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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An Afternoon on the Golf Course, Tuedsay, 11/11/08

Lying literally in the shadow of the Giza pyramids is the Mena House resort hotel. Now a part of the Oberoi chain, this hotel has long been a stop for diplomats, dignitaries and the elite when then they visit Egypt. Built by the British in 1869, the Mena House naturally had a golf course on the grounds. The setting and the age of the course result in its inclusion in many lists of “courses to play...” It has been on my list for several years, I just hadn't gotten to it.

Terry and I headed over the the Mena House around noon on Tuesday. We hailed a taxi in front of the apartment after a few minutes wait. The taxi was already occupied by a woman returning home from a shopping trip, but the driver was flexible. The driver found our destination compatible. Fortunately the woman didn't mind and so she shifted to the front seat and we piled into the back.

Outside of the weekend (Friday and Saturday) tee times are easily available. We sign up for 9 holes, rental clubs, five balls apiece and two caddies.

For many American golfers, playing with a caddy is a new experience. Ours are good. After the first hole, they know the right club to hand each of us. Their greatest value is knowledge of the greens. “Right here” says Mohammad, pointing with the flag stick about six inches to the left of the hole. Needless to say, before we finish, I know the names and ages of Mohammad's children and that his only income is entirely from tips – no salary!

The course is short – only 5315 yards. It is laid out along nine fairways that lead to eighteen widely separate greens. Here you see me on the first tee:

And here is Terry sinking a long putt on the fourth green:

There is only natural irrigation on the course with the water coming via ditches that line the fairways. Palms and long grass form the rough. As you can imagine, the course is very flat. Our caddies have no problem finding the balls.

We were fortunate to play the course on this trip since it is being closed in January for major remodeling. It will be replaced by a modern irrigated course with some elevation on it. There are several other courses in Egypt, all modern. It will be a shame to see this old classic fade away.

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