Pebble In My Boot

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Sam von Maltitz

All my life I have wanted to play golf. Unfortunately, for various reasons, I have never been able to. The most important reason was, being a journalist, I had no time. The profession being what it is, time could not be set aside like a doctor, a pharmacist or lawyer does: Wednesday afternoons or Saturday mornings, as a rule, and sometimes another weekday afternoon as well, as a bonus.

As we all know, news does not let itself be regulated, so we never had any guaranteed time-off for pastimes like golf.

Over the last few weeks our younger golfers have been playing superbly on the international circuit, and on Saturday Branden Grace clinched his third victory this year by winning the China open in Shanghai. I watched this, as I watch other tournaments, in amazement at the skill of the top players when they hit that little white ball with such precision over great distances, and when they putt with amazing accuracy on the greens. I become intensely jealous and irritated when I listen to a conversation by keen golfers, and realise that I am missing something worthwhile in life by never having played and not knowing the finer points of the game. I then console myself by reading good golfing jokes or anecdotes. Like the following one:

Stevie Wonder and Tiger Woods are in a bar. Woods turns to Wonder and says: “How’s the singing career going?” Wonder replies: “Not too bad. How’s the golf?” Woods answers: “Not too bad, I’ve had some problems with my swing, but I think I’ve got that right now.” Stevie Wonder says: “I always find that when my swing goes wrong, I need to stop playing for a while and not think about it. Then next time I play, it seems to be all right.”

Tiger Woods: “You play golf?” Stevie Wonder: “Oh yes, I have been playing for years.” “But you are blind. How can you play when you are blind?”

Wonder explains: “I get my caddy to stand in the middle of the fairway and call to me. I listen for the sound of his voice, and play the ball towards him. Then, when I get to where the ball lands, the caddy moves to the green or farther down the fairway, and again I play the ball towards his voice.”

“How do you putt?” asks Woods. “I get my caddie to lean down in front of the hole, and call to me with his head on the ground and I just play towards his voice.” “Your handicap?” “I am a scratch golfer.”

Incredulous, Woods says, “Stevie, we have to play a round sometime.” “Fine,” says Wonder, “but because people don’t take me seriously, I play for money, and not less than $10 000 a hole.”

“I’m game. When can we play?” asks Woods. Stevie: “Pick a night.”



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