THE WAN­DER­ING GOLFER: BREN­DAN MOLONEY

Golf Australia - - CONTENTS -

AF­TER achiev­ing the dream of many golfers and build­ing his own course, Greg Carter has put his Cock­a­too Rise prop­erty near Bairns­dale in Vic­to­ria on the mar­ket.

The re­tired pho­tog­ra­pher and Viet­nam vet­eran says the approach of his 68th birth­day made him realise that the main­te­nance of the nine-hole lay­out was start­ing to catch up with him and he is pre­pared to part with it for a price above $2.5 mil­lion.

The prospect of liv­ing on your own golf course brings to mind Alis­ter MacKen­zie who built a house on the course he de­signed at Pasatiempo in Cal­i­for­nia so he could “play nine holes be­fore breakfast in his py­ja­mas”.

Both Cock­a­too Rise and Pasatiempo sit on hills over­look­ing wa­ter – the Gipp­s­land Lakes and Mon­terey Bay re­spec­tively – but there the sim­i­lar­ity ends. Carter’s course is just nine holes and mea­sures a mere 1,397 me­tres with a par of 32 on pleas­antly un­du­lat­ing ter­rain. In the win­ter it also en­joys views of snow-capped moun­tains.

In­spi­ra­tion for the course flowed from a bot­tle of wine with his wife, An­nie, about 12 years ago. “We were sit­ting out­side with a glass of red and en­joy­ing the view when An­nie sug­gested build­ing one hole,” he said. “I built a green about 100 me­tres from the house and it was nice.

“Then I could find no rea­son not to put a 180-me­tre par-3 across our lit­tle val­ley. It grew from there. For a start I used a slasher on the pas­ture grasses to make the fair­ways and planted some trees. It be­came a place where our friends could come to have some fun. “I got crazy on the mower and we had 27 holes at one stage but it was to­tally un­man­age­able. We had 18 for a few years and now it is nine. We are for­tu­nate to have a neigh­bour who was on the ground staff at Hunt­ing­dale and other clubs in Mel­bourne. He now looks af­ter the fair­ways, I do the greens and An­nie helps out with work­ing bees when things need do­ing.

“It is im­mensely sat­is­fy­ing to have your own course. A pre­ferred lie here is any­thing up to 10 me­tres. The main thing is to have fun. Golf is far too com­pli­cated with too many rules. It is a great game but the ma­jor­ity of play­ers are not on low hand­i­caps.”

The Carters first looked at land in the state’s west for their re­tire­ment project and were ready to buy when he played in a vet­er­ans’ comp at War­rnam­bool.

“I asked a farmer there when the wind was at its worst,” Carter said. “He told me from the end of March to the first week of De­cem­ber. An­nie hates the wind, so as much as we liked the area that was the end of it. We came here and fell in love with it.”

Leav­ing will be a wrench, he said, get­ting some sym­pa­thy from Gra­ham Mills, who built a nine-hole course on his his­toric prop­erty, Barunah Plains, west of Gee­long in the mid-1980s. I in­tended to play nine holes there in my py­ja­mas be­fore breakfast but he got an of­fer he could not refuse for the farm and sold in 2001. The course where Amer­i­can pro Hank Baran used to teach was let go and sheep again graze there. Mills has re­tired to the Bairns­dale area and any­one who played at Barunah Plains – es­pe­cially the 1995 drought relief tour­na­ment he or­gan­ised with Baran dur­ing which two inches of rain fell – will be pleased to hear is back play­ing at Lakes En­trance af­ter a knee trans­plant. It’s a small world. Carter pho­tographed a wed­ding at Barunah Plains back in the days when he had nine snap­pers work­ing for him.

In ad­di­tion to the golf course, which oc­cu­pies 14 hectares, the prop­erty has an­other 15 hectares given over to pad­docks for An­nie’s horses, some out­build­ings and a lux­u­ri­ous, mod­ern home of 409 square me­tres. Carter ac­cepts that the new owner may not keep the course be­cause the land has po­ten­tial as an eques­trian cen­tre but for golfers, he says, the hard work is done. The course is beau­ti­fully main­tained and the ex-Hunt­ing­dale grounds­man is happy to talk about stay­ing on.

As for this golf­ing ven­dor, he hopes to find a smaller place in the area and con­tinue his work with fel­low Viet­nam vet­er­ans suf­fer­ing from post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der. They stay free of charge for as long as they like and he says the peace and quiet, along with the abil­ity to talk to other PTSD suf­fer­ers of­ten gets bet­ter re­sults than drugs and psy­chi­atric treat­ment.

In terms of golf, the for­mer Hunt­ing­dale mem­ber who got his hand­i­cap down to five and won the 1986 Ro­tary Club In­ter­na­tional Cham­pi­onship at Sun Val­ley, Idaho, says he will “strictly limit the num­ber of new holes to two and cer­tainly no more than 10”.

AS FOR THIS GOLF­ING VEN­DOR, HE HOPES TO FIND A SMALLER PLACE IN THE AREA AND CON­TINUE HIS WORK WITH FEL­LOW VIET­NAM VET­ER­ANS SUF­FER­ING FROM POST­TRAU­MATIC STRESS DIS­OR­DER.

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