Golf: Where love and hate collide
July 08, 2017

With my coach Abang Kimi, visibly unimpressed with my choice of low-key attire

There are times in life when you ask yourself, “What am I doing here?” This could possibly take place inside a broken Jeep in the middle of the desert, in a dingy interrogation room of the Thai-Cambodian border, or in my case, at a golf course last weekend.

Earlier this year, after succumbing to peer pressure, I enrolled in a golf class. My coach goes by the name of Hakimi, and I call him “Abang Kimi” (it sounds more masculine in real life). Abang Kimi is 53 years old, and has been teaching for over twenty years. Sometime somewhere in his life he decided to pursue a career that requires the patience of a monk. But the man is physically and emotionally fit, and doesn’t look a day above 40. Although I may have shaven a few years off his lifespan by being his student.

After 12 classes of long and short games, I was finally allowed to enter the course. I was expected to put into practice all that I have learned over the 30 hours spent at the driving range. From my grip to my swing, and from my posture and to my putting, Abang Kimi has done all he could to shape and refine my style of play. It was down to me, then, to effectively apply the lessons on the fairway. These also include golfing terms new to me such as “par”, “eagle”, “birdie”, “bogey”, and “BLOODY HELL”.

Truth be told, despite my perceived athleticism, I was never a fast learner of any sport… or any activity for that matter. And at 34, I am even slower than I used to be. Give the exact same golf lessons I had to a nine-year-old and he/she would easily outperform me in every department. Call me over-competitive, but this is why I never play video games with anyone below the age of 12. Kids are simply faster at absorbing lessons plus instructors tend to be kinder to children and somewhat murderous to us adults.

Nevertheless, this underachievement is not solely down to my physical ability (or lack thereof). Google any list of difficult sports and golf is consistently up there alongside gymnastics and horseback riding. I used to sneer at golf as being a sport for the lazy. You hit the ball into 18 holes then you go and eat banana leaf rice. I couldn’t be more wrong, except for the banana leaf rice. Regardless, I still embraced the challenge of learning something new... sort of.

Golf is highly technical and each swing is influenced by approximately six million parameters -- none of which you could fully control. A significant challenge with my record of putting my pants inside out in the past. Mastering the game requires diligence and persistent training. Not to mention full focus on and off the course. One phone call from your boss in the middle of a game and you’re screwed. Golf demands complete concentration, total body coordination, and is not a sport you can play while eating pizza. John Daly is the exception and not the rule.

For a beginner, I guess I did okay my first time out. And by “okay” I mean I only lost 8 of the 10 balls I had. (The other two are safely intact, ha ha.) I was clearly nervous in the first nine holes but with the aid of tobacco, Abang Kimi remained calm and supportive throughout so I did better in the second nine. It was a great day out, and I learned a great deal. I can see the appeal of golf as a leisure activity, and how golfers can get hooked. The frustration fuels you to get better at the game. I do wish the learning curve is gentler. It will be years until I am anywhere near decent in this sport -- make that decades. 

I am still, however, unsure about golf as a networking activity. Unless you are good at the game, all it does is showcase your ability to curse in four different languages. Eating together seems like a more practical and viable alternative to build relationships. Now that’s something I don’t need a class for.


Out of interest - why are you taking up golf?

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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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