Tiger Woods, I am definitely not. If there is one thing that he and I have in common, is that we are both making a comeback to a sport we both love (and hate), GOLF.
My good friend Bambam got me into the sport waaay back in 1993 or 94. He had brought his golf clubs when he visited us here from the US. Along with Ricky and Janice, (who was just my girlfriend then), we would visit Power golf (now where Savemore Pasig is) and hit away. I still remember my first golf pro and lesson. His name was Vic Granada and he taught me the basics. It was 20 bucks a bucket and I think 150 bucks for the lesson. From there, even when Bambam left, I progressed to going on my own, or with Janice and my future brother in law Jude and hitting using borrowed golf clubs from Nelson R. I still remember my first game in a fairway. It was at Veterans, with Janno Gibbs (yes that janno Gibbs) and I started at the back nine, and got a triple bogey. I finished that day , shooting 32 over using borrowed clubs.
Soon after, I bought my own clubs, Macgregor Irons and my pride and joy,a Callaway Warbird Big Bertha Driver. the IN club of the day at that time. Shortly after that most of my friends were now into golf: Jay C., Desi, Al, Reggie, Oskie, Ricky,Nelson, Sid and the late Glen B. Boy Blue Ocampo, now a big shot at the APGA, became our “pro” and taught us the finer points of the sport. One of my friends Jimbo, a jungolfer was so happy we were playing a sport he loved. We would make the long trips to Canlubang Old course, Riviera and Orchard. We would play in Navy, Aguinaldo and in Capitol Hills (with Ariel Rivera no less) I would even play in Binictican in Subic with the Nolido boys. I was really hooked.
In fact, when it was time to “formally” ask for Janice’s hand in marriage from my dad in law, it was in a golf course in Valley Golf. Dad asked me to play with him. Of course I accepted his invite, but to be safe, hehe, I asked Al to accompany me, just in case Dad decided not to make me part of the family and leave me in the course.
When I got married in 1996, that was when golf was really hitting its peak. The rates in the golf courses were increasing and there was so much traffic in the golf courses. It was almost impossible to play during weekends. So my golfing was now limited to maybe once or twice every three months, until I eventually retired sometime in 2004. And prior to that, I was rarely playing anyway. I kept in touch with golf by watching it on tv and thru Al, who had now developed into a single handicapper, and even led his Riviera team to victory. Coincidentally, most of my friends, Jay, Desi and Reggie, also went into golf semi- retirement or stopped playing altogether.
Fast forward now to 2008. Again, and old friend from the US got me back to golf. Sid came home last year and invited the guys to play golf. Al and Reg (who had come out of semi-retirement) accepted and were telling me to go with them. I said, Ya sure why not. I went to our bodega and found my golf clubs. They literally had cobwebs, not dust, but cobwebs. I proceeded to the garden to start swinging. While swinging, the golf grips cracked and broke. Finally after a couple of swings, I gave up. No way, not unless I had actually practiced I said to myself. Plus I had no gloves, shoes and other golf paraphernalia. But even at the last minute, in the morning of the golf game, I was still actually contemplating on playing. But common sense got the better of me. “Pass na muna,” I texted to Al and Reggie,” But I will walk with you in the golf course at Valley, and take pictures.”
At Valley, in the last hole,some 140 yards away, Reg gave me his 5 iron and said, fire away. I looked down at the ball, checked my stance, knees bent, waggle, practice swing, aaaand then swiiiiiing and a miss. Ouch that hurt! I actually whiffed and missed the ball. Hehehe dyahi. “One more,” Reggie said, “Relax.” After a deep breath, waggle, slow back swing, POW!!!, Straight and true, over the green!!! Al, Sid and Reggie were clapping and cheering. Wow, Flashdance, what a feeling!
In the clubhouse after the game, Sid offered to sell his old Nike clubs to me, and I accepted the offer. Some 5 months later, the clubs finally arrived around December. I went to the range to try them out. I couldn’t believe how forgiving and light these new clubs are. I also amazed at how HUGE the clubheads of today’s drivers are. They made my old Big Bertha driver look like a 3 wood.
Finally, last week, I got to actually use them for the 1st time in a golf course, at the Baguio Country Club. It was going to be my first game in around 4 plus years,maybe more. I scored a 91, 30 strokes over. Not good, but considering the rust, and the extra pounds I had packed all these years, I was happy with the result. I even got 2 pars, but unfortunately some double pars as well. I teed off at 7am and played alone and relaxed. My caddy, Henry, was very supportive and kept giving very welcome advice. Playing in Baguio is very tiring. Up and down, hills here and there. The thin air didn’t help either. But undaunted, and happy with the result of Day 1, I made a reservation to play again the next day. Day 2 , this time I teed off earlier at 6:30am. Despite the thick fog and the cold, I proceeded to cut 5 strokes off my game from the previous day, spiked by a chip for par in one of the holes. Very much happy with this days’ result, I pushed the envelope and informed my caddy, that I would play again the next day. The 3rd day, I was literally the 1st person in the golf course. The starter and my caddy were not even there yet when I arrived. I teed off again at 6:30am and proceeded to cut another 5 strokes from my previous days score. Yahooo!!!! Sid, I love the clubs, thanks for selling them to me.
So now, I am back to playing a sport I once loved, and apparently still do. I used to slice all over the place earning the nickname ,”Mr. Slicerman” from a caddy in the old course. Now I actually pull my shots to the left more often than slicing. Hmm. I welcome anyone’s advice to cure this. So to my friends who are still in golf retirement, tara na. Come join us. 🙂
SIDE STORY: After my 1st day of golf, I played mini golf in John Hay, with Janice, the kiddos, and Jude. I shot 1 under. 🙂