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Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

Close, But No Cigar

Oscar Foulkes November 26, 2011 Uncategorized No comments

Devonvale golf courseIn the movie Up in the Air, George Clooney plays a permanently itinerant executive who is working towards his über-platinum frequent flier status, by reaching one million miles.

It’s a bittersweet reward, because that much travelling means that he’s never at home. And, of course, it means that he is single, which is central to the plot of the movie. Spending this much time travelling has turned him into something of a ninja in the way he packs, negotiates airports, handles hotel check-ins and more.

In my time with Cloof I spent seven years flying in excess of 100 000 miles per annum. It doesn’t put me into quite the same league, but I can completely relate to the travel ninja side of things.

I missed achieving Platinum status on SAA Voyager by less than 5000 miles four years running, and then made it for my final two years. If all I’d done was jump on a plane to just about anywhere in each of those first four years I’d have made Lifetime Platinum. But, I wasn’t going to spend either company – or my own – money on a frivolous trip, so I missed achieving that coveted status.

Thanks to all this flying, I was invited to play in the SAA Voyager golf day at Devonvale this week. I suspected there would be some decent prizes on offer, and wasn’t disappointed when we reached the first par three, the fifth hole. On offer, for nearest the pin, was a prize of 48000 miles, enough for an upgrade to business class, or almost enough for an economy return to Europe.

I’ve seldom swung a six iron better, and the ball flew true and straight. It was going straight for the flag. I felt more than a flutter of excitement – with a good seasoning of anticipation – as I watched the ball descend. The ball, in golfer’s parlance, was “all over the hole”. The ball did, indeed, land on the green, but then kept rolling to just off it. Damn that intermediate distance (155m) with a little wind from behind! The same strike with a seven iron would have put me onto an airplane.

golfoutletsusa.comThe prize for the longest drive, on the tenth, was two economy tickets anywhere in South Africa. Because of the hill I couldn’t see where my drive ended, but I knew it was pretty good. Whatever flutters of excitement I felt when watching my lofted shot at the par three were magnified when we crested the hill; my ball was a good 50 metres beyond the board’s current position. I wrote my name onto the board with firm strokes. Man, it felt good!

With just two groups behind us I felt quietly confident that I would, now, be preparing to fly somewhere for free. But, no, as we teed off on the next hole I looked back, and saw a brilliantly white ball roll past my marker.

Our four-ball finished four strokes behind the winning team, which seemed agonisingly close. We immediately started counting up all the missed putts, or putts that did everything but go into the hole.

Those were the biggest prizes I’ve ever swung a golf club for, and they were so nearly mine. But, like those four years of narrowly missed Platinum, it’s a simple, black-and-white matter of yes or no.

A miss, as they say, is as good as a mile.

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