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Mhlambanyatsi Golf Course
PostPosted: Tue 19:36, 27 Aug 2013

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Mhlambanyatsi Golf Course
Mhlambanyatsi Golf Course, Swaziland
This is written for Great Golf Courses
Deep in the heart of Swaziland's Usutu Forest is Mhlambanyatsi (where the buffaloes drink), a privately operated forest-town that,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], with its 'black-and-white' road-kerbing and white-painted rocks, still reeks of the sultry colonial indolence of days gone by.
At an altitude of around 2000 metres in the middle of the highveld mountain range, the town's 9-hole golf course (which you play twice,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], off different tees second time around) is surprisingly flat - indeed a windsock gives notice of a somewhat furtive turf airstrip that's tucked in between the fairways.
As at its more illustrious near-neighbour, the Royal Swazi, any prospective golfer will be mugged at the gate by the wanna-be caddies. Unhabituated visitors from more egalitarian shores usually seem shy to take a caddy,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], but this is a mistake from several perspectives. Firstly,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], and perhaps most graciously,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], these fellows don't have work. Nor most likely do they have food. So you should take a caddy and help the man to feed both himself and his family. It's called redistribution of wealth. Secondly, from a perspective of self-preservation,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], consider the status of your unguarded car in the eucalyptus-lined car-park. Mending four flat tyres after 18 holes is no picnic. And thirdly, here's my story .
"I arrive at Mhlambanyatsi just in time to grab a caddy, and meet the three others in my four-ball who seem to be waiting anxiously for me to pitch up. It is a sponsored golf-day and I have been assigned to the blue team. My round partner is the pretty Holly Hunter-esque wife of the Forest MD, while our two rivals, in red, are the son of the late Chief Justice and a land-surveyor for whom work seems to be more hobby than necessity. All three of them appear to know what their clubs are for. I shudder. This is going to be a long day in the sunshine.
With some trepidation,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], I tee-off on the first . amazingly, it's no grass-cutter instead sailing over the ladies tee (one round of drinks saved). I await for it to peel off right into the car-park and out of bounds,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], but it doesn't happen . my ball plops down in the middle of the fairway. My caddy is impressed - he thinks he's going to have an easy day. 'Ha,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], think again my friend.'
By the time we reach the 14th hole, I am showing my true colours . I am down to three useful clubs, a wood for off the tee; a putter for the greens and a pitching wedge for the rough. The rest are redundant. Moreover, it is starting to rain the sort of rain you can almost set your clock by in Swaziland in summer . heavy pregnant clouds have been accumulating above us all morning,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], and sure enough bang on time,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], they start to dump both water and electricity on us in Hollywood proportions.
We climb up to the high 15th tee and look down towards the green where a beer and hideous cocktail courtesy of the event organisers await. Unless you're Fred 'Boom Boom' Couples1, the idea is to play short and then to pitch over the stream and on,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], which I do, I think. But when we reach the green, the drink-station personnel happily inform me that my ball is in the bunker, which on inspection is now transformed into a water-hazard. My caddy does not hesitate. Like Jean Van der Velde2,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], shoes off, trousers rolled up, he's knee-deep in the bunker feeling for my ball with his feet. I feel a sense of duty and join him. Together,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], our efforts yield one recovered ball but it is not mine.
It is then that common-sense prevails and we are summoned back to the club-house. The Swazi highveld is renowned for its iron-ore and perhaps as a result,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], the country is said to endure one of the planet's highest occurrences of lightning strikes. When play resumes, the 16th fairway is mostly lake and the 17th green is an island with a moat. With a well-justified sense of foreboding, my caddy (bless him) doesn't bother to reunite his feet with his shoes."
1 Long-hitting US golfer
2 French golfer who famously 'threw' The Open in 2000 with a series of bizarre shots on the 18th, one of which saw him knee-deep in water contemplating hitting the ball out of a river
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