Monday, 17 September 2012

Outsourcing the blog

Due to the pressures of papparazzi, fan clubs, coaching, and playing commitments I have had to outsource my blogging. Do not despair, I have put it in the safe hands of Kay Wall. The down side of this arrangement is that being a pedantic writer, Kay has decided to blog from WordPress. The latest post is on the right side of this page so it's just one click away.

Or, click here....

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The Back 9 at Nambour (Tighten your Bra & Sharpen your Sprigs!)

10th hole
As with most courses, the 10th tee at Nambour is close to the clubhouse so you can take a quick stop there for the loo, refreshments or a change of bra (see previous blog on Nambour front 9). Here we have a 145 metre par 3, downhill.
This is the only hole on the course that plays shorter than its yardage. Okay, there are bunkers in the front to be wary of, but ... there is a concrete path behind the green which funnels a long tee shot down a 40 metre hill to the next fairway. You Do Not Want To Go Down That Hill. Take my word for it.
This is the only time when I would advise, if in doubt, take the shorter club.
11th tee
The 11th is the only par 5 on the back 9 and it’s 400 metres. If you happened to overclub on the 10th, you will already have noted just how steeply downhill the initial part of the fairway is.
If you're not in a cart, there is an advantage to having elevated tees especially if, like me, you're not as fit as you used to be. As you've got to go up, once you go down, you can use the slope as a runway. Providing your sprigs are sharp enough to give you a good grip. (That's one of the reasons I resent the change from metal to plastic.)
Of course, if you tend to overrun your tee-shots, you're going to have to develop a Happy Gilmour golf swing.
Make sure your second shot on 11 finishes on the right side of the fairway or you’ll be blocked from the green by a stand of majestic palm trees on the left. Well, they’re majestic when observed from the right side of the fairway. Stuck behind them, I didn’t like the look of them at all. This green is two tiered and one of the bigger on the course so, if the pin’s at the back, take 2 extra clubs. We both managed par here.
12th tee
The 12th is a par 4 of 302 metres and the slopes go sideways, rather than straight up or straight down. They're wonderful because they'll help to funnel your tee shot into the fairway, providing you don't duck-hook.
A relatively gentle slope from the tee so you won't need to channel Happy Gilmour here. Another elevated green at which we were both short. But I managed to chip to a gimme 4, while Fiona hit her chip in the guts and scored 5.
Once again, you’re not going to find much level ground on the 13th, a par 4 of 294 metres. It’s a slight dogleg right and not easy to find the centre of the fairway with your tee shot. We both had to play long low shots for our seconds, to keep them under branches and chasing up the slope to the green. I missed left and had a difficult chip over bare ground on to a green sloping away from me. I bumbled it and left it short so took 2 putts for bogey while Fiona had a straight forward uphill shot and chipped it dead.
You get a bit of a breather on the next hole, a 170 metre par 3, downhill with out of bounds all the way down the right and a pond on the left, just short of the green. Fiona teed off with her 3 wood and the ball sailed out of bounds, but hit the bank in a lucky spot and bounced back on to the course.
I couldn’t believe it and was still stewing when I hit my 3 wood out of bounds and into the cemetery.
Definitely a message from the golfing gods.
Never be annoyed by another golfer’s good fortune.
At least I scored par with my second ball. Shame I had to add 2 to it. Fiona chipped short and 2 putted.
I sincerely commiserated.
15th hole
Just a gentle slope up to the green on the 15th, a dogleg right par 4 of 317 metres. I had a lot of shots, into elevated greens, that were about a 5 iron distance. As I’m playing my 4 and 5 irons poorly, I spent a lot of today going down the shaft of my rescue and using that. This worked well here because if I hit it high and it landed on the green, it stopped fast. If I hit it a bit skinny, it ran like hell all the way up the slope and on to the green, and the slope slowed it down enough to leave me putting. The skinny shot worked perfectly on this hole and I ended up 8 ft pin high to the left. Fiona duffed her drive, skinnied her second and then played a superb sand wedge to be 4 ft left of the pin. I missed birdie (short, you fool!) and she sank her par putt. Two shots behind with 3 holes to go.
16th tee
I think the 16th is the signature hole on the back nine, because it requires two accurate shots to reach the green. It's a dogleg right par 4, 317 metres, downhill but the fairway slopes left to right so, while you get extra length down, most of it is sideways. By aiming left, I managed to stay on the fairway but had about 170 to the green. Fiona went right into trees and it didn’t look good from the tee. However, when we got down there, she’d run right through the trees and was only 150 metres from the green. With an excellent angle in. We were both short but she got up and down and I didn’t.
The 17th is an uphill par 3, 125 metres. Fiona hit the narrow elevated green. I went down the shaft of the rescue and went to the back of the green. I 3 putted, Fiona 2 putted. I swore. She didn't.
Everyone we spoke to, before we went to Nambour, had warned us about the 18th. I guess you could call it the signature hole, although most of the golfers mentioned the mechanised rope that pulled you up to the clubhouse, rather than the hole itself. I imagine it breaks a lot of hearts, and scores, although we came away with a par and a birdie.
18th hole from the tee, steeper than it looks
It's a short par 4 of 280 metres, but uphill all the way. We both had good drives to about 92 metres from the green. I hit my best 7 iron of the day and the ball hit the front of the green and disappeared towards the hole. Fiona hit her 7 iron a little fat and stopped just short of the green.
Here's my chance, I thought, she could shank her chip and 3 putt and I could 1 putt.
Alas, the golfing gods were still on Fiona's side. She sank a 40 ft right to left breaking putt. I missed my downhill 8 footer.
Fiona 78. Kay 81.
Bugger, had to drive home again.
Practice isn't working. Playing heaps of golf in warm weather isn't working.
Looks like it's back to sacrificing roosters at the full moon again.
18th green, viewed from clubhouse

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Forget the Snakes, Look out for Killer Duck

Now I know why they yelled 'Duck' instead of 'fore'.

If you hit your ball into the rough at Headlands Golf Club, Sunshine Coast, it's not the snakes you have to look out for - it's the killer duck. This feisty drake hangs around the 17th and 18th holes and has been observed seeing off golf carts.
I decided he needed the ball more than I did.

Mum, Dad and the 15 offspring
Okay, maybe it wasn't really my golf ball he was after...

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Tighten your Bra Straps at Nambour Golf Club

Nambour Golf Club has lots of kookaburras
The tip for playing this golf course, if you're using a cart, is: women, tighten up the shoulder straps on your bra. I swear that after playing this course, I'm drooping an extra inch. There are a lot of humps and hollows that are unavoidable in a cart.
This may help you decide whether or not to walk Nambour: are you more concerned with scoring well, or with droopy boobs?
I gave up on perkiness 30 years ago.
Guys, if you've ever told yourself, 'I've got a muscly chest, a wee bit flabby, but they are not man-boobs' ... well, after you've ridden a couple of holes, you'll know the truth.
1st green
Although the cart ride may be a little bumpy, your golfing experience will more than make up for this. Nambour oozes character and it's at the top of our list for 'must return and play again' courses.
I have never seen so many elevated tees and greens on one course. The course designer must have had great imagination to see the potential for a golf course amongst all these hills and valleys.
On Tuesdays at Nambour (par 70, 4719 metres) they offer two for one deals on green fees, and that includes a two for one voucher for drinks (per person). The round cost us $76 for two, including a cart. Green fees alone are $36.
And you will definitely enjoy the round more if you have a cart. There are some major climbs between tee and green. An unusual feature was the fact that they only used one set of tees. Rather than men's and women's tees, they have 'forward' and 'back'. Some of the tees are a bit rough, with a couple of tees being mats.
The first hole is a gentle start, a par 4 dogleg left of 285 metres, downhill all the way. A good drive will leave you with wedge or gentle 9 iron for your second.
The greens are small and the grass is more like what we're used to in New Zealand. However, they were probably the slowest greens we've played on, but true. As they were smaller than on other courses, with less undulations, they were easier to read.
3rd tee
The second hole is a simple par 3 of 135 metres. I got on with a rescue and then 3 putted (Fiona too).
We had trouble finding the 3rd tee, which is to the right and past the 11th tee marker. There is such serious elevation here that we disturbed a base jumper. Or maybe it was just a fit young guy carrying his clubs. (No man-boobs on this guy!) Elevated green also. Whatever club you’ve chosen for your approach to these elevated greens, put it back and take one more. Especially on this hole which has a long uphill green.
4. Par 5 of only 366 metres but none of it is level. The tee shot is fun, set back in amongst a tall stand of trees and palms.  Good drive and good second will leave you with a short iron on to the green, not quite straight up. Bunker on right. DON’T be short.
5th tee
What goes up, must come down. That saying is going to be your mantra by the end of the round. Another gloriously elevated tee for the 5th hole, par 5 of 405 metres, where the drive landing area is reasonably flat but your second is to a heavily sloping right to left fairway. And there’s a water hazard over there, too, if you’re prone to hooking. I watched Fiona come up short with a 9 iron from 85 metres. I was a little behind her and took a 7 iron, which ended up on the green just short of the pin.
On the 6th hole, a par 3 of 120 metres (they had us off the back tees) the view is fantastic. It's all carry over a ravine to the green. Don’t slice your tee shot or you’ll be in the hazard. The guy ahead of us went in there and it took him a considerable time to re-emerge. We wondered if the lush vegetation was due to blood and bone fertiliser from previous golfers. Our guy staggered out eventually but didn’t bother finishing the hole.
6th green, looking back to tee
I decided to err on the side of caution, not wanting to contribute to plant food, so took plenty of club. I went down the shaft of my rescue and finished just off the back of the green but had an easy 2 putt for par. As did Fiona.
The 7th is another par 5 (378 metres) and surprise, surprise, there’s that base-jumper again. I tugged my drive left so played my rescue to keep the 2nd shot straight and away from the water hazard on the right. From which I had 98 metres to a green which was so far above that I had to walk up about 50 metres to see where it was. There is an aiming post at the back, but it’s not much good when you’re way right.  My 6 iron rushed through the back and I 3 putted for bogey.
7th green

The 8th is a par 3 of 123 metres, uphill all the way. They were working on the tee so we had a 10 metre headstart. We both chose 5 iron, which we hit well, so managed a green in regulation. You could either say we had easy 2 putt pars or, if you're being honest, we wimped our birdie putts and scored par.
The 9th is a short par 4, 265 metres, but don't get too excited. You must keep your drive left if you want a simple short iron into the green, because the fairway falls to the right. I went right and had to negotiate trees and a greenside bunker. Hit my 8 iron off the toe so managed to clear the trees but not the bunker. Had an okay sand shot but missed the 8 ft putt for par.
Bugger. I shot 42, Fiona 41 (par 36).
I'm afraid this blog post is getting too long, so I'll leave the back nine for another day. The trouble is that every hole at Nambour is so interesting, I can't bear to leave any of them out. Or maybe I'm just too fond of the sound of my own voice, figuratively speaking.
Anyway, after the 9th you're back at the clubhouse so you can go to the locker room and tighten those bra straps for the back 9.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Importance of Controlling your Temper at Golf

Pacific Harbour Golf and Country Club
Pacific: (adj) tending to lessen conflict; having a soothing appearance or effect; mild of temper.
Harbour: (noun) any place of refuge.

Pacific Harbour practice green and clubhouse
Boy, did they get the name of this golf course wrong!
The only thing this course has in common with its name is that it's going to be a long voyage across water and sand before you reach the green.
And there's no refuge once you're at the green, where you switch from sailing to mountaineering. Pacific Harbour features huge greens, and some have such large slopes that you'll require oxygen to get from the front to the back.
(You think I'm exaggerating. Huh. Wait'll you play here.)
The green fees are usually $99, with a cart. If you're willing to tee off between 6 and 7 am, it drops to $49, cart included. We checked their website and were delighted to find a special offer for August where you could play Pacific Harbour and Bribie Island, on consecutive days, for $99, cart included at both courses.
Two green fees for the price of one - how could any golfer resist that?
Our group consisted of two single-figure golfers, a 12 handicapper and a 36 handicapper. We opted to play Pacific Harbour first, which is definitely the best order to play the courses as Pacific Harbour is the tougher layout.
6th green
All four of us found the course testing and our sand wedges are just about worn out. And I'm afraid to say the mountaineering analogy is apt for some of the greenside bunkers. If your ball plugs in the sides, you're going to need crampons to get to it. (Let alone getting in and out.)
Off the Jade tees the course measures 5195 metres (par 72), which isn't particularly long but with all the fairway bunkers and ponds/waterways you've got to be accurate with your tee shots.
It also helps if you're good at lagging 100 ft putts, which is about the length of the putt I'm facing on the 6th green. I got it pin-high, 5 ft to the left but lipped out with the next one. The photo doesn't show the massive slope about 30 feet short of the pin.
The fairways are gently undulating and generous in width, but there are a lot of long walks between greens and tees so I'd advise using a cart.
Especially in August when the temperature is getting up to 27 degrees.
Most of the greens are elevated, so practice your pitching for at least a week, before you play here. If you're hopeless at pitching, you can putt from well off the green with your rescue/hybrid. Fiona employed the shot with good results.
My first experience of a 'pacific' hole was at the 4th, a par 3 of 107 metres. It's a very wide green of two tiers and the pin was on the left, which meant if you went for the pin, you had to carry a large bunker, with scrub left and behind.
I hit my best 6 iron of the trip and put the ball just 8 feet short of the pin and sank the putt. Love this course, I'm thinking, after just 4 holes. Alas, that pacific feeling of contentment would not remain.
7th tee (women's)
Parred the 5th, par 5 of 404 metres, which has lots of fairway bunkers and a stream across the fairway at about the length of a good second shot. Still feelling pacific.
Managed to par the 7th, 286 metre par 4, lots of water left, more fairway bunkers and an undulating green but a good drive leaves you with a short iron to the green so it's relatively straight forward.
Then we turned the corner to the 8th, a long par 3 of 157 metres. All the way up the right side is a huge bunker, to the right of which you have a major waterway.
And once again, the green is HUGE. And undulating.
After Fiona played 3 wood and got her ball on the front of the green, I took driver.
And creamed it.
I was congratulating myself right up until the ball bounced into a little hillock on the left and stopped on the front of the green.
8th green, the Himalayas
The pin was at the back, and I had a putt along what looked like the Himalayas.
Four putts later there was a major increase in feelings of conflict, especially as Fiona managed to 2 putt for par.
Yep, I was gasping for oxygen by the time the damn ball went in that hole.
In my defence, Fiona had a much easier putt than me as she was going straight up all the humps and hollows whereas I had to skirt the edges.
At least the back of this green offers a great view for you to rest and catch your breath.
As with many of the greens on this course, you tell yourself you'd play the hole much better a second time.
And, as long as you never play it again, you'll have no trouble convincing yourself of this.
9th fairway
The 9th, par 4, has a wide fairway but a narrow entrance to the green. Bunkers left, water right and, at 332 metres you're going to be playing a fairway wood if you're going for it in 2. I decided I could use my 5 wood to run the ball in from the front left. I made good contact but pulled the ball and ended up on the path. As my nearest relief was in prime snake habitat, I elected to play it off the path.
Not very well but scrambled a bogey.
I was out in 42, while Fiona had a very creditable 39.
So we both headed for the 10th still believing that, in spite of difficult greens, the course suits its name, especially if you consider it an exercise in retaining your equanimity under extreme duress.
If you can shrug off your poor shots on this course, you will shrug them off anywhere.
I managed par on the next couple of holes but then had trouble on 12, a par 5 of 422 metres with greenside bunkers. I was rapt to get out of the bunker with one shot (the face was about 15 ft high) but then I 3 putted.
More gasping for oxygen.

I don't know whether I got tired or the course got more difficult but my back nine consisted of par, par, dble bogey, par, dble bogey, dble bogey, par, par, and dble bogey to finish.
That gave me a 44 to go with my 42.
Fiona also wilted and shot 43 on the back nine, but an 82 on Pacific Harbour is pretty creditable.
The hardest thing to do in golf is shrug off the bad shots.
Pacific Harbour will provide you with lots of opportunities to kick the festering habit.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Special Aussie Golf Aids

The great thing about playing golf in Australia is all the free golfing aids.
If you find your putting stroke is too fast, and you're racing past the hole at Pacific Harbour, the kind staff at the course have provided you with the golfing aid pictured below.
There's nothing like a little snake venom to slow down your stroke.
And it's not a banned, performance enhancing substance either.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Mind your Language at Caboolture Golf Club

We're not certain if the webmaster made a mistake, but iseekgolf had rounds of golf at Caboolture Golf Club for $10. So we booked straight away.
It turned out to be the golfing bargain of the century.We rented trundlers for $5, which still gave us an incredibly cheap round of golf. (That was the only time we saw the $10 deal, but Caboolture does a deal on their own website for 2 green fees with a cart - $56 on Thursdays.)
Caboolture is just under an hour's drive south of Alexandra Heads and very easy to get to on the highway.
There was certainly nothing 'cheap' about the course, which was in great order and had true, fast greens.
'Don't judge a book by its cover' also holds true for a golf course i.e. you shouldn't judge a course by its first couple of holes. They were a bit scruffy and side by side up-and-back holes (boring layout, I was thinking) but when you step on to the 3rd tee, picured below, you get the feeling that surprises await.

Coming to a tee near you
Considering the sign on the fence, probably nasty surprises.
As the picture indicates, actions speak louder than words.
Caboolture is a 5331 metre, par 72 layout. The greens are big, fast, undulating and, like most courses we've played on in the Sunshine Coast, well protected by bunkers.
Water also plays a big part in the courses here, particularly at Caboolture where you have the river and several large ponds to negotiate.
The 5th hole, a 330 metre par 4, is a good example of how the number 1 stroke holes on the Sunshine Coast are worthy of that number.
First, you have a tee shot to a narrow fairway bordered by trees on the right and a pond on the left.
You're probably saying, "What's so hard about that?"
Well, the narrow fairway you're aiming at has a major slope left towards the pond. And it is also a dogleg left, so you need to be on the right side of the fairway to get a shot at the green. Which, of course, is protected by a large bunker on the left.
If you manage to hit the green in two (330 metres requires two solid shots), don't breathe a sigh of relief yet. The green is huge and undulating. You could still have a 40 or 50 ft putt, and you'd better hope it's not downhill.
And don't relax as you leave that hole and make your way to the 6th, a 356 metre par 4 dogleg. Nice wide fairway but the drive is uphill so you need a long straight shot on the right to get close to the top of the hill and see what your next shot holds.
Trees and rough to the right, a bunker protecting the front right of the green which has humps and hollows around it. I have the impression that it's a narrow green at the front, but that may just be because I never managed to hit this green in two. (Or three, to be honest.)

7th tee
At least the 7th is a reasonably straightforward 288 metre par 4. Very picturesque, with the river running along the left side. At last, I thought, a par 4 under 300 metres.
An elevated tee always makes a hole seem inviting and, provided you get away a solid tee shot, you should only have a mid iron to a ... you guessed it ... long, bunker protected green.
Even their short holes are challenging. Scanning the back 9 holes on the card, you'll see that the 11th is a par 4 of only 232 metres.
Has to be something tricky with it, I thought. It's not in an Aussie's nature to design an easy golf hole.
This hole is relatively straight forward. You could take a fairway wood off the tee and still only have a short iron to the green. Did I mention that you need to be a mountain goat to get up to the green? The very long, 2-tiered green. If the pin's at the back and you've decided on a club, put it back and add another two and you might get somewhere near the back.
All the holes on the back 9 are challenging. The 17th, a 412 metre par 5, was where I performed a John Daly meltdown. I lost 3 balls on this hole because I knew I was capable of carrying the water. Six shots later, I proved it.
Just for good measure, when I finally got close to the green (in yet another bunker) I sent another ball rocketing into the pond.
I was on to old balls, by this stage.
The 18th is a spectacular 115 metre par 3, straight (and I mean straight) uphill. You'll either be visually intimidated (if you've lost 3 balls on the previous hole) or you'll be inspired to greatness.
For me, it was the latter both times we played. I hit my 5 iron solidly and got the middle of the green, from where I 2-putted.
Great way to finish and more than made up for the previous rubbish.
Caboolture is a great test of golf but don't play it only once. You need to play it at least twice to really appreciate how to play many of the holes.
And also to find replacement balls.