People warned us about this place. ¬†‚??Don‚??t go to Galloway in the summer‚?Ě, they cautioned. ¬†‚??Those horse flies will drive you around the bend ‚?? and take a few pints of blood while they‚??re at it...‚?Ě ¬†Sure. ¬†How bad could they be? ¬†Galloway National had been billed as a genuinely top tier course too, so we thought any hardship in batting away the bugs would be merited. ¬†Which it was. ¬†But those God forsaken creatures will forever be etched in my memory as Satan‚??s Spawn. ¬†Avoid the sods at all costs.
For once our drive to the course was sub 30 minutes, since we had the luxury of staying at The Lodge at Hidden Creek last night (courtesy of our man John ‚??Slambino‚?Ě Sabino). ¬†In the common room John and Chris sniggered at the fact we had to go play golf; ‚??you got a hat one today boys...‚?Ě. ¬†100 degrees and 140 per cent humidity, or so it felt. ¬†Walking out onto the deck felt like walking into a wet oven. ¬†A pressure cooker. ¬†Not the ideal weather for a bijou stroll, and certainly not the ideal conditions if we were hoping to avoid Satan‚??s Spawn down the road. ¬†But what can you do?
Galloway‚??s near Atlantic City ‚?? the only other place you can gamble in the US, other than Vegas. ¬†I forget how conservative the US is compared to back home, where gambling is all but encouraged. ¬†I sense prostitution may not be legalised up here as it is Down There for some time... ¬†Politics however is not the preserve of this blog: golf is. ¬†Golf and All Things Golf that is. ¬†And whatever else you good people want or demand, within reason.
Jack Hubbert ‚?? an attorney from Philly who also sits on the board of the local First Tee chapter ‚?? kindly invited us down for a game. ¬†Jack‚??s a tremendously laid back, affable kind of bloke (so laid back that he plays golf in sneakers if it's dry), for whom there can be no troubles in life. ¬†Because he‚??s such a good golfer he doesn‚??t appear to have to cope with the stress of bad golf either. ¬†Wouldn‚??t that be nice? ¬†Last night Jack flicked me an email suggesting I bring pants for the first 5 holes ‚?? which border the salt marshes home to Satan‚??s Spawn ‚?? and change if necessary on the 6th tee. ¬†It was too late; I‚??d already packed; and we were down the road at Hidden Creek.
Wearing shorts on those first few holes is akin to swimming naked among a shoal of box jellyfish (correct collective noun? ¬†Perhaps someone could Google that?). ¬†Those horse flies / green heads will get you and get you good. ¬†Unlike Midges, whose bite you don‚??t really feel until it flares up later, you can tell straight away when you‚??ve been assaulted. ¬†Because it hurts. ¬†At this time of year the mother flies are trying to source blood to feed their younglings, which is forgivable. ¬†I can understand their actions but I can‚??t agree with them. ¬†They should bite squirrels, who serve no real purpose in the world other than to store nuts for other squirrels, who in turn serve no real purpose ‚?? one of those circular things, you know. ¬†
Enough about the bugs and the squirrels. ¬†Galloway National is a belter. ¬†They played a qualifier for the US Open here a few months back, the results of which will tell a story. ¬†¬†Best score was 73 (it‚??s a par 71); average score was 84; and worst score was 96. ¬†That‚??s from a field of sub-2 handicappers. ¬†¬†So it‚??s hard. ¬†On the little par 3 pictured below (about a wedge), guys were taking 9s and 11s...
Mr. Fazio has cut two quite different nines here out of the marshland. ¬†The front is marshier, and thus more lethal on the killer insect front. ¬†The back (which I preferred, and which like a fine wine got better and better) is very Pine Valley-esque, with plentiful undulation and bunkering. ¬†
Jack stroked it around all 18 like a seasoned pro. ¬†Having played a fair bit of College and Amateur golf (including a US Amateur or two), the boy can play. ¬†He may have hit 14 or 15 greens in regulation, from the tips, so he certainly knew what he was doing. ¬†Mike also played some good golf, not least along the final stretch which yielded a couple of birdies. ¬†The combination of the green heads & the humidity proved too much for my modest tolerance, so I resorted to merry hacking and just enjoyed Jack‚??s chat. ¬†
I‚??d love to come back and play Galloway in less trying conditions, when it‚??s a little cooler and You Know Who keep to themselves in Their Marsh. ¬†Because it‚??s not a brute ‚?? somewhat unlike a few other Fazio layouts we‚??ve played ‚?? you can maneuver the ball around with 2 irons from the tee and still comfortably reach greens in reg. ¬†You just gotta be straight.
The air conditioning and impenetrable walls of the clubhouse provided ample protection from the elements. ¬†In the bar we ran into a mate of Jack‚??s, a vivacious chap by the name of Larry Brown, who‚??s a litigator in Philly. ¬†Bags of personality and full of stories ‚?? like one of those Hollywood bigwigs. ¬†The four of us told lies for a good hour or two, despite Larry‚??s constant protestations that he should get home to his wife. ¬†Heard that one before.
Then came a weary drive back to Base Camp Slambino up Highway 9. ¬†We got lost in a town that seemed to be populated exclusively with orthodox Jews ‚?? maybe it was just the time of day we were driving through, but they were out in force walking the streets looking smart in full garb. ¬†We could have been in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney or in The Holy City itself. ¬†¬†Quite a sight.
John‚??s got a stack of impressive golf books in his house, which are now sprawled across the kitchen table for light reading between More Important Things. ¬†Flicking the pages of one I came upon a bold quote that resonated with my sympathies. ¬†It goes something like this:
‚??Make no little plans. ¬†They have no magic to stir men‚??s blood.‚?Ě ¬†
Inciteful (and insightful) words indeed. ¬†(Daniel Burnham, a noted Chicago architect).
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