A Weekend Golf Trip: A very fun thing to do with friends!

group tenterfield
The Tenterfield Golf Course turned it on for us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     When I picked up a golf club for the very first time a couple of years ago and swung it enthusiastically this way and that, I had no idea that Golf would offer so much more than mere exercise. Indeed, despite the very high level of frustration that can be engendered by a disobedient little white ball, I’ve discovered that there’s a lot of fun to be had both on and off the course!

This was especially true of my first ever golfing weekend away from home which took place in a month or so ago. A girl’s weekend always has much to recommend it but when that weekend includes shopping, lunching, yarning over nibbles and drinks, dinner, dancing and a game of golf here and there, you know you’re on a winner. And even more so when your companions are the Mullumbimby Saturday Lady Golfers, affectionately known as “The Chooks.”

As the name suggests, this is a group of ladies who don’t take themselves too seriously, who  know how to party and who are always willing to help a friend. Now the Chooks hold by the saying, “What happens on tour, stays on tour,”  so no  stories that might have inspired the director of ‘The Hangover’ will darken this post!

The girls have been collecting all manner of Chooks for good luck . Some are more appealing than others apparently.

 

Betty, our club captain had generously offered Kerrie and I a lift and so on a sunny Friday morning, I found myself heading for Tenterfield, which is about three hours away from home.  Now you wouldn’t want the journey to be too boring, so the Chooks had agreed to meet up for morning tea in Casino.  Travel requires frequent refueling after all!  A  quick  coffee and cake, a bit of a natter and a  wander around the shopping district and we were back in the car ready to climb the Great Dividing Range. Betty and Kerrie were very familiar with the road but I hadn’t traveled on it for over 20 years.  Unlike most of NSW, there had been plenty of rain and and little villages like Tabulum were picture postcard perfect. 

This will be the last time I will be able to drive over the historic Tabulum Bridge, ( it is the longest wooden bridge in the Southern Hemisphere) before it’s demolished for a modern one.

 

It seemed to me that even the bends in the road had been smoothed out and before too long we were approaching our home away from home for the next two nights: Tenterfield.

A beautiful avenue of trees greeted us as we entered the town. 
We stayed at the Bowling Club Motor Inn which is located within easy walking distance of the main street.
Kerrie and I had a lovely view of the bowling greens from our private patio. Our room was a generous size and they also supplied a continental breakfast .

 

There was time on that first afternoon for a leisurely walk through town,  before returning for afternoon drinks and nibbles at the motel.

Despite the threatening storm clouds, the weather did not hinder us in any way. So lucky!

 

A night of dinner and dancing followed. Many of the girls were able to show some very  fancy moves on the dance floor. They are definitely ‘girls who know how to have fun.’  Next morning our championship game awaited at the picture perfect Tenterfield golf course.

A perfect late spring day. Views to the mountains very lovely

 

After our group photo, I was in for a surprise. As this was my first trip, I was presented at the start of play with a tiara  as I was the “virgin” of the group.  I was to wear the tiara throughout the day’s play and abide by some ‘special rules of play’ which would be revealed as the day progressed!

 
I was very lucky to score Michelle, our club president, as my partner for the day.
An unlucky bounce and I was in the car park – special rule for virgins: play every ball where you find it!
Despite one or two little hiccups, it was fun zooming here, zooming there on this lovely course.  And no one lost a ball to the water!

But there can only be one winner and this year it was Nancy who came out on top.

Debbie congratulating Nancy on her success.
And here are the members of the winning team!

 

But the fun didn’t stop there. The following morning after checkout, we all headed to Casino where we would be playing our second round of golf.  Again, another lovely day awaited us. Casino is a more challenging course than Tenterfield and I must confess, my beginner skills were tested! 

Alas all good things come to an end and after lunch and presentations, we headed home. I am already looking forward to next year’s jaunt.

 

 

Advertisements

A Hole in One: Not an impossible dream!

IMG_0852-COLLAGE
Sister Act : Jenny and I on our respective Par 3’s at Cowra and Mullumbimby Golf Courses.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I thought  that landing a hole in one was an impossible dream. Something only achieved by golf whisperers,  players who can actually play the game with some finesse and seem able to coax, caress and cajole their clubs and balls  into behaving beautifully, fulfilling  golfing desires. Players like my sister, Jenny who after many years of playing A grade and representative golf,  landed her first hole in one last year at Cowra Golf Club. Teeing off on the 5th, a Par 3 with her trusty nine iron, Jenny saw her ball sail toward the pin. However, it was only when she and her group walked down to the hole, that she could celebrate.  Her ball was lying there, nestled in the cup! Although she has won many events over the years,  she told me that this hole in one was the most special.

PicMonkey Collage
Cowra Golf Course is a beautiful country course in the Central West of NSW.  With lush fairways and  challenging bunkers, there are one or two hills that will give you a cardio workout.  I had a wonderful time playing there with Jenny while  hooning around in her golf buggy. You might like to check out our adventures here.

 

But I thought wrong! Even a relative newcomer to golf such as myself, who  has enjoyed many mishaps on her golfing journey and who steps up to the ball, swings and hopes for the best, can land a hole in one. 

My special moment happened a couple of weeks ago at Mullumbimby Golf Club.

PicMonkey Collage 5
Beautiful Mullumbimby, a country paradise.

There I was competing in our monthly medal round, hoping against hope that my score wouldn’t blow out too embarrassingly, when the unbelievable happened. It was the 12th hole.  A par 3. The hole is bordered by water on both sides and as I stepped up with my driver,  I remember having a few, stern,  silent words to my pretty blue flowered ball. “Don’t even think about going for a dip in the pond! I know you like to swim but  this isn’t the time for fraternising with the geese. You don’t want to get dirty, I only bought you yesterday … Just fly up in the air and you’ll see how soft and lovely the grass is on the green.”

Maybe my ball listened,  maybe I followed through properly or Lady Luck intervened … I don’t know.  All I know is,  I watched as my ball sailed to the left, curved around and landed softly just before the hole and rolled in.  Picking up my ball from the cup, I actually felt a bit guilty. I know how many really good players are out there who haven’t been rewarded with a hole in one and here was I with one. It didn’t seem fair somehow.

That guilty feeling didn’t stop me from being absolutely thrilled when I was presented with my first sporting trophy since I was the 16 years girls swimming champion at school, something I achieved through participation not skill.

20180518_150034
I think the flowers did it!

What has been particularly heartwarming has been my fellow lady golfers’ reactions. They were genuinely thrilled for me. But that’s golf isn’t it? It’s the comraderie as well as the personal challenge that keep us coming back.  And persevering.   And truly, if I was able to sink a hole in one, there’s hope for all golfers out there.

 

 

An Alien stole my ball at Murwillumbah!

Murwill 1
View from the deck of Murwillumbah Golf Club. Beautiful Mount Warning in the distance shrouded by misty clouds.

Back in February, I saw the flyer on the clubhouse wall for an Open Day at Murwillumbah to benefit Breast Cancer. My curiosity was piqued.  Ages ago, it seems, Annie and I had been told how beautiful this course was and consequently had it on our list of courses we’d like to play.  So this seemed a perfect opportunity.

Although we had never been to an Open Day, we figured it couldn’t be too damaging to our self esteem, as it was a Single Stableford event. When one’s handicap is still languishing in the 40s and it’s the rainy season, single stableford provides a measure of comfort when you just know there are going to be a few (and possibly more than a few) mishaps out on the course.  And it was for such a good cause!  And dressed in a fabulous pink rosy skirt and  pink shirt courtesy of my lovely sister, Jenny, I could even fulfill the dress code in style.

So early Thursday morning, Annie and I set off  for Murwillumbah.  It was showery but we reassured each other that we could see glimpses of blue sky to the north. But as we climbed the Burringbar Range, the blue sky disappeared and showers reappeared. Thank goodness we had decided to use a buggy and just for extra protection we stashed our brollies in the cart for extra protection from the elements.

murwill 2
My little frog was in his  element.

There were over 100 ladies participating despite the weather, We found we were to play  with two lovely ladies from Murwillumbah, who showed us the ropes and soon we were hitting off the tenth. It was a Par 3. Terrific, I thought.

Murwill 1
Unfortunately, you had to thread the needle between two bunkers.  The one on the left welcomed in me with open arms.  This was a  deep, deep bunker, so I took evasive action and hit out the side, only to roll into the bunker on the right.  Alas, my first wipe of the day beckoned.

But all was not lost. The course was lovely to play and there was some run.

murwill 4
While there was water, it didn’t pose a threat unless you hit wildly off course and the view to the mountains was spectacular.

murwill3
This part of the course is relatively flat and next time, I would love to walk it. 

murwill 5
And the Tweed River borders a couple of holes.

murwill 6
But as you can see, the fairway is lovely and wide!

Soon, we were tackling the front nine. This was more hilly and had some tricky but interesting holes. And it’s also where an alien stole my ball!

mullum 9
We found ourselves hitting down the slope and then up the slope to the greens

How did an alien steal your ball, you might ask? Well I  hit  a great drive and second shot ( for me that is)  on a long Par 4.  I had 7 shots for par, so full of anticipation, I closely watched  my third shot fall just short, on the edge of the green. Dash it, I muttered to the ball, you could have gone just a little bit further!  Confidently, I walked over to the ball, only to discover it belonged to one of the Murwillumbah ladies! My ball had vanished! We looked in the bunkers, we looked over the back of the green, we looked behind and we looked in the hole! No ball!  Obviously, taken by aliens! What to do?  The Murwillumbah ladies were seasoned golfers of over 40 years experience. Sadly they informed me, it was a wipe.

But the game must go on and the course held more lovely surprises. At one point we drove from one hole to the next through a lovely patch of rainforest.

murwill 7
This shot doesn’t do this part of the course justice. It was so much more beautiful than this, but I was just snapping away with my phone.

And all too soon, we were shaking hands on the 9th. It was time to scan our scorecards and while we didn’t win, we didn’t disgrace ourselves either.  Lunch beckoned in the clubhouse where our new friends invited us to join them.  Lots of stories, lots of laughter,  the most amazing raffle and  presentations. And it was home time.

As we drove away, the rain started again. We couldn’t believe that we had been lucky enough to enjoy such a wonderful day of golf. Murwillumbah, we will be back!

 

Could this happen to you?

PicMonkey Collage 5
Mullumbimby Golf Course and the fairways are running!

Are you one of those people that weird stuff happens to? The sort of stuff that has everyone else around you in stitches while you are left stunned,  attempting to extricate yourself from an embarrassing situation with a semblance of grace but not necessarily succeeding?  Welcome to the club.

For example, you might think that nothing untoward could happen to you on the Golf course. After all, golf is a civilised game where players amble from hole to hole, hoping to hit their balls nicely down the fairway. Even if their ball runs away and buries itself  in the rough, or seeks shelter behind a tree or takes a dive into the duck pond or falls in love with a hazard, this might be an unfortunate but not necessarily, an embarrassing situation.

A week or so ago, I took unfortunate and embarrassing to a whole new level.  I was having one of those rounds where too many balls ran out of steam right on the lip of the hole.

Golf-Photo_01
One or two you might forgive, but five or six? I spoke sternly to my putter and threatened my ball with early retirement but to no avail! 

I know what happened next was probably my fault. I was on a tricky par 3. The green on this hole lies on a fairly steep mound,  protected by two deep bunkers to the right and a band of trees to the left. But undaunted, I was determined to make up for the near misses on the previous holes. Teeing off,  my ball sailed into the heavens but tracked a little to the left. Mmm, this could be unfortunate, I thought. But down the fairway, I saw that all was not lost. My ball was nestled between two trees with a clear line to the pin. Great, a little chip shot and all will be well. Maybe I’ll be in for par! I lined up. My chip cleared the rough and raced across the green where it kissed the pin and promptly leapt into the second bunker.

Green on Hole 18
Unfortunately, I’m allergic to sand and it doesn’t like me either!

Reluctantly, I retrieved my sand wedge and … hit out of the bunker first time. But alas, I hit too hard. My ball raced across the green and disappeared from view down the other side. Definitely unfortunate! Rhonda broke the bad news: it’s gone into ‘out of bounds’ and I had to take a drop. But first, I had to retrieve my ball. I had never hit a ball into this out of bounds area before but soon discovered that the ground fell away steeply to a little creek where I spied my favourite ball lying a pool of water. I scrambled down to retrieve it and was just reaching over to pick it up when I heard an ominous crashing sound. It was my buggy, doing somersaults while nose-diving into the creek! In my haste to retrieve my ball, I had forgotten to put the brake on. Luckily the buggy didn’t land on top of me and didn’t appear to be damaged. But how to get it and me back up? The bank was too steep to push it up, so I had to pull it.  With Rhonda holding one hand, the other hand dragging the buggy and digging my spikes in, I inched my way up the bank, bottom slide by bottom slide like a geriatric slug. Eventually, I was up and so was my buggy. Needless to say, Rhonda found it very difficult to keep a straight face. And I still had to play a shot! Taking a deep breath, I nudged the ball forward and finally putted it in. Taking stock of my appearance, I realised that I now, from top to toe resembled a SAS soldier ready for jungle warfare. I wasn’t going to be able to live down this escapade for a while.

To add insult to injury, three days later disaster struck again. It was a perfect spring day and I was hitting cleanly down a long par 5 which has lovely water views on both sides of the fairway. Even though it was warm, I was very comfortable under my new sun-safe umbrella which I’d purchased from the Pro shop the day before.

byron 1

I was secretly chuffed at how well I was doing and foolishly began to day-dream about my approach shots. Bad, bad move! I didn’t notice that the wind was picking up. While I was navigating a ditch, a gust toppled my buggy over, tearing my umbrella away. My good friend Annie gave chase while I rescued my buggy. Two falls in one week! Maybe I should get a new job – as a golf buggy road tester!  But alas, Annie couldn’t channel her inner Usain Bolt and the umbrella raced away. The wind dropped and for about ten seconds, I thought there was hope for a successful retrieval.  Then,  it changed direction, sweeping my new umbrella towards the pond.  I tried to catch up to it but running has never been my forte and  I watched in horror as my umbrella pirouetted around the edge and then set sail for the middle. There it stopped before slowly sinking, like the Titanic on its maiden voyage.  Very ‘unfortunate’ and now that I look back on it, very funny! It could only happen to me.

21762218_10155736034488343_6319148936383129821_n
 Maybe Froggie was trying to tell me something!

For the time being, I’m making do with an old yellow umbrella which has seen better days. On the plus side, It shows no desire to find another home and some shade is better than none! Could this happen to you?

 

The Perils of Winter Golf

PicMonkey Collage winter golf
Enter a caption

Spring is almost here and in the Northern Rivers, the weather of late has been perfect for golf: cool mornings and warm days brushed with gentle breezes.  Out on the course, everyone seems happy, even the ducks.  Indeed, we had so much sunny weather in August that I have developed ‘golf foot’.  This condition is not to be confused with ‘trench foot’  which is caused by prolonged exposure of the feet to damp, unsanitary, and cold conditions  and which afflicted our WW1 diggers. Rather it is a condition in which your lower extremities come to resemble your driver in reverse. Legs are tanned by prolonged exposure to the sun while from the ankles down, your feet are silvery white. It’s not a look that you’ll see on the catwalks of Paris anytime soon!

And while it is lovely right now, we’ve had our fair share of wintry conditions. It hasn’t been super cold. Unlike the lady golfers from the Central West of NSW who ventured out to play their weekly comp despite fog and frost and being buffeted  by icy winds fresh from the Alps, we haven’t had to contend with freezing conditions. However we have faced storms, hail and very, very wet conditions.

IMG_1877
The fairway at Cowra! How hard would it be to find a white ball? I wonder  if one is allowed to play golf in Ugg boots? Local rule change? 

In June, we experienced a series of big storms. We could see them approaching but luckily made it through a game without a drenching.

10th hole storm
It was a bit grey and not a lot of run but a little bit of golf was better than no golf at all.

But the storms brought water, a lot of water!  The Mullumbimby golf course went under and was closed for a time. It reopened to walkers only. What we didn’t appreciate until we got to the course was that we weren’t really walking: we were wading and sloshing our way down the fairways.

Did you know that a golf ball can land on a puddle and skip along, skimming the water like a low flying ballistic missile? And just like a ballistic missile, have a homing device attached? I discovered that mine did! Without fail, my balls would come to rest in the deepest, most inaccessible drainage ditch. I’m a slow learner. It took a few lost balls before I dug out my most decrepit balls. But these balls wouldn’t get lost. Isn’t that always the way?

Even with preferred lie, conditions were tough. Balls would soar beautifully through the air only to come back to earth with a plop, nestling comfortably in the oozy mud. They needed and received a good talking to from our irons! Even the greens, where I have felt most comfortable posed real problems. On one green I watched in horror as my ball parted the waters, slowing down as it did so. What should have been a gimme putt became a three or four or five putt but who was counting? On the next, I of course over-compensated.  My ball sailed past the hole onto the other side of the green and into the welcoming arms of a bunker. So considerate of it. Wiping: holes, balls, sticks, shoes, legs, shirts and buggies became the order of the day.

Even when it  started to dry out,  and we could see most of the fairways again, there was still a lot of water and mud about. All the water hazards were full and a mistimed shot spelled disaster. We beginner golfers very quickly came to appreciate the benefits of ‘laying up’ even if we couldn’t execute perfectly.

It was not all doom and gloom. We played with preferred lie and other benefits for over a month. I loved being able to place my ball on top of the rough grass with which I have had a long standing love affair. And it was good to get in all that iron practice. But I was glad when all was dry again. As a beginner golfer, I need all the run I can get.

byron winter
Our Tuesday golf group also had a fun golf morning at Byron Bay, followed by morning tea at the Byron at Byron! So civilised!

And so Spring beckons. Determined to make the most of the great weather before the summer heat and humidity set in, we have found ourselves playing up to three times a week:  some social, some comp. While like many, I have preferred playing Stableford, on Saturday I’ve agreed to play my first stroke round.  Wish me luck, I’ll need it.

Oh, I almost forgot. As I was having a golf lesson on Tuesday, my coach Nicky told me that in Japan, Amateurs and Professionals stop for lunch at the end of 9 holes.  Having consumed a delightful lunch and possibly some sake, they cheerfully resume their match. Beats our ten minute comfort break hands down! What do you think?

Happy golfing everyone.

 

 

 

Carting it up at Cowra Golf Club

 

wisteria-standard

While Golf presents many challenges to the newcomer, it opens up many new ‘fun’ experiences. Last week, I crossed the Blue Mountains and tackled a ‘real’ country course, playing  a social game with my sister, Jenny on her home course in Cowra.

To make the most of the short time available to us, Jenny suggested that ‘carting’  was the only way to go. This was a first for me but I soon learnt that golf carts can add another dimension to your enjoyment of the game and as a bonus, mastered the basics of  ‘golf buggy driving for dummies’.  On a lovely Spring morning,  I  found myself a passenger, with Jenny in Formula I mode, zipping here and there, up and down in this little red rocket.

img_1082-1
Prepared for any  eventuality

All I had to do was sit tight and enjoy the view until …  our balls landed on opposite sides of the fairway. Jenny  parked, grabbed a wood and hopped across the fairway where she  hit an imposing second shot. It soared and soared some more.  Meanwhile, I managed to dribble my  ball  a reasonable distance down the fairway. Not a bad outcome, I thought.

fullsizerender-2
Yay! No trees for me on this hole!

But then Jenny asked me to drive the cart over and pick her up. “But I can’t drive a cart” I replied.

‘It’s easy, all you do is put your foot down.”  Gingerly, I pressed my foot on the pedal (motorised vehicles and I, have not had a mutually rewarding relationship) and the cart inched its way across the fairway. The red rocket had become a red slug! “Harder” yelled Jenny. I pressed harder and the cart responded. It likes me, I thought as we zoomed over to Jenny. I could get used to this mode of transport, especially on hot, humid summer days!

It was so enjoyable playing with someone who knows the course well. When the greens are fast and the bunkers are lurking,  such knowledge is invaluable.

img_1076-2
Loved that there was no water to negotiate, only the odd bunker or two or three.

 Alas, they haven’t invented a personal golfing drone which can fly around you, assess your game and make suggestions for improvement as you are playing, but I think my sister,  Jenny is the next best thing.  For  weeks, I had been having trouble with teeing off and hitting on the fairway and I didn’t know what was wrong.  In practice, all seemed well, but as soon as I was on the course … disaster! What Jenny picked up was that I had taken some of the coaching tips too literally. I practiced my chipping, being mindful to put my weight on the front foot. Then, when I was instructed to tee off the front foot, I thought that meant that my weight had to be on the front foot when I did that too. I didn’t realise that I was trying to hit balls like a one legged stork!  Once I was playing on an even keel, everything was better. I was even able to hit out of the rough in front of Jenny’s friends, Robert and Warwick. Even though I felt like a murderer, beheading innocent daisies in the process.

Golf finished and some bargains found at the Pro shop, where the new golf Pro, Nathan Stubbs was having a sale, it was time to return home for a leisurely lunch.

Spring has sprung at Cowra and Jenny’s garden was bursting with colour.

early-rose
The first roses are out as is the wisteria.

may-bush-camoflauge
The may bushes and daisies overlook Cowra in the distance

I loved looking out through the rose arbour, over the paddocks and seeing them dotted with sheep and lambs.

rose-arbour-overlooking-the-sheep-paddocks
I know they’re small, but the lambs are there!

And of course I had to say hello to Marjorie, Jenny’s pet lamb who is now a very large sheep. It was time for her annual haircut and it was funny to see how her friends in the paddock didn’t recognise her after Paul had  shorn her!

picmonkey-image-marjorie
This is Marjorie looking sheepish and trying to hide in the grass now her fleece has gone.

All too soon, our visit to Cowra came to an end but I’m looking forward to my next visit when perhaps I’ll tackle the whole 18 holes. Country golf courses are so worth exploring!

A Golf Adventure along the Tweed River

Isn’t the Coolangatta/Tweed Heads golf course spectacular? Just walking around it, feet cushioned by emerald green turf, taking in the water views and watching the antics of the abundant bird life is enjoyable. However tackling its many challenges was and is a real golfing adventure!  Last week, Annie and Pam and I took on the challenge of the river course at Coolangatta/Tweed Heads Golf Club.  Although we were just playing a social match, this was my first experience  playing on a championship course and I hoped… crossed my fingers and every other appendage … and  … wished … to play well.

 I had a few concerns as my game isn’t quite what I would have hoped it might be by this stage. When I embarked on my golfing journey, I was full of good  intentions:  I promised myself that I would practice my putting at home between weekly visits to the ‘Coffee Golf’ clinic at Mullumbimby Golf Club ( I didn’t make it to double digits),  pay a visit to the local driving range at Ballina (only visited the range to buy Christmas gifts) and  find time to play a few extra games, perhaps at different courses. (I can count the extra games I played in an 18 month period, on one hand!) So predictably, my progress has been slow, painfully tortoise like!  But I thought, nothing ventured, nothing gained! Miracles can happen on a golf course I assured myself and there was always lunch and good company to look forward to, if I was doomed to disappointment.

It was a perfect day for golf, warm and sunny as only the North Coast can be, with very little breeze.  Soon we were out on the course. Annie and Pam were in Superman mode: their tee shots flying down the fairway like speeding bullets. Mine were more problematical but I persevered and hit a couple that were not too shabby. We discovered that the fairways were so smooth that Annie and Pam in particular were able to hit away with their fairway woods. I was a little more timid and stuck with my irons but all our balls ran and then ran some more. Always an agreeable outcome.

annie at tweed
Annie hitting a great shot  missing the water and the bunker

 

 Even when I inevitably found the rough, to my surprise, it  was relatively smooth and for once, I hit out easily.  But as we approached the greens, we understood why Nicky, our golf pro, had made us  practice targets with our nine irons and pitching wedges again and again and again.  Every green was surrounded by water and sand!  A lot of sand!  Luckily, each  of us only lost only one ball to the water and generally missed the sand. Yes, it was up, up and away for us.

course hazards
I know what those bunkers are thinking: I’m going to get you!

 

The course is quite long and there is a fair distance between some holes, but the view you have of the river is worth the trek but I can understand why many choose to cart it.

 

walking between holes admiring the river
The Tweed River

 

All too soon, our game was over and it was time for lunch and a well deserved cappuccino at the Golf Club. Alas our day had come to an end. The highway beckoned and before too long, we were home in Byron Bay. Tweed, watch out! In the words of Arnie, ‘We will be back!’