Nidhi's Blog

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why my caddie is a disappointed man!

It has been a while I blogged on golf. There was nothing to blog (brag?) about. But today proved to be memorable! ALMOST had a hole-in-one! A golfer knows the feeling when he has hit that very rare perfect shot! The swing feels smooth and the ball raises smoothly as it is hit sweetly, we call it the sweet spot in the club, and drops a few yards in front of the hole and rolls gently and suddenly disappears from your sight.
As I saw the ball disappear from my sight, I thought 'my god I have a hole-in-one'! It was hole no. 5, 183 yards! To a non-golfer it means I  put the ball into the hole with my first shot from the tee box. Usually this happens on a par 3 hole. You are normally expected to do it in three shots!

The moment was thrilling and I looked at my caddy for confirmation! He shook his head dejectedly, as he could see, from where he stood, the ball a little beyond the hole. He could not believe it! While I was disappointed, he looked crestfallen!

We walked towards the green and I saw  the ball just six inches away from the hole. It was a mystery why the ball did not go in! Then I heard the caddy curse and I cannot quote him in this blog. He had solved the mystery, the flag pole was not straight and was very slightly tilted, so the ball deflected a little instead of dropping into the hole. I asked him 'are you sure' and the caddy demonstrated to prove it. He rolled the ball towards the flag and the ball hit the pole and dropped! And I heard him curse once more, he was really mad at the caddy who had placed the flagpole a little tilted.

The other players with me congratulated me for this almost a hole-in-one. Rangan said 'a birdie itself is tough and it is all luck if it gets better. Anyway you have saved money!'  It is a convention that all those in the club are treated for a drink. Actually not too many at that time. Unni explained further that in our club, BGC, it is the convention that all the caddies get a plate of biryani! And the crestfallen caddie added that the individual caddy is given a big tip. At least one or two thousand rupees! He added 'One club member gave 20,000 rupees!' No wonder he was so dejected.

I understand we can cover ourselves with a hole-in-one insurance. May be not as I read that actuaries have calculated the chance of an average golfer making a hole in one at approximately 12,500 to 1. Now that I almost made it,  that is a long way off.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Memories of a budding and an accomplished golfer, but with a heavy heart.

Adarsh is no more. A terrible car accident took him away from us. He was barely 21 years old.

I remember him as Neil and from a very young age. His parents, Prabir and Mondira were our neighbors at Rishi Court in Bangkok. I would invariably see Neil at evenings on holidays playing all the sports which Kids play; cricket, soccer and so on depending on the season. He was a natural, his stance in cricket was very correct even at that young age and so it was with any game he played.

He was a friendly kid and quick to smile. I would get reports about him even after the family moved from Rishi Court. Mondira and Tara were colleagues at NIST from its inception in 1992. I would often hear from Tara that Neil excelled in any sport he took up and was very popular in school.

Later he started playing golf, probably because Prabir played golf. I clearly remember the time when Mondira told me with pride that Neil's handicap was a low single digit and that he was participating and doing well in junior amateur tournaments both in Thailand and in India.

I recall the first time I played with Col. Ramesh in Bangalore, as soon as he heard that I lived in Bangkok, he asked me if I knew one Mukherjee and added 'His son plays very good golf'! I said yes! It was indeed a small world. More important, both Mondira and Prabir were remembered as parents of a budding golfer!

Once after I started playing golf, I met Neil at his school NIST and I expressed my wish: 'Hope we can play a round of golf together.' He said 'Sure uncle.' and wanted to know whether I used a driver and how far I hit. Those were the days when I would just manage to cross hundred yards with my seven iron and embarrassingly the same with longer clubs and was very wayward with my woods. So I told him 'May be we could play later when I am a bit better!'

I feel terrible that this will never happen now. I am sure it would have been a great outing and a wonderful experience!

I am at a loss of words to express our anguish. We all have seen how strong and humane both Mondira and Prabir were as people and active as members of the community, school and elsewhere. We can only pray that God gives them and his sister Amrita and the family the strength to bear this indescribable loss.

These pictures are courtesy Webster University, Hua Hin, Thailand

Probably the last mention of Neil as a golfer.

Tributes from his close friends, borrowed from Face Book.
Akashay Agarwal God, I don't know why you do what you do. But when you do, you prove how small and powerless we humans are...Rest In Peace Adarsh, a friend, a fellow cricket player and a good human being!

My Indian brother

by Maximiliano Velasco Baratawidjaja on Friday, February 18, 2011 at 8:13am

Adarsh, my Indian brother, my friend, my companion, my family. I still find it hard to swallow the idea that you've gone from this world. I still wish to believe that you're there somewhere ready to pop up with that cheerful smile of yours and that joyful laugh.

But I know that is not the case. And I hate myself for knowing that.

You were our first friend my brother and I had there in Thailand, the first one to take us in, laugh with us, fight with us, and cry with us. You were truly a remarkable guy who simply loved life, you just loved it. Each day was a new adventure for you, each day a new challenge, each day an exploration. To you, there was no tomorrow or yesterday, it was now, how we were living now and sharing now.

Our lives, Diehan, Gerardo Alonso, you and me, were intertwined not just by city, not just by school, but by the bonds we chose to develop. By the trust we each put in each other, by the memories we created together, by the experiences we shared together, and by the way we chose to see the world together.

The days seem blank to me now, water is like sand. Just a month ago you took me in your house after 5 long years that we haven't met. What 5 years? To you it was just a mere 5 day interruption in our lives. You were that lively person that I knew back then, generous as we all can know, and caring beyond what many of us would be able to aspire to be. And now you have gone, to a better place I know, but those words are easier said than swallowed.

Adarsh, Neil, my Indian brother, I wish I could really express what I feel, but words fail me now. My mind is both blank and chaotic whenever I try to remember all that we've been through. I don't know whether to laugh and smile at all our memories or slump and cry knowing that none more can be made. I do know however, that you are a person who touched our lives, who touched my life. And I hope that one day I'll understand why you had to leave, because right now, I can't.

We love you man, and we will never forget you.

Your brother,

Maximiliano V.

Anuraag Agarwal Man this hurts me a lot!
Yesterday at 5:52pm

15 march 2011

I saw these two memorable clips on FB about Neil.
and have borrowed it for my blog. They are just wonderful.!/video/video.php?v=10150098170568683&comments

Monday, June 23, 2008

Back to Golf blogging.

I cannot believe that it has been more than a year since I have blogged on golf. I was recently reminded, why admonished, by Mohan (Nagamangala) for not keeping up with my golf blog. I suppose I should take his request seriously, it is not many who read my blog and offer a comment! Also, we belong to the same '111' club. South Indians will understand what this means, we belong to the same vaishnavite iyengar clan and our trade mark, given jokingly I hope, is 111.

Probably why, I am sure Mohan does much better, I am stuck around a score of 111 per round. It is not that I am a devout iyengar but the score seems to ensure it. I have broken the magical 100 a couple of times, mostly playing alone in Eagleton. I even had an Eagle once. The caddy showed me a plaque for someone who had made the first eagle on that hole. I do not know if I am the oldest at 68+ to make an eagle on that hole.

Anyway my score hovers around 111. Considering that I am a veteran of more than five years, it is disappointing to say the least. I am surprised that my friends still tolerate me and my game! It is nice of them to encourage me to play and still make me feel that I am one of them. In addition, I suppose it is the way the game is designed that allows me to play the game at my level along with better players and still come home reasonably happy. It is also a game which I can play with my eight year old grandson. We compete and it is all serious business while we play. We cannot say this about other games.

As I thought about writing my blog again, I wondered about some of the blogs I had enjoyed reading. Two of them are shown as a link in my blog. New2golf has made great progress as I see his statistics, which he meticulously manages to keep. The other with an interesting title 'Golfchick' has converted her blog to a website and the scope of the website is quite impressive. Clear proof of what dedication can do.

As I read these golf blogs again, I realise that I have not really written to a plan, a target audience! I know that serious golfers would not be pleased with my tone, it does seem light hearted at times. If it is meant to be a blog on the 'spiritual path to golf' or should I say 'spirituality through golf', it has been wayward. I know it is my 'rambling' nature that does it!

I am reminded about the recent unscripted drama in the US Open. While we are rightly in awe with Tiger Wood and his performance, I suppose we admire Rocco Mediate for what he is. I salute him for his noble role in this epic battle. I can never forget the way he offered a hug to the victor. I suppose he proved it to us that it is best that we try to be ourselves at all times.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Golf Masters in Future

(We are constantly reminded about how Technology has overtaken Golf. Golf products seem to get obsolete as fast as the computers, mobile phones and all other gizmos. In answer to this onslaught of Technology, the golf course designers are constantly redoing the golf courses to make it as techno-proof as they can. Golf administrators are also constantly making rules and writing specifications to counter this threat of Technology to Golf.

Added to this are the many aids to golf training that get more and more sophisticated! I saw recently on TV, a Robot of German design which takes hold of you and guides you through the perfect swing path. A work out with this Robot would obviously give you a very consistent swing. It is like a dance teacher taking you through the steps.

I am sure it will be quite a while before we can hope that the driving range near your home would install one and that you can afford to pay for this work out. It is bound to be expensive and the poor us who cannot afford all this Technology can only pray!

We all know that prayer plays a big part in major sports for many. They invoke god to be with them when they play. The reason surely is the desire to win as well as the prize money that comes with winning. For others not playing, it is the pride for the team or the nation. Also, it could be that they have placed heavy bets on the outcome!

I know that in our cricketing world, priests are employed to offer prayers and many rituals are performed. I saw this news item Dec last year…‘led the rituals of rahuvu, ketuvu nagasarpadosa nivarana (a puja to ward off evil and seek divine blessings)’ … and thought it was a pity that God was not free to enjoy a game impartially! Possibly God does stay impartial and bless ‘may the better man/team on that day win’?
I had thought about writing a blog about god in sports, neither to propagate faith nor to criticize it, just to examine this human attribute. Zach Johnson after winning the Master said ‘I felt Jesus Christ with me on the golf course every step of the way’. So I suppose it is time for my blog! Enjoy!)

Golf Masters in Future
Srinivas Madhav Shankar woke up at sunrise as he always did and felt that he was ready for the challenge. He had offered to take on the Golf ‘world number one’ to establish, forever, that the spiritual power is superior to technology. He was a staunch believer of the 'dharma' he had discovered from a deep study of nature. It went back to days even prior to every known religion of the world! It was the time when humans recognized the spirit in the mountains, knew trees had immense wisdom as they stood firm against all odds and every being animate and inanimate had a soul!

He offered prayers to the spirit of the earth, especially the area (Khsetra) on which the golf course was built. He had invoked and had installed the idols representing the spirit of the trees around the fairway, every single blade of grass that grew on the greens. The water and the sand that surrounded the greens, the wind that blew around the course. He prostrated before the idols and started a very austere penance. Pleased with his sincerity the gods appeared and asked him ‘why this penance and what is it you desire’?

SMS very thrilled with the appearance of the gods, explained in detail the game and requested them to help him win. The gods were amused at the request of interceding in a game that was just putting a ball in a hole! However, they agreed to help: The wind god promised to carry the ball towards the hole and drop it into it, the water spirit promised to throw the ball out of the pond in case it fell into it. The trees offered to knock the ball back to the fairway in case the ball strayed. The blades of the green would convey the ball towards the hole and would also the change color ever so slightly that the putting line would be seen. Mother earth assured that it would change direction and bounce as required by him. There was one condition though, SMS had to invoke the right god and they would be there. This was required, they said, to avoid too many gods working for him at the same time. It could lead to confusion amongst them!

Simultaneously at the other end, the super technologist of the conglomerate Ti-ke-away was looking forward to this contest with enthusiasm and amusement. He felt that it was a waste of time as it was ‘given’ that there would be a no-contest! He was positive that with the new equipment, he could pick any amateur and train him with his robots to be equal to the top Professionals within a fortnight. Soon, a birdie was the highest score one would make on any hole. Eagles would be in plenty, the rare albatross would be seen more often and the hole-in-one would become a bore to watch!

He was very keen to test in secrecy the new irons that were revolutionary. They were designed to take over when the distance to the hole fell between clubs. The club had devices that could not be detected but were effective. They would sense the swing speed and adjust so that the ball would stop nearest to the hole. The putters were so designed with new unnamed gadgets that as soon as the putting stroke was made, the putter would correct the line and the speed after reading the break and the speed of the greens. He almost thought that he would also put the new homing device in the ball to test, but felt was not really necessary.

However the contest of the century ran into a snag on the day of the contest and was called off.

SMS being a true follower of the ancient ways strode into the most exclusive club in the world and was not allowed to enter as he was dressed in a loincloth!


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More on Golf Accidents!

I should first mention in passing that it has been a year since I was initiated to Blogging, thanks to Rohini. It has been a rewarding experience for 'Me'! I do hope that I shall be able to continue, probably more in my 'NidhiRamblers'.

It occurred to me that I had forgotten to include 'golf cart' as a source of accidents! I recall how I had inadvertently started the cart which was parked in a line and the caddy who was in front and between two carts was literally sandwiched between them. Luckily for me the golf cart had not picked up speed before I took my leg off the pedal, and more importantly she was a strong person and a good humored one! The Thai 'Mai pen rai' (Never mind) culture also helped.

The golf cart looks innocuous and one may be tempted to take it too easy while on it. Golf cart accidents can get very serious. As there are no seat belts, you could loose balance and fall off on a sharp turn. When we were at Melaka visiting Rama and Prasad, we learnt that Rama had a fall from a golf cart. She was hurt badly and needed stitches. I hope this has not stopped her from playing golf as they live on a golf course. I suppose one could be embarrassed talking about falling off a slow moving 'golf cart'! Not always true, as the terrain at Melaka golf club was steep and the path winding. I know I was worried while going down the path.

I thought I would research a bit more on the 'golf cart' accidents and it is much more than I imagined and it is a shocker!

Golf Cart Safety
Because golf carts operate at relatively slow speeds, it's easy to overlook safety procedures. But golf cart accidents can cause serious injury and death.
Between 1992 and 2001, golf cart accidents caused an average of 739 nonfatal injuries annually that led to lost workdays, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. From 1994 to 2000, the Bureau reported an average of five deaths per year associated with golf carts.

As more and more kids are taking up golf, cases of kids getting hurt as they were allowed to drive golf carts and also being hit by a club, as well as golf balls, are reported. I am sure a good discipline and better supervision is really required if kids are on the golf course.

I came across some sad but bizzare news as well. I had read a while ago about a Thai professor being acquitted of a murder charge! The murder weapon was a 'golf umbrella'. I just wondered about it and surfed the web and saw this piece!

'Tragically there have been occurrences of Australian drivers killed by their golf umbrella as it stabbed them through the seat from behind.''

Please Drive carefully!


Saturday, March 31, 2007

Golfing Accidents

After my return to Bangkok we were talking about my golfing accident. See my 'Fitness thoughts' regarding this accident. I still shudder thinking about how serious it could have been. At that time my caddy had told me that the Golf Club had an insurance cover. I did try to, but did not manage to collect! One reason was that the driver never came back with the receipt for the repairs made!

But it is surprising that the club did not think of raising the height of the fence instead. I suppose the premiums were cheaper than the cost of a fence. On my recent visit to the club, I saw that the fence height had gone up considerably. The club was forced to raise it as one of the balls had hit the Chief Minister's car parked across the road! I wish that the Minster's car were hit earlier to my accident. Surely then, the fence would have been up and I would have been saved the tension and the cost of repairs.

I recall that a golf club in Chennai has a busy lane passing thru the fairway. While it is fenced, it was still unnerving to hit a ball with people crossing unconcerned on foot, bicycles and scooters. I am sure most of them are so used to it that they do not even realize they are in the path of a hard ball moving at a speed!

Naturally, our talk turned towards other accidents in a golf course. I remember I ducked in time from a fast approaching ball thanks to the caddie in Bangkok. Couple of years ago they say a caddie died in Bangalore after being hit by a ball. The club then started providing helmets to the caddies. As it is a narrow crisscrossing kind of golf course, it would make sense to provide it to players as well. In any case most of the caddies did not wear the helmet!

Being hit or hitting some one is not always serious. I have seen this happen in a major tournament! Tiger Wood's drive strayed and the ball hit a spectator and fell back on the fairway. Probably saved a stroke or two for Tiger! It is one of those benign incidents and Tiger’s caddy, known for his truculence, might have even thanked the chap for a change.

But unfortunately there are many instances of lightening striking golfers, often fatally at the golf course. Our golfing partner Bobby was very fortunate to come out more or less unhurt by a lightening strike. He said it went thru his umbrella held invitingly up and thru the putter that he had luckily grounded.

Most golf courses at Bangkok have warning systems for lightening. Surprisingly I have yet to see anyone stop playing in spite of the sirens going off. The caddies, mostly girls, keep walking and so do we! We trust them as usual, whether it is the ever important putting line or our life itself!

May be it is our asian "Fatalism" in action!


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Back in Bangkok

Back in Bangkok
It has been almost two months since I even thought about blogs! I have been busy with my daughter's family visiting us in Bangkok and all of us visiting family in Bangalore! We did play golf, even though Neil was equally happy playing soccer and other games with kids in the apartment complex in Bangkok.

He played golf well and had fun as he had the privilege of a golf cart and a personal caddy. He is used to his mother or father being a caddy but I believe he enjoyed being fussed over by the Bangkok lady caddies! They took very good care of him, constantly giving him liquids and making sure that he was always protected on the course. The only time he felt awkward was when a caddy hugged and kissed him on the cheek. This was when his approach shot from sixty yards dropped in for a par.

He almost parred the next par 3 hole, but his aggressive putt took it farther away and he three putted for a double bogey. He was in control most of the time and could have scored much better if he was more conservative with his putting. The heat also took its toll during the later half of the round.

The Bangalore weather was kinder and he managed to walk at the Bangalore golf club. Due to some reason the club was full on that day and the starter at the club was hesitant when he saw Neil and wanted us to start from the 10th hole as the lady playing after us thought we would hold up play. I knew the starter well and told him to just watch Neil drive and promised that we would let the other group go ahead if we held up play. One look at Neil’s drive the starter walked away. If any one did really slow down play it was not Neil and the group was never really close to us at any time!

He did have problems with the caddies in Bangalore. They are mostly young boys who dream of making it big in the pro golf in India or at least become what we call as caddy coaches. These caddies do get involved in the game and are prone to select clubs for you and give a lot of unsought advice. This is not Neil's style and he became quite upset once and literally shouted at the caddy. Raxit cooled him down and Neil apologized later to the caddy for loosing his temper! We consider caddies as one of the hazards to be faced in any Bangalore golf course!

The high light was at the Eagleton golf resort; the head coach had heard about Neil and specially came to see him drive. He was duly impressed and wanted to know who Neil's coach was. Difficult to answer as Neil used to intently watch Tiger, Els and Goosen with me on the TV when he was just three! But Neil is sure on one thing though, that he taught me how to play golf! When I had an especially good putt, he would come and give me a High Five and tell my caddy that he taught me to play golf! I suppose he did!

There are many memories of Neil playing but unfortunately not recorded, as we did not take the camera along. There is one where he is sitting with his caddy and our caddies and is full of mirth as he waited for us to get on the green. He was already on the green and we were stuck in bunkers and roughs and struggling. I told him later it was not polite, but he is just a seven year old and it was funny!

Raxit and I relaxed and had enjoyable games of golf. There were not many at the course and hence there was no pressure on us! I also had some valuable lessons in golf from Sesh.
I enjoy playing in Bangalore, as my game with Vijay, Murali and their group is fun and also it is in all seriousness. Which in itself is a lesson on focus and concentration.
I also had a great game with Nandini one evening and she did remarkably well, considering that it was her second outing on a golf course.
The sweetest memory, however, was to walk with Neil hand in hand on the fairway. Many times he would walk straight on and I would be on the sides looking for my ball!