Oh, and it is pouring down rain! Two hours later we reach the city of Itu in the dead of night. After a few encounters with some of the locals, we find our quarters. When the van door opens it is like a jack-in-the-box. Ah, but we are here and the staff is ready willing and able. I wish I could tell you it was a scenic drive, but the bag on my head obscured the view. It is an incredibly small world at times with interesting twists and turns. One month prior to this trip, I casually mentioned to my friend George Baker of Razor Golf that I was going to Brazil for a tournament. Do you want to meet them?
The next day we had a wonderful visit over a round of golf. It turned out they own a house on the 13th hole of the golf course where the World Cup is being played. They insist I visit them upon my arrival and there is a message from them at the front desk as I check in. So, this morning I ring them up and we spend a delightful day touring the area prior to playing a practice round. My new Brazilian friends, Alvaro and Yeda, play with me, imparting some local knowledge on the intricacies of the Club de Golf San Jose. Halfway through the round they to tell me not to go into the woods on holes 2 and 4 because there is an insect that can transmit some rare disease to humans.
Somehow the hidden lake on number 17 seems less important.
"We're Probably a Little Sick"
I sleep incredibly well here. Although it is summer, the humidity is very low and the evening temperatures are such that you can bed down with the windows open. Amazingly, no bugs invade the room. Meal times here are nothing but feasts. You can eat yourself into oblivion. Our hosts, the Brazilian Golf Teachers Federation, take us to dinner at one of their typical barbecue places. I am advised not to overdo the salad bar. Soon I find out why. Throughout the evening, waiters plunk down skewers with sides of grilled meat attached and carve off pieces onto your plate.
I sample sirloin, fillet, wild hog, chicken, pork roast and some type of cheese.
Settlers Crossing Golf Course
One of my golfing buddies, Mark Harman, wonders how the folks from PETA would view true carnivores indulging in such pleasure. That brings on a whole series of discussions which results in our solving all the problems of the world. Today, I relax. I have played two practice rounds, so this morning I will take it easy. I like the golf course.
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Except for the elevations, it reminds me of the older courses in Miami like the Biltmore or Miami Springs: Bermuda grass, small greens, and very grainy. I have managed to keep it in the short grass so far and was able to bend it right on a couple of holes that really needed it. My favorite hole is 9, an uphill par-5 requiring a slight fade across a fairly wide valley. It is very picturesque from the tee, a great Kodak moment.
A round 2 PM, I go over to the course to hit a few balls. Then, I decide to play the front nine one more time because it is the more difficult of the two sides. I play awful.
Well actually, I hit it well but my short game is a mess. The Bermuda around the green is thick and the ball nestles down. I double-hit the ball twice after missing greens. I finish par, birdie, but the other holes are forgettable. Not a good way to go into the first round. This evening we have a reception for all participants. Several dignitaries from Brazil are on hand as is the Mayor of Itu. There are golf instructors from all over the world and I make many new friends. It is truly an international event. She said they were beautiful.
Even to a casual observer, the start of a tournament is obvious.
The Health Benefits of Playing Golf
There is a feeling in the air. Everything is much more serious. You can see it on the players faces — all business.
I start out well, playing at 1-over-par through six holes, but a three-putt on number 7 unnerves me. Then I make an inexcusable mistake on the eighth. F rom the middle of the fairway, I miss the green with an 8-iro n. I leave myself a difficult up-anddown and make a double-bogey. This is such a confounding game.
One bad swing can shake your confidence and cause you to struggle for several holes.follow link
Swallow Your Ego and Play the Right Tees
Then I get it back together and am 4-overpar standing on 15, a brutal par-3 playing about yards. I push my 5-wood ever so slightly and it hits a slope just to the right of the green and bounds down a hill into knee high grass. My best Arnold Palmer swing sends the ball well over the green , leading to double-bogey number two. I shoot 78 and am two shots off the lead in the senior division. George also shoots 78, but I have never played with anyone who hits it so far off the tee. On the par-5 eighteenth he hits wedge to the green for his second shot.
Good thing he is in the flat-belly division.
This evening several of us go to another barbecue place and overeat again. I am off late on day two, so I take my time getting over to the golf course. My caddie Boca greets me at the spot on the range he has saved for me.
I warm up well and feel pretty good as I head to the tenth tee. We start in reverse order today. I score well early but the fluid swing that was on the driving range is missing. When I need it most it fails me on the same killer par three that took my lunch money yesterday. I pull my shot left and it hits a branch and kicks into the woods. You guessed it, double-bogey number three.
Once again I pull myself back together and get it going. Heading into the fifth hole, my fifteenth of the day, I am 4-overpar, but then disaster. I thought I hit a good shot as it tracked the flagstick all the way. Unfortunately, it was a whisker short and buries in the lip of the bunker fronting the green.
I can only hack at it. Double-bogey number four. I start to press and it costs me two more bogeys. To make matters worse, I blow and easy birdie from just off the green in two on the par-5 finishing hole and shoot He had a stroke and carotid surgery 6 years ago. He has turned very sarcastic with me. He takes medications which I know are making him mean along with his aging. He also has always been a hoarder to some degree which drives me crazy. I want to go out and make friends and entertain.
I want to travel. I only have one living relative.