Boyfriend does a lot of things that I want to do – without complaining. He always asks me to come to the driving range with him, and he usually gets a grimace in response, so he was pleasantly surprised when he made his usual offer and I said, ‘Sure, why not?’ this past long weekend.
We pull up at the Canberra International Golf Centre on the corner of Jerrabomberra and Hindmarsh Drives (parking is free!). Boyfriend grabs a sand wedge, a pitching wedge and a putter and we head down a loooong corridor, turn a corner and arrive at the main desk where we pay for a game of Pitch N Putt. We’ve got a 2-for-1 deal through the Canberra Entertainment Book, so it’s just $17.50 for the two of us, and we buy special tees for $1 each.
There’s a group of six in front of us, but the fellow behind the counter has told them that if anyone comes after them, they should let us through. That’s us! But, they’re still waiting for the group of four in front of them… So, it’s a bit of a slow start. Thankfully, it’s a gorgeous day.
Like a normal golf course, there are 18 holes, but each of them is only 3 par. The aim of Pitch N Putt is to practice your short game – that is, your pitching and putting (surprise!).
Each hole has a different length – ranging from 30m to 60m. There are also water hazards (ie drains), plenty of ‘valleys’, and even quite a bit of ‘rough’! Add to that a bit of a breeze, and it’s actually a little challenging.
It’s simple enough. I try to channel the good parts of my 12 year old golfing ‘career’ (which consisted of mainly having tantrums while playing six holes of golf on a Saturday morning), and don’t do too badly. That said, it’s easy to turn one badly hit ball into seven badly hit balls… and suddenly your score is 9 (this happened to me on a few occasions).
Some of the enjoyment of Pitch N Putt is dependent on how fast the people are in front of you. The people in front of us are enthusiastic, if not a little slow (and greater in numbers). We spend a lot of time sitting on the bench at the beginning of each hole, and the group of six behind us are constantly almost caught up to us (even though we were waved through because the fellow at the desk thought they’d be slow!).
By the time we finish our eighth hole, the group in front has just started on the ninth, so we make an executive decision and skip ahead to the 11th. Freedom! We’re much more relaxed. We don’t feel bad because we’re not holding up people behind us (… because we’re held up), and we’re able to move ahead quickly.
The most important question: how did we go? Honestly, not badly. Despite Boyfriend’s experience, Pitch N Putt levels us as competitors, and it’s only my few rounds where I end up with scores of 9 or so which throw me out of contention. I fluke a few pars, and regularly get a score of 4 or 5 on each hole, as does Boyfriend. Not bad!
Of course, the key (as I have to keep telling myself) is to not take it too seriously. The Pitch N Putt course almost forces you to not take it seriously: the greens are bumpy (and that’s being kind), and other parts of the course aren’t in the best state, either:
Once we’re done, we swap Boyfriend’s wedges and putters for some drivers and buy some balls for the driving range ($12 for 50 balls, $15 for 75 balls). There are two levels witih 64 bays, and they’re all heated! We get a ticket instead of balls – instead, we head to a machine on our level and put in the code to retrieve our balls. Then, we hit.
Well, thank God there are a plenty of nets nearby, because my first few shots hit straight off the tip of the club and into the net. Well, more than my first few shots. I’m about to have a tantrum a la 12 year old me when I hit my rhythm, and am regularly hitting 100-150 metres (as well as plenty which fall woefully short). It becomes a little sore (particularly with some of my less than perfect shots), but it takes less than 20 minutes for my 50 balls to be out – somewhere – on the field in front of us.
I was pretty sceptical about the afternoon – let’s face it, even nervous – but it turns out to be a really enjoyable few hours. If I can do okay at Pitch N Putt, I can make the safe assumption that anyone can. When Boyfriend asks me along again, it might not take me so long to say yes, next time!
Date: Sunday, 29 September
Cost: $46.50 for a few hours = $17.50 (two for one deal; normally $35 for two people) + $2 (two tees for Pitch N Putt) + $12 (50 balls for driving range) + $15 (75 balls for driving range)
Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile
Want more: The Canberra International Golf website is basic, but has all the necessary information. The driving range, Pitch N Putt and mini golf (not reviewed, not sure it’s worth it) are open til 9.30pm every night of the week.
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