Failing to clear the ladies tee is the biggest faux pas a male golfer can make, and it’s a very real possibility every time I put driver to ball.
So imagine my state of mind as I prepare to tee off in front of the boss, one of China’s more wealthy individuals and an extremely well travelled golfer, for the first time.
His golfing buddy pulled pin on their morning session at Malaysia’s top 27 hole golf course and because my mediocre golfing abilities are the best the crew can offer, I have little option but to don the tartan pants.
The boss’ opening drive looks like something from a PGA Tour highlights package.
“Not bad,” I say, as a nervous bead of sweet slithers from my left armpit, past my ribs and rests on the elastic waist band in my undies.
The benchmark is high but I’m optimistic the mammoth driver I’ve just pulled from the boss’ spare set of clubs will do most of the work for me.
An internal pep talk has me sorted; “keep your head down, just hit the ball, keep your head down”.
As the Big Berth club swings past my feet, my head comes up and I watch my ball rocket over the ladies tee (relief) before screaming violently off to the right and into a bunch of trees. Could’ve been worse.
“Don’t look for it,” the boss tells me as our golf cart approaches the general area where my ball landed. It’s not immediately visible and his level of patience clearly doesn’t stretch to watching employees ferreting through long grass. He pulls out another new shinny white ball and drops it on the fairway.
I step off the cart to play my now beautifully placed ball and he accelerates off to find his. And so it begins. For the next few hours I chase my ball from long grass to bunker to tree, while running to catch up with the cart where I can. I have a feeling the boss knows exercise is not my strong suit and he’s enjoying seeing what happens when breathlessness and lack of coordination are mixed.
There’s no sign of a score card though, so no true gauge of my golfing prowess. Thankfully. But it also means the boss can play the game he likes. We chew through a bucket of balls not wanting to waste time looking for wayward ones and take the golf cart places it’s never been before.
If the boss isn’t willing to look for a ball, there’s no chance he’s waiting for the leisurely group in front. Without warning hauls the cart’s steering wheel to the left and we blow through a bunch of bushes in order to skip ahead to the next hole. Our two balls are left in the middle of the previous fairway wondering if it was something they said.
The 18th green rolls around and I’m left with a 10ft putt to the pin. It was 15ft but I changed that when the boss turned his back.
“If I sink this, the crew get the keys to the boat for a weekend. Deal?” The boss, who has no doubt spent a dollar or two in the casino, eyes me cautiously, pondering if my shocking play has all been a rouse building up to this moment.
“Deal,” the man of his words grunts. This is huge. I draw on all my younger years spent at the mini golf course and take time to carefully line up the hole before closing my eyes and going to my happy place (watching the owner scrub teak while I eat spring rolls). I take a deep breath and simply let the club to the work. When I open my eyes I immediately regret the decision to close them. The ball is nowhere near the hole and the owner is in hysterics.
I fear this is the last time I’ll be asked to trade doodle bug for golf club.