I've been visiting Florida ever since 1989 and have probably racked up 10 or more individual trips here for varying lengths of time from a few days to the 6 months that I manage now.
And until yesterday I'd never played golf here.
I went with 3 Buttonwood Bay friends (Clair, Mary and Carl) to the grandly named Harder Hall Country Club just a few miles up the road in Sebring. What's with this whole country club business ? What makes a standard golf club a country club ? It sure has a nice ring to it.
Temple Newsham Country Club. Gotts Park Municipal Country Club. Yep, classy. These 2 Leeds clubs would certainly benefit from the name change.
We pass the stunning Harder Hall every time we drive into Sebring as it's both huge and impressive........and very very pink Knowing nothing about it, I was hoping it would've been the club house but having seen it up close, that would've been asking a lot. It was an 134 room hotel before it fell on hard times (or Harder times) and now lies empty and ripe for investment and development.
The golf course that takes it's name from the hotel is just across the road and has a much less impressive structure as it's club house. There isn't much info about it online but here is a link with a few details.
We got there 2o minutes before our tee time of 2:15pm which gave us plenty of time to sign in, pay the green fees and still have time for a few minutes on the practice putting area. It cost $22 and that included a golf cart so I couldn't argue with that deal. Normally I'm not keen on using a cart as I like taking the chance for a bit of a walk.
Yesterday I was very glad we had them for several reasons. It was over 80F, the course was 6300 yds long and it was totally new to me. I also knew I'd be making it even longer with my usual zigzag progress from tee to green with a few excursions into water hazards and sand traps thrown in.
I'd already made the decision to leave the woods firmly in my bag of borrowed clubs and only use irons. I don't play golf regularly and to stand on the first tee of a strange course with a loaner driver in my shaking hands was just too much for my fragile confidence to take.
Quote : "I was hitting the woods just great. But I was having a terrible time getting out of them"
So I was overjoyed to smack a 3 iron pretty well up the middle of the fairway of the 1st hole and relaxed from that point onwards. We were out to have fun and fun we had.
I liked the course. It had a little of everything although I could've lived with a little less water. Given my past history with water on golf courses, I was not looking forward to the numerous hazards on Harder Hall. Being in Florida of course, these water hazards had extra hazards of their own and basically any ball hit into them, stayed in them.
I discovered this myself when on one of the opening holes I topped my ball and it became a worm killer. It shot along the grass straight into a water hazard......but only just. Anywhere else I'd have explored along the edge of the water line and probably managed to find and extract my ball without too much trouble. Clair got to the water hazard just before me and walked back to the fairway with the warning....watch out for that snake !
SNAKE !!! I'd never seen a real live snake in the wild and so I said "show me, show me." At that time I no idea Clair hates snakes and so my asking him to show me the snake was probably quite an ordeal for him. Sorry Clair.
Now it was no anaconda but it was still a snake and I wasn't going to get close enough to find out if it had a liking for UK ankles. I looked at it from two club lengths, decided not to give it a poke in case it was the rare but vicious flying snake of central Florida and moved back onto the fairway to drop a new ball. It was welcome to the old one.
From then on, any time a ball went into a hazard, it stayed in the hazard. As a result, that was the only wildlife we saw. No more snakes and sadly no gators at all. Maybe next time.
But we had lots of fun and that's what it was all about. We got in all 18 holes before we needed miner's lamps to see by and I was half way down the 17th hole when I reached 100 shots - so that wasn't too embarrassing all things considered. The challenge now, assuming I'm asked again, is to beat my score every time.
I was looking for a clever and amusing quote about golf to finish with. I found this site that gives dozens and couldn't pick just one......so have a look if you want and take your pick. It wasn't relevant to yesterdays game but I love the one about the Ku Klux Klan.
I've made up my own though. The sentiment isn't new and I've probably thought of it based on something similar I've read somewhere but the exact wording is all mine so don't even think about suing me.
"Golf is a four letter word that often inspires others......other four letter words that is".
Catchy eh ??