wired like that poor raccoon we spotted by the 5th green at Sawgrass. ¬†Our lunchtime tee spot at Royal Wellington wasn‚??t looking so enticing in the ever heavier winds and lashing rain. ¬†They don‚??t call it The Windy City for nothin‚??. ¬†In the hope of consoling ourselves ‚?? indeed, escapism ‚?? Michael and I set course for a favourite suburban caf√© of ours. ¬†A stiff doppio and full breakfast would cure our ills. ¬†Not only was Caf√© Polo not open for the day; it wasn‚??t open again until the 18th of %#$@^!# January! ¬†Foiled. ¬†Apparently Wellington goes to sleep over the summer break, as everyone scarpers for calmer, sunnier pastures. ¬†So we set up camp at the nearby airport and attended to administrative duties for an hour or two. ¬†I was tempted to jump on a plane and escape to The Galapagos Islands. ¬†On another day I might have done just that.
Things started to look up when our host for the day ‚?? friend, mentor, last year‚??s hockey coach, next year‚??s boss ‚?? Dave, asked us up to his place for a pre-golf bruncheon. ¬†David‚??s lovely wife Nadine cooked up a storm of scrambled eggs on toast, followed by The Heaviest Most Decadent Christmas Cake Ever Baked. ¬†This thing could‚??ve anchored The Titanic. ¬†When Nadine said the special ingredient was Stone‚??s Ginger Wine, she may have thrown the bottle into the mixture too... ¬†Meanwhile we got to know Dave‚??s in-laws and watched England demolish the Aussies in Melbourne. ¬†All of a sudden Life started to course once more through my veins. ¬†Despite the force 9 gales knocking over mountains and buildings with arrogance, I was starting to feel less pessimistic about It All. ¬†Dave‚??s pal Mark (our fourth) was in with a grin too ‚?? so the parachutes were on and puregolf2010-plus-two was about to jump.
Don‚??t you love microclimates? ¬†When I tiptoed out of Dave‚??s truck onto the tarmac faint sunshine kissed me on one cheek and a gentle zephyr on t‚??other. ¬†Evidently even Mother Nature bows to those that play their golf with Her Majesty‚??s blessing. ¬†Back down the road in the Capital skyscrapers were toppling; up the road in The Rimutakas, conditions had been deemed unfit for driving. ¬†But in the midst of it all ‚?? in our own wee Royal microclimate ‚?? golf was not only possible but pleasurable. ¬†For the most part anyway. ¬†
We had the place more or less to ourselves, which is always a bonus. ¬†Hardly another golfer in sight; and not a hint of life in the clubhouse or pro shop. ¬†They‚??d all run for cover. ¬†Yet. ¬†Despite the wind and rain that had clearly swept through the Hutt Valley at some point, the course was in fantastic nick. ¬†Well drained fairways and pure greens. ¬†I‚??d played at Heretaunga once before; it was Michael‚??s first visit.
Impressions of the course? ¬†A lovely bubble around which to golf one‚??s ball. ¬†Mature trees and a couple of streams make for a therapeutic atmosphere. ¬†There aren‚??t many holes that blow you away, but Turner & MacPherson will apparently soon see to that ‚?? a far reaching re-design being in the pipeline. ¬†As it currently stands, I‚??d say Heretaunga is a Baltusrol-esque parkland layout that is agreeable without being (world) classy. ¬†With the land, water features and trees that they have, it could be really quite something. ¬†So we‚??re looking forward to seeing where they get to after The New Kids On The NZ Architecture Block take their diggers to it. ¬†A wonderful canvas, no doubt. ¬†And as I said, a pleasant paddock for golf. ¬†
Mark was great company and Dave entertained us with his pan-course adventures. ¬†In the circumstances, really a quality day out. ¬†Rounded off with a fine meal at Dave‚??s with even finer claret, and an evening of suitably philosophical chatter. ¬†(Watch out for a new political movement hatching out of Wellington next year...). ¬†Thanks David and Nadine ‚?? tres bon!