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SATURDAY’S CHILD: Golfing griefs

Tony Deyal

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I LIVED on two golf courses and have never played golf. The only hole-in-one I have ever got is in my boxers even though I don’t box either.
I once worked for the Trinidad sugar company and lived in a house opposite the clubhouse and the first tee. What teed me off was that my house was a target for novice Japanese golfers who, perhaps all sushi chefs in their native country, sliced the ball, most often in the direction of my house. 
Even though the club chairman explained that they were not being malicious, those Japanese men were the most atrocious golfers I have ever seen. I swear I could see them scowl ferociously and say, “Banzai” every time they attacked the ball and hit it in my direction. 
It did not help that my son George was collecting the balls and attempting to sell them back to the players. What did not help also was that my family and I tried taking long walks on the course in the late evening. Men would wave sticks and clubs threateningly in our direction but we paid them no heed. 
Mark Twain once said that golf is a good walk spoiled and we did not want that to happen to us. What spoiled it for me even more was that the golfers all assembled at the pool, drinking after their game.
They called it the nineteenth hole and it seemed to be the only one that had no handicap except driving the car back home afterwards.
After leaving the sugar industry, I spent some time abroad where the only golf that I saw was on television, which wasn’t very often as I preferred any other game.
In those days I believed that anyone who could watch golf on television could just as easily watch grass grow or a snail run the Boston Marathon.
Then I returned to Trinidad to work in the oil company there and, as fate would have it, I found myself living next to a golf course where, in the due course, the prime minister of the time and his wife, indifferent golfers at best, narrowly missed my two children and new SUV at the same time. 
For most of the afternoon, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays, we either had to stay locked up inside the house or go to the mall until night fell. This did not endear me either to the game or to the players, particularly when I saw the collection of duffers who were convinced that the best way to a bartender’s heart was through the golf course.
I tended to agree with Winston Churchill when he quipped, “Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.” I generally add “and people, better equipped perhaps, but much less adept”.
I remember cracking up over a joke I heard then – malicious and politically incorrect but enough to make up for the taut nerves whenever the prime minister and his wife were on the green. 
The wife of a politician suffered a terrible bee sting and complained to her doctor about it. “What happened?” asked the doctor. 
“I got stung between the first and second hole,” replied the lady golfer. 
The doctor replied, “You must have an awfully wide stance!”
Then ther eis the one about an English teacher who was taking her first golfing lesson. 
“Is the word spelt p-u-t or p-u-t-t?” she asked the instructor. 
“P-u-t-t is correct,” he replied. “Put means to place a thing where you want it. Putt means merely a vain attempt to do the same thing.”
My friends have made many vain attempts to put me on a golf course. I have declined and in my declining years am even more reluctant to try golf.
I figure I would be like Bob Hope when he joked, “I went to play golf and tried to shoot my age but I shot my weight instead.”
Hank Aaron, who once held the record for home runs in baseball, stated, “It took me 17 years to get 3 000 hits in baseball. I did it in one afternoon on the golf course.”
Andrew Perry, the comic, joked that there are three roads to ruin – women, gambling, and golf. The most pleasant is with women, the quickest is with gambling, but the surest is with golf.
On Tuesday, I am going to attempt the road least travelled. I am going to golf.
ESPN, the global, mega-sport giant, has invited me to Montego Bay, Jamaica, for an Expanded Golf Invitational For 2010.
While watching Shaka Hislop play golf might be as exciting as watching Michael Jordan play baseball (something he attempted at one point without anything remotely resembling the same grace and brilliance that made him famous in basketball), my interest is less in the sportsmen and the sport than in ESPN itself.  
Even though I expect the golf and other activities to be truly enjoyable, I will derive my fun from finding out why ESPN has become interested in the Caribbean. ESPN already owns and recently carried the regional T20 cricket and the Champions League and clearly has plans for other sports. When I negotiated with other broadcasters for the Caribbean rights for events, they always bemoaned the minuscule market in the Caribbean. Yet ESPN is expanding here.
If there is method in the seeming madness I want to see and hear it.
If all else fails, I can resort to the fervent wish of comedian Jack Benny: “Give me golf clubs, fresh air and a beautiful partner, and you can keep the clubs and the fresh air.”
• Tony Deyal was last seen remembering Chris Rock’s observation: “The world is coming to an end. The world’s best golfer is black and the world’s best rapper is white.”