My Love Affair With Golf
I became a member on HubPages to be automatically informed of any new hub posted by a friend who dishes out some of the most readable prose. She and a few other good friends have been pestering me to write. I am prepared to amuse them in many other ways but they insist on getting their kicks from shaming me publicly in my writing. Just verbal digs and jabs in private won’t do for them. My protestation about not being able to write to save my life has cut no ice. They want something written in indelible ink, so that it - and comments on it - remains on record!
Women always have the last word. So I have given up, given in and resigned myself to a dubious fate. And what will I write about? What else can any golfer write about, but the game he so loves? This piece is on how my love affair began.
To its addicts, golf is a fascinating and addicting game. As Marilyn Quayle, wife of then Vice President of USA said of her husband, “Dan would rather play golf than have sex any day.” I have been fortunate – no one has ever made such a complaint about me.
Yet I hate to confess that, as a young man, I had not thought much of the game and its practitioners in general. It appeared to be a waste of time and gave its players little or no exercise. Only old fogies could be seen strolling and socializing around the course; they certainly did not seem to be indulging in anything sporty. Sport meant football, basketball or squash. At most, for the sake of older colleagues or lady friends, one could sometimes take a dip into a swimming pool, venture onto a badminton court or stand at the end of a table tennis table. But I would stoop no lower, certainly not to ambling aimlessly on a golf course. After all, a young man needed to exercise and sweat it out in a competitively aggressive manner, rubbing and bruising elbows, shoulders and knees with his buddies.
It was only at age 43, when I was commanding a regiment in Jammu that I was drawn by the pristine charm of a lovely course nearby. It was beautifully laid out along the banks of the clear blue River Tawi, speckled with little hillocks and dunes which were interspersed with stretches of parkland. There were even patches of forest with thick undercover from which one could hear partridges and peacocks calling. That was not all: The staff at the club house was aware that the Captain of the Course was a dear friend. Hence sumptuous English breakfast, tankards of chilled beer, or a proper evening tea (complete with tea cozy, tray cover and choicest muffins), depending on the time of day, was always assured.
Put any self respecting man in such a setting, give him a long stick in his hand and place a ball in front of him. Dang if he doesn’t swing that stick in a manner meant to send the ball flying through the air into the distant horizon! That is how I was enticed into taking my first golf swing.
But the ball was obviously not much impressed: It had a mind of its own. It traveled all of two feet and lay there, still on the tee box, making a mocking face at me.
Martial blood runs in my veins. I concede that some scholars say that the so called pure Punjabi martial blood is actually that of some warring tribes local to the area, blended with generous contributions from the invading armies of Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great. I won’t quibble on the detail with learned historians, but only submit that if foreign blood has been introduced, it is from stock renowned for its fighting prowess, and hence martial it remains, even if not very pure. So there should be no doubt of the ingrained fighting spirit or never-say-die attitude.
You can imagine my feelings about this little white ball smirking at the warrior in me and taunting me to try giving it another whack. I did ... and dug up a foot of earth behind the ball. That silly tease remained unmoved, exactly at the spot from where it had been giving me that smug smile. But at least the grin had been wiped off its face by a shower of uprooted grass and churned earth. So there!
I threw the club aside and headed towards the bar. From behind the shaded glass panes I saw two young lady officers teeing off from another tee box. It was the prettiest of sights. Both their shots rose gracefully onto the air, carried a fair distance and landed softly on the fairway ahead. Then and there, I resolved that I was getting back to the course the very next day after some night practice in my backyard!
Thus began my love affair with the game so famously described by Winston Churchill as one whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.
A dear friend has recently explained how, for any relationship to grow, it has to be challenged along the way. My tryst with golf has been like that: Challenged! It seems unfair at times, or at too many times. But the love of it again gets me back to the course the next day.
Arnold Daly has described it so well: “Golf is like a love affair: If you don’t take it seriously, it’s no fun. If you do take it seriously, it breaks your heart.”