Callen’s Column


By Ian Callen

The Par 3 Fourth ‘The Gully’.

In readiness for last Thursday’s RACV’s competition day, weather apps were predicting rain, then more rain and by first light, for those teeing off early; it looked ominous.

Surprisingly though, sky’s had cleared by the time the first grouping were walking the ‘Humpback’ 3rd fairway.

Umbrellas had been shaken, wrapped and returned to their respective golf bags. The course; now bathed in sunlight looked picture post card perfect and well done to the ground staff who have battled weather events and better than average rainfall.

For those not familiar with our course, it is ranked in the top 100.

Perhaps not as long as some; but more than challenging, nonetheless and for golfers like yours truly… who can’t resist taking up its challenges, will more often than not, find themselves in trouble.

A fact, reflected by their handicap.

It is not surprising therefore. That an alternative approach to the game might be sought. To this end, I was fortunate indeed to have been held up at the 5th. It gave me an opportunity to observe a couple of club legends, Laurie Tormey and Tony Druit as they played the 4th.

I have seen the pair on the course many times; since my return to the sport and have been an admirer of them for they are often mentoring fellow golfers.

Intrigued to learn, I was more than interested in how they might approach the Par 3, ‘The Gully’. For it can be a treacherous trip, from an elevated tee position to the pin and the distance; ever so deceptive, to a sloping green.

A miss hit to the left and you’ll be playing a provisional, fall short and you’ll be searching the watercourse or a bunker. Over club and it’s in the bracken or traps to the left and right which means club selection and accuracy more so than power is a must.

It is worth mentioning here that, Laurie and Tony between them, have been competing against this course for nearly 80 years and in earlier times, they played off a 7 handicap. These days however, we need to consider that Laurie is now in his 83rd year and Tony his 73rd.

Yes, time may have wearied them; but they are still playing off very respectable handicaps (Tony, 11 and Laurie 14), meaning they have adapted; found other ways and have learned to play smarter.

Down in the gully, I hear a ball strike from above followed by a white blur descending to the open ground left off the green. A few moments later; another crisp sound of a second strike followed by a thud.

Their golf balls had come to rest within a metre or two of each other beside the green, the two veteran golfers had played it safe; backing their skill to execute a well placed chip to the pin and a putt for Par; at worst they’ll settle for the stroke allowance for 2 stableford points before taking the short walk to next week’s Par 4, 5th.