Friday, February 4, 2011

A Clean Miss - I have started GOLF

I consulted the Bangalore press almanac and 28th January turned out be a very auspicious day to start any new venture. So I started learning golf from that day. Lot of planning and preparations had to be done. The first thing was to forget my previous attempt at golfing. In 1998, I went and bought a second hand half set and became a member in ASC Golf Course. I also bought a pair of new shoes, shorts, cap and few shirts to go along. Hired a coach and said to myself ‘boy bring on Tiger Woods’. Two months into practice, I had to go to sea and that was the end of Attempt No One. I gave the set to my nephew ‘Vishu’, who is now a good golfer. That was about the only good thing to have happened in that episode.

The problem is, all my friends are avid golfers and one is a confirmed addict. The conversation during get-togethers and parties invariably revolves around golf. They would introduce me as “meet pubs he does not play golf”; hello brother not playing golf is not a crime, I would say it myself softly. At times, the conversation, jokes and anecdotes used to literally fly over my head like a ‘High Ball’. Even the ‘Golf Widows’ would condescendingly say “don’t worry pubs this is all golf talk”. I was missing out on a lot of things. I said ‘enough is enough’ and decided to take the ball by the club. Only this time my dear friend Prassu gave me his old set and encouraged me to egg on or tee off or whatever. That’s how I landed up in ASC once again and handed over my application for club membership.

Rakesh my coach had a bag full on new balls ready and the battle commenced with all the trimmings. Eyes on the ball, aiming, interlocking grip, distance between the legs, swing, shoulder, follow through, concentration and a dozen other instructions from the coach kept me busy for the next one hour. One quickly learns that, to remember all the points is very difficult and mistakes happen by the dozen . I consoled myself - after all I am a human being – even Tiger Woods made a mistake – so what it was after playing 18 holes. The ball never goes where you want – I suspect, it has a mind of its own. Just when you think you have got the knack of hitting – the club slices a patch of green and misses the ball completely. In spite of all the shortcomings, I finished ‘day one’ with my enthusiasm and resolve intact. I lost 9 new balls and set a record of sorts.

One thing you notice early in golf is that the old timers feel extremely happy and elated to meet a rookie. I suspect that their position becomes secure, seeing somebody struggling and reminding them of their own shaky days. All of sudden they become jovial and vocal– full of advice, encouragement and offer of help. “Hey Pubs what are you doing here” – come on dash it nobody goes to ASC golf course for vegetable shopping or just to meet friends – someone adds “he never misses anything free, I am sure he is here to have free lime juice” and so on. These jibes are to make you feel at ease and join the gang. When I mentioned that I bought 50 balls – almost everyone said “you should have told me – I would have given a bag full of old balls” – this is all “cock and ball” story. Each pro has a different story to tell how he started off. Some learnt golfing in their mother womb and the remaining were happily teeing off within a few days. Somehow I do not get to hear the struggle in the learning days which are full of frustration, disappointment, anger, elation, ecstasy and feeling of helplessness which accompanies a rookie.

As I get into my 2nd week of golf practice, the peripheral rewards of golf are already noticeable – soaking in lots of vitamin D, lung full of fresh air, exercising the mind, body and soul, sipping tea and chit chatting with friends – three hours well spent. I have bought a lot of cheer to the caddies and the coach. Apart from the caddies who constantly lose balls and later on retrieve them, the coach who prolongs his lessons, the LOH is also very happy that I have started golf.

When I get to the core of golf, I will post again, until then wish me luck.

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