Golf, golf, golf, night and morning
It’s not every day you get the chance to play a round of golf in London with former All Black skipper Sean Fitzpatrick.
Wellingtonians Jamie Patton and Michael Goldstein got their chance after Fitzpatrick heard about their quest to play a round of golf somewhere in the world every day of last year.
While swinging their clubs with Fitzpatrick at the New Zealand Club in Surrey, he offered insights into life as an All Black and one of his current jobs as a commentator in Britain, and told how the All Black captains gathered before each Christmas.
Goldstein said after playing golf for more than 250 days, it was good to play against someone from the same country.
‘‘ It was good to be around another Kiwi,’’ he said.
During the round, Fitzpatrick, who developed a reputation within the All Blacks for not being averse to the odd bit of gamesmanship, gave his team-mate Patton a pep talk to try to sort out his game – but they ended up losing anyway.
Fitzpatrick is scheduled to be in New Zealand for the upcoming Rugby World Cup and mentioned the possibility of having some involvement with Patton and Goldstein’s chosen charity, First Tee of New Zealand.
The meeting with Fitzpatrick was just one of many highlights of the unusual golf expedition.
Their tour began at Kauri Cliffs, Matauri Bay, on January 1, last year and ended at Cape Kidnappers Resort, Napier, on December 31.
In between, they played golf in Australia, the United States, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, England, Wales, France, Belgium, and the United Arab Emirates.
Patton emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand in 2000. He and Goldstein became friends after attending high school and law school together in Christchurch.
Their grand travel scheme was devised because they had grown tired of their jobs as corporate lawyers and wanted to do something fun that would be a bit different, Patton said.
‘‘We wanted to challenge ourselves, so we threw around several ideas with friends . . . [It was a] huge step into the unknown,’’ he said.
Despite the constant diet of golf, they never tired of their sport. Patton said the golf was awesome because it became a part of their routine, and they were in a new place and meeting new people every day.
He said some of the great courses they played included the Beekman Country Club in New York, Cypress Point in California, Royal County Down in Northern Ireland, and two famous Scottish courses, St Andrews, often described as the home of golf, and Turnberry. Getting to play at St Andrews, which has a massive waiting list, was fortunate.
The two New Zealanders were offered a 7.30am tee time by a friend of a contact they had made while at the Bay Hill club in Florida.
In Dubai, the men played a round of golf after midnight, the plan being to then rush to the airport, catch a flight to Australia, and play a round of golf there the following day. During their round in Dubai, a course official followed them, progressively turning off the lights after they completed each hole.
Patton said he and Goldstein were inspired when playing alongside former Australian professional golfer Jack Newton, who now plays the game one-handed after an accident in 1977 when he walked into an aeroplane propeller at Sydney airport.
They also played with former world No 8 Henrik Stenson of Sweden, The Doors guitarist Robby Krieger, former Australian cricketers Doug Walter and Brad Hodge, and New Zealand professional golfers Phil Tataurangi and Steve Alker.
They kept a blog throughout their international travels called PureGolf 2010. During the tour, they raised up to $40,000 for First Tee of New Zealand, an organisation that aims to provide opportunities for young New Zealanders to learn character development and life-enhancing skills through golf.
Golf mates: Jamie Patton, left, and Michael Goldstein flank their new friend, Sean Fitzpatrick.