Golf is a crazy game! It would take quite some time, and a number of fingers and toes, to count the range of emotions felt in one round of golf. So you need to forgive me if I don’t know where to start on this blog, having played 54 holes in the last day and a half!
My time in George started well, making contact with an old friend, Spencer, with whom I worked in the USA more than 10 years ago, and haven’t seen in the years since. Thanks to the power of the internet, I was able to track him down and enjoyed a traditional South African braai (BBQ) with him and his family on Thursday evening.
My first round of golf for Friday was at the George Golf Club, which is literally a half a wedge shot across the road from the Outeniqua Travel Lodge & Backpackers. Even though I was walking to the course in the morning, I still left too early and arrived at the course before most of the staff members.
It did mean I could start a little earlier, and with another round booked for the afternoon, I wanted to give myself as much time as possible.
The course is a very enjoyable parklands style course, which has a distinct South African golf club feel, which is a very good thing as the bar for quality of courses and facilities is being raised continually.
It took me a few holes to warm up and unfortunately my good shots were followed by poor ones, which drastically stunted my scoring opportunities. My chipping and putting in particular was letting me down.
The back nine started well though, with a Birdie and Par, and I was able to hit more good shots than bad to shot a 43 and finish on 88.
Having started early, I wasn’t in too much of a rush to get over to Kingswood Golf Estate, where I had a 13:00 tee time, so there was some time for a bite to eat, a change of shirt and to get a taxi.
I had seen the Kingswood course in the morning as it neighbours the George Golf Club and I was looking forward to play it. Jenny, the Golf Co-ordinator at George Golf Club warned me at the Half-Way House that it would be quite a long walk, and considering I had already walked 18 holes, I was thinking of getting a cart for the afternoon round, the deciding factor being the price! When I arrived at the Pro Shop, which is temporary location at the Gate House, I was told that a cart was already included in my Green Fee that had been paid with the Golf Passport.
As I started the round I could see why Jenny had warned me, the winding cart paths and huge changes in elevation would have most likely even buckled a set of fresh legs. The three pars I started with definitely helped, but I instantly fell in love with the course. It is a Links style course and is still quite young, it only opened in 2007, but the design and the aesthetics just pull everything together and make it a very enjoyable golfing experience.
My putting and chipping woes continued until the Par 4 4th Hole where I chipped in for a Birdie, a feat which I replicated on the Par 3 11th. I think my wedge knew it was about to get sidelined if it didn’t pull its weight.
The wind that had picked up in the morning started to die down again in the mid-afternoon and it made the playing conditions even better. I nearly matched my outward 42 with a 43 coming back in and carded the lowest round of my Garden Route Tour up until this point. I had thoroughly enjoyed my round and was sad it had to come to an end, but after a drink in the bar I caught a taxi back to the Outeniqua Lodge, where I holed up for the evening to work on getting my video blogs ready. I had to be up early this morning as well, as I had been invited to play a round on Golf Digest’s Number One Rated Course in South Africa, The Links Course at Fancourt. An invitation you don’t turn down.
As we started the round, I realised it was going to be quite a test and a few ‘school boy errors’ made it even tougher. The layout of the course, the attention to detail in all areas, including the swamp lands, dunes, creeks and the uncountable number of bunkers, makes it clear why it is rated Number One.
It took me until the 7th Hole to loosen up the muscles after yesterday’s marathon, but after that I played some really nice golf for the rest of the round, including two birdies and five pars (with another Chip-In).
The one thing that hits you when playing a course like that, is looking at the Pro Tees and seeing where the likes of Ernie and Tiger battled it out in the 2003 Presidents Cup, also seeing the ridiculous carries over water and bush and the numerous blind shots they had to hit.
Tonight I will be sleeping at The Santos Express, an old railway carriage parked right next to the beach and converted into a Lodge & Backpackers.
Tomorrow morning I will be teeing it up for my final round of the Garden Route Golf Passport at Mossel Bay Golf Club.