Two days of links golf was booked on the Kent coast some time ago with the guys off the Golf Monthly forum and I had been looking forward to it for some time, especially with so many courses being closed all over the winter, including my own, due obviously to the adverse wet weather conditions, so what better way to blow the cobwebs away than 2-days of links golf on 2 prestigious south coast golf courses, Royal Cinque Ports being the first port of call.
Up at 5am on a Monday morning for a 6am start leaving what I thought was going to be plenty of time for the 3-3.5hr drive where a full English breakfast was waiting for me at 11am followed by a 12.20 tee time so lots of time to relax, but oh no, our great motorway systems were racked & stacked down the M40, M25 and then the M20, the driving rain and spray made the journey extremely stressful and added a further hour meaning I arrived some 4.5hrs later and a little ruffled around the edges.
The forecast was never favourable, I was monitoring it for some time and at times it looked like it could have been quite scary, but although it was raining for the first 7 holes, the wind wasn't up that much and it was strangely mild, so not overly uncomfortable, although I was sporting my Galvin Green snood to match all my other GG layering system. I must say I find the snoods an excellent bit of kit, I don't like my jackets or tops buttoned or zipped up under my chin, they rub and irritate me, so the snood is an excellent accessory with it's super soft insula material, although it seems it can be frowned upon by some (Nick) ;-)
I didn't get off the 1st tee brilliantly, although I still made the green in regulation, the greens caught me out initially being so fast even in the wet & driving rain, so I started with a 3-putt! I then picked up a nice par and a birdie and found myself 10 points to the good in the first 4 holes and thought to myself, I could have a good day here, but then I had a minor wobble on the par 5 5th hole picking my ball up too quickly in disappointment of missing a short putt only to realise afterwards I still had a shot! I let this get to me a little which is something I need to address and as such 2 daft bogeys followed, this wasn't all bad with shots in the bag but then I had a horror show on the par 3 8th, I got totally caught up with indecision as the flag was clearly between clubs for me and I tried to force my tee shots putting both my first and provisional balls into the cabbage never to be seen again, a lonely walk to the next tee followed and I took the time to remove some of my layers as the rain started to slow down and stop.
For those that have played RCP I just didn't get the 9th, I had the impression from the blocks I had to drive over the large bunker which looked quite close but was a decent carry in the conditions we were in, I thought the fairway was immediately behind it but it turned out there was acres of fairway to the right of it, as such with the disappointment of the previous hole firmly in my mind, I attacked my drive far too much and hooked it slightly left of the bunker into the clag, my provisional didn't fair too much better but at least I found it but it was going to be a tough ask to score after 3 off the tee and having to dig my 4th shot out the cabbage and still a long slog to go, so back to back blobs wasn't the way to finish what was a decent start to the front 9 and a miserly 13 points recorded :(
The back 9 started well much like the front with a nice par on the 10th but then I blobbed the 12th, again just getting my drive completely wrong and then forcing my usually dependable 4w off the deck into the deep folding grass slightly off the right side of the fairway for another donation to the course. I then had a steady run in recording 16 points on the back but only the 1 blob compared to the 3 on the front, I finished with a disappointing 29 points but some of the other guys didn't fair that well, but like always, it could have been so much better.
The course was excellent, but very penal if you missed any fairways with deep folding grass either side, there were some huge undulations both on the fairways and greens, you could be happy with your drive knowing it's down the middle only to walk up to it and find it's on a steep downward lie with still 180 yards plus to go, the bunkers will always cost you a shot, deep faced pot hole style and littered everywhere, it's a great test of golf, tough but fair and certainly you need to play it a few times to know your way around it as there are quite a few blind drives and blind approaches and it's not always obvious the direction to drive your ball or which side of the fairway is then best to be on as there are no markers, get it wrong and it's not just 1 shot lost, but a lost ball also, I know, I lost 4 :(
A quick drink followed in the clubhouse along with the announcement of the winners and sinners and then it was off to book into the hotel (Kings Head) on the seafront in Deal. A quick shower & change, a couple of pints down in the bar and then a very nice curry (Lamb Shank) followed, it was then back to the hotel and I sat up until midnight chatting and chewing the fat with a few of the guys off the forum I'd not met before which is what makes these meets around the country all the worthwhile.
Off to bed and looking forward to playing Royal St Georges the next day........