Pratik Basu is a prolific and published author who has worn several caps; cook, housekeeper, animal lover, cigar afficionado and most recently, CEO Buena Vista Television and FTV
Golf and I
One major disadvantage of being a gentleman of leisure – which is a more dignified way of saying “unemployed” or “prematurely retired” – is that when you are spotted walking your dogs every morning at the sporting Club that you’ve been a longstanding member of, idle minds construe, as idle minds are prone to, that if there is someone still sprightly enough, despite physical evidence to the contrary, to keep two Beagles with minds of their own
and wild adventure in their hearts, in reasonable check, then here is someone supremely qualified to take up Golf (capital G intended).
As any casual reader might have culled from the preceding paragraph, I’ve never been an advocate, enthusiastic or otherwise, of a game that requires one, time after time, to hit a ball and amble after it, over down, dale, sand-trap and the occasional pond, till, after several false starts, a final premeditated and painstakingly executed nudge takes it into a hole that even Alice would not have ventured into despite the promise of Wonderland.
But, all that was before the keen eye of a predatory pro spotted me religiously walking my dogs and his idle mind,
being the devil’s workshop that it was, manufactured a vision of me in Adidas polo-T, Blackberry khakis (since
tweed plus-fours mightn’t have quite cut it in Kolkata’s balmy weather), Nike Swoosh golf hat and Reebok spikeless golfing shoes, happily swinging a Callaway Big Bertha and sending little white balls skittering to where the sky met the horizon, an image that must have been more seductive to me than it was to the person who conjured it because, breaking down the hard-shell, crustacean resistance of decades, it took me to my Club’s state-of-the-art driving range last weekend.
The stray wisp or two of black feather that you might now see around my lips is me eating humble crow as I take back every pompous, supercilious and derogatory remark that I might have made about golf, including quotations that my superior and, possibly, malevolent attitude towards the game and its avid practitioners made me particularly partial to, like “Golf is popular simply because it is the best game in the world at which to be bad.”
This unconditional retraction comes after one – note, just one 50-minute session at the driving range under the
surprisingly patient tutelage of a pro who, as he saw a ball stutter drunkenly off the tee and die ingloriously at his feet, or disappear into areas uncharted and quite unintended, or remain resolutely standing, untouched and unharmed, even after several vigorous swipes of a wildly wielded No. 6, must have begun to question the sanity of his having persuaded me to take up the game when his every professional instinct, if he’d bothered to pay greater heed to it, might have been telling him not to.
Now that I come to think of it, he probably wanted me to keep my head down and my eyes on the ball only so that
I wouldn’t see him rolling with uncontrolled laughter at my uncoordinated bodily contortions or, alternately, weeping with frustration at my inability to understand and execute a basic golfing premise – that the ball is there to be hit, not air-kissed, air-brushed or just plain ignored.
After this first session, I’m beginning to think that P.G. Wodehouse was probably right when he wrote: “Golf, like
the measles, should be caught young, for, if postponed to riper years, the results can be quite serious.”
But, then, if I allow my pessimism to slip momentarily, I realize that there might be some advantage in starting late
after all. At least, I won’t ever get to feel like the gentleman who said: “Golf is a fascinating game; it has taken me forty years to discover I can’t play it.” So, onwards to Session 2.