Wednesday 13th February, 2008

 

Another carnival golfing in Florida

 
 
 
 
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Carnival Sunday dawned bright and sunny. There was excitement in the air as Trinidadians and Tobagonians, as well as the thousands of visitors who grace our shores annually, prepared to begin the celebration of the greatest show on earth. Supporters of Phase Two were in their glee as their band had just beaten perennial favourites, All Stars, into 2nd place to cop the title of Panorama champions 2008.

Party-goers were preparing themselves for the final $750 and $900 per person all-inclusive fetes which were the order of the day while mas players spent most of the day collecting their cosumes and ensuring that all was well for the start of the festivities.

And where was I?

The first rays of sunlight saw me on my way to Piarco International Airport to catch Caribbean Airlines Flight 484 bound for Miami where I was heading, for the 3rd consecutive year, to join my good friends, Richard and Nancy Jackman for a week of golf in Rotonda West in Florida. The flight was carded to leave at 8.30 in the morning and leave at 8.30 it did. I must admit that since the advent of Caribbean Airlines, their on-time record has been impeccable.

On board I was greeted by the usual friendly, smiling stewardesses and I met one of my golfing coleagues, Shaz Shageer, himself a captain on Caribbean Airlines, who was off to Miami on personal business. Shaz and I entertained ourselves on the 3 1/2 hour flight with some games of Knock Rummy. In command of the aircraft that morning was another golfer and friend, Anthony Wight, a former Hoerman Cup player for Trinidad and Tobago.

We arrived in Miami shortly before midday and were ushered into a spanking new terminal building whose walls were plastered with signs which proclaimed "Welcome to the United States." Unfortunately, Immigration and Customs personnel in the United States have mastered the art of making you feel very unwelcome. But that's another story.

When I eventually got my bags and left the airport, I set out on a 200-mile drive to 203 Tournament Road in Rotonda West, the house at which the Jackmans were staying.

I arrived there 3 1/2 hours later just in time to learn that Tiger Woods had overcome a four-shot deficit to win the Dubai Desert Classic, shooting an incredible 6-under-par on the final nine. As I indicated in my last column, I don't see how anyone is going to prevent Tiger from breaking every record that stands on the P.G.A. Tour this year and in the next few years to come. All that young man has to do is to remain healthy and the records wll fall one after another. I was also able to see J.B. Holmes defeat Phil Mickleson on the first hole of a playoff at the FBR Open on the P.G.A.Tour. Holmes is a player who hits the ball an obscenely long way. On the first playoff hole, the Par Four 18th, Mickleson, who teed off first, hit his drive 298 yards.down the fairway while Holmes smoked his 57 yards further to 355. Holmes went on to birdie the hole to claim the title, his second victory on tour.

I don't know if it is something that those fellows eat but no human being should be able to hit a golf ball 355 yards. It's intimidating. Just two weeks ago at the Tobago International Pro-Am at the Mount Irvine Golf Course, I had a first-hand experience of that type of animalistic behaviour. Our team of Chris Richards, Mitchum Jasper, Geoffrey Farrell and I had gone to defend the title we had won in 2007.

Unfortunately, we were unable to repeat and we surrendered the trophy to the team of Nigel Baynes, Jesse Jattan Sr., Gary Baynes and William Shaw. They shot an incredible 52-under-par over the three days and thoroughly deserved to win. Let me congratulate them for their spectacular play.

But back to the point I had started to make.

Mitchum Jasper, one of the members of my team, a Hoerman Cup player in his own right, is one of those monsters who makes a golf ball cringe when he rests a club on it.

On the opening day of the tournament, on his way to an opening round of 6-under-par 66, Mitchum had a sand wedge for his second shot on the Par Five 10th hole.

Now could someone please tell me how on the face of this earth anyone could hit a golf ball so far that they would only be left with a sand wedge for a 2nd shot on a Par Five?

There should be a law against that.

But I'll leave them to their Maker and I shall concentrate on playing my golf to the best of my ability, however limited that might be, in places like Rotonda West in Florida with my friends like Richard and Nancy Jackman who, like me, hit golf balls the kind of distance that normal human beings are supposed to do.

Trying to do anything else will probably send me crazy.

Now let's head for the 19th Hole.

 

A young man, who was also an avid golfer, found himself with a few hours to spare one afternoon. He figured that if he hurried and played very fast, he could get in 9 holes before he had to head home. Just as he was about to tee off, an old gentleman shuffled on to the tee and asked if he could accompany the young man as he was golfing alone. Having been raised by his parents to always be kind to older folk, the young man reluctantly agreed.

To his surprise, the old man played fairly quickly. He didn't hit the ball very far but plodded along consistently and didn't waste much time.

Finally, they reached the 9th fairway and the young man found himself with a tough shot. There was a large pine tree right in front of his ball directly between his ball and the green.

After several minutes of debating how to hit the shot, the old man came across and said to him, "You know, when I was your age, I found myself in that exact position on a number of occasions and each time I simply took a Pitching Wedge and hit the ball right over that tree on to the green.

With that challenge placed before him, the younger man took out out his wedge, swung hard, hit the ball up smack into the top of the tree trunk and it thudded back on the ground not a foot from where it originally lay.

The young man was feeling very frustrated and annoyed at himself at having attempted what was clearly an impossible shot. At that point, the old man offered one more comment, "Of course, when I was your age, that pine tree was only three fet tall."

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