There’s golf and then there’s tournament golf, and neither one resembles the other. Bobby Jones.
I grew up admiring sportsmen and women across all diversities. In fact I come from a sporty family where we all participated in games like basketball, table tennis, badminton, football and running. My high school days had me booked for basketball and table tennis tournaments but the narrative changed while in University after I met boujee ass teams that had so much drama; Hit the Floor kind of drama. Instead I opted to join other grownups clubs. Last year I took up swimming for emergency preparedness because the thought of drowning was unthinkable.
Never in my life did I ever see myself on a golf course. How on earth was I going to fork out Ksh 100,000 for membership fee plus the notion that golf was a ‘rich man’s’ sport was gravely inscribed on my mind. It is everybody’s game! However, at the beginning of the year I challenged myself to do things that everyone thought were way beyond their league. If I don’t do it, who will? It’s all in the mind.So when high school alumni golf day presented itself I knew this was it. Time to learn golf. Time to not just watch Tiger Woods tournaments and clap for God knows what. The heavy downpour on Saturday morning had me change my attire twice. “Should I, shouldn’t I” song played itself so many times that I wished the cancellation call would come through. But it didn’t. My Alma mater had those keen in learning the sport too and that was how we found ourselves walking around the course following our team. The tee off time was eleven but we got at the Thika Greens Golf Resort at eleven thirty. It was time to bring the Google School into practice. Yes, I had been getting acquainted.
What did I learn?
- Know why you want to play. For some it is leisure, competitions, networking etcetera.
- Have the right golf attire.
- Golf is more mental.
- This is the only sport where you can get friends in high places. If you know, you know.
- You don’t need to be a member of a certain golf club to play. Don’t stress about the membership fee. Just go and play.
- Take lessons from a PGA professional. That said got the opportunity to interact with Thuo and Kopan who train beginners. If the odds are against my favor, I booked myself for a class on 18th January 2020.
- Thika Greens golf course is the toughest of all according to players. If you can play in this one, you good to play at any course.
- Start on a par 3 or executive course before you try an 18 hole championship. Plus a beginner’s course is flat, short and doesn’t have forced carriers. Forced carriers are like tall grasses.
- The menus at the resorts are affordable. If you are not a player, just take your family or friends for an outing at a golf resort. Had cappuccino Ksh 250, Samosa Ksh 100, fries Ksh 200, beetroot juice (can’t recall). You will need a guest card though that is gotten and topped up at the reception.
- It will take you 4-6 hours to play a full course. More of climbing a mountain. Be physically fit.
- When they say 19th hole just know there is no 19th hole but that is the bar. That is where the game ends. Drink, eat, laugh it off, network and learn more.
- Sunday bags are heavy! If you don’t intend on hiring a Caddie kindly eat. A caddy is someone who carries a player’s bag and clubs. And to those who cry of unemployment you don’t need a qualification to be a caddie. Just show up to a golf course near you, say you want to become a caddie, get trained, have the spirit of learning all about the game and you might be earning thousands. Be ready to clean a ball or club after every swing.
- Clubs vary. The driver is the longest and mostly used to tee off. Putter, pitching wedge, sand wedge (has S on the sole), fairway wood, 6 iron, 8 iron are some of the others. The more the loft the better and carry as many as 14 clubs in your Sunday bag.
- Buy balls on a sliding scale based on how many you lose in a round. There were moments the balls fell into the bushes and seasonal rivers. A player had to declare it lost and that followed a penalty.
- You only search for a lost ball for five minutes. The other players join in searching for the ball and I was amazed by the team work.
- There are spots marked yellow, blue and red. Meaning when teeing off across rivers, bushes to get to green, pros hit at the blue, ladies at the red and amateurs at the yellow. I stand to be corrected here.
- Nearest to the pin and longest drive are posts worth seeing. Nearest to the pin means one who hit closest to the flagstick while the longest means one who hits furthest. There is always a price for both.
- If you are not a player you don’t step on the green. The green is where you find the flagstick. Where players hole in or simply “score.”
- Don’t go standing everywhere. Some players don’t like people standing behind them or to the side as that distracts them. Thumb rule is to stand to the side and slightly behind the ball several yards away.
- Golf is a quiet game. Forget the cheering in other sports. Here you zip it.
- Each hole is assigned a par. Example par 2, par 3, par 4. This means the number of times you should hit the ball to get into the hole.
- Just like swimming where the pool is cleaned, maintaining a golf course is of importance. If a piece of turf when hitting a shot comes out, you should replace it by carefully placing it in the spot and firmly pressing it down with your foot. Also rake the bunker after hitting out the sand.
- It is very easy to get hit by the ball. I would watch as caddies duck when the team behind us was quickly catching up. Then someone shouted fore while raising their arm. Fore means watching out. Used when golfers hit shots astray that might come close up to another person on the golf course.
- When in a championship and team’s passes your team twice, your team is disqualified. Keeping up the pace is crucial.
- There is a break. And in this break you have to eat or drink fast as when the play resumes and you are not at your spot, it is easy to get disqualified.
- At the green I noticed players taking their balls and placing a coin. This is in order to allow another player to hole in. Most players had coins resembling a lapel that had their names customized on them.
- Then there is HANDICAP. Feared by most players this is like a yellow or red card in golf. It means you have not been playing well and you can’t play. Determined by the number of scores.
- Lastly, ladies are lacking in the sport and it is a worrying factor. Where you at? We can do this!
That said wish me luck come January. You might be seeing me in competitions soon. Watch out for this