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‚?¶
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!