OPINION: I have been away for two weeks, billeted with a couple of Aussies for the last couple of events, and it has been awesome to make some new mates.
It's good to have some golfing contacts around Aussie as I am sure I will be over there playing events in the future.
Last week I stayed with fantasic hosts. They were great people and even came out to caddie and support me for the week.
My first tournament at Sahalee was a real test of golf, easily the tightest course I have played.
It demanded such precision off the tee and into greens that were small, with very steep slopes - which made it a great short-game challenge, too.
My play from off the tee was not up to standard but my putting was outstanding and my short game was solid.
My wedge game is great, at the moment, and my irons just got better throughout the week.
I was happy with my improvement throughout the week and, despite not contending on the leaderboard, I still took away some confidence from this event.
Last week was the Players Amateur - an amazing event that is invitation-only (no entry fee), private housing and three meals a day supplied at the clubhouse.
The course seemed wide open coming from Sahalee, but one of the things Alan Rose and I talked about was getting into playing mode and being definite about targets and lines.
The course was heavily bunkered and tree-lined but the real course defence was the Bermuda rough - hard to describe unless you've played on it before. It's only a couple of inches thick but very rarely does a shot from the rough go its normal yardage.
The strong grain on the greens needed to be considered as it can take the ball to funny places.
In my rounds, I shot 73, 74, 70, 76 for T40th place.
After the first round I was happy with one over par.
I felt it was a manageable golf course and most other players were saying how tough they found it.
In rounds two and three, I really thought I was going to start going low, but just couldn't seal the deal, which was disappointing.
In round four, some rough weather hit, which just made scoring across the field a little higher.
This week I am in Tennessee for the Southern Amateur.
For this event, there are seven of us all staying at the same place, because billets weren't an option for the week.
Last night we all went into a supermarket and, when we came out 15 minutes later, everywhere around us was black, with lightning going mental. We sprinted back to our accommodation, which was only 600m away, but over a six-lane highway.
I tell you - my heart was pounding over that 600m.
- Gore Golf Club member Vaughan McCall is one of New Zealand's leading amateur players and a regular contributor to The Southland Times.
- The Southland Times