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On the links. 9/8/2007

I played golf today. In a tournament for charity. It’s one of the hazards of my current position, coupled with the fact that no one else in the company plays golf. I find that strange, considering how much golf is ingrained into the corporate culture here, and how much business and information is traded on the course.

I started playing golf years ago, when it so happened that one of the clients of the company I was working for happened to be a golf course. I spent a lot of time in the place, and had the opportunity to pick the game up as it were. Things started getting serious for me in this game in about the mid to late 90s, where I was actually playing a fair amount of tournament golf, and was getting fairly good at it. But I gave it up as too much trouble for a while, because of the amount of time that it consumes, plus the fact that most golfers here just use it as an excuse to gamble. Here’s one thing you may not know about me. I never gamble for money. I’ve always felt if you want to gamble, wager something you cannot afford to lose, like your life.

So there I was, this morning, playing golf with a bunch of assorted strangers, most of whom were working with various councils and government departments. I was late out the door, and barely made my tee-off. I rushed into the golf club, screeched to a halt in the drop off area, and the caddies ran up to me, grabbing my golf bag out the back of the diesel, and hustling me to get registered and on the course.

They sent me out in a special buggy, straight to the tee-box, where my flight was waiting patiently for me. I ran out, holding my 3 wood, and shook hands with everyone, apologising profusely for being late. The other 3 in my flight teed up, and whacked off good shots. I teed up, took a practise swing, and promptly flubbed it, big time. I guess I was less prepared than I thought I was.

The other guys were using the latest equipment. Oversized drivers, funky leather bags, and all that nice stuff. I was using a 9 year old golf set, very scarred and battle worn, with lots of little things like customised grips and weighted shafts. This set served me well, years ago, allowing me to, at one point, drop my handicap into the single digits. Now, well, my flight buddies were kind enough to refrain from commenting on my equipment. Also on the fact that the soles of my shoes disintegrated halfway into the first nine.

This wasn’t looking very promising. I trudged through the misery of the first 4 holes, posting double bogeys and more. Then, suddenly, something of my old swing and form came back. I trounced the next few holes, and my flight mates started looking at me a little suspiciously. They were probably suspecting I was a buaya*. Which I never was. I would hustle in tournaments, certainly, because everyone else was doing so, and the level of competition was high. But in a friendly charity tournament? Not likely.

After 3 or 4 good holes, and my confidence returning, my game suddenly imploded. That’s the thing about playing golf. It has the ability to make the best player look like a fool. A topped shot, a drive landing in the water, a putt that rims out. All these and more make the game eminently frustrating, and supremely enjoyable. I have always favoured a direct approach to the game, relying on my skill, rather than my equipment. I have seen players with expensive custom fitted irons (mine are as well, although obsolete, but that’s a story for another time), the latest gear, training aids and so on, but they were no better players than I was, in terms of skill. I mean, my putter is close to 20 years old, and looks like something from the stone age, compared to putters these days, but I still favour it over anything made today. And believe you me, I have more putters sitting under the staircase than some of you have underwear.

My driver surprised me today. It was something that came with the set, a cheap aluminium thing with a carbon shaft. I never liked it, leaving it out of the bag in favour of something very expensive from Japan. I had sold that expensive driver some while back, so was forced to use this one. It had no feel, and I could never shape my shots with it, nor get any real distance to speak off. Until this morning that is. Somewhere in the back 9, I was driving that thing within about 5 meters or so of the modern high tech stuff the other guys in my flight were using. I think I’m going to keep this driver a while, and take it to the driving range, to find out what it can do.

I’m not going to post my score here. It’s too bloody embarrassing. Especially since I know that I could have done a whole lot better. So don’t even ask. We finished up, and headed to the locker room to shower and change. There was a lunch to attend after that. It was during lunch that I noticed something.

Golfers, as a whole, are not known for their sense of fashion. Ugly pants in vomit inducing patterns tends to rule the day. But during lunch I noticed that a large number of men were wearing what seems to the be latest thing for golfer shirts, presumably made popular by Tiger Woods. The thing is, someone should tell these guys that polo neck T’s are not very flattering¬† to balding men over 50 with pot bellies and saggy chests.

*Buaya - local slang term on golf courses for a hustler.  The other local definition for buaya is a skirt chaser.