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Prologue: The Late-Twenties are Weird

Sitting on a plane with seven months of annual leave on the docket is a strange feeling, piss-poor Wi-Fi provides a rare opportunity for the the mind to run rampant. Almost immediately, it runs toward a frequent point of conversation lately - the late-twenties are a strange, strange time.

 

I’m not sure there is a time where people’s variance in what they are doing is greater- weddings and baby showers mixed in with the bloke who still goes out two nights a week, rolling home at 2am. It’s the wild west out there and based on my Instagram feed, the bloke in his late twenties who isn’t on benders, ready for a wedding or to change shitty nappies seems to have three safe options; slow cooked meat, petrol head, or the reason I’m on this plane- golf junkie.

Despite New Zealand’s golfing come-up over the last 10-20 years- seeing it quickly evolve into one of the world’s great golfing destinations with the opening of Tara Iti and the two courses at Te Arai, the lure of golf in the UK & Ireland has burned hot.

 

After an eye-opening flyby trip to St Andrews in 2022, including my first loop of The Old Course in St Andrews, it became clear that I would be back playing at the home of golf in no time at all. The golf and its culture so beautifully connected, the aura of the links so incredibly magical, and I immediately felt at home with an irrepressible urge to immerse myself. Spreadsheets were started, flights were put on watchlists and the ball was rolling- all eyes on 2024.

Planning a golf trip is one of life’s great first world problems – trawling through reviews, articles and videos on courses, juggling tee times with clubs and potential hosts, and crafting a watertight excel spreadsheet (itinerary and budget inclusive) became something of a second job in the year leading up- all to be blown up by a couple of unexpected invitations to places which warranted a complete flight path re-routing…..

 

Over time, lists grew longer, three weeks of golf ballooned to ten, and New Zealand’s time zone became my biggest enemy in communicating with clubs and people on the other side of the world- hooking into middle of the night emails & WhatsApp's a privileged inconvenience.

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The 2022 loop of The Old Course which made me fall in love with golf in the UK

In New Zealand, golf travel is unusual. The most common responses I get when explaining the trip to people is a question of whether I’m a professional (couldn’t be further from it), and a good old fashioned “your poor girlfriend” (which may be slightly closer to the truth). So here we are, wheels up and ready to explore some of the world’s finest courses, spend time with some of its more colorful people and experience a handful of golf’s most interesting cultures. Life’s good.

So for those planning that wedding, changing that nappy or ordering that 3am Uber, spare a thought for the guy who hasn’t quite got it figured out and diverted a flight to the UK to stopover in California for a couple of extra opportunities to chase incredible green complexes, artful bunkers, clever routings and the perfect golf hole - at this point in time, to me, that feels like living.

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Wheels Up to California!

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