The Long Road to Cape Town

In September last year I left home on a flight to Victoria Falls. Last week, after almost seven months and I don’t even want to know how many thousands of kilometers later, my overland truck finally pulled into Cape Town and under the shadow of the iconic Table Mountain. I was home again.

During the months away, I was at least able to find a few new places to tee it up, Nairobi being a huge surprise in its quality and quantity of affordable golfing options. My last blog was all the way back in November, when I scouted out the little gem of The Gilgil Golf Course in The Great Rift Valley, but since then I have been on the road almost every day and had no time to find any new courses to play, barely finding the time to just swing my lob wedge on the beach at Lake Malawi!

Looking back down the 9th Hole

Coming down from Nairobi I had been chatting with a few of the people in my group about the golfing opportunities en-route. The best option looked like it would be the halfway point of the tour at The Livingstone Royal Golf & Country Club and Pete, Johnny and Lindsey decided to join me on one of our days in Livingstone.

We had to carefully plan around which night we were going to do the Sunset/Booze Cruise on Zambezi and which morning we would be feeling the least hung over.

One of the major changes since the first time I played here in September, was that it was now the rainy season. So what were dry, brown fairways and rough, were now lush green grass and rough at about five feet tall!

Lindsey, trying to get her ball out of the 'long grass'.

When we arrived at the Pro Shop, Victoria, informed us that only nine holes were open, as they could not afford to keep the full course maintained during the rainy season, with very few tourists playing and the grass growing really quickly, and that if we wanted to play eighteen holes, we would need to play the same nine twice. We decided to just pay for nine holes to start and decide after that if we wanted to go around again.

After the first hole took us about half an hour, a four man search needed after each shot to try locate the ball, whether it was in the rough or not, we realised that it was a good thing we were only playing nine holes.

The total cost for balls overtook the nine hole green fee after about 4 holes when my three playing partners had to go back to the proshop to buy more balls! At about this time we also acquired a spotter to help look for balls, which probably helped get us around the remaining holes with the few balls we had left and also our sanity barely intact. On one hole, after finding my ball, I left my bag to mark the spot and went searching for the remaining three, the problem came when I had to try find my bag/ball again, which was almost completely hidden in the long grass!

Trying to find where I left my bag!

The nine holes turned out to be only 8, playing a combination of the front and back nine holes which have been maintained to allow play in this rainy time of year, again probably a blessing in disguise.

Sitting in the clubhouse after we were done, I decided that instead of counting scores to determine a winner, a better reflection of the day and the most accurate scoring method would be to count the number of balls lost in the round……..and so, after 8 Holes… 4th position with 8 balls lost, Johnny, in 3rd position, with 5 balls lost, Pete, in 2nd position, with 4 balls lost, Lindsey and in 1st, only narrowly with 3 balls lost, Me!

I think the most important thing is that we all had a great time, and if I can try encourage as many people to get out there and make the most of the amazing facilities they have available at The Livingstone Royal Golf & Country Club, it will go a long way in helping them to be able to afford to keep the course in good condition, for the enjoyment of local and foreign golfers. It is still the cheapest activity in all of Victoria Falls, by a long way!

Johnny, trying to keep his ball in the 'short grass'.

It didn’t take long for me to get out on the course again once back home, playing already one round on the Mashie Course at The River Club with my dad and brother on Friday afternoon and then out at Paarl Golf Course (Boschenmeer) on Saturday morning, where I was pleasantly surprised to shoot, after a fairly substantial break from the game, a decent round of 86.

This next week is sure to hold a few more rounds, while I try to make up for lost time and also look for more shoestring golf options around Cape Town for you.

Next month I also have a trip to Thailand planned which I am looking forward to ………

All golfers accounted for at the end of the round, no one lost in the long grass!