Or-gusta a classic golf experience
THE couple looked bemused as we walked along State Highway 2 with golf clubs in tow.
“Have you seen a Titleist 2,” I asked them outside Ormondo’s Cafe.
We were destined for the stopbank across the road. There we would find our last two holes of The Ormond Golf Classic — a nine-hole spring tournament on a course that doesn’t officially exist.
Don’t go searching the internet. You’ll find Ormond Beach Golf Club (Florida) and Ormonde Fields Golf Club (Derbyshire). But nothing in the vicinity of Ormond, Gisborne.
And anyway, the creative minds that merged into producing this unofficial links in the middle of prime horticultural land and vineyards would surely come up with something a little more original in title — like Or-gusta National or Grape Kidnappers.
The Classic is the brainchild of Ormond resident, former Poverty Bay rugby representative and sometime golfer John Whittle.
It started as a 3x3-hole event on his property but has morphed into bigger and better over the years.
The 2017 spring edition saw chief greenkeeper Whittle (or, to be more accurate, brown-keeper as a result of some spraying issues) and his team put together seven holes on four properties on one side of the highway and two holes the other side.
The “clubhouse” and two holes were at Ormond Valley Organics — a stunning organic persimmon and walnut orchard owned by Kevin “K1” Brockhurst and Tania Kearns.
Kevin’s called K1 because the next-door-neighbour’s name is also Kevin. He’s introduced to me as K2.
Mainly from OrmondThe field of 24 came mainly from Ormond, with a few townies thrown in.
Me and my mate Hamish “Doggie” Douglas — an actual greenkeeper (at the Poverty Bay golf course) who used to live at Ormond — were representing the latter group, thanks to an invitation from John.
The format was ambrose and pre-tournament advice was to bring plenty of balls, as one participant later justified.
He started with 10 balls in his bag and ended with one.
My team comprised Tania and K2, who clearly had swung a club in anger, and Mo, Omi and Tony, who clearly hadn’t.
Good-natured Mo managed a feat I had never witnessed in my 30 years on the fairways. He snicked the top of the ball off the first tee — we clearly heard the sound — but the ball did not move.
“That’s almost impossible to do,” I reassured him.
The affable and powerfully-built Omi had a swing that matched the agricultural environment.
East Coast-born-and-raised Tony arrived with three clubs — one of those a wooden-headed wood with which Noah used to hit golf balls off the ark while waiting for the floodwaters to recede. Distance was not an issue on these links.
My nine-year-old son could have thrown the ball to some of the par-3s and I sailed my 3-wood drive through the back fence of the par-5 named Da Boom Boom.
The greens ran about as true as a Trump campaign adviser’s testimony but the right-angled breaks were compensated for by the size of the cups.
I used the classic golfing phrase “as big as a bucket” as Tania lined up a putt and in this case it was 100 percent accurate. The holes were actual buckets.
We finished fourth and last.
K1 and Co won. They received the trophy, and K1 was also presented with the Ormond Classic “green jacket”.
A wonderful hangi, overseen by Mo, followed.
The golf was great; the community spirit and the pleasure of meeting new and interesting people, and being warmly welcomed into their fold, were even better.
My only negative?
I had to leave just as the guitar was coming out.