By Danny Silbor, BCBP Makati
In a rather unscheduled California vacation, some life changing events hit me when I tried my first mediocre golf game in the USA. High school classmates in San Diego and Los Angeles got wind of my arrival thru Facebook (how else). And immediately, I was invited to play with the UST High School ’75 U.S. Golf Team.
Finally, a tick off my bucket list: that of being able to play golf in America. Red Hawk in Temecula is a very nice resort Golf course. True it was hot like here but standing in the shadows made a lot of difference. The cool breeze despite the hot day was more comforting. And that reminds me now that men golfers in the US have a thing against using umbrellas. This despite the 100 degree F temperature (37 Centigrade), albeit with its lack of humidity. No one carries umbrellas.
Then more reality checks came one after the other. No bag drop. Because you drop your own golf bag to your cart. And yes, no caddies. You may wish to put it on a trolley and pull or push it yourself, under the hot San Diego sun. Definitely out of the question.
Teeing off, I was left to my common sense as to where on the fairway to hit the golf ball. And how far your approach shots will be to the green. And where the wind is coming from. Classmates lent me their GPS range finders to check distances. However, you still need to use your senses to check the wind direction. I did hit the green with a decent number of strokes. But as I stood over to ball to putt, I then subconsciously waited for my caddie to place and aim the ball on the green and tell me to hit right or left or if the ball is on a downslope or upslope. The saddest reality began to manifest itself. I began to miss my caddy. Panic was tempting to take over. I now had to site my own putts and guess the speed, the slope and the break. My final ugly score was determined by too many putts taken, and missed. I was told by the Americans in the registration that the caddies we see on TV, say on the PGA tour are hired by the star players themselves. If they can afford them.
I now realized just how spoiled and pampered Filipino golfers are. Self-reliance and common sense rule in golfing America. You arrive at the course in your golf attire and shoes ready to play. You pay, then dump your golf bag on your cart and hit your first shot. Here, once you leave the “bag drop” you will now see that bag next on the first tee. You can get away with using range finders as your caddie does that for you. Your caddie takes part of the blame for a missed putt. That’s not all. Filipino golfers are pampered down to the frills of the game.
If you opt to walk, you can hire girls to hold umbrellas to keep you away from the sun. Stories about these umbrella girls are legendary but unfit for this article. Plus golfers here enjoy other luxuries not enjoyed in the U.S. Caddies clean your golf balls and hand you your next golf club. They will hand over to you your face towels, snacks, cell phones, ball bags and act as your golf cart driver if allowed. Talk about pampering, I’ve been in a game in Southwoods golf where a senior golfer was preparing for his first tee. He never needed to lift a finger to put on his sunblock on his face. His caddie does it him. I’ve seen other players in posh Manila courses, say Wack-wack, where the locker room attendants offer to remove the golfer’s socks after a game. “Cultura dito yan” these friends of mine had told me. Perhaps economics and labor cost explain many of these. Perhaps in the US the cost of hiring caddies for the everyday golfer is expensive. In our country, they are quite affordable and give these folks some badly needed income. Still on expenses, there is not much difference between both countries if you play on a US public course. For 50 dollars (2,300 pesos), you get green fees and a cart included. No caddies fees there. So it’s more or less equal in cost.
After the game, I was ready to hit the showers and cool off and refresh – not possible. Red Hawk despite its luxury feel has no locker rooms nor clubhouse. Nor does any public golf course. Players go home to do that. Or do whatever they like post game in their golf clothes. Not too bad there as it is dry heat.
Reality check again: I came to the conclusion that you have a better chance of improving your game in the US with its self-reliant, no frills, caddie-less environment. I bet if I played there in Spring or Fall, I would have enjoyed it a bit more, weather-wise. But the chances of enjoying the game, in spite of burning your skin are better in our country. We have sunblocks for that and umbrellas.
Reality checks help us improve our focus in life. I believe that if we take a reality check in the different areas in our life (home and family life, our livelihood workplaces, our spirituality, our community life especially in BCBP, etc.), like I did in my golf experience in the USA, we will find both the good things and the not-so-good things in what we do or would like to do. Then we can improve our focus and as a result improve our life.
Please allow me to quote an overused cliché: “Golf is more fun in the Philippines.” Can we also sincerely and honestly say after a reality check in our life that “Life is more fun in the Philippines!”