Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Golf In Riyadh With Non-Golfers

We aren't really golfers.  On the rare occasions we have headed to a golf course to play a round, we do our best but, speaking for myself, divots tend to fly further than the golf ball I was aiming for.  Hubster, on the other hand, likes to belt the bejesus out of the ball.  A cracking 'THWACK' always accompanies his tee offs.  Then, more often than not, he strides off to the fringes of the course, looking for his ball.  Last week we invited ourselves along to play 18 holes at Riyadh Golf Club, more commonly known as Riyadh Greens.  Our efforts that day reaffirmed that we are, without doubt, not golfers.

Riyadh Greens is one of a number of golf courses in Riyadh.  Others include the Dirab Golf Club where we have ridden the bikes to with Mr Finland to bash balls about on the range.  Hubster has visited the course at the Intercontinental Hotel a couple of times, but he doesn't like it because it's small and he can't smack the ball in his usual, 'Lets See How Hard I Can Damage This' fashion.  And I caught a glimpse of the course at Arizona Compound when attending a Ladies Breast Cancer Coffee Morning.  Apparently they have a ladies golf morning at Arizona but, not being a golfer, I've never felt inclined to go.

Obviously life was getting rather boring in Riyadh, hence my insistence to Hubster, who was looking doubtful, that we really wanted to go play an 18 hole round of golf.  The Kiwi Friend we invited ourselves along with was adamant that our being novices didn't bother him at all.  Fairly soon after picking us up he was likely changing his mind.  He pulled up outside our compound and we jumped, as enthusiastically as one can at 5.30 in the morning, into the vehicle.

He wondered where our golf clubs were.
We presumed we could hire some once we got there.
Then, we being completely green regarding golf club etiquette, were sent back inside to get collared shirts.

Riyadh Greens is about 30 minutes north of Riyadh and it looks quite nice for a golf club. (Not having been in many I don't have a huge comparative frame of reference).  After signing in and paying for our round of golf and 2 sets of hired clubs (it set us back 1000SAR), we headed out to our cart excited, in the cool'ish morning air, about getting a chance to show off what little golfing skills we have.  One of us was excited, anyway.  The other one had this grumpy essence emanating from his being.  While strapping the golf bag to the cart it occurred to us we didn't have golf balls.  Or tees. So back indoors Hubster went to get us fully equipped.  With a shake of his head, it was finally dawning on our Kiwi Friend that, Yes, we are rookies!

Our cart was guided out onto the first tee (yahoo I got to drive), where we met a gentleman who was golfing alone and he asked if he could join our group.  It's just as well, because it gave our Kiwi Friend someone to talk golf with while waiting for us (well, me) to bunny hop my way up the fairway for every single hole.  Heading to the fringes to help Hubster search for balls also took a bit of time.  The Great Bald Golfer lost the three new balls he'd bought that morning, replacing them with old dungary ones found while roaming through the sand out by the fence, or fished out of water hazards. Note: every pond required fishing!

We'd arrived at Riyadh Greens at 6am, a perfectly good time to play golf in desert city, and it was an absolutely beautiful day.  The sky was blue, the greens were green, the sun beat down as it rapidly climbed to a roasting 40 degrees, the water traps took our balls, the water boy on his cart was a regular welcome sight and the golfing standard (ours, that is) never really improved.  Hubster quit tallying our score fairly early in the piece, much to my disgust.  I wanted proof I suck!  He was fairly certain that once you hit double figures you're supposed to stop counting.

Five hours later after swinging, missing, cursing, bunny hopping, sand trapping, chipping, raking, sand trapping and raking again, searching, cheating, sweating, drinking, carting, putting and fishing our way around the Riyadh Golf Club course, we made it to the restaurant for a well deserved, ice cold glass of juice!

My arms were killing me and I was buggered.
I'd never believed my mother when she said golf was excellent exercise. (Mum rather likes golf and has spent a bit of time chipping, putting and driving her way around the Whangaroa golf course, back home).

Slouched on the couch at the cafe with the cool, air conditioned breeze washing over me, I gazed out the windows toward the last hole, it's flag fluttering in the breeze, workmen in orange overalls nearby tending the wilting flowers and three Asian blokes standing about the green, and thought - golfers are fruitcakes!  Who the heck enjoys playing golf in a frikken desert!

Directions and Map to Riyadh Golf Club

View Kiwi In Saudi: Tiki Tour in a larger map

Despite my rather awful efforts out on the golf course and my inability to fall in love with the game, I've decided I will be returning to Riyadh Greens again before we leave Saudi.  Not for golf, Crikeys no!  They've got some golf markers down in the pro-shop that I was too buggered to pick up this trip.  I want to get them as presents for Mum.

Ka Kite,

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