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.
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