I arrived at Christchurch, New Zealand on the Monday prior to the event start date. It was a nice 12 hour flight from LAX to Auckland, New Zealand but other than the long flight, it was an easy travel day. I think it helps when you are looking forward to something! The event was at an amazing golf course and had some of the best weather ever. The golf course was north of the city where I also had the pleasure of staying with a wonderful host family.

Although I played some great golf, I had a few mistakes and missed the cut by 1. Definitely not the start on the LET I was hoping for, but I have to deal with it and move on. Since I didn’t play on Sunday due to the missed cut, I decided to explore the country. I took a drive up above Christchurch and ran along the ridgeline. There is something quite relaxing and rejuvenating about being in nature and going for a run somewhere you haven’t been before. I feel like this year I’m going to be able to “run around the world” because of all the places I get to travel to!

After my run, I headed to downtown Christchurch. In 2011, Christchurch was hit by 2 large earthquakes about 5 months apart, which caused a lot of damage to the city and surrounding area. The downtown area was almost leveled, thus a lot of buildings are being reinforced and rebuilt. There is a very cool area in the heart of the city where large containers have been transformed into stores and restaurants. I walked around for a couple hours, admired the construction, ate lunch and then decided it was time for some ice cream before heading back to the golf course. I was in line about to order when the ground became jello. The buildings were moaning and the people all around me started to yell as we all were tossed up and down for a few seconds. Then everything quieted down and the ground stopped shaking. We just felt an earthquake. Another girl, a fellow tourist, and I looked at each other in disbelief. Did I just fly all the way to Christchurch to feel my first earthquake? I guess so.

As I returned to my car, I passed a lot of people who were crying and waiting to head back into work. It was almost 5 years to the day that the big earthquake struck, killing and injuring hundreds of people. It was impressive to see how the residents responded to the quake. People evacuated, orderly and responsively. It was also quite eerie to be in the center of the city, where past devastation hit, as this earthquake was similar in force. This quake had a magnitude of 5.7 and the past earthquake of 2011 was a magnitude of 6.3. So needless to say it was a close one.

I made it back to the golf course in time to watch the world’s #1, Lydia Ko, claim the title of the New Zealand Women’s Open and donate all of her winnings to her home country of New Zealand. She is a class act and it was a pleasure to play with her in this beautiful country.

Now I’m in Brisbane, Australia hoping to play in the Australian Ladies Masters next week. I’m currently a couple spots down on the waiting list so all I can do is hope, but in the meantime I’ll be exploring the east coast of Australia and letting you know all about it in the next blog post!

Until next time,
  Emily Talley
  Napa native, pro golfer, world traveler, Bandit fan