Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Boulder Hills Golf and Country Club...
For some reason (actually, a number of reasons - and none of them valid...heck, I've been playing golf for almost 40-years!), I was really nervous!! "Will I like the course? Will it be really hard (it looks pretty darned tough from the roads that bracket Boulder Hills Golf and Country Club on the East and the West!) ?? How would my shoulder hold up? Did I bring enough golf balls??"
Naseer took me over to the course in the morning...and, as it turned out, through some of the heaviest traffic we have experienced since we've been here. Evidently, 8:15 A.M. is not the best time of day to try and get from Banjara Hills to Gachibowli if you are in a hurry! Of course, we were NOT in a hurry (as a matter of fact, nobody in India seems to be in a hurry...if you are late for your tee-time, it must be your karma - so why fight it?). If I recall - it took us almost forty-minutes to get to Boulder Hills.
Arrival at the course is like arriving at any nice country club or daily-fee golf course in Southern California. One could almost forget that you are 8,700-miles away from Goose Creek in Mira Loma! A nice kid greets you with a friendly "Good morning, sir!" and takes your bag and shoes out of the car and puts them on the "bag drop" rack. I went in to the main clubhouse (where there were two Indian fellows playing squash on one of the two indoor squash courts in the lobby!! It's actually a game I have some familiarity with...I used to play at the original Venice Squash Club with my good friend Wally Meneley ... back "in the day" when we were young, crazy and in that shape you are only in once..when you are 17-years old!) and asked the nice man behind the counter if there "was room for me" to get out and play 18 holes. I also asked "if there was a group that he might send me out with", as this would be my first round on the course. "You don't think there is any chance that I could get lost out there alone, do you?"
Well, the guy looked at me like I was some sort of moe-ron. "Sir, all of the members have already played their matches and gone off to work. You are the only person here, so I am afraid that you'll have to play alone. And, no, you can't get lost...there are direction signs and cart paths on every hole." Then ... he proceeded to stab me right in the gut: "But, sir...if YOU get lost, just call the desk and we'll come out and find you!"
It turned out that I bought plenty of golf balls (I brought nine...and - - miracle of miracles - I only lost two of them...one went into the lake on #9 when I hit my drive a little too good and over-cooked it, two bounces, into the drink! The other one was on hole #15 - I hit a great drive (so I thought!) - but my ball took a couple of hops into some tall grass and I never found it. I had one birdie, 5 or 6 pars and no triple-bogeys - so I can say that I played very well for my first time out....43 - 43 = 86. Right on my handicap, which was a 12 when we left. The drive on #1 went right down the middle and I made my par, despite the fact that the greens are painfully slow!! You have to remember that Andhra Pradesh had one of the hottest summers of this century, so it needs some recovery time. The monsoons are helping, and - in just the first week since I saw Boulder Hills, the course has greened-up nicely due to the recent daily downpours! The greenskeepers are out and working hard...and doing one hell of a good job!
The course is actually only a few years old....but it is frankly, spectacular! Think: "The beauty of The Boulders Course in Carefree, AZ - mixed-in with the trickiness of Mt. Woodson in San Diego County - in an area that looks just like Chatsworth, CA, where Topanga Canyon Blvd. meets the foothills near Rocky Peak." (Just exactly what my old friend Deacon John Yeager said when he saw the pics I took!!)
The course designer, Peter Harradine (obviously someone who has a bit of a bias - but, still!) has been quoted as saying that "(Boulder Hills) will be one of the ten most photographed golf courses in the world. You can count on it." And I do believe that Mr. Harradine is spot-on!! I know that I will probably take a few hundred of them myself!
Honestly, the course has the look of a fake movie-set for a live-action "Flintstones" movie - - it looks like you are playing "Bedrock C.C." - it's just missing Fred, Barney and Mr. Slate to complete your foursome! In fact, the Men's Club group here is called "The Flintstones" - and the Women's Club is called "The Pebbles".
The club's "19th Hole" (a great pub called "The Plus 4" - just a quick "Coded Message" to CPK for when you come to Hyderabad... "Talisker 15-year" and "Balvenie Double Wood" are just two of the single-malts that I've seen behind the bar at the Plus 4 - not the cheapest pour in town...but sure goes down smooth!) is a beautiful bar... and the restaurant (called the Bougainvillea Room - run by the same chefs/people who run the food service at the Novotel Hotel!) - they have a "Businessman's Lunch" buffet every day at Noon (it must be good....40-or so Microsoft employees were there yesterday just for buffet!) and a great BBQ (JUST like the one at the Novotel!) every Friday night...the food is great and fairly inexpensive.
O.K. I'll shut up now...and let these short little videos that I took with the Blackberry motion-picture setting, tell the story:
Boulder Hills CC - Video #1
Boulder Hills CC - Video #2
Boulder Hills CC - Video #3 - The prettiest views of the prettiest hole!
Boulder Hills CC - Video #4
Boulder Hills CC - Video #5 - Featuring the Deloitte E-Block building, right off the course!
Boulder Hills CC - Video #6 - The hole where I saw a big peacock!!
Boulder Hills CC - Video #7 - Par-5 with an interesting view of a cool bit of architecture!