Thursday, 20 September 2012

A gulf between golfs

Today I am annoyed…
One night here, two nights there, each time hauling 20 cases of clothes, food, wine and dirty dishes up stairs and lifts.
Travelling with the dogs is no easy task, especially on a tight budget.
Our final two holiday nights were planned to be in St Jean de Luz, in an apartment right on the prestigious Nivelle golf course. At 70 euros a round, Wendy had agreed that only I should play, her game not being quite up to the standard of a licenced club such as this. It was a noble gesture which I accepted with open club-face. As our hotel afforded us some discount on the course we spend the extra on a buggy, to ease me up the hilly course with my still aching Achilles tendon which I injured a few weeks back. Ever more nobly still, she agreed to drive the buggy - a chauffeured round, what bliss.  
3.27pm we were to tee-off.
3.25pm it started to rain. Just a shower, they said.
7.15pm we retuned with a three figure scorecard and rain dripping out of my golf bag and my underpants….as the downpour at last subsided.
Golf in the rain is not my favoured sport…why would it be when we live in a hot country like this? The Nivelle course may have a world-wide reputation, with its established trees and distant views of the ocean, but it isn’t my sort of thing really. All that Pringle and moustaches, Jaguar’s in the car-park and glowering club-captains, scrutinising your swing with distain. I know all this exists in UK but, usually, golf is a little more relaxed in France. Still, it was nice to finish our holiday with a game on a course I had been longing to play.
Whilst packing up on our last morning, feeling wholly guilty about Wendy not getting to play as well, I suggested, on our way home, that there was another course a few minutes up the road. Nothing flash, just a 9 hole. In fact there are 26 courses within 20 minutes of Biarritz, enough for 2 weeks worth, non-stop, if you have that much stamina.
Why don’t we drop in, play 9 holes, have some lunch and then head home, ending our holiday on a high note?
And…the sun is shining again.
It’s a deal.
Up this tiny track we went, until a beautiful mass of green appeared before us, to a back-drop of the sun gleaming off the vast Atlantic.
No stuffy old farts to scrutinise the pockets on my shorts or Wendy’s trainers instead of proper golf shoes. We were even offered free trolleys from a smiling receptionist.
Now this is more like it.
Wow, what a course - each and every hole a dream to play. Not the normal burnt up grass either, but lush and green fairways, with not even the traditional howling wind that one expects on a links.
5 holes up on the cliff-tops and then down steeply into a revine by the beach for 4 more, Wendy giving me a tough contest, me losing balls in bushes and lakes by the dozen. Fabulous!
I did manage a very narrow victory with a 20 foot put on the last hole, but letting her win would never have pleased either of us.
And so to the beach for a celebratory beer, Wendy’s round! A most splendid restaurant overlooking the Bay of Biscay drew us in for a beer, 2 plates of crisp salad and a bottle of chilled Sancerre. With steps down 20 metres to the beach, things got even better. For once, there was a lack of signs denoting a shaggy dog, with a red line through it.
Yes, the beach was dog friendly.
We couldn’t leave this, not now.
A quick check-in to one more apartment was all it took. Just one final shuffle up those stairs to one more dingy room. But no, this one has plenty of space, a great view of the sea and costs next to bugger-all.
Every dog has his day. And, for the four of us, ours is today.
And that’s why I am annoyed. If we had found this place on day one, there would have only ever been one shifting of suitcases…
And now, more decisions to be made.  Let’s stay some more nights….?
Phone the bank, quick.

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