This golfing life
by Neil Aplin
The piercing whistle of the 6.15am train wakes me and the regional town from our nightly slumbers. Birds fly into a dull morning light and I have a moment of panic. For years that train provided my daily commute to the city and work and my mind still equates that train whistle with being punctual.
But I am newly retired and I can now listen to the bird calls and ponder my plans for the day. This new life heralds a raft of opportunities. Bush walks, gardening, travel, and family get-togethers. Most often my day is spent with mates playing golf on one of the region’s prettiest courses. A quiet glass of wine at the 19th hole contrasts with a tepid latte at a city cafe discussing the latest project with a colleague.
The golf course provides a wealth of birdlife and the evidence of nocturnal visits of various animals. I can rely on seeing a gathering of superb fairy wrens in front of the 16th tee set adjacent to a spring-fed stream and protective thorny bushes. An owl often sits high above the fifth green casting a wise eye over the putting on the theatre below. Kookaburras can often be heard laughing at the awkward approach swings or catching a frog in the dam adjacent to the 13th hole. The complaining frog is dispatched with several whacks across a nearby log by the kookaburra. A variety of parrots, galahs, sulphur-crested cockatoos and the destructive little corellas add colour and noise across the course. The corellas ignore the efforts of the greenkeeper’s scarecrows and dangling CDs, often wreaking havoc on their favourite 11th green overnight.
The creek that skirts the eastern boundary feeds a local waterfall and visitor attraction. Before it plunges over the rocks, it is dammed to provide water for the thirsty course. The dam adjacent to the 12th fairway is home to a myriad of waterfowl and errant golf balls; there are heron, egrets, black swans, the white ibis and of course the wood and mallard ducks. Nesting in the safety of the reed banks are the purple swamp hens. The ducks and hens forage on the fairway and risk injury as golfers play their tee shots.
For the early golfers, the sand bunkers provide footprints of the kangaroos, dogs and wombats who traipse across the course each night. The seventh and ninth tees usually display the cuboid spoors of the wombat. The odd echidna will find its way across the practice fairway.
My sleep which used to jostle with the demands of clients now recreates the few good shots of the day. The blast of a train whistle interrupts my dreams. “That is my train and I don’t need to be on it”, I tell my wife as I roll over.