Going back a few days to the first kiwi course for many months at Maungakiekie GC in central Auckland takes a while to jog the memory.¬† Things are pretty whirlwind now that we‚??re home as we catch up with friends, family and for me, Gretta ‚?? who this year has been heroic. ¬†It's good to be home. ¬†
Maungakiekie on December 1 was an opportunity for us to have a few Auckland based mates along whom we hadn‚??t seen for a fair while.¬† But being a Wednesday this meant that a mental health day was in order for a certain few scoundrals.¬† Not that we condone such behaviour this year.. BoB..¬†¬† And so it was I had Jimmy on the bag, JP had Blair and even Bart was blessed with a certain dairyfarmer-come-lawyer-come-caddy whose name will go unmentioned but whose presence (and photographic ability) was simply inspirational.
Making up the four was our host and committee member at Maungakiekie, Rob Bowe.¬† A Good Bastard.¬† And kindly got amongst the Homecoming Birdie Challenge ‚?? you see this was the first day of this birdie challenge (which we encourage you to all embrace) and Rob kindly modified the theme so that on this one day he was pledging $25 per birdie and $50 per eagle.¬† Of course we struggled most of the round until a short par four on the back nine when he doubled the bet.¬† Bart duly made an eagle 2, which combined with one birdie resulted in a $150 hole!!¬† All good stuff for The First Tee.
Maungakiekie was somewhat of a welcome back to NZ Golf where many of the courses have been built on very small plots of land, where trees frame the hole, frame the fairway and frame the strategy.¬† Eg, if you can hit it between the trees you will play well.¬† You‚??d think that us coming from NZ would have grown up hitting the ball straighter than we do, ¬†but that‚??s hockey players for you... ¬† Maungakiekie is also on a piece of heaving undulating clay based terrain so there are some very dry patches and plenty of roll to be had if you can get the ball to the crest of the hill that bisects a number of fairways you'll have a mere pitch into many a green.
With the considerable roll and small greens it's far from easy when you're having a whirl first time around. ¬† Greens are going to be missed and so having your short game on song is a necessity. ¬†
There are a few famous names in the world of amateur NZ golf who hang around Maungakiekie GC. ¬†One chap was former gold medal hockey winner at the 76 Olympics now seriously good amateur golfer, Arthur Parkin. ¬†Another, the superintendant, Mr Michael Leitch has been the club champion here dozens of times, has played for NZ at an amateur level and has been working here as greenkeeper for longer than I‚??ve been alive.¬†¬† I think he had his 60th birthday in the club recently and it sounded like a loose night!
Michael also lives by the golf course, the 10th tee infact, and so before we embarked on the journey of the back nine, Rob nicked across the fence to get a few beers out of his fridge to keep us hydrated!¬† The Maungakiekie version of a half way house.¬† Pretty damn friendly as well.¬†
After the round we were in the clubhouse yarning with the locals, albeit at this stage somewhat in the twilight zone after a long day out on little sleep.¬† Then one of them alerted us to an honours board above us in the bar.¬† The board celebrated the rare feat when a golfer shoots a score that is lower than his age.¬† It listed golfers chronologically who had achieved such feat, and on the occasion where they did it more than once in a year there were gold stars next to their lowest score.¬†¬† This is where we learnt of Mr Keith Plowman ‚?? a gentleman who dominates this board unlike I‚??ve ever seen an honours board dominated in my life.¬† For the last 20 years, Keith has been shooting his age more regularly than I‚??ve had hot dinners.¬† For a number of years the board read something like 1996:¬† 76 Keith Plowman + 120 (there were no room for 120 stars next to his name!!).¬† Guinness got word of this feat and recently Keith was presented with the Guinness world record for the most scores under his age ‚?? at the time the number being greater than 1500.¬† Amazing stuff.
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