By Tony Deyal
Many years ago, I saw the former Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) prime minister (PM), Basdeo Panday, with his wife on the fairway of the golf course on which I lived (Petrotrin Oil Company, Trinidad). I knew that even though they were a fair way away from me, I should hide my children and watch out. Because they were, at best, indifferent golfers, and normally I am totally indifferent to golf, I knew I could not be indifferent to their being close to my house. I stood in my yard expecting the worst. It nearly happened.
It took a lot of balls but they finally missed my two children and new SUV (Sports Utility Vehicle) by inches. A neighbour who had seen what happened told me a golf joke to cheer me up. 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!” I suppose that while the highwaymen of old demanded your money by pointing a single-barrel gun at you and saying, “Stand and deliver”, today’s freeway men go with clubs and tell you flat, “Stance and deliver.”
What I find interesting is the language of golf. While I think of an “Albatross” as a bird linked to everlasting love, or as the bird in Samuel Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, in golf it is a score given for a hole that has been completed three strokes under par, (and that is not what you call your father or older friend) but is sometimes known as a “double eagle.” “Birdie” is also another name for the great calypsonian “The Mighty Sparrow” who, fortunately, is not a golfer otherwise his favourite music would be swing. More interesting, especially for those of us who try to understand the game and its possibilities, golf has “pitch”, “putt”, “sand wedge” and, even more interesting to many Caribbean folks, “rough”, “sweet spot” and “wood”.
Perhaps because of these last three “languages” comedian and actor, Andrew Perry (a.k.a. Stepin Fetchit), 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.
Of course, there are people who eschew gambling and find pleasure and sport in a combination of golf and women. In fact, some find similarities in dealing with them simultaneously. One even got lucky in more ways than one. Frank, a golfer, always looked on the bright side. He would constantly irritate his friends with his eternal optimism. No matter how horrible the circumstance, if he missed a put or ended in the river, he would always reply, “Well, it could have been worse.” To cure him of his annoying habit, his friends decided to invent a situation so completely bad, so terrible, that even Frank could find no hope in it.
On the golf course one day, one of them said, “Frank, did you hear about Tom? He came home last night, found his wife in bed with another man, shot them both and then turned the gun on himself!” “That’s awful, said Frank, “But it could have been worse.” “How in hell,” asked his bewildered friend, “could it have been worse?” “Well,” replied Frank, “if it had happened the night before, I’d be dead now!”
Fortunately, one of the politicians in the region is not only a golfer but a very good speaker. In addition to being able to joke about the link between golf and women, as prime minister, he continues to be at the top of the heap. He told the T&T parliament in 2018 (five years ago), “… a golf course is like a woman, you have to groom her every day otherwise it turns into a pasture.” He was heavily criticised for that but demonstrated that he had a lot of balls to stick with it.
Even more than the Best Man who gave this speech at a wedding, “Like all best mates, Paul and I often talked about the type of girl we’d like to marry. I remember Paul had two very important criteria. The first being, she would have to tolerate his golf obsession – which is fair enough, Paul loves golf. He sleeps, eats and breathes golf. The second being, she wouldn’t be a hooker – which if you ask me, is being a little fussy. I’ve been out with plenty of hookers and it’s not a problem. You take their wrists, get them to hold their left hand just a little higher than the right, with their thumb down here… it doesn’t take long to sort out.”
It might even sort itself out. Two golfers were having an awfully slow round of golf because the two ladies in front of them managed to get into every sand trap, lake, and rough on the course. They didn’t bother to wave the men on through, which is proper golf etiquette. After two hours of waiting and waiting, one man said, “I think I’ll walk up there and ask those gals to let us play through.” He walked out of the fairway, got halfway to the ladies, stopped, turned around, and came back, explaining, “I can’t do it. One of those women is my wife and the other is my mistress! Maybe you’d better go talk to them.” The second man walked toward the ladies, got halfway there and, just as his partner had done, stopped, turned around and walked back and said: “small world.”
Fortunately for golfers and their clubs, what they play with and where they drink, an international team of researchers from the University of Eastern Finland found that playing a single 18-hole round of golf may significantly improve immediate cognitive function in older individuals. Some of them knew that long before the University found out. A rich old man went for his regular round of golf with his friends but this time he brought along a gorgeous young lady. Full of pride he introduced them to his new fiancée. For the rest of the afternoon, his friends can’t take their eyes off the stunning beauty.
After the round of golf, the rich man took his friend to the bar to celebrate. One of his friends asked him, “How on earth did you manage to hook up with such a beautiful young lady? You’re seventy. She must be at least forty years younger than you!” The old rich guy said, “I lied about my age.” His friend asked, “And she believed you? How old did you say you were?” “I told her I was 90.”
* Tony Deyal was last seen remembering Chris Rock’s observation in the days when Tiger Woods was king, “The world’s coming to an end. The world’s best golfer is black and the world’s best rapper is white.”