‘Upon the upland road,’ James K. Baxter wrote in his poem ‘High Country Weather’, ‘Ride easy, stranger/Surrender to the sky your heart of anger.’
Forget for the moment the upland road. The same excellent advice applies to the fairway, or the bunker, or the rough. You’ve duffed a shot, say. Maybe you’ve duffed several. Okay, so you’ve managed to shift most of the sand from a bunker to the fairway without disturbing your ball, or you’ve hooked your drive gracefully into Lake Wakatipu. Or you’ve reached the green in two only to ten-put the green. This is what you do: surrender to the sky your heart of anger.
The sky in these parts will absorb a fair few hearts of anger. The ageless, snow-capped Remarkables preside over the course, aloof and indifferent all alike to the vainglory of eagles and the ignominy of triple-bogeys. Ripples spread out from the spot where your ball went into the lake, then the waters are immaculately still again, a reminder of how transitory are such trite considerations as par.
Kelvin Heights, the Queenstown Golf Club’s course, is one of the prettiest of them all in a country famed the world over for its attractive golf courses. For those who find the proximity of water has a psychologically detrimental effect on their game, though, it’s on the demanding side: the cunning and mildly sadistic designers have incorporated into many of the holes the 293 square-kilometre water hazard that is Lake Wakatipu.
For limbering up for the Kelvin Heights challenge, Queenstown Golf Club also maintains a nine-hole course and driving range at Frankton, next to the airport. Professional instructors are available there to help iron out the kinks in your swing.
Golfers visiting Queenstown will also want a round at the 18-hole course designed by Kiwi golfing legend, Bob Charles, for Millbrook Resort. Here too, serene and soothing views of the mountains are framed by tree, grass and sky whenever you fling your head back in exasperation.
Where else in the world can you start the day with a morning’s skiing, follow it with a game of golf and round it off with a tall, cool drink in the 19th hole as the sunset gilds the snow-capped mountain ranges? Nowhere, that’s where.