Cameron McMillan takes a trip to Melbourne to watch golf greats, and battle the Ozzie flies
I am metres away from my favourite golfer, Rickie Fowler, and he's about to let rip.
I have to shoulder my way into position behind the tee box to see the young star of the PGA with driver in hand. But I'm in the perfect spot to lift up my phone and quietly record a video of this shot.
Phone on silent? Check. (No way am I going to commit the cardinal sin of disrupting a professional golfer in action. Rookie error!) Phone on airplane mode in case of an incoming call? Double check.
I'm ready to push record.
Then — as Fowler's swing nears the top of its arc — a fly lands on the corner of my mouth. I flap the thing away, struggling to suppress a reflex cough. Somehow, as the young American delivers a satisfying thwack to the ball, I manage to regain my composure.
When it comes to seeing the best golfers in the world, you don't have to travel to Augusta, Georgia, or St Andrews in Scotland. Australia attracts many of the biggest names.
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth all played across the Ditch in recent times, along with local favourites Jason Day and Adam Scott.
British Open champion Spieth is returning for the Australian Open in Sydney in November, a tournament he won twice in the last three years.
That's what was so appealing about attending the World Cup of Golf at Melbourne's Kingston Heath. Seeing some big names in the sport, up close and at such a prestigious course — something Melbourne certainly doesn't lack.
The sandbelt region in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne has 24 golf courses. Royal Melbourne and Kingston Heath regularly make lists of the top courses in the world.
If you have your clubs with you it's also worthwhile making the drive to the Mornington Peninsula, about an hour south of Melbourne's CBD. A further 20 courses are on offer, with a huge variety to play.
The first thing you notice about Kingston Heath, which has been at this spot since 1926, is that its large fairways are in immaculate condition.
I'd hazard a guess it always looks like this and they haven't spruced it up for the four days of the tournament.
They can remove all the weeds, replace all the divots and rake all the bunkers but they can't control the pesky Melbourne fly. And the flies are easily outnumbering the patrons on a humid day.
Attending a golf tournament is not too different to going to a music festival.
You need to have good shoes, prepare yourself for all weather and plan your schedule carefully so you see all the best performers. You always need to keep a tee-time list handy as you plan your day.
Then again you want to see as much of the course as possible instead of being trapped in a four-hole loop.
I want to see Fowler and US teammate Jimmy Walker in action and I'm also keen to follow the Kiwi pairing of Ryan Fox and Danny Lee.
The World Cup of Golf is a different format to the usual golf tournament.
It's a team event and each country is represented by two players. Playing for their countries seems to bring out the golfers' relaxed sides, with a lot of fist-pumping and back-slapping after each made birdie.
It seems even more relaxed when I arrive, as the Danish team of Soren Kjeldsen and Thorbjorn Olesen, the eventual winners, hold on to a large lead after the opening two days.
Golf spectators, like tennis fans, are a respectful bunch. They know their place — they can be heard, but only to praise the players. Any other time it's hush hush.
But it doesn't matter how big the gallery is — you can time your run, walk a hole ahead and find yourself prime watching spots.
It's amazing how close you get to these sportspeople you see on the TV week-in, week-out. One member of the gallery even gets a fist-bump from Lee as he walks to one tee.
What I really want to see is a hole-in-one — I've never witnessed one. I get in a good position near the 15th green, regarded by Adam Scott as one of the best par threes in golf.
The green is surrounded by steep bunkers and players have been known to putt past the hole and right into the sand. That would be equally fun to see.
No players have that misfortune, however, and unfortunately for me no one sinks an ace.
I blame the flies.
flies from Auckland to Melbourne.
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