Homeward Bound and Matron takes up Golf, the Social Golfer Ratings updated Florida Section, Conclusions and the Brew Story. One final hooray, Pairs Victory at Championsgate.
We are heading for home with an extra case of baggage in tow. Karen after many years as a golf widow has taken up my offer to spend some of my winnings on a set of ladies clubs, and damn fine value they are too courtesy of tour sponsors Edwin Watts. First problem is Karen doesn’t know if she is right or left handed. She writes, irons, paints, bowls and thumps me left handed but plays Badminton and Crazy Golf right handed. After whacking a few balls both ways we all concur she is orthodox and no Phil Mick!
We visited Polo Golf Club, a fine little par 3 on a retired community where Karen once parked her buggy in a bunker on her first ever visit to the golf course. She had also come across golf protocol on this visit when ordered to wear appropriate golf attire (too much bosom on display). So, armed with her own clubs and unbridled enthusiasm we hit the course. She is keen and with the driver hits a mean ball occasionally, shorter iron and the putter she has a touch like a bull in a china shop, but she wants to hit the range when we return and that bodes well for me as I need all the practice I can get.
I have had a wonderful time golfing in Florida this time and have updated the Florida section of the Social Golfer site as follows, following my experiences this time: Bay Hill and Bella both receive the Albatross award. Both were memorable days on fabulous courses right up there with the very best. Both only miss out on joining The Gary Player at Sun City and Royal Melbourne and New South Wales golf clubs in Australia as top rated “hole in one course” on the grounds of cost and accessibility to play. Quality unfortunately does cost and can come with exclusivity but I am certainly grateful I had opportunity to play these superb tracks.
I have played, for the first time, the following courses, all within an hour of Orlando and my home: on the Space coast, at Verio, the Duran Golf Club and In Titusville, the Great Outdoors Golf Club. I would rate both Eagles. At Duran, the Greens were quite exceptional whilst at The Great Outdoors, I felt the course merged superbly into the surrounding wildlife parks and produced several holes of particular beauty and challenge.
On tour I played Stoneybrook West and Metro West for the first time. I would rate both as Birdies as the former in particular suffered from the difficulties of the hot weather and the course was not in particularly good condition . Metro was enjoyable but the greens very poor, which was a pity because it has several interesting, beautiful and challenging holes.
Since my original book and following many visits, I feel obliged to upgrade Mystic Dunes and both Championsgate Course, the National and International to a Albatross Rating. All three remain true golfing challenges with well manicured fairways and greens. It is difficult to pick fault with them at all except cost, they are again expensive when compared with many of the other fine tracks in the vicinity. I have pleasure in upgrading three fine courses on the Orlando Trail, Ridgewood Lakes with the Greens that are probably the best maintained in Orlando – certainly if not the hardest, then the best quality I have played anywhere.
Providence, which has matured over the past two years into a fine value-for-money experience. After a quiet opening four holes, the course blossoms into a challenge through 6 to 9, with high risk or reward par 4s, a quite beautiful par 3 the 8th and a challenging par 5, 9th. There is no let up as the back nine has it all. My only criticism is the bland 17th par 3 which is totally innocuous when compared with the rest of a thrilling and enthralling back nine, and finally Celebration, always highly rated, like a fine wine improves on every visit. Quality Greens, slick fairways, well maintained bunkers.
These three epitomise the quality of Florida Golf available at very reasonable rates. There are, I am advised, many more exceptional courses which I will visit around Orlando in time and hopefully on the Tour. I also would like to expand my knowledge of the Gulf Coast to Naples beyond that fine municipal/ public course Lake Venice which receives an Eagle award.
REVISED FLORIDA RATINGS as at 30th June 09
I only rate the courses where I consider I have had the full Social Experience... including ease of getting there, cost, full use of facilities, pro-shop, changing rooms, 19th hole etc... I rate as follows:
Top Ranking Hole in 1...out of this world, a truly unbelievable experience...in over 200 courses played on all five continents
I have only awarded this to 4 places: Royal Melbourne, New South Wales GC Sydney, The Gary Player Country Club in Sun City and The Emirates in Dubai.
At the moment I have not given any in Florida the ultimate accolade, although I am sure when I have opportunity to fully experience, The Doral, Sawgrass and Innsbrook to name but a few this will change.
Second Ranking…The Prestigious Albatross Award…exceptional, very enjoyable, would recommend as a must-visit if you have the opportunity.
In Florida, I have rated, Bay Hill, Bella Collina, Mystic Dunes and Championsgate in this category. With regard to two, only cost and exclusivity stops them from a possible higher rating, so good are the courses.
Third Ranking…The Eagle Award...very Good, would always revisit, great value.
On the Orlando Trail, Celebration, Ridgewood Lakes Kissimmee Bay Country Club and Providence are worthy recipients as are The Club at Eaglebrook Lake Venice and The Great Outdoors from a bit farther afield.
Fourth Ranking…The Birdie Award…a quality club and course, good value...
In Florida I have found most clubs and courses fall at least into this category: Falcons Fire, Highlands Reserve, Stoneybrook West and Metro West. And that is why I believe Orlando is a must-visit for any Social Golfer – good and great courses abound at every turn at remarkable value if you look around and most courses have offers on to make playing even greater value.
This trip was really about two things for me: initially to put myself in a competitive environment on a regular basis and to see how I performed on the Edwin Watts Tour, and to continue to promote and expand the social golf concept and promote social enjoyment and interaction through golf.
With regard to the former, this has without doubt been an unqualified success – I have performed beyond my expectations, once I accepted that there is no triumph in golf that the proper attitude is to forestall disaster and to simply limit the effect of bad shots my scores tumbled. My advice to Brew and my missus...forget the flag till you have a simple tap or rap in!
I firmly believe for anyone outside a scratch or very low handicapper this is the winning philosophy: hit it hard, find it, hit it hard again. aim at first somewhere in the direction of the green where there is little trouble and whack it in that direction, when in reach aim for the whole green, that’s the target not the hole, then when on, aim for the dust bin lid, anywhere within a putter length will do, then rap it in…
It’s really a scenario for good bogey golf but it served me well this trip. Two victories is testament to the success at my level of this philosophy. I make a final observation which intertwines with the social aspect of golf. By nature of the word, competition relies on competitors and if you are successful, then they are not. The true worth of any competition can be judged on the strength of character of the competitors, the camaraderie that they bring to the event. I have played against many fine people with whom I hope I have now formed lasting friendships and that would be a more fitting testament to my performance than two trophies.
The Social Golfer’s Mission Statement is promoting social enjoyment through golf and I can genuinely say, once again this glorious game has introduced and given me the opportunity to meet a wide range of individuals and I can only hope they have taken away as much enjoyment as I have of our small interaction on a green field in sunny Florida. Some, such as the lads from Denver, Rob from London, and Mike from Tampa may never pass my way again, but as with every one I play, they will have a permanent reminder of me by way of the book – about which I have, without exception, received great feedback.
Some contacts, I am delighted to say, I have – and hopefully will for many years – keep in touch with. Jim from Connecticut who has sent me some of the best tasting teas I have ever had the pleasure of drinking, proving the Yanks did learn something from the Boston Tea Party. Fred my US Marine, The Hudsons and Brew have kept in touch by this marvellous tool, the internet.
But it takes two to tango and social enjoyment must be reciprocal. I am not, I am told, the easiest person to get on with, however on the golf course I hope all this changes and I enhance the experience of those I partner or play with, whiling away the hours with anecdotes, enjoying all the impressive play, commiserating as another one bites the dust. I received the following two emails which I part attach which made me feel great and all my efforts worthwhile.
From Fred, my scramble partner with John and Don at the US MARINES event:"the consummate golfer...a true golfer who doesn't cuss...an excellent student of John's game of whack f*ck" "not a consummate golfer, but a true joy to be out on the course with...someone I can emulate if I ever become a real man...he improved my game, because if I didn't play to par he'd kill me" "I liked Sandy (Ian) since he reminded me of my days in the Marine Corps – always attacking the beach...Ian should have worn his bathing suit as much time as he spent on the beach...Ian was a joy to play with, I only wish I could understand him"I was in the sand a lot that day , but like many Americans, Fred can obviously only understand BBC English, not Northern Twang. From Lathan Hudson, songwriter, fine golfer, good father and genuine all round good egg:“We are so disappointed we won’t get to see you on Saturday. Let us know your itinerary when back in Florida because we surely want to play golf with you again as soon as possible. You are a class gentleman and fun to be around”If that’s how I portray myself on my travels, I will take that! Finally, I leave this trip with the story of the guy who inspired me most. I thought I had it difficult till I read this and I offer this as encouragement to all individuals who suffer illness and disability, and to all of us who are feeling down because of the economic climate as a reality check as to what is important. From Brew:
“I'm unclear what I’ve told you previously about me and my injuries (I have declarative & procedural memory deficits). Your remarkable recovery from stroke is truly inspiring. I am amazed and impressed. I have already directed a stroke survivor’s family to your website (the stroke survivor is still unable to communicate). Like you, the survivor was an avid golfer pre-stroke.
I always enjoy any activity in which I choose to participate. Having said that, I’d like to explain my additional motivations for avid participation in adaptive athletics in general, and specifically the great sport of golf (!) I am a severe Traumatic Brain Injury survivor. Due to diffuse axonal shearing, MOST structures in my complex neural network were greatly impaired. Resulting from a near-fatal automobile accident in March of 1990, I've used diverse adaptive athletics to recover from MASSIVE brain damage for almost two decades.
For the last 19+ years I’ve re-taught myself to walk, talk, swallow, feed myself, bathe myself, read, write, THINK, I was legally blind for a period, I was paralyzed from the neck down at one point, the eclectic list is long and sordid. I have no doubt your experience with stroke produced similar challenges.
I’m rebuilding my once decimated brain, neuron by neuron – synapse by synapse. I am doing so through copious independent study on numerous topics, and ardent participation in multiple diverse athletics. Rigorous engagement in adaptive sport promotes re-growth of neurons (neurogenesis) and rewiring (neuroplasticity) of my once decimated brain.
Written in late 2007 as part of a successful grant request from the Challenged Athletes Foundation, the document below is as concise a summary as I can write about my journey pursuing excellence through adaptive sport.
I attempted golf soon after I was released from the rehabilitation hospital. In ’91-’92 the golf swing was far too complex for my damaged brain to comprehend, let alone execute! I have worked, hard, for the last 19+ years to rehabilitate so I may return to the great sport of golf.
A multi-sport athlete, I could have chosen to apply for a number of 'tools' (sports equipment) to further my neurologic rehabilitation. I chose golf. Armed with a generous Challenged Athletes Foundation equipment grant, I selected, and was custom fit, for 2008 Ping G10's. As a survivor of severe brain trauma, the great game of golf is a pinnacle of mind/body integration. The Florida Open, in which I had my #1 English caddy guiding and encouraging me, marked my official return to Golf.
I consider golf the equivalent of a graduate degree from a prestigious university for neurologic rehabilitation. Though an avid golfer pre-TBI, I know I’m a ‘newbie’ to golf and have much to relearn and perfect. I’m thrilled, after almost two decades of intense rehabilitation, to have finally begun my reintroduction to golf. I intend to go as far as I can through golf.
As you will see in the document below, my experience with adaptive sport as therapeutic modality is extensive and diverse. The title sums up my use of adaptive sport to pursue rehabilitative excellence. Though I have much to relearn, I have (finally) reached a point where I may again pursue the great game of golf! The life we lead creates the brain we have.
I, Charles Manning Brugh, am a survivor of a near-fatal automobile accident that left me with severe “permanent” brain damage. As a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor (comatose 2 weeks), I‘ve been forced to rebuild my entire persona – mind, body, and soul. Of my own volition, by promoting and enhancing neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, I have determined how to affect the wholesale remapping and restructuring of my intricate neural network. I use diverse adaptive athletics and copious independent study to effect phenomenal neurologic regeneration. Essential to sustained rehabilitative success is physical, psychological, and cognitive fitness. Inherent multiple challenges of adaptive sport promote health and fitness in these critical attributes concurrently. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) continues to challenge in ways I never knew possible. I spend an inordinate amount of time, effort, blood, sweat, tears, pain, and money rehabilitating my cognitive, physical, and spiritual health. Am I "all better"? Far from it. However, I continually improve – with limitless potential.
Adaptive sport is phenomenal therapy. Substantially enhancing quality of life, the athletic challenges of adaptive sport are central to my determined efforts to prevail over near-fatal Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Extensive and diverse, my expansive personal experience with adaptive sport and purposeful outdoor endeavours span nearly two decades. Since my motor vehicle accident of 21 March 1990, my athletic/therapeutic repertoire includes:
Adaptive Golf – Adaptive Water Skiing/Knee boarding – Sailing; in 2004 I lived on a 100ft, hand-built, 3-masted, wooden tall-ship for 5 months anchored in the ports of Jonesport, Rockland, and (briefly) Cutler, Maine – Climbing walls (indoor & outdoor) – Multi-day bicycling tours – Sea-kayaking trips – White water rafting trips (multi-day) – Canoeing trips (multi-day) – Camping (throughout central and north Florida, Michigan, and the Colorado Rockies) – Horseback Riding – Adaptive Surfing – High & Low Ropes Courses – Fishing (fresh water and salt water) – Off-road Mountain Biking – Rock Climbing – Parasailing – Adaptive Alpine Skiing – Wheelchair Rugby (Brooks Bandits/United States Quad Rugby Association – Atlantic South Division) - Wheelchair Tennis (First Coast Tennis Foundation/Brooks Wheelchair Tennis League) – Competitive Handcycling – Adaptive Rowing (Jacksonville University/Brooks Adaptive Sport and Recreation Program)
Neurophysical skill needed to compete in adaptive sport is extensive, and, at times, overwhelming – particularly for a Traumatic Brain Injury survivor such as myself; timing, eye-hand coordination, balance, information processing, fine and gross-motor skills, communication, visual-spatial relations, attention, judgment, memory, perception, and reaction-time are all required cognitive abilities. With enough purposeful effort, repetition, and focused attention, cognitive and neuromuscular skills are reacquired and enhanced. I am rarely satisfied – constantly I raise the bar. I fondly refer to this as my ‘achievement addiction’. While I never subject others to the same level of scrutiny, in any endeavour I hold myself to the highest of standards. I am my own worst critic. I am my own best critic.
I possess an aggressive spirit. I am also highly competitive. For the first 17 years, multiple physical and cognitive deficits necessitated competition primarily against myself in unrelenting efforts to rewire and reconstruct my being. For nearly two decades, I have used adaptive sport to promote and enhance neuroplasticity and neurogenesis in my traumatically injured brain. I have progressed to a point my rehabilitative focus again includes competition against other athletes. Competition brings out the best in me. Training, rehabilitation, and competition are complementary endeavours. For this reason, athletic training, practice, and competition are central to my continued rehabilitation. I now practice and compete with others challenged by disability – fantastic! Coupling self-directed neuroplasticity with the diverse cognitive and physical challenges of adaptive sport, I am overcoming severe, “permanent” brain damage to a degree few thought possible. I make remarkable progress applying my God-given intelligence, talents, and tenacious determination, to many adaptive sports. The life we lead creates the brain we have.
Charles M. Brugh
Without incredible challenge, a person is unable to achieve incredible success. This I am sure you will all agree is a tremendous story and truly reflects what the human body and mind can achieve. My achievements pale into insignificance. I am humbled in his presence, I hope we remain good friends, in good health, and that I can be a little part of his continued remarkable story.
Meeting people like Charles (aka Brew) make my campaign all the more worthwhile. I hope that he his able to join up with me when I hit Florida on my Round the World Trip next year.
And so to home, with new friends a plenty, trophies in case, a new golfer in tow to plan our 2010 trip: AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS - 2010 A GOLF ODYSSEY: Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Vancouver, California, Vegas, Florida, Bermuda. Many more courses, new friends, new challenges and stories…
See you soon! The next event is the People’s Open
POSTSCRIPT...On Saturday at Championsgate, I played my last competition on tour, the Edwin Watts, Tom Mirus Pairs. A competition held as close to Father’s Day to commemorate the late father of the current Tour Director, Tom Mirus, and a founding father of the Tour. I partnered my good pal big-hitting Lonnie, who overslept and forgot it was a shotgun, leaving me to fly solo for the first hole. At one stage it looked like a may-play with Michelle Wie, who lives on Championsgate and had turned up looking for a game only to be told no room at the Inn. I offered her Lonnie’s place but she chose David Leadbetter for more improvement to her technique rather than my , HIT IT HARD advice.
Championsgate no 16 -all of 280 yards and Lonnie drives it!
I managed to par the 13th my first a lengthy par 5 when the cavalry turned up and the young fella soon made his presence felt with some prodigious driving. He counted 15 out of 18 drives he hit the ball so well, but I contributed well in rest of game, we complemented each other so well. Highlight for me a chip and run approach at the first for a birdie from forty yards. Our two over 74 was not false we could have gone lower but it was ample to secure a two stroke victory and a third title this trip!
Thursday, 25 June 2009
Homeward Bound and Matron takes up Golf, Social Golfer Ratings Update, Conclusions and the Brew Story. One final Hooray, Pairs Victory!
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
I was fortunate to be in the four ball with both winners: Mike Hudson, a low handicapper with just one arm, and Renee Russo a sprightly OAP with an a prosthetic leg following an amputation when a young lady in her 20s. I met many golfers with significant physical handicaps; double amputees mixing with fellow stroke victims, and heart attack patients. The event encompasses all that is good about golf and is the perfect remedy when I occasionally still feel sorry for myself.
Getting encouragement on the way round
So, it was with great pleasure and anticipation that I returned on Saturday for this year’s competition. Last year the event had over 40 participants, sadly this years was less well supported, partly I think because of the oppressive heat wave we are currently enjoying. I guess even for these most-keen of golfers, 18-holes in 100 degree temperatures and intense humidity is not pleasurable. Still, the course was in pristine condition and all set for a magnificent day’s golf. I was in a three ball with Tom, a retired American History teacher from The Villages, North Florida. Naturally I asked him what history! Tom had sadly lost his leg over 40 years earlier in a freak accident in 8th grade playing gridiron. A lifetime without a limb. Still it ensured I did not moan about my stiff left leg.
The true spirit of golf and how to overcome difficulties
Tom was very keen and competitive and an enjoyable companion during the round: he pushed me to deliver all the way. Our third member was a young man called Brew, who had been involved in an automobile accident 19 years-ago. He was still being treated and had obviously been in quite a bad way and only recently taken up golf to supplement his ongoing recovery. He played the entire round and each shot with an enthusiasm I found spiritually fulfilling, I became his unofficial caddy, reading putts, recommending clubs and generally encouraging this remarkable young man.
It has been said life and a round of golf can be compared to an amusement park: each hole and each day different but there to be enjoyed. Brew clearly had more than his share of ups and downs, and difficult times, but I have rarely completed a round feeling quite as content as I did this one and that was before the score. Brew now knows many English golfing terms including: hit it hard... find it...hit it hard again…whack it...cracker…give it a welly...
Because I was so relaxed and the course set up particularly leniently in view of the difficulties some players would have (and bear in mind all the events I had played were off championship tees) suddenly playing off the front tees made the course so much easier. I shot 40 out and with the aid of two chip ins on the back nine level par 35 for 75 to finish the winner by 6 shots. The main source of my success was the support given by both my partners and organiser Joe Styne who all constantly encouraged me during the round as they realised I was in contention.
I gave a gift of my book to all competitors and had a book signing after the cup presentation. The book was well received by all. Whilst unbelievably proud to become the 4th winner and first overseas champion, I will take from this day far more than a golfing success. My sincerest hope is that on the day I encouraged Brew to continue his golfing journey. I hope to keep in touch and anticipate the pleasure he will have if and when he breaks one hundred.
Monday, 15 June 2009
The golf would have been sensational and so cheap…. PGA recognised courses for less than 20 bucks inc compulsory buggy. Prices do significantly rise during November to March I am reliably told. On the way back we visit Venice, I ask you Venice and Naples in a week and never left Florida! Venice is smaller than Naples but has the same charm, I have also played golf here and can wholeheartedly recommend the Lake Venice Public Course. Not for the squeamish who are afraid of alligators, like you Mr Roberts. John avoided all water like the plague on this trip after seeing two alligators in his first round at Providence. On the news the other day, a local was explaining why so many alligators are on the move – they are all on the tap, it’s the mating season. That’s why they were eyeing John up either that or they were hungry, back to Lake Venice, the sign says it all, another Callaway bites the dust.
Would you play from this hazard? Don't think so it's breeding time for the locals. The alligators are on the move!
Final Observation: In the scrambles I have played over here to raise money you can buy Mulligans and that got me thinking…The Scots invented the game and gave us these silly rules like playing the ball in a divot, whilst the Irish gave us the Mulligan. I guess that fully explains the difference in the races.
My good friend John Roberts was over with wife Nicky and son Leo and we played three very competitive rounds at Ridgewood, Providence and Mystic Dunes. I won the first 6 and 5, battered by him in the second 7 and 6 and lost a thriller 2 and 1 at the Dunes to give him the honours. John plays off less than me so without a start I was pleased with my performance but needs outweighing to the fact he was using my old clubs. He played a significant part in putting my game back, when he identified that the ball was well forward in my stance. Visit to Deer Creek a small executive course soon corrected this.
Whilst John was here I had arranged for us to play in a Charity Event organised by the Florida Chapter of the US marines and what a fantastic day we had. Before the shotgun start, we stood proud with our American cousins at the parading of colours and the singing of the national anthem. The Star Spangled Banner is a barnstorming tune prior to a sporting event, trust me. We played with two fine gentlemen, Fred and Don and what great company they were. My golf was not good, John was better, Fred started well and Don regularly chipped in with a useful shot, once again truth to be told, like Bay Hill, I was probably the weakest link.
We scored 65, seven off a place and never good enough for a place, but the event no doubt raised significant sums for injured and retired servicemen and both John and I had a day to remember, culminating for me with the receipt of a signed Fuzzy Zoellor Driver given to me by John who had won it in an Auction. Thanks BigMan! More importantly once again it was a pleasure to play and meet with such good guys as Fred and Don, hopefully we shall have opportunity to get together again – Fred has invited me to a Toys for Tots competition in his home town. A Toys for Tots double I won the Xmas one at Mystic Dunes, now that would be something to write about.
Young lonnie left us all trailing at Metro West - my partner in the last event, the two man scramble at Championsgate
The next day I was back on tour at Metro West, playing with Hud Hudson who had pushed me into third on my season debut at Duran, Lonnie Laoretti the big hitting youngster who pushed me all the way in the major at Southern Dunes and tour regular Dana Turgeon. In a disappointingly small field at a past tour course, which apart from the Greens that were turgid having been recently irrigated, Lonnie simply blew us all away on the front nine, culminating in a splendid drive at the appropriately called Daly challenge a 280 yard carry to the green which he simply nailed. Hud surprised us all and followed suit, ruining it by then hitting his approach into the water. Dana and I chickened out.
Preparing to take the John Daly challenge over the 9th at metro
At the turn the heavens opened and play was stopped as a mega thunderstorm came in. I find it amusing that although we all know lightning is the killer, most people find the actual bolt a thing of beauty and exhilarating then jump with fear at the following clap of thunder. This was some storm but it allowed me to assess my position in the competition, I was four adrift of Lonnie but only one behind joint second place held by James Rearden and Todd Morgan.
Bad weather stops play and play-time starts!
After the break with the course extremely wet, I played a very competitive back nine, never missed a fairway and putted a little better. At the close I was 6 adrift of worthy and deserved winner Lonnie but 4 clear in second place for more significant points and a $100 fee taking my winnings to over $500 for the trip. I enjoyed Metro despite missing four putts of less than 5 feet which could have put me much closer to Lonnie. More significant is the extremely strong likelihood I may have now accrued enough points to be chosen to play in the national finals in October. If I can get out of blooming jury service… Watch this space!
I have now finished my rankings events, I may return for the second and final major in August, work permitting. But after 5 events my record reads: a victory in the major, two seconds an a third in tour events, just one unplaced. I stand third in the rankings with one of the better scoring averages. It could hardly have gone much better, I hope I can get back for the Nationals.
I have one event left on tour, the Tom Mirus Pairs scramble when there are no ranking points at stake. I am paired with Lonnie and it is at my local course at Championsgate, all set for a big finish. Before then I am once again playing in the Florida Open for Disabled Golfers at the splendid Kissimmee Bay Country Club. I played in this last year and it as one of the highlights of my golf travels. I played with Mike who had one arm and Renee one leg, yet their love for the game as well as ability to play it well was unbelievable. I look forward to meeting them and fellow golfers who range from amputees and paraplegics, to heart and stroke attack victims who play the game as the elders intended, I am proud to be part of this event.
Sunday, 14 June 2009
Hark at me. I won a D-flight competition and I am comparing myself with Angel Cabrera, still I did win the most significant and lucrative event I could on tour so celebrate I will. It also helps that it was Matron’s birthday so off to Miami we go, South Beach you all, swimming pools and movie stars and us...
We went on Memorial Day a national holiday here in the USA which had little significance to me. For us Brits, imagine Remembrance Day; imagine it in July when everyone instead of parading and wearing poppies celebrates in a party atmosphere their loved ones lost in conflict. South Beach was packed and one of the most haunting images I have seen was thousands of cardboard headstones on the boardwalk gardens in memory of lost servicemen. The significance to me was the general age of the deceased service men, the vast majority under 25, my son’s age.
Memorial day in Miami... A haunting field which shows headstones for the dead - it brought home the true cost of peace
Whatever your political beliefs, the rights and wrongs of particular conflicts, I defy anyone on seeing this spectacle not to feel humbled, sad and touched by the simple serenity and poignancy of the scene. It will long live in my memory. On a visit to New York in 04 I was similarly moved by thousands of yellow ribbons representing the victims of 9/11 simply tied to church railings in Manhattan.
Miami Beach was as I expected, chic, classy, expensive and full of beautiful people. All day long, and long into the night, the bars were full of bikini clad lovelies of all shapes, sizes, ethnicity and ages (the dark glasses were a must to hide the stares that could not be avoided when looking at such a bevy of beauties!) Flesh City it was for all three days of the visit (There are plenty of six packs on display to similarly enthral Matron.)
Partying at Miami.... No wonder the wheels came off at Victoria Hills
We partied long and well, enjoyed some excellent food and wine in Lincoln Street, a must-walk if in South Beach. A ½ mile walk-only street with numerous top quality restaurants, bars and shops. A wonderful place to while away the evening people-watching. The beach is as you will have seen on the TV, brilliant white punctuated by glowing tanned Amazonian bodies. Despite my new trim look, who am I kidding, the beach despite its attractions was not a place I felt comfy on… Too old and out of shape sadly!
We had a memorable time; golf despite being just a few miles from some of the most notable courses on the planet never entered my head. It was far too hot (nearly 100 every day). But Doral and Palm Beach will definitely be played on my next visit as we definitely will return.
After a week of this, I had not swung a club in anger and went up to Victoria Hills to play in the next event totally under-prepared. This is a course I particularly rate, I had played it last year in my debut on tour so I at least had the advantage of course knowledge, indeed I started imperiously, level par after 5 and well clear of my playing partners, Dana and once again Randy, the par 5s at six and nine took significant toll with an 8 and a 7.
In truth I never recovered but had little luck typified at the 17th, when my best drive on the back nine by a country mile finished in a divot, what a stupid rule it is to play it from there, my approach finished wide left in a larger divot, I chipped into an unraked bunker, before holing a monster for a double bogey. For the first time on tour I finished out of the top three and I was not well pleased with my performance. I had practiced regularly leading up to every event on tour except this one and the affect on my game was blindingly obvious. Do I regret it, missing out on Miami? Never. Sometimes golf can wait. Miami was memorable and magnificent, my golf at the Hills easily forgettable and redeemable.
South Beach Miami - chic avant garde, art deco, you'd be hard pressed to beat it!