David (middle) with our host John Stansbury and David’s friend Richard Hogarth.
After a birdieless day yesterday and our subsequent “team meeting” we resolved that today would be so much better.
Arriving at Sunningdale a little after 7:30am we took our standard photos at the front gates looking like foreign tourists. This process took a little longer than normal due to the procession of member’s cars trying to get past us. The bemused look on their faces and us trying to hide our faces. If only they understand the audience we needed to entertain (you!)
Sunningdale is a 36 hole masterpiece. The Old and New courses, although different, are a true remnant of the master architect Harry Colt. Now when we talk about “New” we are still referring to a golf course that is 90 years old. As one Australian and one Canadian that to us is OLD!!
We were gifted to be able to play with a wonderful host member John Stansbury – an American who has spent over 14 years transplanted from the USA. And with a membership at Sunningdale he is never likely to return to his homeland.
John took it upon himself to find a suitable 4th for our group. So who did he turn to? None other a guy with the coolest name and a golf game to boot – Stiggy Hodgson, a multiple Walker Cup team veteran in his early twenties. Stiggy and David talked about how he recently played in the NSW Amateur which was held at NSW Golf Club. The world really is a small place when it comes to golf.
The New was in great shape and demands precision driving. Gary was sorely in need of a tune up and his driving was errant at best and found the well respected gorse on 1,2,3,4 etc,etc occasions.
Having John and Stiggy as our local guides was invaluable as driving lines were not always clear and putts continued to be difficult to read. The course is all brawn and accuracy off the tee, and on the approach, is paramount. A par on the New is well earned.
A quick 15 minute lunch break on the outside clubhouse patio and we were ready for the challenge of the Old. While we enjoyed the New we soon found that the Old was going to be even more special.
The golf course is sculpted into the landscape and just looks like it was always there. It has also stood the test of time amidst the issues surrounding technology. When you play this golf course you will understand why it is so high in the world ratings.
A great feature of Sunningdale is the halfway house that services both courses. As we have found on all courses to date the 9th hole does not come back to the clubhouse. In fact the 10th hole on both the Old and New courses conveniently finishes at the halfway house with the staple sausage on bread and cold beer hitting the spot nicely.
And now for the golf. There was the normal grinding throughout our 20km of walking for the day but we were up to it. This is where real men stand up and we ground out those double bogies on a number of occasions. But alas this trend came to a grinding halt on hole 18 of our 36 hole adventure.
An ominous finishing hole the 18th of the New is a mid length par 5 playing back up to a well protected green. For some it was difficult however for others not so. For the record David hit driver, hybrid onto the green to 3 feet and confidently sank the eagle putt for 5 stableford points and some long overdue money for the Door of Hope (we resolved by majority that eagles count for 2 birdies).
Sunningdale is quintessentially English displayed no more than by the scene by the clubhouse of mans best friend looking after the equipment of mans other best friend!
All in all a productive day with 1 birdie, 1 eagle and some good golf played. Our current tally is now 5 birdies (3 birdies and 1 eagle (which counts for 2 birdies) after 5 rounds. Looking promising but ready for some difficult wind affected days ahead.
Wow – unbelievable trip David and Gary! Will follow with interest. Congrats.