Thursday, August 14, 2014

Barbados Blitz (Repost)

Last week, I went back to see Uncle Jim in Barbados.

This also involved some golf because he had organised a Tourney at the lovely Barbados GC.

He called it ‘The Ken Jennings BC Salmon Open’. That made me the ‘Official Sponsor’. So I had a travelling companion……. A smoked wild Pacific Sockeye.

As always, Uncle Jim’s impeccable organisational skills were in full flow. (Except the bit about getting to the airport on time to pick me up…).
I got in on the Tuesday night and we played the first round early Wednesday morning. The event consisted of three rounds, Wednesday, Friday and the following Monday. There was to be a random partner draw each round and a ‘Better ball’ format, counting six drives from each partner. The individual player takes their team score into the next round. That was the plan, anyway.
It was destined to be a remarkable tournament, for in the very first round there was a momentous occurrence!  On the 13th, one of our participants got an Eagle!!
Now, the 13th is Par-3, so that means.….It was Hole-In-One!!!
And the ‘participant’ was none other than….Uncle Jim!!!! Congratulations, mate.
And fair play to him. Following the round (and all the noise around the course), he kept the whole clubhouse extremely well lubricated. And for the rest of the week’s stay, I awoke relishing the prospect of the day’s reminder(s) of his amazing achievement.
By the start of the third round, some of us were ‘a little behind’ the leaders and so we had the highest scorers partner with the lowest.
It was thus that I had the honour of playing in the final group with Kevin, who started the round 3 shots back of the leader, Denzil. Colin, the Welsh wizard of the short game, partnered him. I have to say, that final round was one of the most enjoyable I have ever played. And the fierce wind definitely added to the entertainment. (At times, it was at least a 3 clubber!).
Not only was it such fun, we all played pretty well too and the ‘high scorers’ did not let their illustrious partners down (Well- Colin didn’t). At the turn, Kevin and I had pulled back two strokes, so Kevin was just one back of Denzil. Exciting stuff!
On the 10th, a 170 yard uphill par 3, over a large coral gully up to a long, narrow green, Colin and Denzil sprayed their tee shots into goodness knows where and Colin had to hit a provisional, which he also sent way left, like his first one. Mine came up short (Blamed the wind, of course) but Kevin’s made it to the left of the green, on the mounds just off the fringe. As I picked up my ball and headed for Kevin’s, things were looking good for at least a two-stroke swing with Kevin taking the overall lead.
Amazingly and after much searching (I’m sure there should have been a time penalty – but Denzil would not have had any of that ;-), Colin’s “first” ball (oh sure) was found, way off to the left in amongst some shrubs and tree roots – and still in bounds. Even more amazingly, Denzil chipped out of there and came up about 8 feet from the pin. What a shot! Then they made the putt for the par. An incredible up and down.
And that was as close as we got. Over the next eight holes, Colin and Denzil got the two strokes back and both teams finished with a 76! Not too shabby, eh? And the best thing was that the win was earned. Neither team gave a hole away.
I should mention at this point (Because he will not forgive me if I don’t) that Uncle Jim and his partner, Goody, shot 75 on that final round. Well done you chaps.
Denzil won the Salmon. (Which was just as well because his missus had told him not to come home without it!). His three round score totalled 230. Second was Kevin with 233 and Goody came a very close third with 234. Uncle Jim came next with a seriously creditable 238.
The awards lunch was well catered by the Barbados Golf Club as

The Clubhouse
well as the Banks Brewery. And if you read my previous Barbados post, you are aware of my opinion of Banks beer….
It was a genuine pleasure to meet everyone who took part. A great group of guys who, to a man, entered into the spirit of the event.  And thanks again to Uncle Jim for making it all possible. I hope the next one will be as much fun.
And speaking of fun, there was a whole lot of that happening for the duration of my short stay. (Short for me and probably excruciatingly lengthy for Uncle Jim).
We had rounds of golf in between the tournament days and I got some decent beach time to boot. A dip in the ocean in late February is a real treat, I can tell you.
The weekend was quite spectacular. On Saturday, Uncle Jim’s friends, Dave and Lucy, treated us to supper at the Harlequin and Keith, the owner, threw in a round of drinks. Blimey, what a treat! As always, the food was super and the ambiance magnificent. I love that place!
Of course, word of Uncle Jim’s triumph had spread across the Island and a whole procession of folk arrived at the table to offer congratulations and advise of their drink of choice. (Keith sent them all).
All approaches were smoothly dealt with, as one would expect. Uncle Jim thanked each one and then advised there was a Statute of Limitations on the ‘Free Drinks’ requirement. Otherwise known as the ‘You have to be there ‘ rule.
And on Sunday, Uncle Jim took me for lunch to Fisher Pond. WOW! Up in the hills amongst a sugar cane plantation, the setting is spectacular.
Lunch, which is internationally reviewed as the ‘Best Sunday lunch in Barbados’, is served in the Plantation house and if you so choose, as  Uncle Jim did when he booked it well in advance, you can get a table in the beautiful grounds.

On arrival, a casual cocktail is offered and then a choice of soup. After that, you will be invited into the house to be served a generous taste of each of their seafood appetizers.
Then you get to go back in to help yourself to mouth-watering main courses and scrumptious salads. Uncle Jim, being a pro, was a great guide. We made a separate trip for each. I managed some wines to go with them…..
After that, another trip takes you to the incredible dessert table, with cheesecakes, bread puddings, rum cakes and trifles. And the coffee served was the nicest I have ever tasted in my whole caffeine life!
Those of you that have seen Monty Python’s ‘Meaning of Life’ will understand exactly what I mean, when I say I waddled out of there  feeling like ‘Mr. Creosote’.
Funny how things work out. Being so full and all, we had to call Laura and Kevin to say we would not be able to make it to visit them at their beautiful beachfront home that afternoon. All we could do was lie down.
However, on Tuesday, the day before I left, they repeated their invitation and this time I got to go down and see their pad. Uncle Jim said it is one of the nicest homes in Barbados. All I know, is it’s fabulous ‘with all the trimmings’ – and it is right on the beach. And of course much more importantly, they are really nice people to hang with!
After a few cold ones, we all headed up to Chicken Rita’s Rum Shack for dinner. (See previous Barbados post). It was very busy and as we drove up, Jim stopped and told me to go and get a table for four, while he found a parking place.
I couldn’t see a spare seat in the ‘yard’. Let alone a table for four, so I went in the shack to see about a reservation. No one behind the counter – and certainly no sign of a Maitre’d. So I walked lamely outside to wait for Uncle Jim’s arrival.
I met him as he approached. “ I haven’t been able to sort anything, sorry”, I said. He walked straight past me without commenting and entered the shack. He picked up a solitary white plastic table, carried it outside and plonked it down in a spare spot in the yard. That’s what he meant by ‘Go and get a table for four’. Who’d have guessed? I did at least get the message and found some chairs at the back of the shack.
It was a great evening and a totally fitting last memory of my Barbados Blitz.
I flew WestJet for the long journey. My first experience and I was well impressed. Flying them again in a couple of weeks. This time to Maui. Maybe worth another blog.

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