Dodgy had a guest rider today ‚?? a guest by the name of John Sabino who is hosting us at his place and his club of Hidden Creek today. We met John and his pals Chris and Tom on the course in Melbourne Australia and have kept in touch throughout the year.¬† Tom was the guy who loved his ‚??Booags beers‚??.
Dodgy was happy to have another team member along for the ride, so happy that upon turning onto the Turnpike he signaled his glee by jerking the windscreen wipers up into the vertical position.¬† And there they have rested since‚?¶ By the way Dodgy is for sale on Craigslist and we need a buyer so if you‚??ve ever thought about taking a road trip across the US you know who to call.¬† I know we‚??re going to be sad to see him go.. ¬†
John Sabino has what you‚??d call a deliberate take away. And whilst this episode is occurring on each shot his shoes have a habit of letting out an almighty squeak reminiscent of a mouse caught in a trap with cheese stuck in its gullet.¬† Jamie, his playing partner, kindly pointed out these sound effects on the second hole and from this point onwards we were all, including John, trying not to laugh each time his shoes started squaking. ¬†
Hidden Creek is a course that not too many folk have heard about. It‚??s a pretty private joint down in the south part of New Jersey set up by the owner who wanted to replicate the pure golf set up at Pine Valley. So there are no developments, no bells and whistles (eg definitely no cart girls with skimpy skirts) and just a golf course, clubhouse, dining room and a lodge for golfers to stay at.¬†
When you‚??re going to create a golf haven for the purists like this one you need to engage some good designers to build a quality course.¬† And so Messers Coore and Crenshaw were shipped in to build this treasure.¬† This is our second course designed by these two chaps (first being Sugarloaf Mountain) and the two courses definitely have a similar flavour. ¬†I‚??ve taken some time to look at a couple others designed by these chaps ‚?? Sand Hills in Nebraska - which is a hugeley revered inland links course in the middle of nowhere, and Friars Head up in Long Island which we might play next week. ¬†Some characteristics of Coore and Crenshaw courses are:
- Generous fairways but you need to be in the right part of the fairway to have a decent shot into the green.¬† Similar to Mackenzie.¬† Take for example the short par four 8th.¬† The green has a huge lump in the green. The pin was to the left of the lump and thus coming in from the right hand side of the fairway was nigh on impossible.
- A firm and natural feel.¬† The course hasn‚??t been soaked in water and if you‚??re hitting a draw expect the ball to bound to the left.¬† The fairways play hard and you don‚??t quite know where the ball is going to bounce.¬† As said by former USGA president William C Campbell, ‚??bad bounces and bad breaks do happen in golf and life, and you don‚??t always get what you deserve.‚??¬† But with the course playing firm like this you can cling to the possibility that, from a bad spot, you might make a good recovery by rolling the ball up to the green.
- The greens are huge and you need to think about where on (or off) the green you want to be approaching the hole from.¬† Many of the greens have a number of sections and there may be a three or four club difference between hitting to the front or the back of the green.
- Trouble that compounds.¬† If you hit a good drive you will often have a straight forward iron shot into a large green.¬† But if you start going awry there are all kinds of hazards that, if you don‚??t play smart, will compound to really bite you. For example there are numerous cross bunkers between 100 ‚?? 30 yards short of par four green.
Our match was a tad one sided with Slambino making full use of his 10 shots to win a number of holes.¬† Chris has just got some new irons and has a case of ‚??the-new-clubs-wont-bloody-work‚??. ¬†I had a case of '4 putt from 15 feet' Ugly. Seen it before and I have no idea how to diagnose it. The nickname Slambino? It comes from this video:
After golf we were fortunate enough to stay in the lodge. Which was First Rate. We chilled out, showered up and then went back to the restaurant for another First Rate dinner.¬† We drank some wine, shared golfing stories and bantered generally all night.¬† A couple of cigars and some strange formats of New Jersey Poker later and it was time to call it a day. A mighty fine day at that so huge thank you to the lads in particular John for hosting us down here.¬† Slambino is off to Scotland tomorrow for a wee golfing trip, look forward to hearing all about it later in the week. 2 weeks till we‚??re there and the excitement is building!¬†
After knocking it around at Forest Creek we headed north to Durham North Carolina to stay with Patti and John Inman.¬† These guys are really good friends with Phil and Mel Tataurangi and had extended us an invitation to the ‚??Inman Inn‚?Ě on route to our game of golf the next morning at the TPC Wakefield Plantation course in Raleigh.
John Inman is a well known chap amongst the North Carolina golfing fraternity because of his career on the tour and now thru his role as Head Coach of the golf team at University of North Carolina.¬† In fact he was out recruiting today and will continue to do so tomorrow. By recruiting, he (along with coaches from all the other universities) is following every move of certain high school golfers at the summer golf tournaments and trying to convince them that UNC is the best place for them to further their golf and academic careers. ¬†Scholarships are offered up and tours of the campus are given.¬† It all sounds like competitive stuff and a far cry from the entirely non-existent college sport scene back in New Zealand.¬† John has a pretty good product to sell as from all accounts as UNC has produced a number of fine tour professionals (like John himself and Davis Love who were on the College team together).¬†¬†
We sat around enjoying an amazing home cooked meal (which crucially included plenty of vegetables) hearing about the world of the Inman‚??s here in Durham, North Carolina.¬† We also saw where the vegetables were grown ‚?? an impressive vegetable garden had been cultivated in the back garden, complete with a tin sheep from New Zealand. You see, the Inman‚??s are a rare breed of Americans from these parts who have actually managed to make it down to New Zealand ‚?? and no fewer than 6 times normally corresponding with the NZ Open.
Patti also was kind enough to decorate Dodgy, with a Tar Heels Golf Academy magnet ‚?? this is the golf academy that they are running over the next few weeks (think summer camp for golf).
The next morning we made it to the TPC course and were the second group away on the first.¬† I was really stiff and bunted my first few shots around to be happy with bogey golf.¬† Our brains were not fully switched on to golf, and on the fourth hole, a 480 yard brute of a par four, we hit off before checking the course guide. Thus we didn‚??t factor in the stream running across the fairway and made a couple more bogeys: Jamie courtesy of a drop, and myself a hack out of the bank.¬†This¬†evil hole is pictured below - still gives me nightmares. Oh and I forgot to mention the 80 yard long green which JP managed to two putt his way from the front egdge to a back pin - well played son.
All TPC courses are generally stretched out to some exorbitant length to extend the pro‚??s when tournaments are played.¬† Indeed, Wakefield Plantation hosted a nationwide event within the last few weeks.¬† We heard that the scoring was VERY low during that week at around 20 under for three rounds. Amazing really considering this course plays about 7300 yards and is really tight in parts. It goes to show that simply stretching a golf course out will not result in Pebble Beach like scoring.¬† When you do stretch the course out it really exposes the gulf between low-ish amateurs like Jamie and I and the tour player. If you can‚??t bomb it consistently 300 yards I think this course is tough.¬†¬†¬†¬†
I particularly enjoyed the last couple of holes on the front nine which were both strong par fours. The 8th plays downhill so the 480 yard measurement is not as ghastly as it sounds. Although if you don‚??t get a drive away there is a gully short of the green which you can‚??t roll the ball up.¬† The 9th curves to the left and has a bunker smack bang in the middle of the fairway. If you take it left of the bunker the lake comes into play ‚?? as I found out. But had I not hit such a strong draw I would have been sitting pretty 120 yards from the pin. Shake it off.. First Tee styles..
The back nine tightens up a fair bit off the tee and you really need to be hitting it both long and straight to make some pars (let alone birdies).¬† The 18th (pictured below courtesy of our sweet camera which was on top form today)¬†is one of those stadium finishes that makes your mouth water. A downhill par five crossing a stream before the green is nestled under the clubhouse. A beautiful finish.
After the round we spent some time with Michael Thomas who works in the marketing team here at the TPC Wakefield Plantation. Michael was a Top Notch host and we were able to relax and enjoy a nice lunch before our drive north to Richmond. We also met the general manager, Kirk, and shared our crazy story with him. Both these guys were as enthusiastic as they come ‚?? something that really gives me motivation as the days in this golfing marathon tick by.¬† Crucially, we were also treated to a new pair of shorts to add to our golfing uniform. Both of us have been low on shorts of late so it is key to add a second pair of shorts to the rotation (my lack of shorts is courtesy of the poor tailoring of Industrie clothing inc ‚?? don‚??t buy such shorts if you want them to last more than 12 rounds). ¬†Photo‚??s with dodgy and business cards swapped and off we went ‚?? in the newly branded ‚??tar heel golf academy Dodgy‚?Ě.¬†
The video will tell all, so I won‚??t keep you. ¬†A few words, however.
On 6 June 2010 ‚?? Mike‚??s 25th birthday ‚?? Murphy‚??s Law was in force. ¬†Everything that could go wrong went wrong.¬†
1 hole in on The Retreat Course at Sea Island and an Almighty Storm hit. ¬†Decision was made to drive early up to Hilton Head, to play there instead. ¬†30 miles short Dodgy‚??s A/C compressor gave in. ¬†All hell broke loose under the hood, and we were stranded on I-95 under an overpass. ¬†Charles a charming chap whose father was a WWF wrestler I used to watch on TV as a boy came and towed us up the road. ¬†It was getting dark (about 6.30pm) and we didn‚??t have a course to play. ¬†Or a car to drive around to find one. ¬†Clubs on back; walking round Hilton Head Island; looking desperately for a flag or a bunker. ¬†All concealed by the carefully protected flora 'round 'ere. ¬†Found one ‚?? walked straight through the security gate and onto the 6th hole. ¬†Rain came down Torrentially. ¬†3/4 clubs each ‚?? speed golf. ¬†Camera was getting soaked, so Mike gave it to an unsuspecting passer by (and asked him to go on puregolf2010.com, find our number, and call in an hour). ¬†He didn‚??t call. ¬†But we finished our golf just before dark (in one hour 40 minutes), and traipsed back ‚?? dejected and knackered ‚?? to Main Street.
The silver lining to all of this ‚?? this Debacle of A Day = was the hotel room the Chamber of Commerce here had very generously set us up with. ¬†Main Street Inn. ¬†Must be 5 star. ¬†Couple of pics below. ¬†Lap pool 15 feet from my door (accompanied by a spa, of course); the best breakfast in the South; and a bed bigger than Texas. ¬†As frustrated and tired as we were, putting our heads to rest at Main Street Inn went some way to Making It All Better.
Tomorrow we have the most incredible composite challenge ahead of us: 18 signature holes from 18 golf courses on Hilton Head Island, finishing on 18 at Harbour Town (the one with the iconic red and white lighthouse; where they play The Heritage Classic on the PGA Tour). ¬†If we manage to wake up, it‚??s going to be something special. ¬†
This might just be the most tired I‚??ve ever been standing on the 1st tee. ¬†What a week! ¬†Last night we left New Orleans ‚?? reluctantly ‚?? and drove through the night down into Florida. ¬†A Kiwi fulla we met on the fairways at TPC Louisiana (and his pals) offered us a couple of beds in downtown New Orleans ‚?? an offer that was tough to refuse. ¬†But we‚??d said we‚??d be at Black Diamond late morning, so there was no choice but to push on. ¬†Into the wild.
The 2 and a half hour driving shifts seemed more like 8. ¬†The swamp doesn‚??t change character much as you head along the 10 freeway; in fact it may just get more and more homogenous as you travel. ¬†It‚??s fair to say we both probably fell asleep at the wheel a few times...
Black Diamond is a gated community that was built about 22 years ago. ¬†You know, the suspicious-security-guard-on-the-gate-kinda-job. ¬†‚??Can I help you guys?‚?Ě. ¬†‚??Yes, sir, you can point us towards the clubhouse ‚?? we‚??re here to play golf!‚?Ě. ¬†‚??Do you have a tee time?‚?Ě. ¬†‚??No ‚?? they told us to turn up late morning.‚?Ě ‚??Hhhhmmmmm....‚?Ě. ¬†[He didn‚??t believe a word we said]. ¬†Eventually common sense prevailed and we made it through the pearly gates. ¬†That was some stress I didn‚??t need after 0.6 hours sleep in the past few days. ¬†If only Mike could remember the names of people he talks to on the phone... I.e. ‚??I spoke with Tom, the assistant pro, yesterday ‚?? he said we were sweet...‚?Ě. ¬†Too much to ask.
BD is really in the middle of nowhere, on some back country road between 16005 churches of all shapes and sizes. ¬†Not sure if this is formally The Bible Belt, but it sure feels like it. ¬†On the way there we passed through a very ironically named Beverly Hills ‚?? which is to it‚??s LA counterpart what Nu Zillin is to Texas ‚?? nothing like it. ¬†Our curiosity was captivated by the local pharmacy, which sells everything you could possibly imagine (probably including guns). ¬†And to the ‚??Been Personally Injured? ¬†Give me a call‚?Ě attorney signs. ¬†Very unKiwi. ¬†
The pro shop was staffed by two lovely ladies, who welcomed us wholeheartedly. ¬†We had a quick swig of mouthwash; dabbed some sunblock on; and got out into the 90 degree heat. ¬†(We work in Fahrenheit now people. ¬†And yards. ¬†And ounces). ¬†Anyway it was sweltering. ¬†Had I known Florida was so dam hot I never would‚??ve come here. ¬†But I have and we‚??re here and it is what it is. ¬†Embrace it.
Trying to putt on Bermuda greens certainly proved challenging from the get go. ¬†You ain‚??t seen grain ‚??til you‚??ve seen these bad boys. ¬†They‚??ll grab your ball and toss it round mercilessly, until you find the perfect uphill into the grain putt, which you can SMASH. ¬†¬†Downhill down grain not so much.
They had a storm here yesterday (that happens a bit ‚??round these parts at this time of year... I.e. every day), so the bunkers were all Ground Under Repair (free drop thank you very much). ¬†This concession meant we could take reckless aim off the tee and just smash it in the general direction of the fairways ‚?? something that probably led to more errant strokes than usual. ¬†That and maybe the lack of sleep.
The course is a Tom Fazio design ‚?? the first we‚??ve played ‚?? and a goodie. ¬†The finishing stretch is particularly thrilling; it plays around and eventually down into an old quarry. ¬†(We were playing The Quarry course. ¬†They also have The Ranch Course and a 9 holer too, which we didn‚??t see). ¬†Unfortunately, truth be told, I was probably too deep in the twilight zone to appreciate the true magic of the course. ¬†It‚??s a visually confronting layout, and one that can do you damage. ¬†I lost about 5 balls.
We had the course more or less to ourselves, so we shot round pretty quick smart. ¬†Then had a much needed shower. ¬†I may never get that sweaty again. ¬†In the past I‚??ve been guilty of watching golf on TV and cringing at how soaking some of those guys are ‚?? but if they were playing down here, now I understand. ¬†Poor sods. ¬†They‚??ve gotta do it for 4 days in a row too ‚?? and for their living...
Once we got cleaned up it was off to Orlando, to our swish motel just off International Drive. ¬†Actually not so swish ‚?? but Top Value at $12.50 each for the night (that‚??s for a double bed, en suite, free wireless and complimentary breakfast ‚?? all a couple of blocks from Universal Studios etc). ¬†Dream result.
Tomorrow we‚??re off to Arnie‚??s joint ‚?? Bay Hill. ¬†Should be a cracker.
Golf on Day 147 was always going to be a low key affair. ¬†At 3pm on Day 146 we rolled out of Phoenix and onto the 10 Freeway heading east...towards Dallas. ¬†Google Maps clocks the journey at 1068 miles. ¬†It felt longer.
Add to the mixer a hint of uncertainty - over Dodgy's long haul capabilities - and you have an interesting episode in the saga that is puregolf2010. ¬†Against all the odds it was quite an enjoyable 22 hours. ¬†Travelling in Dodgy is like travelling business class on a long haul flight, in some ways. ¬†There's plenty room; a bed to lay your head on; a built in chilly bin (in this case stocked full of Starbucks espresso cans, red bulls, powerades and anything else that might keep us awake); and a quality stereo. ¬†The engine purred gracefully too, masking Dodgy's true...longevity.
Outside the tinted windows were cacti rising 30 feet into the air, boulders the size of shopping malls and wide open expanses of Not Much. ¬†Everything's huge in these parts (including the trucks that do their best to block every road sign from view).
Anyway we arrived in Dallas early afternoon, and did a brief interview¬†(scroll to "Norm Golfer" segment, on Thursday) with the local radio kingpin, Norm Hitzges (who by fortunate coincidence loves all things Kiwi and is pals with Phil T). ¬†A good yarn it was too, even though I nearly keeled over half way through from the suffocating heat within a parked Dodgy oven. ¬†
Relief was the overwhelming emotion when we reached Phil‚??s place ‚?? after getting lost in the labyrinth that is the golf complex he lives in (we were looking for ‚??eagle street‚?Ě; found ‚??par street‚?Ě; assumed the next street would be ‚??birdie street‚?Ě so drove straight on and missed the turn (there was no "birdie street" - no logic to the street naming system here). ¬†Both of us were pretty delirious, and probably not much chop on the conversation front when we arrived ‚?? but after years on the road Phil and wife Mel could relate to our plight and so were very understanding. ¬†And welcoming.
We met son Kahu (9 years old) and daughter Talia (a few years his younger). ¬†Lovely kids. ¬†Kahu‚??s going to be a real ladies man, and he‚??s got a bit of sporting prowess about him too (not surprising when you look at mum and dad). ¬†As soon as the bags were unloaded from Dodgy we got out into the yard and shot some hoops with Kahu. ¬†With a 180 dunk (to an 8 foot rim) in my arsenal, I may as well have been Michael Jordan (at 5 foot 10 inches Phil can't reach the basket unless he uses a stepladder...). ¬†Then there was a bit of table tennis on the back patio; then a few putts struck on Phil‚??s practice putting green. ¬†This would‚??ve been my dream house as a kid.
Golf was the last thing I felt like doing ‚?? in 40 degree heat ‚?? but...well, you know...we sort of have to! ¬†Phil tentatively hopped in the driver‚??s seat of Dodgy and zipped us down to Lake Park Executive, a little 9 hole municipal course in Dallas proper. ¬†The course wasn‚??t much to write home about, but it was perfect for our needs. ¬†Because it was a par 3 course it was also great for Kahu to showcase his dynamite short game (which ended up being the decisive factor in bringing victory honours upon him and yours truly). ¬†The wee fella had his best 9 hole round ever, with 41 (previous PB 46) ‚?? despite a disappointing 8 on the final hole, which he was visibly gutted with. ¬†He‚??s got his father‚??s competitive streak.
Father and son took turns at caddying for the other on each hole. ¬†Father gave son a few tips. ¬†Son wasn‚??t particularly receptive, but desperately wanted to impress Father. ¬†The episode reminded me a lot of my early playing days with my dad out at Lundin Links in Fife, Scotland. ¬†I never listened to a word he said, and got hopelessly frustrated if things weren‚??t going my way. ¬†All part of growing up.
Back at Tataurangi base camp we fired up the BBQ and grilled a few steaks ‚?? well, Phil did, and he did it like a seasoned chef too. ¬†More than just a pretty face. ¬†One beer; one steak; and a couple of veges was bliss and enough to send me to sleep. ¬†It was gutting, initially, to learn there was only one bed (it was Goldy‚??s turn), but the sofa proved to be more comfortable than a King Size at The Ritz ‚?? and being as shattered as I was, I would‚??ve slept like a log on a bed of nails.
A long day. ¬†And a very warm welcome by a Kiwi family. ¬†Day 147...
We were sitting in Starbucks in Scottsdale Arizona at 9pm with nowhere to park Dodgy.
And then a random act of kindness, one that epitomizes our year to date occurred when Tod, who was working at Starbucks, invited us to park up for the night in his driveway.¬† Unprompted.¬† He just saw we were looking for somewhere to stay and said come on down. Tod was a great guy who had worked in the media industry on the West Coast but shifted to Arizona to enjoy the weather here. And from our short experience it is pretty good weather‚?¶ warm and sunny about 8-9 months of the year so they say, with a couple of months where it is¬† just too hot, and the occasional dust storm hits. Check one out on youtube ‚?? a remarkable natural phenomenon.
At 520am Tod knocked on the window of Dodgy to wake us. He had cooked breakfast and we sat in his house chatting and enjoying the most amazingly fresh breakfast of eggs and fruit. Pinching ourselves at the generosity of this chap from Starbucks who did not take much to golf but was just a beautifully kind human. ¬†¬†It is moments like these that we‚??ll look back on in years to come and say wow, how amazing is that‚?¶
So after realizing that Arizona is not all guns and immigration problems, we took to TPC Scottsdale in the most positive frame of mind, and with a few decent hours sleep in dodgy under our belts.
Joining us for the day was kiwi pro, Steve Alker who plys his trade on the Nationwide Tour. Steve was shifting into a new place that afternoon but still snuck out for our 650am tee time to join us for 9. Which became 11 when he realized we had clear sailing and were making great time.
We started on the 10th hole at the TPC Scottsdale and the back nine here is quality tournament style stadium golf.¬† The course is long, there is no place for 2 irons here, unless you want to have a 4 iron in for your second. And the features are large.¬† For example the huge waste bunkers in the middle of the fairway on the par five 13th where if you take the aggressive line between it and the water you can reach the green but if you bail out left of it the fairway is much wider and the hole is unreachable.
The greens and conditioning of this track were pure. You could see how the pro‚??s go around it in about 20 under over four days. Maybe more some years.
The course is famous for a few holes towards the end of the back nine. The 15th is a par five with water all down the left, and then the green sits out in the water, surrounded from all sides except the back.¬† An island green for your approach from 250 yards is one of those challenges we strive for. I tried to crack it with my 2 iron, which was do-able but my duff 150 yards down the fairway ended up being a perfect lay-up.¬† You‚??ve got to have a crack but the percentage play on 15 is to lay up where any chump with a decent wedge game would make birdie. Not Jamie and I though on this occasion.
Then the 16th ‚?? the famous par three which is completely surrounded by grandstands which the locals fill up for the entire tournament, drink far too much and heckle the players like they are the away team at a local derby football match. This is the most electric hole in tournament golf ‚?? and you should watch this video of Tiger playing it a few years back.¬† Jamie and I both hit to the fat of the land on the green from only 160 yards out. This would have been greeted with an almighty boo from the crowd and comments that cannot be repeated on this blog but would be along the lines of ‚??girls blouse‚??.¬† Steve was trying to re-enact some of this atmosphere when we played‚?¶ No actually he was a real gentleman and great company.¬† We heard about his career playing over here and how he has tried his fortunes at the European Tour and Nationwide tour over the last few years. He also won the PGA Championship at Clearwater a few years back, which got him a bit of mileage in the Nationwide tour standings.
Before I forget ‚?? the 17th hole is another good‚??ie a short par four which you just have to have a crack at. And it‚??s not too long either so a good drive should give you a decent return, unless you 3 putt for par as I learnt.
Jamie played some good golf with a few birdies and a round somewhere in the mid to late 70‚??s. Not bad going considering the course had a slope rating of about 140 odd and a course rating of about 76.¬† But I can see how the pro‚??s shoot 20 under here with the greens rolling pure and conditions still. I think if we played our golf here for a couple of weeks and the Course Rating of 76, our handicap index‚??s would quickly move to around 0 ‚?? so long story short it‚??s a long course with heaps of hazards but if you can give it a whack (and the fairways are wide) it‚??s great fun to score around.
After golf, we drove. And drove, and drove. In Dodgy. Please meet Dodgy by watching the video below.
Last night was our first in Dodgy (our Dodge Ram van). ¬†After finishing up at Pasatiempo we headed down into Santa Cruz, with absolutely no idea of where we were staying. ¬†Between the 7/11, Ferrell‚??s Donuts, McDonalds and Starbucks we found enough wireless connection to send/receive a few emails ‚?? and to check the news back home on stuff.co.nz! ¬†However we still couldn‚??t (or at least didn‚??t) find a place to stay, and didn‚??t fancy parking up in a parking lot. ¬†So we boosted through to Silicon Valley. ¬†As you do.
Cinnabar Hills is in the Valley, some 20 minutes or so south of San Jose. ¬†We found the course at about 11.30pm ‚?? it‚??s in the middle of nowhere ‚?? then parked up as close as we could, which ended up being a spot about 1.5 km up the road. ¬†A nice spot it was too. ¬†The state trooper that banged his 6 foot long torch on our window just as we‚??d got to sleep wasn‚??t too impressed. ¬†He probably thought we were glue sniffers. ¬†We‚??re not.
Anyway I did my best ‚??yes, sir; no, sir‚?Ě routine, and saw him off within a minute or two. ¬†Eventually I got back to sleep and awoke in a totally different position to the one I remembered being in a few hours before. ¬†Dodgy Dealings. ¬†It was all a very surreal affair.
The good thing about making the trip to the golf course the night before was that there wasn‚??t far to go in the morning. ¬†In fact I could have freewheeled there. ¬†¬†Once we checked in we each had a quick shower (much needed after sleeping in an overly thick sleeping bag) and made our way to the starter‚??s hut. ¬†Larry ‚?? the starter ‚?? was a tremendous human being; one of those immediately approachable chaps whom you wouldn‚??t imagine would have a bad word to say about anyone. ¬†He loved New Zealand, which got him a big foot in the door in our books. ¬†¬†¬†
We hooked up with Brad, a local dude who sells back office information management systems. ¬†(Not as boring as it sounds.) ¬†He was great company, and hit the ball a country mile. ¬†¬†At 32 he‚??s still young enough to be considered ‚??our age‚?Ě, so it was nice to hear a bit about how things work over here from that perspective. ¬†
The course was a bit of a slogger‚??s track, in that it played pretty long and damaged your scorecard through brute force rather than subtle trickery. ¬†What you see is what you get. ¬†Unless you have bad eyesight, or there‚??s mist around (as there was for us). ¬†Darn it was cold! ¬†The golden California weather we‚??d been promised was nowhere to be seen ‚?? although as long as it‚??s OK tomorrow at Cypress I‚??ll be happy as Larry (pardon the pun).
I‚??d love to play Cinnabar again on a bluebird day, because I reckon the surrounding views would be spectacular. ¬†Almost every tee is elevated, and the track is etched into rolling hills in the Valley. ¬†There‚??s also another 9 we didn‚??t play (27 would‚??ve been too much in the conditions...) - a pretty huge property actually.
Despite my rather pathetic golf I managed to find solace in the lemon and cranberry cookies that our pal Andrew (whom we met yesterday at Pasatiempo) had baked for us. ¬†Nothing like a bit of home baking to cheer you up in your time of need! ¬†Almost as good as my girlfriend‚??s baking...and she‚??s pretty good...
From Cinnabar our next stop was Monterey town, on the north side of the eponymous Peninsula of the same name. ¬†At 90 minutes down the coast it was a comfortable drive. ¬†Although we had a to-do-list we didn‚??t get much done, so just had a brief look around the place tourist styles. Very nice. ¬†Then we met up in Pebble Beach with a chap who has turned out to be one of the most interesting and hospitable people we‚??ve come across all year.
Liam read about us in the San Fran Chronicle last week and contacted us to offer his help when we were down in his neck of the woods. ¬†As you all know we jump at these opportunities ‚?? given our journey is as much about meeting new people as anything else, and given we‚??re in a foreign country and need all the help we can get! ¬†Anyway Liam met us at the Lodge at Pebble; took us for a beer in the famous Tap Room (the taste of Sierra Nevada pale ale will forever be synonymous with this place for me); drove us up and down 17 Mile Drive, giving us a 6 star tour of this quite phenomenal property; had us into his home for dinner (a beautiful pasta his wife, Courtenay, cooked); and let us park Dodgy in his driveway to rest our heads over night. ¬†All this from a guy we met just a few hours ago. ¬†He‚??s an absolute gentleman, and we owe him and his wife a huge debt of gratitude. ¬†Indeed I‚??m even using his wireless to post this blog right now! ¬†¬†
Tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off it‚??ll be time to ready ourselves for the most anticipated day of the year. ¬†Day 138 at Cypress Point. ¬†The last week has been pretty overwhelming, in terms of the places we‚??ve seen, the courses we‚??ve played, and above all the people we‚??ve met. ¬†Tomorrow I expect will be the same ‚?? although perhaps the excitement levels might crank up a notch or two...it‚??s not every day you get to play the 2nd ranked golf course in the world.
Let‚??s hope we get a good sleep!