My family and I recently moved back to Australia permanently. Melbourne, to be exact. We’d spent the past 12 years in the US and loved our time there. But since I’ve been back, four words immediately come to mind: I’ve missed you, Australia.
I’m not talking about the coffee, bread, meat pies or the fabulous little cafés that seem to be on most corners here in suburban Melbourne. That’s a whole other story. No, I’ve missed the golf. Hitting a purely struck wedge and not being able to find a pitch mark on the green kind of makes me giddy again. And seeing my drives roll out another 30 to 40 metres on beautiful couch fairways has reassuringly restored my faith in this blissful game.
“Hitting a purely struck wedge and not being able to find a pitch mark on the green kind of makes me giddy again.” – Nick O’Hern
There are some cracking courses in the States, a multitude of outstanding venues spread across the nation. But for the most part, they tend to favour aesthetics over playability, and in that department, Australian courses are like no other. Most are set in pockets throughout the metro area and the ones I’m finding in Melbourne are a golfer’s utopia. The Sandbelt has some of the best courses in the world. We all know that and if you don’t, well, play them and you’ll soon know why. They ask every question as you stand on the tee and in the fairway surveying what’s in front of you. Strategy is at a premium and my creative juices are reinvigorated coming up with the right option, because there are options again.
Then there are the colours! It doesn’t sound like something a golfer would say, but I’m married to an artist and colours are everything. In the States I’m used to seeing green everywhere on the course, including the rough, with the verdant swathes only interrupted by bunkers and water hazards. Standing on a green at Royal Melbourne the other day, I looked back to the clubhouse in the distance and saw an exquisite display. The different shades of green, brown, cream and the big blue above were captivating and had me reaching for my phone to take a picture. The sandy pathways and brown, wispy unmanicured rough with gnarled bushes aren’t there for decoration… they’re simply there.
Familiar sounds on the golf course are back, too. Rather than listening to motorised carts and blowers from nearby workers in housing estates, I can hear birds again and the crunching sound under my feet from the sandy gravel walking from green to tee. It’s music to my ears. And yes, I’m walking again. I’ve missed walking. Motorised golf carts are modern-day luxuries that have their place but can lend themselves to lazy rounds of golf filled with beer carts and hotdogs. Walking down the fairway to a purely struck drive, absorbing everything in front of you, is a simple pleasure we sometimes take for granted. That and the rhythm walking lends itself to for the upcoming swing. It’s a necessity for playing this game with flow and elegance.
So, as you can tell, my senses are fully engaged again and it’s great to be home. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the US and living there came with an abundance of perks. We made some great friends that will last a lifetime and our kids loved growing up there. But from a golf perspective, there’s simply no place like home.
For more information on a Golfing Great head to Visit Victoria.