I arrived back in Leeds, England on Friday afternoon and that night I fell into bed after being up for 41 hours. I slept. I slept well. I slept till Sunday !!
Well not quite, but I slept longer that night than I had for the entire time I was in Florida. I don't recommend staying up for 41 hours in order to get a really good sleep, but it sure worked for me.
I'll save the story of my trip home for another day as I've still a few events to post about from sunny Sebring. Like last Wednesday.
Last Wednesday we went to play golf at the awesome Panther Creek Course at the Spring Lake Resort just a few miles from Buttonwood Bay. By 'we' I mean our regular golfing partners Clair and Mary and of course Debby and myself. I was really looking forward to this course as it has numerous water hazards on EVERY hole and of course it contains the infamous 6th hole which as well as having 2 lots of water to avoid, is 800 yds long and is a Par 6.
Even though this was a totally unfamiliar course to me, I'd played the first few holes pretty well and wasn't too many shots over par and had only lost about 14 balls.
Then came the 6th. As you can see, it's only 800 yds long if you play off the black tees. We were playing off the white tees and so it was 'only' 640 yds. Maybe next time we'll try it right from the back and bring sandwiches and a drink for the trip !!
As you can see from the lengths here, it's 220 yds from the back tee to the front tee ! A decent hole length in it's own right. You need a golf cart just to get from one to the other.
Anyway I played it quite well and walked off with a 7 on my card and a smile of satisfaction on my face. It felt like an eagle !!
The next photo takes a bit of explaining.
We'd had a little get together on the Tuesday night, a sort of farewell gathering for myself. Although presents weren't on the agenda, Marty and Eldy very kindly bought me a little gift and this is a photo of that gift in action.
It's a drinks cooler in the shape of a golf bag and so it was appropriate that it was used the very next day on the golf course.
Actually I'm a giant and this is a normal golf bag.
The cooler held about 4 bottles of your choice and no, I didn't carry it like this all the way around the course. We'd stopped after the 9th hole to take on water (and get rid of some too) and let a couple of groups go past as we had been holding them up a bit and we were not in too much of a hurry anyway.
So that was as good a time as any to get the bag out of the cart and show it off to good effect. Thank you very much Marty and Eldy and I hope you enjoy the photo.
Back to the game and this is a photo of Paula Creamer, aka Debby, looking good after smacking yet another ball down the middle of the fairway.
Next winter we'll both have our own clubs with us as there just wasn't room for them in the truck this time. We simply went to the local Habitat store and built sets from the ones on sale at $1 a club.
I'm sure we'll both play much better with our own clubs. Yes, I'm sure we will !
But fun was the order of the day and on one occasion I needed to be reminded about that when I sent 2 drives to opposite sides of the fairway and had a mini meltdown as I knew I'd spoiled a potentially decent score on that one hole. I slammed the club into the bag, uttered several choice expletives and basically stamped my feet like a petulant child. I really did chuck my rattle out of the pram and needed a good talking to. Which I got.
As we approached one particular tee we came across this tiny colourful bird looking for insects on the grass. It skipped along all over the tee area without caring about us but always keeping just out of range.
I thought it might be a member of the Sandpiper family but my searches have failed to yield it's name.
In any case it wasn't impressed with my drive and flew off to find a more professional golfer to admire and eat beside.
Stupid bird obviously couldn't spot potential.
Back to the golf and we were on the back nine by now. I took a series of 3 photos of Mary's drive on one hole and this is the middle one from that series.
It shows the ball just after it was hit and it's easy to spot as it's orange !
Notice her head is still looking down on the tee in good golf form so she should be pleased with that.
On one occasion she got a birdie. Literally. Her shot hit the right leg of a bird that was minding its own business at the edge of the water. It flew a few feet and landed gingerly again but was fine.
The bird that is.
It was a lovely day on a lovely course but apart from back at the starting off point where we got our carts, we never saw a gator. It was the same gator as last time though because you get your carts at the same place no matter which of the 2 courses you're playing on - and we saw this gator when we played the Cougar Trail Course.
He was sunning himself on the grass at the back of the first tee of the Panther Course so we did get a bit closer to him this time. It certainly makes you play your first drive a bit faster than you'd want, knowing there is a gator on the grass just a few yards away. After a successful drive, I picked up my tee and scuttled off to the relative safety of the cart to put some distance between him and me.
On the back nine we came upon this bird of prey having a mid afternoon snack up in the safety of a tree branch.
I took a photo right away and then I drove the cart closer and closer until I knew I'd got as far as it would let me before it flew off.
Then I took this photo, which if you click on it, you might be able to see the bottom half of the fish that it was munching on.
Either I spooked it with my proximity or it just didn't want to be photographed but in any case, it then flew off still holding the fish in its talons and I tried to track it with my camera - viewfinder pressed to my eye - blissfully unaware that I still had my foot firmly on the cart accelerator. Thankfully I soon lost the bird in flight and looked back from the camera to see that I was heading straight for a fairway marker pole. I swerved immediately and avoided the ignominy of hitting the only obstacle on the entire hole.
I like this shot of Clair as you can clearly see the club bend as it swings down to make contact with the ball.
This was one of the many holes where you have to drive across water and personally I lost more balls that day than on all the other Florida courses combined.
It's a brute of a course. From the back tees it's 7017 yds long with 4 Par 5's and that Par 6.
But my last photo has to be of a bird. There were plenty to look at on the course from vultures to that tiny yellow breasted bird I showed earlier.
One of the most common, and one we have plenty of back in Buttonwood Bay, was the Anhinga and we often saw them due to the amount of water hazards on this course.
This one was drying its wings in classic Anhinga style and only got agitated when I approached on foot.
I'd left the cart to get a closer look and it turned its head in some alarm and starting to move its neck from side to side as a warning to me to stay back.
"Stay back or, or, or I'll fly away" it seemed to be saying. I stayed back.
And so that was it. We'd completed the Panther Creek Course. I'd done a Par 6 in 7 shots. I'd also got 2 pars and broken 100 and so had to be pretty satisfied with that.
Next winter I'll be back. With my own clubs and plenty of balls.
You've been warned, Mr. Panther.