SAVE Declares Rounding up Sheep with Dogs is Cruel


SAVE (Save Animals from Varying Exploitation) have declared that rounding up sheep in New Zealand, using sheep dogs, is cruel.

Cruel, that is, not to the sheep, but to the shepherds.

“That’s right,” said Mr River, “rounding up sheep is incredibly cruel on shepherds, who have to whistle loudly and thereby hold their tongue in unnatural positions for long periods of time.” He paused. “Often in full sun … without nourishment.”

“Well,” I said, “that makes perfect sense to me, but I thought you were supposed to be representing the rights of animals, not humans.”

Mr River glanced furtively around. “Have you ever been close to a shepherd? Anyone who smells that woolly has to be at least part animal.”

I fought to keep my eyebrows from rising. Which is a lot easier now that I’m in my fifties and my eyebrows have diminished at the same rate as my waist has expanded. “But there are millions of sheep in New Zealand, on really steep country. How will we ever muster them?”

8th frway

“Golfers,” said Mr River. “We’ll turn the high country farms into golf courses and invent a new sport combining golf and sheep mustering. The golfers will aim for the sheep and we’ll muster them that way.”

“But,” I said, “the golf balls will hurt the sheep. They could even kill them.”

Mr River guffawed. “Oh, come on. Since when did a golfer’s ball ever go where they aimed it? The thud of balls behind, beside, or in front of the sheep will be enough to get them going in the desired direction. ”

I opened my mouth but nothing came out. Shouldn’t have spent so long whistling while gardening yesterday, I surmised. Maybe this guy is on to something.

A TV1 van arrived and Mr River scurried away, muttering about pitching wedges and drivers, merinos and southdowns, and breeding for traits such as acute hearing.




Wellington’s Most Hated Holes … and how to play them (Wainuiomata)

Wainui 2nd

It’s difficult for me to assign a ‘most hated hole’ at my favourite Wellington golf course – Wainuiomata. Especially considering that the affiliated green fees are very reasonable: weekends and public holidays $35; weekdays $30; Mondays (except public holidays) $25.

I think this layout has everything to challenge every level of golfer:

  • drivable par 4 requiring a lengthy carry over a ravine

Wnui 4

  • water

wnui 3

  • doglegs
  • straight holes
  • par 3 crossing a river

wnui 9

  • risk and reward par 5 with a meandering creek
  • elevated greens
  • great use of the natural terrain and trees

wnui 12

  • wonderful setting where the noise of speeding cars is replaced by the ‘whomp-whomp’ of lumbering kereru

wnui kereru

Thank god for the peaceful setting because you need to be calm when you get to the most hated hole – the 5th.

wnui 5t

Looks great from this angle because you’re looking in the opposite direction.

No ponds between you and the hole, no creeks, no ravines, and no elevated green. But it’s still a sod of a hole. Because it’s not just a double dogleg, it’s pretty much a triple dogleg.

The tee is offset to the right. There is a line of very large trees on the right side so you have to aim your tee shot left. There’s a reasonable amount of room on the left, but go too far left and you’re out of bounds.


If you manage to get your tee shot on the fairway, the further left you are, the tighter the gap for your second shot. (The green is tucked around to the left.) Those trees on the left are reachable for your second. Actually, I think grab-able would be a better word.)

wnui 5fway

Well, fancy that. I’ve hit my ball straight into them. How surprising.

wnui damntrees

I have played this shot from this spot so often, that I’m pretty good at it. However, the rough is long and grabs your club so it’s difficult to get much length. But I’ve managed to advance it far enough so that it’s only a 9 iron to a large green, which slopes fairly steeply from back to front. (Which is good, because if you nut your 9 iron, there’s a pond through the back.)


Just a bunker between me and the hole, plus another bunker on the right. It’s there to put the ‘don’t shank’ thought in your head, jostling with the ‘don’t be short and dump it in the bunker’, which will be muscling up against ‘water long’.

And I didn’t shank. I yanked the ball way left of the bunker because ‘straight shot onto the green’ hasn’t got a show of elbowing into my consciousness. I’m inexorably moving closer to my target, and finally, the ball is on the green.


Three-putting completed, we huddle together around the flag (misery loves company) and, because there’s no one behind us so we’re not holding anyone up, we try to remember our scores. With much scratching of heads, wild gesticulations and tut-tutting, everyone eventually agrees and remarks that, isn’t it great that really big scores get scaled back for handicapping purposes.


So, how do you play the Wainuiomata 5th? Well, in the above photos, I wasn’t changing my clothes between shots, in an attempt to fool the golfing gods as to who was playing. The photos are of two different golfers, and that’s the secret to playing this hole. You need all the help you can get, so play foursomes on this one.

If nothing else, at least you’ve got someone to blame.


Golf Carts – How Hard is it, to Tip them Over?

Today, when it was my turn to volunteer to look after the Otaki Golf Club office, I managed to research the above topic.
It had rained most of the morning so only eight brave souls ventured on to the course. Hence, I had lots of time, and 4 golf carts, to test my theory that golf carts are so stable that you can do wheelies in the car park, and take selfies at the same time.


While I managed to speed around the car park perfectly safely on 2 wheels, I think I need a little more practice at the selfies.