What’s Your Handicap?
Indira Pintak, WEEKENDER | Thu, 02/23/2012 2:34 PM |
I started playing golf in Indonesia more than 20 years ago for very shallow reasons. The first reason was that I was then dating a much older man who was an avid golfer. For his sake, I tolerated all those initially uncomfortable things related to golf – posture, stance, club grip, club swing … hitting that tiny ball.
Second, the food at club houses in Indonesia was delicious, which gave me the incentive to roll out of bed before the sun came up and plod through the first nine holes, during which I would dream about the yummy offerings the club house might have.
My third reason was the caddies – always at the ready to carry my golf bag and give me pointers to better my swing. An added bonus back then was playing on courses where little snack warung offered ice-cold beer and water,making playing in 38-degree weather more bearable.
Now, as I pass my winter staring at the rolling hills of the Palouse region in eastern Washington, I am struck by how much the wheat fields remind me of golf courses. Unfortunately, I’ve come a long way from those glamorous days of playing at tropical courses with five-star club houses and equally five-star green fees.
These days, golf for me is a more subdued affair, involving quality time with my husband and focusing on the finer aspects of the game, such as developing patience, thinking about my swing and approaching each shot with careful strategy. If I’m lucky, there might be a golf cart to rent, but otherwise I’m trucking through 18 holes carrying as few clubs as possible to pull off a half-decent round.
Occasionally, our son and daughter join us on the course, which makes for an interesting game. As typical hormone-driven teens, patience is not their forte. When a shot goes seriously wrong, my son hunts down the ball and whacks the heck out of it just to get back on the fairway.My daughter just whines for a new ball and will keep repeating the shot until she’s satisfied with where the ball ends up … I suspect we didn’t correctly explain the idea of a mulligan to her. Still, they’ve come a long way: When they were younger, they used to get angry at themselves for messing up and throw childish tantrums that would ultimately ruin the whole game for everyone else.
Golf, for me, has become a pleasant escape from my mundane schedule. Here in the middle of the countryside, golf is a much simpler game than I experienced it back in Asia. No one is pulling up to the club house with their driver, alldecked out intop brand-name apparel and bearing top-of-the-range clubs; women players aren’t concerned with their fairway fashion sense; and no cell phones go off at inopportune times just as someone is about to hit a ball. No, here golf gets back to its simplest form: the enjoyable challenge of figuring out how to hit a ball into a target hole in the least number of strokes. Even when playing in a group, there’s a lot less talking and more golf playing going on.
With very few golf courses that are as over-the-top luxurious as in Asia, it’s easy to focus on the game rather than being distracted by the amenities of the club house, (sauna, steam showers, spa services, club house restaurant). In fact, the two courses my husband and I frequent are equipped with food-dispensing machines and nothing much else – downright Spartan compared with our old favorite, the rinky-dink Fatmawati golf course.
As much as I enjoy golf, however, I am no longer willing to play golf outside driving distance. With US carriers charging extra for checked baggage and the notoriously poor baggage handling by the Transportation Security Administration, I’m not willing to have my precious clubs knocked about willy-nilly by countless number of people. So planning a golf vacation is not on the table.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not obsessive about golf. I just value my clubs. A lot. Out of the set of clubs I played with more than a decade ago, I have maybe five clubs I really like. Given the advances in technology in club design, I hoped to get a better handle on the latest high-tech club that would suit my swing. Surprisingly, I stumbled on a golf shop run from a farmhouse in a neighboring town (actually, more like a Rukun Tetangga with a population of only 390) that carries a very good range of top-flight golf brands and their various accessories.
The store even offers customized clubs with a pro (well, maybe not a pro in the full sense, but someone who plays way more than my husband and I do) who analyzes the customer’s swing to determine the perfect set based on height, ball address, skill level, swing speed, handicap, etc.
Unfortunately for me, I don’t play
frequently (or consistently) enough to have a legitimate handicap, so for the
time being I’m content with saying that my golf handicap is simply me and trying
harder to fit in a round or two come spring and summer.