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South Africa is beautiful but I wish my golf game had been as pretty

As soon as play was finished in East London I went to the airport to pick up a rental car for the 620km drive to George in the Eastern Cape.  It was either fly up to Joburg, stay over night and fly down to George on Monday or do the drive and stop in Port Elizabeth which is about half way along the coast.  It was a goodbye to Audrey and Ken at the hotel, they enjoyed their trip, apart from the food and we (Gerry and I) set off.  Gerry was still wrecked from the food poisoning so slept a bit.  I had been told to watch out for the wildlife on the road; it was true some goats were close to jumping out at us but we managed ok. 
 
Port Elizabeth is much cleaner than East London, although theres not much of a beach in town I guess its just a deep water shipping area and rocky. 
We went for dinner, Gerry kindly treated me, joking that I could buy him back in Switzerland!  I  had a decent sleep although I woke up with sweat lashing off me, as the aircon didn't work properly.  I wanted to see the links course, Humewood which was close to the hotel.  I walked 2 fairways to get a feel for it.  Its amazing how much softer foreign links courses are, our fine grasses couldn't survive the sun here I guess.  The courses in SA are thick bladed Bermuda and the ball doesn't roll much or release.  

We jumped  in the car and drove towards Cape Town.  From here the road was motorway so was easier to put the foot down although the rental sounded like it might explode, it only had 4 gears!  We passed some lovely beaches and mountains along this part of the garden route.   Jeffrey's Bay is particularly lovely along with Plentenburg Bay and Knysna.  We refuelled and drove to Knysna, Brandon Grace lives there, its very nice and at the marina you would not think you're in Africa as there are lots of English, Germans and Swiss avoiding the winter back home!  I had kingklip (meaty white fish) and really enjoyed it.  it was the first meal I'd enjoyed in days, my stomach was obviously getting better.  It cost a fortune, a total of 8 pounds with drink and tip!  South Africa is probably one of the cheapest countries in the world for us at the moment!  It was another 100km on to George, past Wilderness Bay.  Gerry's caddy friend said he would retire there, it certainly was very nice with a train track going under the mountain by the sea, just like Mussenden at Castle Rock but a touch warmer!  It was very hot outside I predicted 37 and a storm arrived when we got to George, the sky lit up!  The thunder storms are always impressive down here and I love watching them.
 
Tuesday was weird weather it didn't stop raining all day long.  It was really heavy rain so the courses were soaked.  Gerry and I did nothing apart from laundry and watching the Wolf of Wall Street, its an outrageous movie!

There was a very strange change in the weather for Wednesday, it was a lot more humid and very warm, probably 34 degrees again.  I played a few with Alan Dunbar, on Fancourt Links.  We had a player caddy challenge on the par 3 17th with Gerry having an airshot and then a 70 yard pull lost ball, we laughed, his excuse was sweaty hands!   Alan had no clubs as the airline lost them in transit, so he walked and hit some good shots considering he was using my clubs and he was stiff from the flight.

Thursday was very strange again.  It rained all day until 3pm, we had 2 delays and ended up with an 11hr day on the course.  I played with Mourne du Plesis, The legendary SA rugby manager from the '95 winning World Cup team.  He is a lovely down to earth guy.  Jb Kruger was the other pro.  The course was short and scoreable but much harder with spinning greens, I hit it good but couldn't buy a putt again for level par.  Jb was much the same.  Mourne is a good golfer and hits it well.  He is a 9 handicapper and plays the Dunhill Links each year.  He talked about Mike Gibson and other legends from the 70s.  I just recently watched the movie Invictus about his side and he said it was realistic.  It's amazing who we get to meet in these Proams there is nothing like golf for networking!  Gerry got us SA rugby tops and Mourne signed them, we did gloves for him I just need to win The Open now to match him! 
 
I was on the links with Thomas Aiken on Friday.  Thomas won last weeks event with his wife Kate on the bag, this week his regular caddy was back!  He was partnered with Johan Rupert ,the man who owns just  about everything on the planet and runs the two Dunhill events on Tour.  He's good crack also loves his sport.  He was checking the cricket score on the way round.  He was happy the Proteas were beating the Aussies since they lost the first test!  The golf wasn't good though! I hit it good but got too frustrated on the greens it fed to the rest of my game and I didn't make a single birdie, weird.  Thomas didnt play well either, he couldn't make a putt, but it was relaxed atmosphere and my goal was to try a few things with the putting ahead of next weeks European Tour event. I'm really trying to stay still with my body and lighten the grip pressure.  Thomas said he tries to stay as still as possible.  It was another long day, 5 and a half hours and I went to the function that night though I didn't stay long.  A lot of guys were getting on the drink but after long hot days I would be a wreck so I went to bed early.  The food was exceptional. 

I played with Hennie Otto on Saturday.  I hadn't played a practice round on the Montagu course.  I lost my fist tee shot right in bushes and thought please can I walk in.  That would have been unprofessional so I played to practice and putt for next week.  It worked out good with solid putts and 4 birdies in the last 10 holes.  I was very impressed with the course - what a great place long, scenic, tough, fair, good greens.  Hennie was solid, he has his own swing but knows how to get the ball round which a lot of South Africans do, they don't get bogged down in technique.  He's a strong Africaaner of Dutch descent, they are good crack and built for rugby, like Ruan Piennar for Ulster! Hennie played with Rurick Gobel, a stock broker friend of Johan Rupert's, he also plays at the Dunhill each year.  The guys seem to love the Proams even though its tough playing hard courses, they never lose enthusiasm.
 
It was the least disappointed I've ever been after a missed cutt, I think Mourne was also happy we didn't make it as he had a stomach bug and had lost weight.  The courses were hilly and hard work to get around.   It was quick shower, food and off to the only Irish bar in town to watch Ireland v England.  Gerry was yelling at the tv, what a great start for us, although a tough finish.  A couple from Dungannon were randomly there on holiday, and even said they read this article, so I thought I'd mention them. Thank you for the company!

I had a good Physio session from the Sunshine Tour guys on Sunday morning.  My legs were like concrete from the wet conditions. Then a gym session, postural exercises and off to the beach at Heraldsbay where Ernie Els has a house.  Gerry had seafood and we talked about how I can improve, a sort of debrief for an hour.  We paddled in the water, Gerry took pics and then we drove down to wilderness to check it out.  What a beach! There were massive waves and it was spotlessly clean. I dropped him to the airport, my flight was on Monday morning, for the last week of our tour in Pretoria.  It's been great to see some of this beautiful country like a tourist I've not seen this much in 10years of coming here.  Sometimes its nice to have a chance to relax and smell the roses. 

Lets hope the extra practice will peak for the biggest event this week and then home I'm actually looking forward to getting a jumper on!