I play golf. Think of this statement for a bit. I am stating a fact (no matter how limited my playing experience is). I am flirting with fiction (given how my playing style, which resembles actual golf in rare instances, is like billiards on grass most of the time). See, my golf game is somewhere between playing and participating. One means I actually need to follow the rules of the game. The other simply asks that I show up with a bag of metal clubs. So what I really do on the greens is "playticipate".
During the twilight zone between December 25 and January 1, I decided to play golf again. Thanks to the prodding of Dominic Uy. Due to the insistence of Sev Sarmenta. Based on the promise that Jason Webb and I will look like fools on the fairway. Two broadcasters and two former basketball players hauled their clubs and fragile golf egos to Valley Golf for a day of sub-standard play and, given the amount of grass we were bound to dig up, part-time garden landscaping.
How long have I been out of the game? The last time I played, Fred Couples was still in the regular PGA Tour. He's in the Senior PGA Tour now. Years removed from golf, I was back, slapping away second-hand golf balls just like a first-timer. Philosophically speaking, anyone who plays golf knows we're all, essentially, first-timers all the time.
Through the expected cavalcade of shanks, hooks, slices, miscalculated putts and poorly-constructed back-swings, I managed to survive the day without hitting anyone. It's a good thing Jason and his caddy knew how to avoid golf balls zipping just three feet off the ground at warp speed. Hehe sorry guys.
But it wasn't all follies on the fairway. Out of a thousand bad swings, I did hit a couple of good ones -- like my straight-away tee-shot on the par-3 6th, a 7-iron beauty which rainbowed straight on the green, safely over the water, safely into, unbelievably, birdie territory. I missed the birdie putt. But I saved par. A legit par. A heavenly moment.
Then, of course, it was back to golfing hell the rest of the way.
But I had three other sports broadcasters, who were in similar pitch-and-putt quagmires, to keep me company. In golf, misery is making quintuple bogey in silence. Having someone to laugh about it before, during and after makes all the difference.
In the flight behind us, Atoy Co fired zingers off the tee like he was launching fastbreak three-pointers in the PBA. Since our group played at an EDSA bumper-to-bumper-traffic pace, we allowed Atoy's group to overtake. He's still trim. He's still an athlete trying to win in a different sport. He's still sharp-witted. "Ano ba naman yan," Atoy, gyrating his hips to illustrate his point, mused. "Eto problema ng swing ko, hanggang ngayon, fu-me-fade-away pa rin ako!"
And we all laughed. It was the best thing to do. Dominic could've sulked because sayang naman porma niya (he had the latest clubs the nicest hair color). Sev could've brooded because his pitching game abandoned him right before he entered Valley Golf. Jason could've pouted because ex-PBA players never want to lose. I could've thrown my sand wedge into the lake (kaya lang hindi akin yun, pinahiram lang sa akin ng tatay ko -- if I threw it away, ako naman ang itatapon niya sa jabong). So why further ruin an already hopelessly ruined weekday morning?
Even for just one day, I was back in golf's torturous embrace. Darnit Dominic, this is your fault. And because golf is such a humbling game, long-established as human race's best-sustained athletic agony, a person's golf ego is never bruised. It only foolishly believes it can do better the next time around. MH