Tuesday, September 05, 2006

All rested up

It's back to school time. At the Rainy homestead there was much crying and gnashing of teeth and after much protest and resistance, school is back on the list of things that must be done. I have every confidence that my wife will soon settle back in and enjoy being a teacher, but it will be a tough time for her as she has to readjust from waking up and playing with the kids to getting up and getting ready for work. Everybody wish her well as she re-enters the world of the daily grind.

As for me, I've been busy as hell for the last two weeks and am finally recharged (I think). So it's back to the daily Blogger grind for me. We did our big barbecue on Sunday as we do every year and despite Mother Nature's best attempts, the rain held off for the majority of it so we had a good time and a fair sized crowd. That's right, damn you mother Nature - I won again!!

Yesterday was a new one for me though. I often have taken my golf clubs out and assaulted the ground with friends and as such have been to many a golf course. From a course affectionately referred to as "The Dump" based on it's origins as a landfill to some really get-ups back when I used to rub elbows with insurance types I have seen some nice courses. None of this prepared me for the course I was to witness on Monday. Thanks to some good luck I managed to get some passes to the practice and Pro-Am round of the Bell Canadian Open here in our home town. Not only passes, but also a parking passes. And the passes were to the ultra swanky Champions Club too, where you got to sit at the 18th hole on the patio or in the nice comfy lounge with the entire big screen TV’s and the bartenders surrounding you. I never tried to spark up a group rendition of "We Are The Champions" as the crowd looked like the stuffy golf type though.
Up the 18th hole to the clubhouse
The Hamilton Golf & Country Club began back in 1894 as a 12-hole course on the grounds of the Hamilton Jockey Club adjacent to the racetrack in the northeast part of the city. In 1896 the club moved to a piece of farmland at the base of the Niagara Escarpment just west of downtown Hamilton. I have actually played on this original home of the course as the city now runs it as the Chedoke Martin municipal course. It's a pretty good course with reasonable green fees so the like of myself and my hooligan golf buddies can afford to get there. While it is a beautiful course, it is snuggled in the middle of factories a rail line and a highway, which is hardly the idyllic quiet sort of home that swanky golf courses enjoy. They hunted around and managed to secure 190 acres in Ancaster, which is where all the rich people go to be close to Hamilton without the noise and pollution. In 1916 they started up with their 18 hole layout and added another 9 holes in 1975. This course sports some of the most beautiful layout I've seen and is surrounded with a selection of trees and landscape rivaled by the most beautiful gardens around. As for the course and how it plays, all I have to say is that this course would chew me up and spit me out. It seems easy as it is far shorter than the long monsters that the modern golfers are used to, but to shrug that off and dismiss the course as easy would be a fatal error. The trees, water and bunkers make it unforgiving to those that cannot keep it in the middle. Not to mention that the rough is a lethal 8 inches deep. Good luck finding your ball if you duff it any further than the fringe of the greens. I watched two different "amateurs" in the Pro-Am take a drop rather than spend an hour hunting for a ball that was harder to find than Mid-Eastern WMD's.

Given all this fantastic golf and heritage you'd think I'd behave and I mostly did, but even at a fancy gig like this there are still opportunities for people like me to be themselves. Anyone who has been to an event like this knows that when the shooters are about to launch their ball, the marshals will stand there with their hands in the air to let everyone know that they have to settle down and sit still so that the concentration will not be disrupted. It is at this point where I walk up behind one of these red shirted officials and press my finger into his back like a gun and say "Sorry, but this seems like the right thing to do when you look like this". My only regret is not handing my buddy the camera first. That would have made for a sweet picture, although it may have pushed my luck a little too far. I'll let you know the next time they allow the likes of me back onto one of these courses.

Finding ourselves with an hour or so to kill before the golfers started their round we took in some of the commercial setups on the course. We browsed our way through the store without knocking anything over, an accomplishment for me. We drooled over some fancy cars that Ford had tossed there. We even managed to ensure that we would receive much junk mail by entering all the draws available. After absorbing all the advertising we could we wandered over tot eh driving range and watched players far more capable than us slaughter balls. Drives were made that would have taken me at least three strokes to catch up to. The sound of all those players hammering away is amazing to hear. There is nothing like the sound of a properly hit ball. We stared with awe and envy at the pile of drivers that were being given out to the participants of the event. Some slick looking Taylor Made drivers were just handed over to each of them like they were worth the same amount as key chains. After being amazed at their skill it was time to pick a foursome and stalk them for the length of the course. We figured this was they way to see all 18 holes and the golfers at the same time and we weren't disappointed.
These guys are positively amazing to watch
I got free gum and I got free juice, but these bad boys were for players only

The foursome turned out to be a great choice as we followed David McKenzie from Australia. Okay we didn't follow him from Australia, but he hails from there so it sounded good. The three guys he was set up with were skilled at both wit and golf so it was a great time. We joked with the players as we followed them for the whole 18 hole course, which was a fairly grueling walk without clubs or a game to play. I have so much respect for those poor caddies as they can't have been making much for the Pro-Am portion of the event. The foursome we chose to follow were in possession of a damn fine game of golf along with a great sense of humor. One of these guys chose to wear a pink pair of pants and a light blue shirt and was dubbed by one of the spectators as the "Slamming Salmon", a name which would haunt me for the duration of the course. This made for a great moment when the "Salmon" made an attempt at a near impossible putt that was a great many feet across a wobbly green. While he didn't drain it he got amazingly close and we all applauded the fine putt as his friend, another of the foursome, told him that if he had been wearing men's apparel the shot would have gone in.

After slugging the length of the course, we tried our hand at the putt like a pro challenge where I managed to prove Shakespeare right in his assertion of What's in a name" by putting nothing like a pro at all. We robbed the gum sample bin blind and I got my golf drive video recorded and it will be emailed to me in comparison to that of a pro so I can have proof that I golf like a sissy. All in all I have to say that the day was well worth what I paid for it.
The sign was definitely mislead.  I did not putt at all like a pro

Lee Williamson looks quite happy after just slaughtering the ball.  The shot was straighter than John Wayne

American Jason Bohn's looking pretty happy too, but the tournament hasn't begun yet so who knows how long that might last right?

David's caddy was one of the real athletes there.  Imagine lugging a sack of some other guy's cloubs for 18 holes up and down gruelling hills.

This funky rig was there to let the golfers know just how fast they were belting the balls.  Since it's a game of distance and accuracy, instead of speed, I saw absolutely nobody use it.

If you know the right people then maybe you can be invited to play this too.


Blogger Rowan said...

I had no idea that The Canadian Open was at Chedoke. I used to ride my bike along the rail trail and worry that I'd be beaned off the head by a golf boll.

1:49:00 PM  
Blogger Martini said...

You are one lucky biznitch, yo. Seriously cool.

My dad got passes about 3 or 4 years ago. He talked (extremely briefly) with Tiger Woods, and snapped a picture. As well, CTV was showing highlights of the game, and one of Tiger's shots in particular. My dad was standing right behind him, watching intently with my uncle beside him. The freeze-frame screen capture made a great (blurry) photo!

6:07:00 PM  
Blogger PBS said...

That's a beautiful course and a great story! I especially liked the comment that the the ball would have gone in, had he been wearing men's clothes!

6:14:00 AM  
Blogger JODSTER said...

The course is also ranked #1 in Canada by some very important golf type magazine.

I have no idea where it is really. Mostly because I'm not invited there. Ever.

And now that you've been there, they may have to reclassify the course...

2:15:00 PM  

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