I‚??m sitting in the back of one of those GMC Arctic lorries, en route to Newark Airport. ¬†Our good friend George Eberle very kindly had his driver take us along the last freeways we‚??ll see in the US of A, before we board our Iceland Express flight tonight bound for London. ¬†And then an Easyjet one bound for Edinburgh. ¬†Tomorrow evening we‚??ll be playing at The Royal Burgess with my Uncle David, whom I haven‚??t seen for years. ¬†Quite a lot to take in, really.
It‚??s been an action packed 63 days here, and today certainly hasn‚??t passed us by without incident. ¬†They seldom do. ¬†This morning we awoke with a lot to do ‚?? packing, organise a game of golf, play golf, get ourselves to Newark Airport on time. ¬†You‚??d think we would‚??ve ticked a few of those tasks off our list before the eleventh hour. ¬†But you‚??d be wrong. ¬†Because, it seems, we are nutters.
I did my packing first thing, which was less painful than it could‚??ve been. ¬†We‚??ve accumulated a huge amount of stuff. ¬†A rolling stone may gather no moss, but a golf touring Kiwi gathers a lot of hats. ¬†In fact I‚??d say I‚??m almost at the ‚??hat collection‚?Ě threshold ‚?? something I never actively pursued nor intended. ¬†Trouble is the only hats I need to wear ‚?? by virtue of our obligations to our sponsor, Westfield ‚?? are running thin on the supply side, forcing me to wear a colour clashing bright red one. ¬†I‚??ll get over it.
I don‚??t quite know how it came to be that we didn‚??t organise a game of golf for today before today, but that‚??s what happened. ¬†Yep. ¬†Down the road from Maison George is Muttontown Golf Club ‚?? a grand old beast whose membership is largely Jewish I‚??m led to believe. ¬†At about 9am we approached the pro, Jeff, and explained our plight. ¬†Surprise surprise there was an outing on ‚?? shotgun start at 12 ‚?? so we were bang out of luck. ¬†To his credit Jeff did table the option of paying $92 each and zipping around ‚?? but that idea wasn‚??t an incredibly viable one. ¬†Onwards and upwards, then.
We drove around the streets of Long Island looking for other prospects. ¬†9.30am, by this time. ¬†I swung the truck into the Tam O‚??Shanter Club, which looked sharpish albeit mobbed. ¬†Another dam outing. ¬†And a less than friendly maitre de / car park attendant, who was marshalling the troops with militant gusto. ¬†He didn‚??t have much time for me and I didn‚??t have much time for him, so our relationship was a short lived one. ¬†We moved on once again.
This time to a municipal facility a few miles down the road, known as Eisenhower State Park. ¬†Similar to Bethpage, except Robert Trent Jones has his name stamped on the ‚??Blue Course / Red Course‚?Ě signs rather than Tillinghast. ¬†The check in area was buzzing with largely elderly folks out for their Monday morning game with their pals. ¬†A full tee sheet right through until 11.30 wasn‚??t looking promising, particularly since it would‚??ve taken us a good 5 hours to get around. ¬†That wasn‚??t going to work given we were being picked up from Maison George at 4 ‚?? and still had a fair bit of packing to do! ¬†Paul the pro kindly did his best to help us out, but with the sheer traffic they had there the stars were just not aligned.
At this point Mike and I were getting genuinely concerned about whether we‚??d manage to get our daily round in. ¬†193 days in a row ‚?? the prospect of missing one is a bone chilling one. ¬†(Although let it be known that given the state of my calf muscles after going for a run and playing yesterday, under normal circumstances I would quite happily have not played golf today). ¬†We really had one last lead, and that was to head to Piping Rock, where our mate Elliott is a member. ¬†He‚??d made the call over the weekend to see if we could make it happen, but run into some friction because the superintendent had designs to do some spraying. ¬†Still it was worth a shot ‚?? so we plugged Piping Rock Club into the GPS; raced along the back roads at a rate of knots; and told our story one more time. ¬†
Gavin, the pro‚??s brother who‚??s across from Ireland for a few weeks (he‚??s a teacher, so is on his summer holidays right now) and the pro‚??s wife, lent us their ear for a few minutes then were good enough to make enquiries on our behalf with The Powers That Be. ¬†Before long Larry the Starter appeared; did a bit of to-ing and fro-ing; then gave us the green light. ¬†Hallelujah! ¬†What a relief. ¬†And even better, we had the course to ourselves anda ¬†cart to zip around in. ¬†At this point we were looking good for catching our flight...
Because of the urgency of the situation, we played a Canadian foursome. ¬†For those who don‚??t know it, you both hit drives; pick the best one; then play alternate shots until you‚??re in. ¬†It took us 1 hour 41 minutes to get around, and we weren‚??t even gunning it. ¬†I think I‚??d describe that as a Result. ¬†Our score was a very mediocre 3 over par, courtesy of a string of 3 putts, but to be honest we were just glad to fulfil our obligations and be on our way.
In the melee we still managed to absorb the quality of C B MacDonald‚??s fine handywork. ¬†Piping Rock is quality. ¬†And it has a beautiful, Georgian looking clubhouse overlooking the front 9 to match. ¬†Very majestic indeed, I say. ¬†Similar in character to parts of The Creek ‚?? and possessed of a string of strong par 4s at 450+ yards (not to mention a couple of par 3s well over 200). ¬†We had fun.
As I look out the window Manhattan is to my right, it‚??s giant skyscrapers climbing into the stratosphere. ¬†What a magnificent spectacle. ¬†We must be nearing Newark; it‚??ll be a relief when those bags and checked in and all we need to do is board. ¬†Then sleep.
Following the pleasantries at Piping Rock we made our way hastily back to George‚??s, had a quick dip, then finished our packing. ¬†As I said before, a lot of stuff... ¬†Mary the Maid being the good soul that she is helped us slap together a couple of chicken sandwiches, and we were on our way. ¬†Toga is doing a fine job at navigating the 568 million cars on the New Jersey Turnpike (which according to our pal Slambino is the most amazing feat of road engineering in history ‚?? I‚??m not so sure myself). ¬†And soon we‚??ll be off, to commence another leg of this mad journey.
Never a dull moment.
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