Oct 9th, 2015

Workie World Tour

This month we send him to South Africa

The Workie World Tour:

This month we make our own tea while Robbie gets to go to South Africa!

Workie World TourIt’s 6 am at Spier golf course in Cape Town, South Africa. I’m standing on the cusp of a bunker watching the sun begin to emerge over the mountains. My view is interrupted by two semi-naked models gyrating in the sand beneath me, flanked by a couple of cheetahs who, frankly, look like they’ve seen it all before. The closest I’ve ever come to a big cat is next-door’s corpulent tabby, so I’m pretty impressed. “I’m not sure who’s better looking, the girls or the cats,” I say to GP’s photographer. He pauses for thought before detaching himself from his camera lens. “I dunno,” he offers, “would you shag a cheetah?”

The stark difference between Graham and I became apparent from our first meeting at the airport. I get there an hour early, loaded like a baggage mule and looking like a past-his-prime rent-boy, making fruitless advances to every lone man in the vicinity in an attempt to locate Graham.

I’d pretty much abandoned all hope and was rehearsing my apology to GolfPunk when Graham casually breezed past and swept us professionally through check-in. I was palsied and hyperventilating; Graham looked like a twenty-something Hugh Hefner. South Africa might have its divisions, but it had nothing on me and Hef.

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Even after an 11-hour flight, Cape Town is breath taking. From the burgers to the bunkers, everything is bigger and better, just like your chances of sharing the 19th hole with a celeb. After a first round of truly forgettable golf at Steenberg Country Club, which included Hef’s first tee-shot failing to make it past the ladies tee-box (even the suave can occasionally stumble at the altar of golf), we found ourselves shooting the breeze with Springbok rugby legend Francois Piennar. 

He was chuffed to hear that his beloved track was getting a GP going-over. “Just make sure you say Steenberg is the best,” he said. He had me in a headlock at the time so I could only nod but, if you’re reading this Mr Piennar, the course was very nice.

Just not quite as nice as Pearl Valley. Set in the mountains of Paarl, this new course was designed by Jack Nicklaus. And they don’t let you forget it. From the second you drive in the gates, you’re bombarded with Jack’s beaming face on every billboard, banner and booklet. It was like 1980 meets the Third Reich and Jack was our golfing Fuhrer.

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But it all makes for a great course. As the brochure puts it: “Pearl Valley is a jewel so rare all who behold it are inspired by its beauty and sheer opulence.” And the blurb doesn’t lie (not least because it’s probably punishable by death under Jack’s regime).The usual equation applied; great course = shite golf. But this time we had hecklers (at least it made a change from Hef’s groupies). By the 6th hole the builders watching us had downed tools in order to laugh more comfortably at our hopeless foozling.

After a long round, drunken oblivion was the only way forward and in Cape Town, there are at least a million ways of getting there. We started out in Joburg Bar, the pub equivalent of Jordan: trashy, predictable but a bit of a goer. After a couple of Castles (Piennar’s lager of choice), my 15 minutes of whining paid off and we went for food.

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If you’re going anywhere in Cape Town for burgers, make sure it’s Royale’s Gourmet Burger Bar, for it is truly a fast food Mecca. The menu spans two pages of patties, from my personal favourite ‘The Fat Bastard’ to the refined ‘Miss Piggy’ (one for the ladies). On the subject of ladies, there’s a lot more talent here on a Wednesday night than at your local KFC.

Workie World Tour

Consequently, being creatures of habit, I troughed and Hef prowled. Within minutes there was a gaggle of girls round our table. I thought I was doing my bit to secure a straggler by smiling encouragingly, until Hef muttered strategically that I had pickle on my tooth. This reminded me of my place in the pulling order (ie, I didn’t have one) so I returned to my friend the Castle.

Four hours later and that same friend was threatening to make a reappearance on the drive to Spier Golf Club. We were heading for an early-morning match against some local lads. I was bleary-eyed and retching and Spier, in the pitch African black, was not proving easy to find. We were misdirected three times by a security guard on the Spier Wine Estate who assured
us sincerely each time that it was just round the corner. Guard number two then arrived and pointed out that it was actually five miles down the road.

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After several strong coffees my hangover had been reduced to light groaning and Hef passed me fit to play. At any rate, our opponents Damon and Mikey were big lads and I wasn’t going to offend anyone. It must have been a sharp livener that invigorated Hef, because from a fairly innocuous start, he rose to become the Mandela of the fairways. For three holes at least.

Our joint efforts were enough to briefly restore colonial rule to the greens, and we annexed a 2&1 win. Winning isn’t usually part of my vocabulary so I tried a victory jig to celebrate. But owing to nausea I settled for a power salute instead (Jack would have been proud) from my prostrate position on the backseat of the car as Hef chauffeured us out of the car park and on to Hermanus.

Hermanus is famous for its whales. The Marine Hotel where we stayed is situated right on the bay, and the whales swim less than fifty metres away from the terrace. They’re near enough for you to share a croissant with but Hef and I already had a date with Arabella. The main thing that coloured our round with Arabella was the rain. It was chucking it down. And this wasn’t soft British drizzle, it was like being on the set of A Perfect Storm. The club pro told us we were mental but genially lent us some brollies which survived until the 2nd tee before being flipped inside out. By the third hole Hef was, ,as he put it: “Wetter than Jenna Jameson in an orgy scene”, and his golf was in tatters. But when you’re playing Ernie’s favourite stretch of holes in the country you’ve just got to be staunch and Arabella is a taste of the real South Africa.

The rain may have drenched the course but it had done nothing to dampen Hef’s libido. It had taken us three hours to drive to Fancourt’s five-star resort and we were set for a night on the town. We started the evening in a lush African restaurant on the complex. The food was fantastic and unbelievably cheap at about £10 a head. We abstained from our usual diet of steak to try the Kudu, especially as it came firmly recommended. Red meat and Hef proved a lethal combo and by the time we turned up at Carousel, a nightclub in George, I’d barely got the drinks in before he scarpered with a pert blond. Me, I got her porky Germanic mate. Thankfully, the rest of the night was a blur.

Plump, Teutonic ladies aside, Fancourt was easily the highlight of the trip. The Links truly is the most epic course I have ever played; the golf porn equivalent of a Friday night in Amsterdam. Our caddies, Jackson and Theo, issued odds on every ball struck towards the rough. My first tee-shot opened the book at 50-50, but after that it was blanket “100 per cent gone”. Despite its toughness, Fancourt was a fitting end to an amazing golf trip. But you can’t do South Africa without doing safari, so 36 holes later we were heading to Kwandwe Game Lodge.

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Situated in the Eastern Cape, Kwandwe is one of Africa’s newest reserves. We were surrounded by a whopping 21,000 hectares of untamed bush and I was trusting my life to a flimsy 4x4 and a guide named Di Di. Our sumptuous home for two days was Ecca Lodge, complete with lap-pool, cocktail bar and views that would make a grown man weep (not that I’m confessing to anything).

A couple of forays into the bush later and I was convinced that Di Di was on something. She casually parked us in a face-off between three rhinos and a raging elephant (it felt like a Saturday night in Newport) and then blundered up a hill to gatecrash a lion having his beauty sleep.

“Where’s the escape route if we upset him?” I hissed.

“Oh it’s fine, we’ll just do a three-point turn and drive back down,” Di Di said cheerfully.

A three-point bloody turn?! I could have been lunch in less time than it takes to Monty to lose his temper and here was Di Di advocating good driving technique.

In our two days at Kwandwe we ate like royalty, drank sundowners on the river and even managed to play some bush-golf (golf translates to any landscape). It took us 10 days to do South Africa. We played in wind, rain and sun; hit a handful of good shots and lots of terrible ones.

In the words of Hef: “Golf is a bit like making love. One minute you’re up, the next you’re down, but you’d always come back for more.”

Nice. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TAGS: Golf in South Africa, GolfPunk Workie World Tour 2015, Fancourt Golf Club, Steenberg Country Club, Pearl Valley Golf Club, Spier Golf Club, Fancourt The Outeniqua, Arabella Golf Club